Interviews & Updates

Emerald Wizard Radio are currently running a feature on file-sharing and various artist’s views on it. As well as interviews with Aberfeldy and New York’s anti-folker Kimya Dawson, they also caught up with Owen Hopkin to get his views on everything from sales figures to downlodable song demos. You can read the full review on the EWR website, or hit more for an archived version on this site.
Take another look at the US tour diary for three new entries as the band start a 1000 mile drive across the US. There would be a video documetary type thing from the band to acompany it but you know, technical problems and that. Check back in a couple of days to see if it’s appeared and if not, there should at least be some more diary entries then.

Artists’ Views on P2P File-sharing

“No one is hurt more by the illegal ‘sharing’ of copyrighted music than the independent artist and the independent record label… it is the sad necessity that the people who create and own the music must aggressively defend themselves from having their creations stolen.” (Bruce Iglauer, President, Alligator Records)

“Illegal downloading of music is theft, pure and simple. It robs songwriters, artists, and the industry that supports them or their property and their livelihood. Ironically, those who steal music are stealing the future creativity they so passionately crave.” (Frances W. Preston, President of BMI)

In the heated discussion about file-sharing networks such as Gnutella, eDonkey2000 or BitTorrent, a neverending line of lawsuits filed by the RIAA against individual users of those networks, not just in the US, and the current US Supreme Court trial MGM vs Grokster, we hardly get to hear the voice of those who actually create and make the music, the artists. EWR (Emerald Wizard Radio) is devoted to promote music beyond mainstream radio, mainly independent artists we consider worthy to be known by a much wider audience, and we wanted to know what our featured musicians think about P2P file-sharing, and distributing of their recordings over the internet.

The Crimea

The Crimea’s Owen Hopkin replies to EWR’s questions about file-sharing and downloading music on the internet.

EWR: What is your general position regarding file-sharing (P2P Networks, email and instant messaging, iPod2iPod etc.), where you as an artist will not get compensated for your work?

Owen: Before being signed, I served school dinners to small children and Davey, our singer, collected trash on the streets of London. The work was pretty shitty and I made sure I collected every cent owed to me. While our employment situation is now way better, it’s still a similar scenario. We love playing and making music, but Warners need to sell some albums for us to make a second record. If everyone downloads our shit for free, we’re in trouble (and I’ll be back to serving dinners to kids. fuck that).

That said, you can’t be a Nazi about these things. I used to swap albums with my friends and copy them on to blank cassettes. It never stopped me spending money on music. If anything, it made me more enthusiastic because I began to realise how much great music there was out there. I hope P2P networks etc. will have the same effect.

Many people who download your songs probably won’t buy the CD later. Others just buy the CD because they heard your music first over internet downloads. Do you think that file-sharing more helped or hurt your CD sales, or did it even out?

I’ve no idea on actual figures. I may be naive, but I hope it’s evened it out. I think the internet is a double edged sword as far as the industry is concerned. On the one hand, it’s made it easier to discover new bands, on the other it’s made it easier to copy their music free of charge.

Many of your CD releases are not available internationally, some are limited editions of a few thousand copies. What do you say about that fans of your music share these recordings over file-sharing networks and the internet in general?

Most of the early CD’s we made are sold out. I have no problem with people sharing these tracks – there’s no reason why anyone should miss out on the stuff we’ve put out previously. The people who bought the music originally will get their reward when we’re the size of U2 and the early stuff sells on ebay for the price of a small island off the coast of Florida.

Do you disapprove, not mind, or encourage that live recordings and demo recordings of your music are shared over the internet?

Providing someone hasn’t taken it off the mixing board unlawfully or making money from the recording, I don’t mind so much with the live stuff. Everyone knows it’s likely to sound pretty shitty, but if it makes people happy to download that stuff, then great.

Demos are a little different. It’s definitely cool to see how a song has developed, but I think it’s good to have a little mystery with your favourite bands, too. I have a big problem with demo versions of our songs appearing on-line without us knowing, but I’d be happy to stick a few up, if everyone else in the band/management thought it was a good idea…

Do you personally use the internet for downloading music?

Erm… what can I say without getting into trouble? I think the internet is a great way of discovering new music. I wouldn’t have bought albums by Pinback, Lamb Of God, Sonny Boy Williamson or Helen Love if I hadn’t heard the music on-line somewhere. That said, I’d still be regretting the money I would have spent on a Hacksaw Ramblers’ album if I hadn’t checked it out first.

Would you consider to make certain recordings officially available for trading via file-sharing networks? If yes, only if it doesn’t cost you (band, label) any money or resources?

If the circumstances were right, I wouldn’t see a problem with it. It’s a great way of spreading the name and having people discover good new music.

Do you as an artist, and does your record label, have an official policy regarding file-sharing?

As artists, our official policy depends on a lot of things – how much sleep we’ve had, how much NyQuil is left etc. I’m sure the record label has a more hard-and-fast set of rules. Taking a wild stab in the dark, I’d imagine it revolves around losing as little money as possible.

Interview by Emerald Wizard Radio.

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