Big Issue: File Sharing

By on Thursday, 24th September 2009 at 4:08 pm

Ever since Lily Allen’s blog a while back much focus about the music scene has been on illegal file sharing. Nobody can deny that it comes with pros and cons but it affects some artists more than others. Over the past week many artists have come out to support Lilly and it looks as though we might be moving closer to having some serious restrictions imposed on illegal file theft.

Here at TGTF we got in touch with up and coming performance poet/northern soul frontman Matt Abbott (of Skint & Demoralised fame) signed to Mercury Records to ask him what file sharing meant for the emerging artist.

No matter how you look at it, illegal file-sharing is theft. It’s been so widely ignored that people no longer see it as a crime and instead see it as a perfectly viable alternative to purchasing music in the legal manner.

With free streaming services such as MySpace, YouTube and Spotify there is literally no excuse for consumers to download music illegally. If you want to listen to it for free then you have plenty of options – if you want to own it then you can buy it. At 79p for a single and as little as £4.99 for a brand new album on iTunes, it’s hardly extortionate even in the current climate.

There are many long-standing issues in the music industry and labels as a whole have been to slow and ignorant in their reaction to the digital era, but the fact is that illegal file-sharing has the industry on it’s last legs and without it there will be no way to nurture and release new talent into the British music scene.

When an artist signs a record deal they effectively take-on a huge debt, and whilst it appears that the label are paying for everything such as recording and marketing, the label actually recoup their expenses through the income generated from sales. An artist only sees profit from sales once the expenditure has been returned through their 20% of the cut, and so dwindling record sales only increases an already desperate predicament in terms of income from sales of their work.

The truth is that labels and the government have taken too long to deal with this issue and now it’ll be even harder to combat. As Matt stated above there is NO excuse for illegal downloading (especially with no intention to ever purchase a record). Sites such as Spotify,, YouTube and MySpace (hell, even Amazon and iTunes) ensure you can preview material before you buy.

We need change to save the health of the British music scene and ensure that developing artists have a chance to grow.

At the end of the day music is an art form. The same way you can’t buy a book, or go to an artists exhibition for free, you CAN’T download music for free. Art costs money to create and whilst it would be brilliant if it was all free unfortunately that is not the case.

One Response

1:32 pm
25th September 2009

Well said Matt !

Todays generation is the ‘have it all want it all generation.’ I know people who say they are ‘music fans’ and yet see nothing wrong in owning (stealing) music for nothing. They don’t see that if taken to the nth degree nobody will be able to afford to release any new material if they don’t have any money to invest.

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