Music Vs Money

Gene Simmons has a habit of opening his mouth and having shit spew out.  He’s proven himself an ignorant bell end when it come to issues like mental health, but his recent comments on music fans having to bear the brunt of the responsibility for the decline of the music industry are at least interesting.

Simmons point is that record companies are not the bad guys and in fact without them so many of the bands we love wouldn’t exist.  Instead, the fans who now choose to illegally download music are the ones causing the decline.  They’re ‘killing the next Elvis, the Beatles, the next Kiss and the next whoever.’  It’s a statement that combines nicely with Taylor Swift’s recent movement to get paid for the streaming of her music, by removing it from Spotify and going head to head with Apple about their new service.

It’s possibly an unpopular opinion, but when it comes to this I actually kind of agree with Simmons.  I still buy music, I love owning physical copies of the music I love and my recent attempts to start a vinyl collection are likely to bankrupt me.  I use Spotify, but pay for it, and essentially use it to scout out albums that I then go and buy.  However, I also understand that not everyone else cares that much.  It is all just something else to find storage space for and vinyl are a hipster obsession.  Yet, Itunes still makes it incredibly easy to download music and many still choose to do it for free.

And you know what, if you want to download Kisses discography for free then go for it.  Kiss will be loaded despite that and enough people buy their merchandise and attend their shows that it won’t hurt them.  When downloading music becomes a problem, much like Simmons says, is when it’s effecting the next generation.  If you hear a kick ass band for the first time at Download on the fourth stage and go home and download their music for free, then that band have gained nothing.  They have probably lost money playing the festival (when you take in travel etc) and by taking their music for free you have stunted their growth rather than aided.

Of course, the counter argument is that people go to the shows and buy the merch.  However, how many people actually do that?  I go to a fair amount of shows and possibly one in ten times will I buy a t-shirt.  I also regularly see small bands playing in half full rooms.  With even the likes of Ginger Wildheart playing shows that they won’t make money from, and he has a proven fan base, then why do we all assume smaller bands are making loads?

To flip to the Taylor Swift point of view about streaming, it’s never been a secret that companies like Spotify pay pittance.  Swift has every right to see that as a problem and the complaint that she has more money than God already, doesn’t ring true.  It doesn’t ring true because it’s not the Taylor Swift’s of the world who are going to benefit from the fight to get money from streaming.  It’s the exact same people who benefit when you buy their album, the small guys.  The difference is the small guys don’t have the pulling power to get people to listen.  You need someone like Taylor Swift to make the point because she is big enough that these companies have to pay attention, as Apple have proven today.

To prevent myself sounding too sanctimonious, I should point out that you are welcome to listen to music in any way you want and there are places and times when downloading it illegally is a brilliant thing.  It has allowed things like heavy metal to enter parts of the world it would never have got to without it and that’s great!  However, there is a chance that these things are effecting the next generation of rock and roll bands and I quite like rock and roll, so would be sad if it ceased to exist.

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