I have to admit that my recent enthusiasm for song writing has taken a knock by all the news about illegal downloads and the lack of faith in the music industry to get its house in order. With two legendary stars from Kiss and the Beechboys recently announcing the death of the music business as being nigh and others on UK TV, who have been in the business since the 80ís, declaring they simply did not understand the business anymore so could not give any worthwhile advice to newcomers, I have felt a bit lost and bemused to say the least. Of course the ideas and enthusiasm are still there but whatís the point in trying to write music for a living if it is in danger of becoming impossible to do just that?
A broadcaster on the BBC reminded us this week that it was less than a hundred years ago that music could only ever be heard live. There were no recordings, no radio Ė nothing. If you wanted to hear music you had to play it yourself or hunt down a live show. Now, it is everywhere and we all take it for granted. A point that really made me take notice. We humans are very quick, in terms of World time, to accept things as the norm and to forget how lucky we are to live in the technological age.
We must not do that with music, even if it can be accessed everywhere from the elevator to each TV and Radio in the house, the internet and so on. Usually my gripe is that it's getting harder to buy a turntable to play all my vinyl LPís but now I am constantly barracking my teen son for listening to illegal downloads on his MP3/4? (Whatever!) Of course, he does not download them himself, Oh noÖ he gets them from his friends at school, who pass them to each other using Bluetooth! It was also reported this week that the average teenager in the UK has around 800 illegal downloads on his MP3 player. I was amazed and furious! Every time I catch my son listening to his I ask him where he got the tracks and to prove he paid for them. If he canít we sit there together until he has deleted them off his gizmo and I warn him not to do it again. But, of course he loves music and his mates are introducing him to tracks he enjoys (mainly 70ís I am delighted to say!) and he wants to have them. He canít buy them all and he hears them on the radio, so whatís the harmÖ? he asks. Of course I tell him that he and his mates are killing the music industry and any hope I might have of making a living from music. I remind him that eventually the only music there will be, apart from old recordings, is from a musician playing live somewhere. For, as we all know, big record companies only exist to make a profit and if they canít do that from selling recordings they will eventually be gone for good.
So this morning I turned on my TV for the latest news and was delighted and praised the Lord for what I heard. Finally about 8 of the major ISPís here are taking a stand against illegal downloads and pirating of music and video. They are going to write to the parents of any teen found to be downloading illegal free music and movie files from the net. At last! Someone is doing something to stop the rot and the eventual death of the music business as we know it. I almost kissed my TV and fell to my knees in praise. Of course, I dragged my son into the room to watch the report and yet he still does not understand the importance of the money that goes to making the music available for everyone. Oh to live in his simple World where everything is free!
The industry has a long way to go and writing letters to parents is only a start, many parents are doing it too of course. The problem is deep rooted and I know that from talking to lads in their twenties who have never purchased or paid for a recording in their lives. How do you change bad habits back to good for those who never respected the system in the first place?
I guess the love of music is all that matters for those of us compelled to create it, but I do hope the industry cracks the problem and restores normality. Personally I get half of my pleasure from going to a store and buying my favourite album, reading the lyrics and owning the CD. I have never downloaded a single track from the internet and I never will. But I will keep deleting them from my sons MP3Ö. A dad has to do what a dad has to do!