Band Praises P2P for Helping Artists “Discover Music”

Praises file-sharing for making it easier to discover lots of “obscure,” classic music that makes today’s music “richer as an artform,” and calls artists who complain about illegal downloading “petty.”

We’ve already discussed how this month marks the 10th anniversary of the birth of Napster, and Seattle-based Fleet Foxes made some choice remarks recently to the BBC that add fuel to its importance.

For record labels continue to make the same tired, and frequently dispelled by the way, arguemnt that a single illegal download equals a single lost sale and frame their anti-P2P discussion accordingly. Not often discussed is the positive impact that file-sharing has on some of the actual artists and musicians who make up the industry.

Fleet Foxes’ singer Robin Peckfold praises file-sharing for having made it easier for musicians like him to discover music that he otherwise would never have heard of or been exposed to.

“As much music as musicians can hear, that will only make music richer as an artform,” says Pecknold.

“I think we’re seeing that now with tons of new bands that are amazing, and are doing way better music now than was being made pre-Napster.”

He makes the interesting point that emerging artists have grown up in an era where almost any album can be found using P2P. Unlike previosu eras where musical influences were limted to an almost physical exposure, be it by record, CD, or concert, today one can find and listen to almost any album ever created from virtually anywhere at anytime thanks to file-sharing.

“That was how I discovered almost everything when I was a teenager – my dad brought home a modem,” he said.

“That was how I was exposed to almost all of the music that I love to this day, and still that’s the easiest way to find really obscure stuff.

“I’ve discovered so much music through that medium. That will be true of any artist my age, absolutely.”

Pecknold even makes a point to call those artists who criticize file-sharing “petty.”

“I’ve downloaded hundreds and hundreds of records – why would I care if somebody downloads ours? That’s such a petty thing to care about,” he adds.

“I mean, how much money does one person need? I think it’s disgusting when people complain about that, personally.”

With artists like Prince leading the charge against illegal file-sharing it’s interesting to note that most are pre-Napster bands, artists that didn’t benefit from the musical exposure that file-sharing provides, and so are perhaps unfit in many ways to criticize it.

It should also be pointed out that NIN frontman Trent Reznor is a file-sharer, and said as much while mourning the loss of BitTorrent tracker site OiNK along with everybody else back in 2007.

He said:

I’ll admit I had an account there and frequented it quite often. At the end of the day, what made OiNK a great place was that it was like the world’s greatest record store. Pretty much anything you could ever imagine, it was there, and it was there in the format you wanted. If OiNK cost anything, I would certainly have paid, but there isn’t the equivalent of that in the retail space right now. iTunes kind of feels like Sam Goody to me. I don’t feel cool when I go there. I’m tired of seeing John Mayer’s face pop up. I feel like I’m being hustled when I visit there, and I don’t think their product is that great. DRM, low bit rate, etc. Amazon has potential, but none of them get around the issue of pre-release leaks. And that’s what’s such a difficult puzzle at the moment. If your favorite band in the world has a leaked record out, do you listen to it or do you not listen to it? People on those boards, they’re grateful for the person that uploaded it — they’re the hero. They’re not stealing it because they’re going to make money off of it; they’re stealing it because they love the band. I’m not saying that I think OiNK is morally correct, but I do know that it existed because it filled a void of what people want.

I think the last part’s an excellent point. Fans are only downloading music because they love the music. It may be unethical if they don’t contribute to the band financially, but doesn’t that sort pf taint what a should really be about?

Pecknold calls himself an artist, and rightly crticizes anti-file-sharing musicians who demand that everybody pay a fee if they wish to enjoy their work.

I can think of nothing more “petty” than that, nor a more simpler way to demean the artform as a whole.