This post was written by Shane Jones, a music industry fanatic who’s interests extends beyond just listening to all the intricacies involved with networking and building a brand. His real passion lies in folk-Americana bands, particularly projects he has worked on in the past, such as The Vulcans. You can follow him on Twitter @shanejones15.
Causing a buzz across the entire U.S. internet community is the widely unpopular bill proposed by Congress known as SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act. Coupled with its sidekick, the Protect IP Act (PIPA), the two bills pose a major threat to online rights and freedom of speech by censoring any site that has allegedly engaged in copyright infringement.
The aim for these bills is to inhibit online practices of digital theft, and disseminate a strict anti-piracy culture across the web. This attempt to censor the web from all sites that encourage copyright infringement comes with the increasing trends of digital piracy and the negative implications they hold for the entertainment industry, specifically the music and film industries. These trends have been outlined in the infographic created by the internet marketing company WebpageFX (at the bottom of this article).
Luckily, because of the widespread opposition from U.S. citizens via the web, these two bills have been declared “toxic” and postponed until further notice.
While the intention behind SOPA/PIPA appears beneficial to musicians at first glance, here are three examples which indicate otherwise:
1. Karmin and YouTube
Newly discovered pop duo, Karmin hit it big after a series of YouTube cover videos caught the eye of the public. Karmin’s talent may have gone completely unnoticed had the bills been enacted. Under SOPA/PIPA’s terms sites like YouTube could be shut down on a regular basis to take down videos littered with copyrighted music, TV clips, and movie footage. Karmin first went viral with creative covers of the hottest new songs to hit traditional radio.
2. Indie Artists
If anything has been proven from the recent awards shows and ceremonies over the last couple years, it is that indie music is gaining momentum and popularity — mostly because of the web and its potential to reach millions in short periods of time. With performances by Arcade Fire, Florence + the Machine, and the Avett Brothers on major television networks and programs, it’s hard to deny the interest of the public. SOPA’s goal of protecting corporate interests denies smaller labels any significant market share, as major labels would gain more control over the distribution. That happens through the legislation’s allowance of major labels to halt the shut down the distribution, and discovery platforms on the web that allow us to discover and connect with these independent artists. Without the lobbying presence to protect the sites they utilize for distribution, independent artists could remain undiscovered.
Music is an inherently social activity. We all want our friends to hear the latest artist or song that we just discovered. So we naturally give them burned CD’s, tweet Spotify links, or post YouTube videos of them across our Facebook walls and personal blogs. And from the recommendations of our friends, we usually fall in love with these albums and declare our loyalties to those artists, which usually results in spontaneous spending on iTunes, merchandise, and concert tickets.
Without the ability to share music easily on the web, whether it be through legal means or piracy, the music industry would be shooting itself in the knee cap. Personally, I onle end up spending money on an artist after I’ve discovered and had a chance to listen to them. I would never buy a CD or MP3 on a whim just to “try it out” without hearing it first. Online music platforms like Bandcamp and SoundCloud recognize that if you make it easy for your fans to listen and buy, you can turn convert those fans into a lot of real purchases.
Innovation is the solution to piracy, folks. Not legislation.
[Image credit: Click here]