In the eyes of many artists and record labels, being heavily pirated is just about the worse thing that could happen. But what if there was a worse fate, one where people don’t feel the desire to pirate your music at all? What if you make your music available for free – but still no one is interested? Come back pirates, all is forgiven.
Pirates are pretty demanding consumers, even if they aren’t putting their hands in their pockets all of the time. But just because they’re getting stuff like music for free, doesn’t mean that they let their standards drop. Sure, the decision about what to download is made easer by the lack of a financial penalty should the media prove substandard, but pirates are as picky as any other consumer – and maybe more so.
There have been many cases where bands and music labels have been publicly vocal about the fact that their album has been heavily pirated. Complaining that their business has been torn apart, most of them appear to ignore the link between accumulating many unauthorized downloads and the retail success of their product. Short and sweet – if your product is good, thousands will buy it. If your product is good, thousands will pirate it too – the two scenarios go hand in hand.
One band who thought that evil pirates were taking all their money are Sweden-based Stockholm Stoner. In a recent interview picked up by brokep of The Pirate Bay, the band explained that since releasing their album on January 21st this year, they had sold a pretty-unimpressive 379 copies.
Apparently, however, their music is a smash hit on BitTorrent, racking up an impressive 80,000 downloads. This ratio of legal to unauthorized downloads seems unprecedented and the band were quick to express their dismay. While noting that they aren’t specifically against P2P networks, the band said it “would be fun” to get paid for their work and that “adults must understand that they can not steal,” while saying that the Internet should be filtered – “..the Chinese can do it after all,” they said.
But this is the Internet, and not everything is how it seems. What could be worse than getting pirated 210 copies to every one sold? How about… not getting pirated at all? Unfortunately for the band the download stats for their album were gathered from entirely the wrong place, via scammy links on a torrent meta search engine. As can be seen from this search for Stockholm Stoner, the site shows many thousands of downloads. They are fake – you can type anything in that search box and the site will return ‘stats’.
Rather than being relieved, I can’t help but think that having found out that they’re not popular with pirates after all, the band would be hugely disappointed. Searching in the usual places, TorrentFreak couldn’t find any significant downloads of this band at all. Better to be popular and downloaded, than not downloaded at all, surely?
Another artist who claims to be hugely popular with pirates is Indiana “The Internet Police Are Coming” Gregg. In an interview with the BBC, Gregg claimed that one of her albums had been downloaded 250,000 times – a figure we found just too outrageous to be taken seriously, with our own calculations indicating this assessment was inflated by around 240,000 downloads.
Using the publicity from her spat with The Pirate Bay to great effect, Gregg went on to create Kerchoonz – a site paid for by £250,000 of public money where people could download and listen to music for free. Trying to convert ‘pirates-with-morals’ to the site, every listen or download would result in the artists getting paid, emphasized Gregg.
Indiana Gregg herself is touting her own music on the site and is actually the #4 artist in the Kerchoonz ‘Top 100′ list. Since she’s so popular with pirates (250,000 downloads remember?) she must be tearing it up on Kerchoonz. Wrong. Current stats indicate that her tracks have been streamed 1180 times and downloaded just 310 times. Presuming she’s getting paid at the same rates as the other artists on the site, Gregg netted $2 for this effort, which is exactly $2 more than she accused The Pirate Bay of giving her.
Overall it seems that getting heavily pirated is an indication of success, and a pointer that good money is to be made at retail – The Dark Knight was pirated at least a million times but has already made over $1 billion dollars worldwide.
If no-one wants to pirate your music or download it for free, don’t expect to be able to sell it either. Come back pirates, the music industry needs you.