Bon Jovi’s “Livin On A Prayer” has had a revival of sorts thanks to a viral clip doing the rounds from a Boston Celtics fan dancing to “Livin On A Prayer” during a stoppage in play. This happened in 2009 and the actual YouTube clip from back then has been blocked in Australia on copyright grounds by Universal Music. That clip was sitting at 3.6 million views before Universal killed it. Isn’t it typical of the labels to kill something that could make them money in the long run?
However a fresh upload of the dance routine to the Utrend.tv website on Oct. 17 has gone viral with over 11 million worldwide views.
In turn this viral interest in the dance routine has led to a renewed interest in Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On a Prayer.” But wait, copyright infringement is bad for the artist. Isn’t that the catch cry of the record labels, their lobby group and other misguided artists/organisations.
For example, there is the “Save the Music America” organisation (backed by Nashville Songwriters Association International and led by Mark Dreyer) that just doesn’t get it. They compare illegal downloading of a song with walking into a coffee shop and stealing a cup of coffee.
Remember the MPAA commercials from the early two thousands that equated copying movies the same as stealing a car. Seriously, are people still thinking like this in 2013.
For the hundredth time stealing means that Person A has taken a song that Mark Dreyer has written and Dreyer does not have that song anymore. It’s gone, stolen forever.
Copyright infringement means that Person A has taken a copy of a song that Mark Dreyer has written.
Stealing and copyright infringement are two very different things. Now if Dreyer is not getting paid for the success of his songs, then that is something that he needs to work out with the artist, publishing or label that is getting paid. Music piracy is a result of the record labels inability to innovate. Case closed. Of course, due to the one-sided contracts that artists and songwriters signed, they are the ones that are doing it tough.
Has Universal Music CEO Lucian Grange taken a pay cut recently? Of course not, as there is still a lot of money doing the rounds in music.
The whole clip of the dance routine infringes on the copyright that Universal Music holds on “Livin On The Prayer”. However is that such a bad thing.
According to Nielsen data, “Livin’ On a Prayer” has accumulated 5.1 million streams in the U.S. last week. That is an increase of 390%. But wait, streaming is bad for the artist.
The song also had up to 4,000 paid digital downloads.
But wait, piracy still exists. The song is available on all the pirate sites for free, however people still decided to pay for a legitimate version of the song. People still went and streamed a legitimate version of the song. People went on YouTube and watched the clip of the song on the various channels that host it. People still went and downloaded the song illegally. Basically, people will do what they want to do.
Even Tim Millar the guitarist from Protest the Hero is a recorded music pirate. This is what he had to say in a recent interview on the topic;
“I can’t say don’t download music. I think people should get to hear music before they buy it. Even if they just download it and come out to a show, that’s going to help the band more than it hurts them… What we were worried about was the Indiegogo campaign. We didn’t want the record to leak and then the [Indiegogo supporters] have to wait two weeks to get their copy. So as soon as the record leaked, we sent everyone a digital download code that night.”
Millar gets it. Doc Coyle gets it. Piracy is not that bad. There is an opinion piece called “GOD FORBID’S DOC COYLE: THE TIMES, THEY ARE A CHANGIN’”,
“…people that seem to hate this change are, obviously, the people who sell records, such musicians, record label people, managers, etc. Also, notice that the people most bothered are ones to tend to make the most money from music. No one ever cares about giving their demo away for free when they are unknown, but when you start make a living from music solely and record sales suddenly have an impact on your lifestyle and well-being, that stance changes. This is not a knock on those individuals — just the way it is.
At this point, you may be thinking, “Wait, isn’t Doc a musician? Shouldn’t he be pissed off that people download God Forbid records for free?”
I am not pissed off by illegal downloaders, even though I probably should be. If illegal downloading didn’t begin crushing the music industry in the early 2000’s, I would probably have made a much more lucrative living from making music. It’s affected all of us: Me, huge artists, basement bands, and even every other facets of the industry that used to see the rewards of more funding via the sales of actual physical albums, from photographers that did press shots, to the guy that directs your music video, to all of the writers for rock and metal magazines. The contraction of this industry has been devastating to the economy of music.
The only problem is, you can’t stop these changes from happening. Getting mad about it, or even worse, making someone feel bad for doing it, doesn’t really make a profound impact. Do I want people to buy my albums? Hell yeah! But I can’t stop those who download it, and the thing is, those people still may support the band in other ways, such as coming to a show or buying a t-shirt. The truth is, I buy some albums, but I also I do download some from torrents sites. The real question is, how does that affect me morally? Is it stealing in the traditional sense of the word?”
The internet changed the way people saw the world. Throughout history, industries and trades become obsolete or they evolve. I guarantee you that any musician that has tried to make it has pirated music. From taping music on cassettes to downloading mp3’s for their mp3 player. Show me one musician that says that they never pirated or infringed and I will show you a liar.
Basically the record labels, the RIAA, the book publishers and the movie studios seemed to think that people wanted the physical products to own and keep, however what the people wanted was the content. Streaming is on the scene, however it is 14 years too late. It should have been there from day one, before Napster. Now it needs to play catch up.
Going back to Protest The Hero and the interview with Tim Millar.
“I think if you (fans) can find avenues where you’re paying for music directly and you know where the money is going, you should do that. I know Bandcamp takes 10 percent, so you know that 90 percent of that money is going to the band. I’ve never bought anything on iTunes because I know artists aren’t making most of that money… But if it’s a matter of you spending $10 on the album or not hearing it at all, I’d rather you get to hear it, then come to the show and buy a T-shirt.”
The last line is the cold hard truth. As an artist, you want fans to hear your music and then to come to a show and buy some merchandise.
If that means a fan buys the album, then buys a concert ticket and then buys a T Shirt. Great.
If that means a fan streams the album, then buys a concert ticket and then buys a T Shirt. Great.
If that means a fan downloads the album for free, then buys a concert ticket and then buys a T shirt. Great as well.
If that means a fan hears the album for free and doesn’t buy a concert ticket or a T shirt, then that has to be great as well. Maybe they will commit on the next one. There are just so many variables out there, however the main variable that artists should be focusing on is getting the music heard.
In relation to the songwriters (the ones who write songs for other artists), then they should organise/negotiate a better payment deal for their contribution to the song and move on. Music was never designed to be a pension fund. But hey, people hate change and songwriters are still clueless.
Living On A Prayer renewed interest article; http://m.billboard.com/entry/view/id/73336
Misguided Artist article; http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2013/11/18/save-the-music-america-fights-digital-theft/3625845/
Protest The Hero interview: http://music.cbc.ca/blogs/2013/11/Protest-the-Hero-on-new-drummers-and-piracy
Doc Coyle Opinion Piece; http://www.metalsucks.net/2011/10/05/god-forbids-doc-coyle-the-times-they-are-a-changin/