There are many bands around the world who would rather not see their material getting exposure on file-sharing networks. Canadian band Great Lake Swimmers take a different view. File-sharing is “global word of mouth” they say, and are happy this so-called piracy has enabled them to become familiar to a wider audience.
We’re all familiar with the aggressive anti-piracy stances of artists like Prince and bands like Metallica. But file-sharing doesn’t have to be all about conflict, and for many artists it is proving to be a very effective promotional tool to reach people who otherwise may remain oblivious to their art.
One band embracing file-sharing are Toronto-based melodic folk rock group Great Lake Swimmers.
In an interview earlier this year, the band’s lead vocalist Tony Dekker said that although he doesn’t share files himself and would prefer it if fans got music from legitimate sources, he’s OK with it since people are “spreading the word about a band they love through file sharing.”
Now, in a recent interview, Dekker recalls their performance at an Ontario music festival in 2008, after which Robert Plant said he liked the band’s songs. Getting noticed by a big name was a boost for them but it was the band’s transformation from playing small venues to becoming more widely known that he says demonstrates the power of a new type of marketing.
Dekker says that this development of the band’s wider exposure is down to the modern equivalent of word-of-mouth promotion. We know it as “file-sharing” and it is this technology that Dekker says has allowed the band to move far beyond its Canadian roots.
“It’s not just something that’s specific to a region anymore. It’s global. It’s global word-of-mouth,” he says.
“People can share ideas, share music files and stuff, and I think it’s good. It’s good for music because you don’t have to scratch far below the surface to find interesting music that doesn’t have the machinery of a big record label behind it,” he concludes.
Indeed, as the anti-filesharing antics of the big labels continues to further alienate them from their artists’ fans, finding good music that they have nothing to do with is becoming more important than ever.