a reply to: MeteoraXV
God give me strength...
Look. Even modern day Pirates do not do piracy these days. They do not wear absurd pantaloons, most of them carry AK47s and rocket launchers, rather
than the regulation cutlass and long dirk combination, and none of them wear tricorn hats.
People BOOTLEGGING, is an entirely different issue, but calling it piracy is like calling a child stealing a packet of gum from a corner shop, a
serious armed robbery that might have been part of an organised criminal enterprise!!! Let me tell you something about bootlegging. I am a metalhead,
and I have looked into the effect of bootlegging on the music industry, with specific focus on the metal scene.
A case which illustrates the effect of bootlegging perfectly, is the rise in popularity of Metallica back in the eighties. These days, Lars Ulrich,
the drummer of the band, is well known for his anti-napster, anti free sharing site stance, but what many people forget, is that without bootleggers,
Metallica would not have enjoyed the meteoric rise in popularity that they gained. It worked like this:
My metallic ancestors would go and see a Metallica concert, and they would record bootleg video of the event, and they would purchase an album or
single at the event, and take it home. They would show the video to their friends, and they would copy the album audio medium somehow, usually on a
cassete tape, and send it to a friend, to let them hear the glorious music, and spread the joy that Metallicas early output would inspire in the
listener. Then, that friend would listen to the music, and pass it on to another friend and so on and so forth. By hand, by mail, the word would be
spread, and the kingdom of Metallica fandom would grow.
This method of sharing music, might see one tape travel the length and breadth of a country, and even cross international lines! It was the only way
to do it for some people, because you have to remember, that there was no real internet back then, it being a pipe dream being worked on by a very
small number of people, at the time. You must also remember, that media was not as broad and open minded back then, so getting access to the ability
to have hundreds of thousands of people hear their music, was harder than it is today. Today, a band can make some music, put it on youtube, and if a
whole bunch of people like it, they can get a following before they even have to book a gig!
By extending their fan base, beyond those who had been reached by tours, and by limited radio time in certain world wide locations, the bootleggers
actually assisted Metallica in gaining fans who would never have heard their music, would never have written to local venues, asking them to book the
band, and so on and so forth.
When Cliff Burton (the greatest metal bass player I have ever heard of) died in an autovehiclular clusterbang, bootlegged video from his time in the
band, was assembled and put out as a video called Cliff Em All, which I have a copy of somewhere on VHS. It contains footage which existed no where
else but in the hands of fans, who contributed their bootlegged videos in honour of his passing, and in mourning for a fallen brother metalhead. It is
a touching, and noisy tribute, which would have been impossible without the ancient art of bootlegging.
Moving right along, in two thousand and two or so. A friend of mine invited me over to hear a tape that someone had made, which contained a track by
Children of Bodom, called Children of Decadence. It was the most stupendous thing I had ever heard, and it was metal of a sort which was, to me at
that time, such a rarefied sort that I would never have heard about its existence if not for that tape. I immediately rushed to see if they had any
gigs coming up locally, and found that they were playing in London. They had the honour of being the first band I saw live.
Lets bring things forward to 2004 or there abouts. I had very little money at that time, and I had to spend it wisely. I had no credit card, and
nothing in my bank account to pay for things on the internet. My only way of learning about new music to listen to, was over the internet from things
like Winamp and P2P sharing systems, or waiting for one of my better heeled friends to buy an album, and bring it over for a sound session. Waiting
for friends to buy an album, just to see whether you like it, is not a great approach, because you have to rely on their financial stability in order
that they continue to collect masses of music, and you also have to rely on their particular tastes.
By using P2P sharing back in the day, I was able to find a vast number of bands and music, which I had never even dreamed could have existed, and
would simply not have heard about without using the system, and I found these bands independently, which meant that I was in full control of looking
for the sorts of things I would like, rather than having to wait for a friend to buy an album which suited both our tastes, in order to have my metal
Bootlegging by P2P allowed me to focus my spending on bands that I was interested in, and allowed me to expand my horizon of interest also. Now, I am
not suggesting that my meagre expendtitures over the years can account for a significant percentage of any one bands income, because as previously
stated, I was, and am, a relatively poorly funded person. However, if you count up all the people out there who have had an experience like mine so
far in life, who love music but have very little money, that would probably lead to a significant percentage of music industry income.
Metallica, to circle back to the original point, would not have had the meteoric rise and success they enjoyed before they sold out and stopped being
a thrash band (Black Album, may its name be forever cursed, and its riffs rot until naught but six rust marks on a broken fretboard), without
dedicated fans sharing their music in a cheap and effective way, and spreading that music as far and as wide as possible. That is how they would pack
out massive auditoria, and how they would summon hordes upon hordes of hairy metal type people, to random feilds in the back of nowhere in order to
play to massive festival crowds. Those crowds did not exclusively contain well to do kids with expensive music collections and freshly steam cleaned
internal organs, but were significantly bolstered by those who had heard a cheap assed bootleg tape, and had hitchhiked, marched, and bludgeoned their
way to see the marvel of early Metallica for themselves.
I have bought festival tickets based on bootlegged material before now, and probably will again if there is any justice in the world. I have bought
albums based on it, and gig tickets, and by extension shirts, and coffee mugs, and key rings and God alone knows what else, and have lived my life
under the banner of metal, ably assisted by access to free music. These days, I get to use Youtube to the same effect, but Lars Ulrich needs to accept
that without bootleggers, his band would never have attained the fame they enjoy, and things are not that much different today. The mechanism differs,
that is all.