From Hell's Heart
"From Hell's Heart..." is an editorial column written by the Metal-Rules.com team. Every other month or so we
pick a metal-related topic and share our thoughts, feelings and ideas on it.
MP3's - are they good or are they killing bands? (June 2000)
MP3's Good...Legal B.S. BAD!
That said, what rots me is when someone comes down saying that because some people pirate CD's, means that MP3's overall are bad. Even a band as big as Iron Maiden can benefit from MP3's. If one track was made available for FREE distribution on the net it could generate more hype for the album and it could even attract some new fans to the music who would like to check out a full song before deciding to but a CD. An area where MP3's are really helpful is for new / struggling bands. Not many people are into plunking down fifteen or twenty bucks for something that they have never heard. Some bands even give away their first album for free in MP3 format just to generate interest in the band and the more people that get a hold of their music the better chance they have of selling their next album and making it.
As most are aware, (Metal)lica recently flipped out at Napster and some of it's users who are Metallica fans because people were trading illegal copies of their music. On the one hand they have a point. Their music was not written to be given away (although it wouldn't surprise me if (Metal)lica probably makes plenty money from touring alone!!). What did surprise me is that they were the ones who brought this issue to the forefront. I'd expect a record company like Sony Music or something to be the ones freaking about this - not a band who's beginnings can be traced to tape trading!
So MP3's are definitely a good thing when properly used as a promotional tool for bands to attract new fans, hype new CD's, release songs that are not on any albums, whatever. To listen to some bands from record labels that are not afraid of embracing MP3's drop by our legally provided MP3 archive at www.metal-rules.com/sounds. It's amazing, the number of people who have written me over the past couple of years and have thanked us for having an MP3 up from a certain band because they then bought the CD. Proof enough for me that MP3's are good!
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past several months, you’re aware the whole MP3 controversy concerning Napster, $elloutica, and a few other involved parties. Record companies and some "artists" are concerned that these high-quality digital music files are being distributed freely on the internet by music fans, which in turn is causing a decrease in album sales for the owners of the musical works. And while I think that some artists and most record companies are making way too much money, it’s still wrong for people to steal the music. That’s right, I said it’s stealing.
The fact is that even though music is considered art, it’s still a product that’s produced for the consumer marketplace. And as consumers we have two choices; buy the product or do without it. Downloading MP3's from the internet is fine for the purpose of checking out music you’re interested in to see whether or not you like it enough to buy a particular CD, but some people see it as way to avoid paying for CD’s altogether. These are the people who have caused the debate over whether or not MP3's are a threat to the recording industry. And it’s these same people who are making things look bad for true fans of music and deserve to have their asses kicked by the likes of Lars Ulrich.
So are MP3's a bad thing? I don’t think so. It’s a great thing to be able to sample music before buying it. At least that way you can spend your money on something you’re actually going to listen to. You’re allowed to test drive a car before buying it, so why not be able "test listen" a CD??? What it boils down to is this... Just like guns, MP3's by themselves are neutral. Whether or not they pose a threat to anyone depends on the intentions of the people using them.
MP3's Good or Bad?
Conversely, if a band (such as Metallica) has already established and generated massive public interest, not to mention mega album sales, the MP3's obviously can substantially hurt their ability to sell as many albums as they have in the past. It would be naïve to say that people will buy the albums anyway, even though they can get all the songs on an entire album for free with the new advent of disc burners. It just goes against human nature, especially the nature of teenagers and the rest of us who watch our pocketbooks, to pay for something that is easily obtainable for free or a much lower cost. And, though it is a violation of moral and legal laws to pinch all the artists' creations off the internet for free, I think the good outweighs the bad, especially considering that entire albums have been copied off the radio and other albums for years via cassette tapes. The internet and MP3's just make it a little easier, while the disk burners have improved the quality (tapes vs. CDs) of the creations that get nicked!
It comes down to this: MP3's are a good thing. I've had a long day at work and am in a bad mood and really don't feel like writing a rant right now, but essentially, I'd say that MP3's, generally, help the music industry. Take my own personal example. I'd heard that Crimson Glory was an excellent band and had a great reputation, but I'd never heard them for myself and so, I never bought one of their albums. While surfing around, I came across a website that had their songs "Lonely" and "Lady of Winter", so I downloaded 'em. Well, damn, if I didn't instantly get hooked by the kick ass music that came outta my computer! So, what did I do next? Did I simply surf around aimlessly, looking for entire MP3 albums by CG? Hell no! I went out and bloody well bought the damn albums for myself! The point of this rather extended example is that if it weren't for MP3's, I would have missed out on some kick ass music and albums - which I bought. No doubt there's lots of people out there that do the same thing - they get exposed to new music through MP3's and then go and buy for themselves.
But then there are bands like Metallica. Bands who can't stand to have anyone hear their music without buying it first. Greedy fucks who only make millions of dollars per year. People whose $ye$ are so clouded with dollar signs that the world is green. Well, they can all kiss my ass. Why the hell should someone buy a shitty soundtrack album to hear "I Disappear"? The whole soundtrack industry is a fuckin' sham anyway, full of albums that have nothing whatsoever to do with the movies that they are associated with. Goddammit I'm in a really bad mood now. Fuck you very much Metallica. So what the hell am I tryin' to say? Taking a cue from Hetfield speak, MP3 gooooooood.
“MP3’s – Good or Bad”
Good! First of all, MP3’s should be used for two reasons:
Let me discuss item #1 for a moment. Sometimes songs never get released. Maybe they’re demos, maybe they never made an album, or maybe the intent was to release them but problems arose and they remained forever obscure. Basically, there’s no way of getting the songs unless you tape trade with someone who happens to have it. Taping it onto cassette for someone is, in my opinion, the same thing as making an MP3 of it and emailing it. The other situation is when a song does get released, but it is extremely hard to find. Take for instance Dark Tranquillity’s “Exposure”. This track was only available on a limited number of copies of the Projector CD. I bought the limited edition digipak version in hopes of getting the track. Alas, it was not on it. I checked out the fan forum on the band’s web site, and it turns out there were plenty of people out there who had purchased CD’s that didn’t include the track. All of these people wanted the song, including myself. Through the forum, I was able to get an MP3 of “Exposure”, which I keep on my computer and jam to every now and then. Is there anything wrong with this? Fuck no! I bought the damn CD. Even if I didn’t buy it, chances are if I did, “Exposure” wouldn’t be on it. And what if a CD or vinyl album is out of print? If a friend wants to buy it, and cannot find it anywhere (because it’s out of print), it would be simple to make a tape or CDR of it, right? Of course. This is the same thing as making MP3’s of the songs. I see no problems with doing any of the above, as long as it is done for free. Tape, CDR, and MP3 trading is a way of discovering new bands and getting impossible-to-find music. And no one should make money from doing this type of recording or trading.
Item number two is probably the biggest benefit of MP3’s. I am sure you have either heard or read about controversy surrounding the usage of MP3’s. Well first of all, look at who’s complaining, and then look at what music is a part of the controversy. It always involves popular “artists”, correct? (And I’m not talking specifically about Metallica here, I’m talking about dumber shit.) Idiots that like popular music usually like one or two songs off of an album. That’s why CD singles sell like mad for popular artists. Their viewpoint is: “why buy the album when you only want one song?” It was obvious that once MP3’s became big, these same idiots would turn to the internet and download their favorite song or two of the week, instead of buying the CD single (let alone full-length whole album). In the realm of metal, if someone hears a song, and it sounds good, they buy the CD and end up liking most or all the album. And they listen to it for years to come. You could look at the purchase as an investment, an act that provides a lifetime of enjoyment. Popular music is, for the most part, temporary. Once the flavor of the month changes, the older music gets buried in the closet, shoved under the bed, stashed in the glovebox, or thrown in the trash.
Because metal remains underground, bands get no airplay. So how are we supposed to hear new bands? Sure we could go down to our local record store, take a chance, and buy something based on an album cover, band name, song titles, or what t-shirt the drummer is wearing in the band photo. But what if the CD sucks? And there are thousands of metal bands out there! So many that no record store (or internet store) could ever carry every title. Hell, some bands you already listen to may release a new album and because you love them, you would buy it anyhow. But even then, sometimes the CD’s are hard to find. For example: I fucking love the French metal band Loudblast. They just broke up, and to commemorate them, their label has reissued their first album, released a new rarities compilation CD, and put out a home video. I am more excited than you can imagine, but so far every attempt I have made to order these three new releases has failed.
My point is: it is just too fucking hard to get into new bands without the support of MP3’s. Sure you can read CD reviews. But everyone has his/her own opinion. I may review a CD and say “this CD rules the universe and beyond”, but what if you buy it and you think it sucks? You just wasted your time and money, right? I am sure many people have been burned this way, and I am sure there are many people that totally ignore CD reviews because of experiences like this. So even though a CD gets reviewed, the reader still has to take that chance. But if there is an MP3 for them to hear, the choice would be obvious.
MP3 - Good or Bad?
MP3's - Good? Bad?
Here's my take:
Somebody argued with me that with MP3's available (full CD downloads) that nobody would be into buying the "actual" release. Bullshit!!! I'm a music fan, who supports my favorite bands. As silly as it may sound, I will buy the new Pantera, Motley Crue, Iron Maiden CD's when they come out, whether they're good or bad. Why? - because I'm a fan and it's part of my collection. I've bought al twenty-odd Kiss CD's, lord knows they all weren't great!!!! As for the Metallica/napster thing, I'm tired of hearing about it. It's a shame that Metallica are giving they're fans shit for being fans!!!