OK, this is my first post with the new blog system, so forgive any glitches in the UI… it’s a work in progress.
The Rant Du Jour concerns a couple of stats. The first is that I sold 138 copies of Home in December 2008. Not great, but OK, the economy is in the tank, the music biz is in the tank, yada, yada, yada.
Then I started hearing about the Big PirateBay Trial. And if you’re over 30 and don’t know what ‘PirateBay’ is or what it’s all about, just ‘do the google’, mate.Â In 25 words or less, PirateBay is a database of bittorrent files. And if you don’t know what torrent files are then you really can’t consider yourself tech savvy–get your kids to give you an education. OK, it’s sort of like Napster and Kazaa except that can’t be shut down. File sharing made easy. Perfect for handing copies of Iron Man to like, 100,000 of your closest friends free, Free, FREE!
Moving on (one reason my rants go on, I’m told is that the setup takes foooor—ehver.)
Every day I get an e-newsletter from my performing rights organisation, ASCAP (which collects royalties for me God love ’em.) And pretty much every day they will have one or more articles about
- The death of the music biz.
- The horrors of piracy.
I just couldn’t believe that it was as bad as all that for little guys like me. Britney Spears? Sure, she’s gonna get pirated big time. All the movies? Yep. Even ‘B’ listers, like, say The Allman Bros., OK. But I figured that all us nobodies wouldn’t be affected at all.
So, for kicks I went to The Pirate Bay (sorry, get the link on yer own–I ain’t contributing to your delinquency you’ll have to make at least 10 more clicks to get there.) and started typing in stuff.
- Rosemary Clooney
- Tony Orlando And Dawn
- Gustav Mahler
- The Buoys
- Frank Zappa
- Lothar And The Hand People
And then, just because I’m that much of a narcissist…
- JC Harris
WTF? Every one of these come up with handy links and a big fat ‘Download’ button to get instant MP3s. Oh the range of feelings. Astonishment that people actually take the time to make high quality rips of all this stuff. Mild amusement that someone took the time to rip ‘me’. And then the righteous indignation struck.
Maybe I’se bein’ ripped off, boss. But how to know?
Now, Bittorrent relies on what are called ‘trackers’. These are like ‘cookies’ in that they enable the program to figure out who has the files you are looking to <ahem> ‘share’. A number of very clever guys have figured out how to go out to the internet and determine how many times a file has been downloaded and from where. So, I donned my black hat and spent a day figuring out how to track the popularity of various downloads. I’ll cut to the chase. Someone downloaded ‘Home’ 9,073 times in December of 2008.
9073 / 138
That’s a 65 to 1 ratio of ‘share’ vs. ‘buy’. Put another way, if I got even one dollar from those ‘sharers’, it would almost equal the $$$ I got from the 138 loyal fans. But of course, I get nothing.
So, now I get why everyone is so pissed off. And I’m converted. Now I’m pissed off.
Now every business has a certain amount of loss that has to be built into the price. Business people understand this. In retail it’s generally assumed that up to 10-15% of product is going to shoplifters. In food, maybe 5% gets spoiled. OK, that you can deal with. But what business can tolerate a chronic 6,500% loss rate?