During the last couple of weeks a heated debate has sprung up around the claimed massive music piracy of a relatively unknown band. One Soul Thrust currently have just 176 followers on Twitter yet according to their manager the group is being destroyed by the pirating masses who have, to date, downloaded their debut album 100,000 times. With the CRIA apparently supporting the band’s position, it’s time to investigate.
Late last week, TorrentFreak was contacted by a guy called Wayne Borean who alerted to us to a somewhat heated debate he’d been participating in on the ‘Balanced Copyright For Canada’ Facebook page.
“There’s a Rock Band called One Soul Thrust. They have a debut album, which I like (bought it off iTunes). However the first I heard of the band was when there were complaints that the band had gone Platinum – because of illegal Torrent downloads!” Borean explained.
Indeed, according to a press release from the band’s manager, Cameron Tilbury, the situation is very serious.
“The Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) states that, to achieve Platinum status, an album must achieve sales of 100,000 copies/downloads of an album. Sales…that’s the key. A random polling of several torrent site’s downloads—ILLEGAL downloads—has shown that 1ST, the debut cd by ONE SOUL THRUST has been downloaded over 100,000 times,” he wrote.
Now, 100,000 downloads is a lot, especially for a band like One Soul Thrust who have just 176 Twitter followers and a single short, non-musical video on their YouTube channel which at the time of writing has 79 views. Incidentally, the video is quite nice, since they have actually taken the time out to thank a radio station for playing one of their songs. However, the band are less pleased that people are apparently sampling their music using newer methods, i.e BitTorrent.
“We paid to create that album totally out of our own pockets. People think of illegal downloading not hurting anyone, but we’re real people too- with real mortgages, real family to feed and real bills to pay,” said lead-vocalist Salem Jones. “By downloading our album from pirate sites, people have stolen from us, our families, everyone involved in the production of our album, and their families.”
At this point, since we couldn’t find any torrents on any site (Borean tried everywhere too), we have to admit we were beginning to wonder if this 100K download claim was some kind of publicity stunt. Furthermore, since Wayne Borean and Tilbury were starting to publicly tear each other apart (and getting pretty personal at times) it seemed sensible to get to the bottom of this, particularly since the band’s manager claimed that the all-powerful CRIA is supporting the band’s stance.
Our initial discussions didn’t go particularly well. Despite explaining that we are a news site and what we were trying to find out, Cameron Tilbury initially refused to speak us. Instead he responded with a post on his site:
“We have been accused of lying and we have been abused for our position. We have also had requests for our evidence from torrent sites which actually support illegal downloading–and even more offensively, publish charts of the top illegally downloaded music, movies, etc [That's us, TorrentFreak, apparently]. We will not comply with people who’s only agenda is to support piracy. We feel that there is no way to win an argument with those people.”
Despite this hostility we pressed on, determined to get to the bottom of the story so we can report, since that’s what we do. In the end Tilbury provided the ‘evidence’ of the illegal downloading via some screenshots, one of which is shown below.
As many readers will now be aware, there is a huge problem. These results are completely fake and are generated from user input to draw traffic to site advertisers. You can type anything in the search boxes on some of these torrent sites (these apparently came from LimeTorrents) and anyone can appear to be pirated into oblivion, as the screenshot below shows.
We wrote back to Tilbury and explained our findings. We also asked him to comment on how he feels now that he realizes that people aren’t downloading the band’s music at all. He hasn’t responded to that question which is a real shame, because personally I think this is the most important part of the whole story.
I’m absolutely confident that there was no attempt to mislead with the band’s ‘piracy problem’ press release and that the band and their manager sincerely believed that 100K people had downloaded their album without paying for it. However, it would be intriguing to know what happened, when emotions of supposedly being ripped off by 100,000 pirates were replaced by other, perhaps more confused feelings.
In response to the initial crisis, lead-vocalist Salem Jones had said that while the piracy was unacceptable, the band were “flattered that people could love our music that much.” Does it now follow that band aren’t flattered? Dare I venture that they’re now quietly disappointed? Would it be better for 100K new fans to have sampled their music after all, rather than continuing with the relative obscurity they currently enjoy?
I’m going to end this piece with an unusual request because, to be brutally honest, I feel sorry for this band. All good musicians want to be heard and One Soul Thrust have just ‘lost’ 100K fans overnight. From what i’ve seen they seem really nice guys (and girl) and are completely innocent in all of this and although their music isn’t my scene, it sounds fairly decent to me.
At the time of writing they only have 176 Twitter followers, 324 on Facebook and their solitary video on YouTube has 79 views.
Please give the CRIA and the Balanced Copyright For Canada Facebook page something interesting to talk about by adding, following, Tweeting and re-Tweeting the band right now. Get creative and feel free to post any links where you mention them on other sites (Reddit etc) in the comments. A ten-fold increase in a day or two shouldn’t be too hard.
Update: Well, it seems whoever operates the band’s Twitter account, be it them or their manager, have responded to our calls to support One Soul Thrust around the Internet with the following message:
To say this is a huge disappointment after our efforts is an understatement. Really sad about this. Not all publicity is good publicity you know. Ask Jacqueline Howett.