While the RIAA sues its customers, and blames filesharing for the decrease in record sales, a coalition of seven independent Swedish record labels explores alternatives that make use of the Internet and filesharing technology.
The increase in music piracy is a signal that customers want something that is simply not available. High quality, DRM-free music that they can buy online for a reasonable price. Filesharing is a virtue, and the coalition of Swedish record labels understands this, as they introduce The Swedish Model. They write:
We in the music industry have shown ourselves unable to follow in this change. Some of us have even waged war against those the music is recorded for , the listeners. The rift between producers and consumers has never been bigger. “The truth is that Internet has provided us with a fantastic grey scale of possibilities! Instead of fighting back we ought to obtain learning from the daily newspaper and the computer game industries. They early realized the superiority of the internet and developed new services there.
This sounds like music to our ears. We’ve said it over and over again here at TorrentFreak, The Internet has changed the way people interact with music. Music is more accessible, more popular and cheaper to distribute. Record labels should embrace filesharing and compete with piracy instead of fighting it, and it seems like that these Swedish labels understand that.
TorrentFreak spoke with Henrik von Euler of Flora & Fauna, one of the labels participating in the initiative. We asked him what he thinks the greatest benefits of filesharing are: “Well the first thing is pretty obvious, that you can reach much larger audiences more quickly,” he said. “You bypass many of the existing power-structures and communicate directly with the listeners. It is also a very direct medium where the step from production to consumption is extremely short which is good for creativity I think. In the old days you could have an album ready and have to wait like a year or so to have it released and now you can have your music up online the same day you get the master.”
Henrik told us that he has “no beef” with The Pirate Bay, but he admits that filesharing also has its downsides. “On a personal note I find it hard to choose what to listen to”, he told us “The vast number of sites, bands etc makes me feel stressed out, like I’m always missing something. Speed and accessibility is good because it is fast and accessible but also bad because everything turns more superficial and volatile.”
Henrik was also quite clear about the lawsuits that the RIAA has started agianst music fans: “It’s insane. It can only have bad consequences. I don’t see how they can think antagonizing the listeners will help them secure any of their much desired income.”
“This is great”, says Rick Falkvinge, leader of the Swedish Pirate Party Piratpartiet. “There are creative people who think ahead. These are labels constructing a new business model. The old dinosaurs lobby politicians, sue to the left and to the right and try to control the internet. There is room for the services of a label, few musicians want to do everything themselves. But the labels must serve their musicians and their fans, not the other way around. These new labels have understood that. The future belongs to them.”
The role of the record labels will change in the future, but not entirely according to Henrik von Euler, “I think the role of the label has started to change long ago. It moves towards a more creative role much more like the art curator or such like. And also, just because artists CAN do everything themselves from production to promotion, administration etc doesn’t mean that they actually want to.”
“On another note,” says Henrik “I must add that this is hopefully the last time I will answer questions about filesharing, good or bad. It is there! Live with it. Love it, hate it, I don’t care. But please don’t for a second think that it will go away or that you can solve it like it is a problem.