GREG PUCIATO Nails The Whole File Sharing Issue

I've been meaning to do a post about file sharing and how some labels and bands tend to blame it for most of their weak sales for a while now; so here's the first in a series of posts.

Every time a label puts up a infomercial like Sumerian Records and Victory Records did about file sharing and how it hurts the artists and people behind their music. I wonder, how hard is it to stop spending huge sums of money on campaign ads about pirating music. And instead find new ways of embracing this digital phenomena.

Digital media won't go away, and telling your passionate fans that their thieves for "stealing" your music won't help one bit. There's off course the inconsiderate idiots that don't actually care about their favorite band(s) and simply rip their favorite CDs and upload them on torrent sites for absolute strangers to download; just to feel a sense of purpose.

Helping leak a band's hard work is one of the most selfish things a music fan can do. Basically you're screwing the people you look up to; the people that keep the music alive. Grow up!

Personally, I find digital stores a blessing. Since most of my favorite bands are literally located on the other side of the world and simply asking about their CDs being available at any stores is considered ludicrous.

For example, the middle east offers an extremely weak collection of metal CDs, let alone actual stores that sell metal music. Distribution in general for heavy metal is weak in the region. You will hardly find one person that doesn't download music, not because they'd rather not pay (many choose to pay for digital downloads anyway). But simply because there's no other way to get your hands on your favorite underground band.

A little while ago, I went to Virgin to pick up a couple of new CDs. My jaw literally dropped when I found the new Dreamshade on shelves; mainly because metal CDs available there are the most mainstream and most surely to sell (although I could imagine Dreamshade selling very well too). When I would ask about Nervecell's Psychogenocide (which wasn't available there on my first visit) they'd tell me with a confused face "No. We don't have that. But! We have the new Children of Bodom!" Which would leave me no choice but to walk towards the exit sign.

Before digital stores were popular; I used to download music, then pick out my favorite bands that I would later order their CDs/DVDs through Amazon. The process of getting my hands on the actual CD took at least 2 - 3 weeks, sometimes it would take up to 4-6 weeks, and it was frustrating to say the least.

When bands started offering their music in digital formats online through sites like iTunes and the now awesomely AmazonMp3, it made things so much easier. Both for me as a fan and definitely for the artists.

When I go to a music store today, it's not to "discover" new bands, it's more like shopping for memorabilia. Expanding my collection of "X" band's entire discography. Much like my dad's vinyl collection of Beatles, Abba, Rolling Stones and Boney M (we don't spend much time listening to music together). I don't remember the last time I went to a music store, where I was blown away by a CD available there, most of the time, I'm merely impressed that some how they have Dimmu Borgir and Orphaned Land on their shelves.

Earlier today, as I was going through my Facebook news feed, I stumbled onto a great link for The Dillinger Escape Plan's always kick ass front man Greg Puciato, who posted an article on his official site that is truly spot on. He covers the issue, pin-pointing so many valid points and factors, it should be an official "go-to post" for labels and media personnel to use to understand how they should handle and embrace digital file sharing, instead of trying to label fans and outcast them. I remember when Sumerian Records attempted to do so, the backlash was epic to say the least.

Here's a few excerpts from the article:
"I don’t see file sharing as an evil…it’s silly to say that it has any intrinsic properties of good and evil at all anyway. It’s just a new form of technology that evolved outside of what the record industry and intellectual property law structure was prepared for at the time. That having been said…I think it’s necessary to swim with the tide and not against it. I think it’s time to accept and acknowledge that the CD is a dead format. Maybe not dead in the way of the 8 track but dead in the way vinyl is. A CD now, should be thought of as a collector’s item, or a preferred way of listening if that is the individual’s preference, in which case he is already in the minority as most music is listened to via the MP3 format. A CD certainly sounds better than an MP3, just as a vinyl does, but it just lacks the infinitely superior convenience of the digital format. As internet gets faster and hard drives get bigger, even 320 MP3s(which I am totally fine with for 90% of my listening) will be replaced by larger more sonically accurate files like WAVs or FLAC, so eventually a CD will hold no sonic vantage point at all, and will simply be a relic that we once used to transfer digital files. A relic that is no longer NEEDED, but like I said, may be “cool to have” in the way vinyl is. I buy vinyls and limited versions of albums that I really like or really mean something to me…and stick to MP3 for the rest. Most people who listen to pop music only listen to singles anyway, and for that point most pop artists only really make singles anyway…the rest of the album is padding around the singles. Chances are if I hear some one hit wonder pop song I don’t really want or need the album. So the digital format is simply far more suited for the majority of peoples’ tastes. A killer full album is rare, and I think people know that."


"The choice of whether to release music for free, should be the artist’s, just as if I ran a coffee shop and wanted to give away free coffee samples or have a free coffee day that should be my choice, not the choice of the consumer. At no point would it be acceptable for the consumer to just come in and take the coffee…but that is exactly what would happen to the seller of any good if there were no laws or means of or threat of enforcement of those laws. I think that a lot of people would have a natural conscience enough to just feel bad about stealing the coffee/groceries/auto parts/whatever is being sold…and would pay anyway. However, like anything, once you do something once with no consequence, you do it again, and then again, and then eventually feel nothing. Even harder is trying to get people to pay who have grown up NEVER paying(many kids now). As “uncool” as it sounds though…something needs to happen. Artists would not be able to survive, and the whole argument of “well they can still tour and sell merch” ONLY holds up at all because people have to BUY tickets and merch! If you could just walk into our show for free and then also just walk away from our merch table and grab a shirt for free….we would just be done. People only spend around twenty percent of what they spent ten years ago on music…so I’m sure you can imagine that it has cut into our financial means more than substantially, as well as music stores, companies, producers, etc. I’ve watched someone like Steve Evetts(DEP producer…among many other bands) for example…absolutely one of the best at his craft…and I’ve seen how he has had to accept less and less pay for doing the same amount of work. This is someone who doesn’t have the ability to go on tour and sell merch. The amount of revenue a record company/band expects to generate or does generate is the only indicator of how much he receives. People don’t think of that when they use the whole “well a band can still tour” argument. Any argument is just an argument to appease a guilty conscience and try to pretend that it isn’t wrong…because we all still just wanna be able to get things for free."

"Having said all of that, I think the corner is about to turn. You can get movies just as easily as albums, and I think now that the movie industry is about to be hugely impacted by file sharing, and eventually the book/written industry as wel(since the advent of the kindle and people reading books on their Ipads), people are having a major “oh shit” moment. I think that what, realistically, needs to happen, is a combination of things."

Make sure to read the entire article, to get a proper perspective on Greg Puciato's extremely valid point.

Please feel free to share your opinion in the comments section below. I'd love to hear all points of view on the subject; as there will be more posts on the topic in the near future.


  1. I agree - there definitely needs to be some kind of turning point. Bands (or labels... or, well, whoever!) need to look elsewhere for their income. Whether it be special merch items, gig "experiences" (where fans pay more than the average ticket price, but get to meet the band as well as see the show) or some other new idea that may just be crazy enough to work! The times, they are a-changin' and, like you say, the Internet (and all that goes with it) is not going to disappear overnight (unless, of course, the zombie apocalypse happens... in which case it might). The days of the CD being the main way that people get/listen to their music is long gone. The only way bands and labels are going to survive now is to roll with the punches. Accept the fact that one era in musical history is gone and try to embrace whatever comes next.

    Personally, I'm pretty old school. I am most definitely in the minority. If I can get an album on CD, then I will. I actually feel a huge amount of disappointment when I have to download an album. I like to have something tangible - particularly if I've paid for it. Paying for a file that sits on my hard drive just doesn't quite seem real to me. Perhaps I'm severely out of touch with the modern world? Haha!

    Maybe one possible way forward would be albums on USB sticks? That way folks like me will still get our pretty packaging!

    As for the whole argument over whether illegal downloading is right or wrong... Hell, we could be here all day. As far as I'm concerned, I try to support the bands I like in anyway possible - be it buying CDs, gig tickets, merch... But, I realise that this simply isn't possible for some people. But, hey, illegal downloading isn't going to go away, so there's not much point in covering the same old ground over and over again. Some labels need to realise this. ;)

    Anyway, great article!

  2. I agree with Lou -- great article. But even after making the point that labels need to wise up and accept the fact that digital downloading is here to stay, Greg still comes back to the point that illegal downloading is damaging all the people who survive on music, from bands to producers and more, and that labels need to get more aggressive to stop torrent sites and mediafire links. He's right that too many people don't think hard enough about the consequences of downloading, but I don't think that solution realistic. The only way illegal downloading will change at all is by convincing fans who can afford to buy music that it's not cool to rip it off. In other words, it will take a big sea-change in attitude. Of course, that's part of what Greg and others are trying to accomplish. I hope that happens, but I'm not optimistic.

    btw, I hope there will always be CDs, even in very limited distribution. And I hope that even when 99% of music is distributed digitally that the digital files will still include album art and lyrics (even when you can't make out the words in the song).