I understand that we live in a digital world. I understand that any creation which can be turned into a digital file can then be duplicated without any change to the original file. I understand that the new file can then be flung out into the digital ether for all to access, download, upload, enjoy, disparage, mix, mash, change, love and hate…all for nearly no cost. I understand all of these things and this post is about none of these things.
My simple question is this, when did it become okay to call yourself a fan of a band and to then decide that it was permissible to steal the one thing that makes a band a band, their music. Because a concert T-shirt does not make a band a band. Nor does a club date or a stadium tour make a band a band. Nor does a record contract or having a manager or a lawyer or a booking agent. Nor does selling merchandise or exclusive video content on a website make a band a band.
It is the music that makes a band.
So when did it become okay to call yourself a fan of a band and then to take that band’s music without any recompense to the band.
To say, thank you for creating this wonderful art, a talent that I do not possess. Thank you for writing it and recording it and sharing it with the world, with your fans, to enjoy. Thank you for making me feel happy or sad, nostalgic or hopeful, amped up or mellow. Thank you for creating a song that sees me through the hard times and helps me celebrate the good. Thank you for taking the time and having the heart. Thank you for putting in the hours and making the sacrifices to do something that I cannot do. Thank you for all of those things.
I will now take your art for myself and I will in turn give you nothing for it. I will not compensate you. I will call myself a fan. I will listen to and enjoy your work. I will hope and expect that you will continue to write and record and release your art into the world but I will not compensate you for it in order to help you succeed. I am paid to do my job but I will not pay you to do yours. But thank you. I am your biggest fan.
I realize this is the new reality. But to call yourself a fan and to then steal from the band, simply because you can. Simply because the technology exists to do so. No. That doesn’t make you a fan. That makes you something else entirely. A fan does not participate in the band’s demise. A fan revels and supports their success.
A lot of people like to say bands shouldn’t sue their fans. That is true. They shouldn’t. But if you are stealing from the band are you really a fan?