Acoustic Band ‘Utterly Depends’ on Piracy

Steve Knightley is one half of 'Show of Hands', an award-winning acoustic and folk duo from the UK. Steve says he is thankful to the people that pirate the band's music and go out of their way to promote the band. In fact, he says the band utterly depends on them.

Steve Knightley The music industry’s position is clear, every download is a lost sale and there is no such animal as ‘piracy is promotion’. However, some people feel that there are benefits associated with piracy, as free musical samples can go out today with very little fuss, for the no-risk perusal of potential future audiences.

My otherwise law-abiding parents will quietly take the time to have a listen to something on a CDR that might interest them, but overwhelmingly they buy media, go to live musical performances, the opera, and generally pay their way. They are not on their own. As unbelievable as this may sound to the music industry, everyone is not a habitual pirate and people do use piracy for good, something that band ‘Show of Hands’ has noticed.

Born in 1954, Steve Knightley is a musician singer-songwriter and one half of BBC award-winning acoustic roots duo, ‘Show of Hands‘. Just like every other band, from the smallest to the biggest, they aren’t immune to piracy.

“After any show we can always be found chatting to our audience, signing stuff and generally hanging out by the CD table. I always make a point of asking people how they first heard about us,” says Steve. “The three most common answers are, they’ve been ‘dragged’ along by friends, they heard us on the radio – or someone gave them a copy of one of our CDs. This last one is usually accompanied by a look of collective guilt and embarrassment.”

At this point Steve would call the police – if the IFPI had their way. But no, Steve sees these people in a very different light and is actually grateful that pirates didn’t chose someone else’s music to ‘steal’:

“Let’s consider this more closely – a person who values our music has kindly made a copy of a CD and gone out of their way to spread the word about us. That recipient has then bought both a ticket to see us and a CD on the night.” So it’s obvious that being a pirate doesn’t exclude people from being a fan, they just aren’t paying at the point of piracy – but they will, when the circumstances are right.

Steve also believes that ‘sharing’ really is ‘caring’, which is refreshing in these ‘sue-em-all’ days: “You may call this process ‘piracy’ if you wish – for me it is an act of generosity and it both increases our audience size and record sales. And as I always say on the night – if you’re going to do it anyway you may as well feel good about it!”

Steve also says the band rarely objects if someone wants to film their performances as it’s yet another way of using technology to reach out to their audience.

“I believe the official term is ‘viral marketing’,” says Steve, “and we depend utterly upon it.”

“Don’t fight it – embrace it.”

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