A note about piracy

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Hello beloved reader,

A couple days ago, an email from TV Girl plopped unexpectedly but delightfully in our email inbox. Dan previously wrote a charming little piece which initially introduced me to the catchy band. You can find the entire correspondence copied below:

Hello (It’s Me). This is Trung and Brad from TV Girl. Today we were unpleasantly surprised to find that the Warner Music Group started making good on their promise to remove our music from the web. Several blogs reached out to us after receiving takedown notices regarding our music. We noticed that you posted our music, so we thought we would reach out to give you a heads up and give our two cents.

Just to clarify, TV Girl had nothing to do with the takedown notice. We have no affiliation with Warner Music Group or any other songwriting association or record label. The copyright claim is on behalf of Todd Rundgren for the use of a sample from his song “Hello, It’s Me”.

Even though it’s a bummer that our particular song is being silenced in this way, we feel that this is representative of a larger issue that will only get worse as blogs continue to gain influence over an increasingly desperate music industry.

When the song started getting really popular late last year, we reached out to the copyright holders to get the sample cleared so that we could avoid this mess. Their responses were completely unreasonable. To give you an idea, one company demanded 100% of all proceeds from any money made, in addition to us paying a $5,000 clearance fee. Basically they were saying: “Fuck you, we have all the power, either pay us or take the song down.” Because we weren’t making any money off the song anyways, and because it had already spread around the net thanks to blogs, we declined their offer.

The fact is, because of the amazing independent promotional capacities of music blogs and sites like Bandcamp, it’s increasingly unnecessary for bands like us to align ourselves with major labels or music companies like WMG. Our use of the sample easily falls under the protection of “fair use”. WMG’s actions are a rather blatant attempt to bully independent artists and blogs into playing by their rules. It’s easy to see tactics like this becoming more common as the industry continues to shift.

Obviously, we wouldn’t recommend keeping the song up if there’s any chance of your site being affected. We just thought that you and your readers might want to know about this issue as it directly affects every band, blog, and music fan operating outside the mainstream music machine.

Thank for listening, and feel free to post about or reprint this e-mail. We are truly grateful to all the blogs and fans that have supported us.

-Trung and Brad
TV Girl

I mentioned above that Daniel introduced me to this band to illustrate a point: We hope this humble blog serves as a place to find new, heart-warming music to buy, as opposed to a means to separate artists from their due wages.

The music industry is in an odd, transitional phase. At some point it will need to accept that new media exists and come up with inventive ways to earn a living through, rather than despite, technology. (The pay-what-you-will albums ala Radiohead‘s In Rainbows are a start, but not the solution.) Throughout my adult life, I’ve collected compact discs and vinyl meticulously; however, since moving to Malaysia, I’ve found it difficult to procure physical copies of albums I enjoy. In the cases in which fans don’t live near an independent record store or a city which the band will graciously stop by on tour, more inventive means are necessary for earning a living.

This blog is not that means, nor is it even highly useful in the grander scheme of financial plans (note the lack of ads or the cobwebs in our bank accounts). Eventually, perhaps soon, music blogs will become obsolete. That’s not the case just yet, though.

Joan, Daniel, and myself started TUNETHEPROLETARIAT over a year ago for selfish reasons: We wanted to control just one corner of the Internet, to have one nook of the web reflect our creative and cultural leanings. In many ways, we selfishly use songs to bring attention to our own self-absorbed narratives.

For our own self-involved interests, we still quite enjoy the site (despite Joan’s recent absence). The layout’s sexy, the pictures are crisp, the music thumps infectiously along, and the prose . . . well, the prose could be worse. But this site was never meant to (nor do I think it does) take the place of purchasing music.

I’m a professional writer. For the past handful of years, my entire income has been built solely on the words I write (and edit). I become rather frustrated when outlets offer or ask to use my writing free of charge. The creation of art is a skill, and one that should be compensated. I firmly believe that, and all the corporations which cash my checks tacitly do as well.

The same goes for musicians.

It’s our hope that if you like songs on this little blog of ours, you’ll invest in the artist either by buying the music we link to or by attending a show (musicians tend to get a bigger cut from merchandise purchased at live shows than online). A society which does not support the arts is soulless, brittle and not worth living in.

My sincere apologies for the rare sincere post. Irregular service to resume tomorrow.


P.S. While we’re being momentarily sincere, a huge congratulations goes out to New York for becoming the sixths U.S. state to legalize gay marriage. TUNETHEPROLETARIAT has, and always will, support equality in all forms, however inconsequential our voice may be.

One Response to “A note about piracy”

  1. Jessica says:

    A onewheaton “thank you” for your continued shout outs for LGBTQ equality…and a personal “thank you” for a well written/thoughtful piece about piracy. you would make mr. hurlbut proud.

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