Artists Speak Out On Music Piracy

6 minute read

SOPA may be behind us for now, but for every bill that gets buried, a new one emerges. For the most part, these bills aim at protecting the major labels more than the artists who make the music or even the sites that promote their records. Today, we take a look at various well known musician and their stance on illegal music downloads; The results are quite surprising.

Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters)

"I think it’s a good idea because it’s people trading music. It has nothing to do with industry or finance, it’s just people that want music and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s the same as someone turning on the fucking radio, it’s the same as someone putting a cassette in a cassette deck when the BBC plays a special radio session. I don’t think it’s a crime, it’s been going on for years. It’s the same as people making tapes for each other. The industry is more threatened by it because it’s the worldwide web and it’s a broader scope of trading, but I don’t think it’s such a fuckinghorrible thing. The first thing we should do is get all the fucking millionaires to shut their mouths, stop bitching about the 25 cents a time they’re losing."

Liam Gallagher (Oasis)

"Download is the same as I did: I used to tape-record the songs, the successes that I liked on the radio. I do not care. I hate seeing all these rock stars complaining. At least they are downloading your music fucking idiot, and they are paying attention to you. Do you know? You should appreciate that. What are you complaining? You have 5 huge houses, so just shut up."

Neil Young

"It doesn't affect me because I look at the internet as the new radio. I look at the radio as gone. [...] Piracy is the new radio. That's how music gets around. [...] That's the radio. If you really want to hear it, let's make it available, let them hear it, let them hear the 95 percent of it."

Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails)

"As the climate grows more and more desperate for record labels, their answer to their mostly self-inflicted wounds seems to be to screw the consumer over even more. A couple of examples that quickly come to mind:

* The ABSURD retail pricing of Year Zero in Australia. Shame on you, UMG. Year Zero is selling for $34.99 Australian dollars ($29.10 US). No wonder people steal music. Avril Lavigne's record in the same store was $21.99 ($18.21 US).

By the way, when I asked a label rep about this his response was: "It's because we know you have a real core audience that will pay whatever it costs when you put something out - you know, true fans. It's the pop stuff we have to discount to get people to buy."

So... I guess as a reward for being a "true fan" you get ripped off."

Ed O'Brien (Radiohead)

“There’s a very strong part of me that feels that peer-to-peer illegal downloading is just a more sophisticated version of what we did in the 80s, which was home taping.

If they really like it, some of them might buy the records [...] if they don’t buy the albums they might buy a concert ticket, t-shirt or other merchandising."

Thom Yorke (Radiohead)

I think a lot of the time the reason people pirate, is they want access to good music. And they don't get it because the radio is so shit.

Bono (U2)

"A decade’s worth of music file-sharing and swiping has made clear that the people it hurts are the creators — in this case, the young, fledgling songwriters who can’t live off ticket and T-shirt sales like the least sympathetic among us."

Lars Ulrich (Metallica)

Remember the band that took down Napster back in 2000?

"It is sickening to know that our art is being traded like a commodity rather than the art that it is"

However, in 2008, Lars was a bit more supportive:

“Listen, we’re ten days from release. I mean, from here, we’re golden. If this thing leaks all over the world today or tomorrow, happy days. Happy days. Trust me. Ten days out and it hasn’t quote-unquote fallen off the truck yet? Everybody’s happy. It’s 2008 and it’s part of how it is these days, so it’s fine. We’re happy."

50 Cent

“I don’t think the music business is dying. I think we’re just experiencing technology and we just have to pass new laws, eventually, to change how music is being distributed. There’s no lack of interest in great material, I don’t see people ‘not’ going to the nightclub or enjoying themselves when the song comes on. It’s just about re-developing what the music business is. It’s easier to download a song that’s three minutes long, probably about three or four seconds for you to download it, it’s easier to steal.

The technology is so new and what we’re actually doing on the web that we have to develop that. And those things won’t actually happen, the effective laws won’t happen until it starts to damage film. When you got your blockbuster film doing $120 million in a weekend and then that blockbuster film that they spent $120 million comes out and nobody goes to see but everybody watched it because they could pull it off their computer and see it on HD at home on a theatre. They’ll change those laws.”


"The industry changed. We made money (online) before piracy was real crazy. Nobody’s making money now except phone companies, Apple and Google. I’m supposed to go to the White House to talk about copyright protection. It’s like the gold rush out there. Or a carjacking. There’s no boundaries. I’ve been in meetings and they’ll tell you, ‘Prince, you don’t understand, it’s dog-eat-dog out there’. So I’ll just hold off on recording."

Lady Gaga

"You know how much you can earn off touring, right? Big artists can make anywhere from $50 millon for one cycle of two years' touring. Giant artists make upwards of $100 million. Make music--then tour. It's just the way it is today."

Jack White

"I don't mind [piracy] that much, really. I wouldn't do it because I really need to have the album in my hands--preferably the vinyl. I like to have the artwork and the notes and the lyrics. When it's on the internet, it feels like it's invisible. You think that it's there, but you can't see any moving parts and that's somehow disappointing."

Joss Stone

"I think it's great. I love it. I think it's brilliant, and I'll tell you why. Music should be shared. I believe that this is how music turned into, like, some crazy business. Now, the only part about music that I dislike is the business that is attached to it. Now, if music is free, then there is no business. There is just music. So, I like it. I think that we should share it. It's okay. If one person buys it, it's totally cool. Burn it up. Share it with your friends. I don't care. I don't care how you hear it, as long as you hear it. As long as you come to my show and, like, have a great time and listen to the live show, it's totally cool. I don't mind. I'm happy that they hear it."

Want to hear artists sound off on piracy, more specifically MegaUpload going down? See the video below