Piracy or distribution: Moving toward an answer

Not so long ago a reader of this blog asked about my feelings on file sharing after a post on Canadian singer/songwriter Brad Turcotte who offers his music free of charge for file sharing, mashups and remixes.

I never really felt like I gave her a satisfactory answer, perhaps because my thoughrs continue to evolve on the subject and I hate to sound too old guard in a world that is rapidly changing in terms of practical realities.

So let me take another stab at the subject from a slightly different point of view that has less to do with the morality of the file sharer and more to do with the reaction of the content creator to these changes.

Obviously as a creator of content who has little more than original ideas to share or with which to make a living for my family both in my full-time job and part-time on the web, I’ve got some issues with theft of intellectual property.

But just as obviously, as a creator of material outside the mainstream and without the backing of major media funding I know the difficulties connected with getting music (or anything else for that matter) to those who will most appreciate it.

If we all had chains of big corporate radio and TV broadcasters lined up to push our product with airplay and distribution systems capable of putting our release in every giant retail chain and small mom and pop in the nation and around the world, life would be easy, right?

But we don’t. So, what’s the alternative?

One, it seems to me, is to turn to the very trend that has been so reviled by the mainstream record industry percisely because they have all these other means already at their disposal and, I suspect, because it invites unwanted competition from anyone with access to an Intenernet connection and the ability to upload or download music.

Specifically again we’re talking about file sharing here.

But how to use the power of file sharing, perhaps the least expensive and most efficient method of distribution ever conceived not only for music but for anything that can be saved in a digital format and then retrieved, in a way that benefits the originator of that content.

One method, I believe, can be used to benefit both file sharers and the originators of content in a way that a few years ago would have seemed impossible.

The means is through what I believe will be a growing trend in download file sales popularized by sites like the now defunct Weed and today being carried on in a much more developed manner by sites like Musicane.

Musicane lets you upload and sell files by the download but also lets listeners hear your music files first, decide whether or not they like them and even sell them for commission at other sites.   

More to the point, such services in the future could allow file sharers to download files with the payment for the download being the artist’s royalty and then resell hard copy discs online or physically distribute them in storesd creating a whole new grassroots distribution network.

I plan to test the idea with a new release by my alterego Big Daddy Blue in the coming months. Watch fot it coming to a downloadable file sharing website soon.  

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