Thursday, January 31, 2008

Worthless? Really?

There is a lot of talk about the price of CD's and about value for money.
I've given this a lot of thought over the last few days.
Let's put this into perspective, when you buy a CD, the small bit of plastic, the disc itself is just the method in which the music is delivered to you, it's the envelope, it's the plate for the food if you like. When you buy a CD you are buying a copy of that music, you can keep it for all of your life and listen everyday, or you can listen once and put it on a shelf and forget it, that is your choice once you have bought it.
Something that you could get pleasure from daily for tens of years for a few £'s is not good value? The price of a CD compared to the price of a coffee, or the price of a cinema ticket is low, very low, and you have this thing, this special something for the REST OF YOUR LIFE, it has the potential to cheer you when you are sad, to comfort you when you are alone, to join you to others, really it's an amazing thing!

To say "music should be free" devalues it.
It says that you believe that the work, inspiration, imagination, skill, time and effort that has gone into composing and recording the piece is worthless.

Now put yourself in the shoes of the musician for a moment, how would you be inspired to write music in such a climate? How could you go to work each day if you were being told that your work was worthless?
Consider what it would be like to be told you were worthless, BUT your services were still required free of charge, then ask yourself how you would feel? Would you be hurt, angry, depressed?
Is this a fair and just way to treat the people we admire?

When those who regularly steal music get cornered, they tend to get angry and try to defend this behaviour, if this is you, please stop and consider the emotional impact you are having by the soul destroying actions you chose. Even if you wrongly deny or discount the financial blow and burden you create.

So many artists are independant these days, they are musicians and at the same time the plan tours (financially putting their necks on the line to do so), they run websites, they design t-shirts, they do the accounts, they parcel up cd's and ship them, they promote and advertise, they often do all the jobs that traditionally a record label would have done, and at the end of the day, the special thing that they do, the music, is taken, with no thought to consequence. When they have the audacity to speak up about it they are ridiculed and abused! HUH?

Can we add a little humanity to this issue and really consider the effect of taking and freely distributing something that you have no right to.

Wilcey. Prog Against Pirates.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

New industry news on downloading

I've seen a lot of pirates point to articles from 6 years ago to try and support their point that illegal downloads aren't affecting sales, and maybe 6 years ago it wasn't as bad.  I've been saying that 98% of the people that illegally download and keep it, don't buy it, well I was wrong, it is 95%.  Here are two new stories on the subject that you should read.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Prog Against Pirates Player

We thought we'd start to experiment with having a player on the site here that will randomly play a song from it's list, and you can also select specific songs.  We're still working on some of the configuration settings, but you'll find the player at the bottom of the page, you can select any song in the list and play it if you want to try something different.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

What is your solution?

Throughout all of this I see the same basic statement repeated constantly, "The record labels haven't adapted to technological changes at all or fast enough.".  I would contend that this is patently and demonstrably false, and I'll illustrate it in a moment, but what I want to know is this - what do YOU think is the answer that provides for the artist getting paid, and I'm not talking pie in the sky "do it like Radiohead did" because that won't work for 99% of bands.  Unlike other posts, I'm going to filter out the nonsense rants because I want a productive discussion.

Here is how the labels have changed with technological changes:

Went from 8 Track to Cassette (this might seem minor to you, but I had a big collection of 8 tracks)
Went from Vinyl and Cassette to CD
Adopted online sales, Amazon spearheaded a lot of this
Adopted digital distribution once a method was available (iTunes)
Adopted listening stations at record outlets
Embraced social networking like MySpace and YouTube

Keep in mind how fast some of this stuff came up, 2 years ago no one was talking about YouTube and MySpace was pretty minor.  You can't just follow every shiny ball that rolls by, you have to see what is going to shake out and make the best business decision you can.

Monday, January 21, 2008

An extreme example of enforcement

I'm sure this post will be taken out of context by some, but it is worth considering.  

There was a short story I read decades ago by scifi author Larry Niven that has stuck with me.  In this future, medical science had perfected the art of organ transplants, they could transplant any part of a body from one person to another.  Initially the source of organs was people who died in accidents and death row inmates.  Because the demand for organs was so high, the appeal process for death sentence went from about 20 years to 20 days.  People stopped committing the death sentence crimes, because they would, without question, die if they got caught, so the people kept voting in laws for the death sentence for less and less crimes and people stopped committing those crimes, finally it got to a point where too many traffic violations meant you got the death penalty.

Now, you should read this story if you aren't already familiar with it - basically this woman got fined $222,000 for "sharing" 24 songs.  This has already been upheld on appeal.  The law actually allows for up to $150,000 per download, so she got off pretty lucky for just the 24 songs.  I'm looking at some of these bloggers with 1000 albums and 10,000 songs, with hundreds of downloads per song, so let's use this news story as a financial base where they charged only $9,250 per song - you're looking at nearly $10 Million in fines.  Doesn't matter if you can't pay it now, you'll pay it for the rest of your life.

Now this is in the US, I don't know what other countries have in this regard, but if you are in the US and you are posting or linking to songs, no matter where they are hosted, you are subject to this law and penalty, and the RIAA can get your information to follow it up, and now that they have a precedent, they are going after people.  So you sit there in your bedroom uploading songs, thinking it's all fine and no one is watching, the recent activity should prove that people are indeed watching, and you're lucky that the files are just getting removed at this point and you aren't getting a summons to appear in court.

So if you knew that with near certainty that you would be thrown in debtors prison, or in the extreme example, killed, for "sharing" files, would you still be inclined to make your current argument and continue?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

A word on comments

While we are allowing anonymous comments, we are moderating the comments because some of them are just too rude and pointless to the discussion, especially when they are made anonymously.  So if you do want to make some accusations, then use your real name and verifiable email address.  You can see from the majority of the posts that we aren't filtering much.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


To avoid spending endless hours debating illegal downloading we decided to write this.

First of all everyone must accept as fact that illegal downloading, bloggers that upload entire albums for people to download for free and torrents doing what they refer to as "sharing music" is really a disaster for the artists financially.

There is a direct link between the increased illegal "free" downloading and the decreasing amount of music being sold. That is a fact. No matter what arguments downloader's like to use to justify what they are doing, the facts are there.

Here are some typical arguments from those who think it is a good thing to offer other's music for free (not many have thought about the fact that it is other's music - they created it). Under these you will find our response.

1) We are only doing the bands a favour, making them more known.

Well, in a way, yes. They are more known to people who don't pay for
the pleasure of listening. They are not getting better known to the people who buy the music. These are usually not visiting these places - blogs, torrents etc -
where the stolen music is found. They have other ways to find out about new music they want to buy and listen to.

2) It is only the evil record companies who lose money.

Hmmm. Let's think some about that statement. Let's see. Most record companies pay the artists an agreed royalty per sold CD, so if the music is given away for free then it must be that the artists will get paid less. So therefore it is also the artists who lose money from this.

And let us think some more. If the record companies don't get any money from CD sales they can not afford much promotion, so, hmmm let's see...oh, then the bands will not get exposure to their potential audience, they won't know about the artists work. This must lead to the fact that if people buy the CD's they are helping the artists to get better known.

This maybe leads to: So, if the record companies work to make the artists better known and pay them for their work...can it then be that they are actually helping the artists? Could it actually be that the artists like to work with the record companies? Could it even be that most of the people running these evil record companies are doing it because they love the music and want to do something good for the artists by making to possible for them to have their music released
without needing to take care about all the administration work? Can it also be that the artists are happy about the fact that the record companies invest money - and thereby are taking financial risks - in their music? Well, it seems that the record companies working this way are not so evil after all, but we do recognize that there has been abuse in the past by the large and established labels, this isn't true typically with the smaller labels, however this is still no justification, it is for the courts to decide.

3) The record companies are stealing my money when they charge me $18
for a CD. It only cost them $1 to produce a CD.

Is that so? Is that the actual cost for a music album? Let's have a look at the costs.
The CD does cost about $1-$2 to press.
But there is some thing's that must be done before one can press the CD.
Something called "Glass master" costs about $800.
The mastering session normally costs between $1000 and $2000.
Creating the artwork for the booklet and CD can easily cost $2,000 to $5,000
Mixing costs from $5,000 to $10,000
What about the recordings?
To rent a high quality studio with a professional sound engineer is what all artists dream of.This gives them the opportunity to focus on the performance.
Here the costs can be between $5000 up to $100000...or more.
So, therefore many bands buy their own equipment and do it by themselves.
Sometimes with a very good result but most often the end result would
have been even more enjoyable if they could afford to rent a studio and
pay a professional studio technician.
And there are more costs involved. In most countries one must pay for
publishing rights. pay the bands of course also must be considered as a cost.
Promotion copies being sent out are another cost. Advertising is another cost.
So, what are we looking at here.
Well, for the first pressing it is more like $6 per CD.
And then they are sold to distributors at $7 or $8 + shipping costs.
The distributors then sell them at about $11 - $12 + shipping costs.
So, when retailers sell these at $16 - $18 they do not earn very much per CD.
The band gets some little and the record company earn almost nothing
on the first pressing.

For the second, third etc pressing there is some money coming in, but
many releases do not sell enough to do these pressings. Considering
that the staff at the record companies need to get paid to make a
living these titles are losses, so the ones who do sell a bit more
must make enough to make ends meet.

Where is the greediness? Where are those evil people who run the business?

Can it be that it's the illegal downloaders who have invented these characters to justify their immoral and illegal actions when they are taking the music, getting pleasure from it without giving anything in return for it? Because this is what they do! They enjoy the work of the artists, who are helped by their record company, without giving anything in return! Is that being a fan? Is that a good way to show appreciation?

Oh, and a CD costs less now in real dollars than they did 20 years ago, if you adjust for inflation, they cost a lot less.

4) How shall I know what to buy if I can not download and listen to it first?

Well, this makes some sense. There are a few out there who use free downloads for this purpose and that is of course perfectly ok, but also a slippery slope. However these people make up about 1% of the people downloading, so we are forced to say:
"Sorry, there are too many people out there stealing the artists
work so we can not allow it".

On the other hand, there are plenty of opportunities to find some of the songs from the albums available as legal free downloads on the artists and record companies websites. Labels and artists are trying to let you try before you buy in as reasonable manner as possible, but to give away entire albums does not work, people just are not likely to pay for something that they've already gotten for free.

Former IQ keyboardist Martin Orford says: "Just imagine going into a supermarket and eating whatever food you like as you go round. If challenged
you can just say that you're trying before you buy and if any of the products
appeal to you then you might consider spending money on them one day.
Of course the supermarket would quite rightly take you to court."

The same must apply to music.

5) I live in a poor country and can not afford buying CD's

The world is far from perfect. Life is not fair. Most of us on this planet wish it was differently. But it can not be right that the record companies should be the one's
responsible for changing the future of this planet. The arguments for "giving something back to the artists for enjoying the music" can in this case be applied as: Even if you live in a country with a bad economy, please at least do what you can, after all, you're paying for your internet connection so it can't be that bad. Buy at least a couple of downloads and take the music that is put up legally. These two things together should give you many hours of music pleasure. The
artists would very much appreciate if you do what you can to support them. And perhaps you would feel good about it yourself, knowing that you are a true fan. Artists and fans should work together.

6) It's just data, I'm not stealing a physical CD

Well, let's say that I electronically get in to your bank account and empty so I can use the money to buy things I can't afford. It's a similar principal again, I didn't actually steal your wallet or purse and the money in it, I just moved some data out of your account and in to mine, which is only fair because I can't afford all the things I want, so you should help me. Pirates like to say this isn’t a fair argument, but it is exactly the same, you’re being deprived, electronically, of money/income.

7) Oh yea? Well what about when people taped albums and shared them?

There is a significant difference in ability and cost to make a cassette copy of an album and give that to some friends, you’re going to be limited in how many you could realistically do, let’s call it 20 copies. If those people make copies and hand them out, the quality degrades with each generation, you can only go a few times. With a digital copy and the internet, you make a perfect copy (more and more people are using CD quality fidelity now, which also destroys the “I’m just checking it out” argument) which can be downloaded millions of times by millions of people, if only 1% of those people are prevented from purchasing because they were able to get it this way for free, that’s a lot of sales.

To sum up, we don’t want you to put our material up for “sharing” without our permission

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Where to buy prog online

Our apologies to anyone we are missing, we'll add you as we become aware, but for those asking where they can buy online outside of the labels themselves or places like Amazon, here is a list:

BEYOND ROCK (Netherlands)







PROGGIES (Switzerland)

PROG FACTORY (Switzerland)


PROG WALHALLA (Netherlands)


SHOP 33 (France)


The Laser's Edge (USA)

ZNR Mail Order (USA)

Quixote Music (Germany)

Progpulsion (France)

CD Services (Scotland)

Metal Mundus (Poland)

Sonicbond (England)

F2 Music (England)

ProgRock Records (USA)

Musea Records (France)

Unicorn Digital (Canada)