Photo: WadeB. Caution: piracy can make you … queasy / vomit-y.

Discussions about music distribution, sales, and piracy often return to that time-worn theme of “supporting artists.” Of course, what usually gets left out is what actually supports the artists. Sure, it’s lovely that the industry likes this theme — maybe you imagine an ingenious, talented songwriter lighting candles in her studio — and she’s super cute, too. And you’re stealing money from her. Or worse, you’re actually ripping the livelihood from a toothless guy with his guitar, who sleeps in the mud in rainstorms. (I’m only half joking … fair number of musicians who do actually fit just that description.) But, is the money even getting to them?

Well, artists/writers are increasingly taking matters into their own hands. Why not get that album up on the tracker sites, and be upfront with your listeners about how to have a real relationship that actually gets money directly from listener to audience, without getting hung up on the middleman? The idea’s anything but new, but it is gathering momentum.

This story from Releaselog exaggerates a little with the headline:

The Flashbulb Promotes Piracy

… in fact, the artist in question would still appreciate getting some funding; he (Benn Jordan) just argues that you should pay what you think is appropriate to the artist directly, not Apple, Amazon, or Best Buy. He also happens to be CEO of his label, Alphabasic Records, and wants the same treatment for all of them.

Oh, yeah, and The Flashbulb isn’t “pro-piracy” so much as he is anti-CD (as purchased from big retailers) and anti-iTunes — good reason, seeing as he’s not getting paid.

Die, CDs, die! Photo: Ben Millett. Don’t worry, this isn’t becoming lolcats on CDM. It’s Friday.

Short excerpt:

Hello listener…downloader…pirate…pseudo-criminal…

If you can read this, then you’ve more than likely downloaded this album from a peer to peer network or torrent.

You probably expect the rest of this message to tell you that you’re hurting musicians and breaking just about every copyright law in the book. Well, it won’t tell you that…

Want to show your support?
Go here and browse our library of lossless, DRM-free downloads.
Already have that?
Then feel free to donate whatever you want to your favorite artist. 100% will go directly to them.
Hell, you can even donate a penny just to thank the artist.

It’s well worth reading the full letter for the whole argument, including why CD retailers and Apple’s iTunes really aren’t saving the world. I personally still think there’s room for online retailers, but not necessarily with the hegemony Apple commands. And as readers pointed out when elite tracker Oink was raided, many labels use just this tactic: use trackers as promotional tools.

How is it working out so far? Benn answers on his blog:

So after a 5 hour nap, I awake to see that the viral effect of “infringing my own label’s copyrights” has probably surpassed that of a $20,000 promotion budget.

Now it is time to spread the word outside of that torrent network. I want this positive attention to be a smack across the face to those in the recording industry that waste their time harassing people for ripping CDs.

And go give Alphabasic a good listen — Friends of the Site Justin McGrath (yeah, the trash_audio blog completely rocks) and Richard Devine are represented:


Now, if only we knew WWASD? (What Would Adam Smith Do? Kidding. I heart capitalism.)