#78 No more bullshit. The top 10 lamest excuses for stealing artists music

I am on the fucking warpath this week.

Lamest arguments in favor of illegal file sharing from the past week. I’m not making this shit up. These are real arguments people presented. And argued vehemently.

1. “Marijuana is illegal. File sharing is illegal. Therefore it’s okay.”

Response try filesharing your pot dealer’s stash with 5,000 strangers online and let’s see how long you live.

2. “The RIAA is secretly behind filesharing. They make more money suing people than by selling albums. There are Youtube videos explaining all this therefore it’s true. Therefore it’s okay to steal from cracker and camper van beethoven”

Response: The RIAA was also behind 9-11, Global Warming Hoax and the Kennedy assassinations. Usher is behind Justin Bieber. And Camper Van Beethoven tests cosmetics on lab animals.

3. I heard that the record companies ripped off Willy Dixon in the 1950’s Therefore it’s okay to steal from Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven.

Response: Very clever. You figured out that Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven have a time machine. We all went back in time to the 1950’s (before we were born) and took $20 dollars from the man’s wallet while he was sleeping. Curses Foiled again.

4. Louis CK. Is successful and his stuff is on Youtube. Therefore it’s okay to steal Cracker’s songs.

Response ask Louis CK if he would prefer his income stream or his idol George Carlin’s Income stream from album sales, video sales, book sales in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Louis CK is making a lot of money. But nothing like George Carlin. And in the process he is helping Google/Youtube add to the piles of gold bullion that Google keeps in secret spaceship deep inside the mantle of the earth below their mountain view “campus”.

5. Music should be free it belongs to the universe.

Response: Okay then come to my house and do YOUR job for free. My car needs it’s oil changed and someone needs to pick up the dogshit in the backyard. There is a signup list on our website. Last i checked my car and the dogshit also “belonged to the universe”.

6. In the middle ages there were no music sales. It was all based on live performance.

Response: Yes and doctors bled you or covered your torso with leaches when you were sick. Also it was permissible to beat your wife with a stick as long as the stick was not larger in diameter than your thumb .

7. “Music sucks today. I’m gonna steal music I like. You bad. No No.”

Response: There is no official response. We have been advised by our legal counsel that the above referenced statement exhibits such a degree of logical incoherence that the statement:
A) was made by a mentally disabled individual
B) are lyrics to a Red Hot Chili Peppers song
C) A zen koan created by a zen master operating on a higher level of consciousness
D) or any two of the above three.

8. “You’re not the boss of me. You can’t tell me what to do”

Response: Actually I personally am the boss of you. Check with your attorney. Unless you are in international waters. Now get out in the backyard and clean up the dog shit.

9. “The Record labels and Musicians failed to adapt to the new hi tech reality. So it’s okay to steal music by Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven”.

Response: So it’s okay to steal handmade boots, organically grown farm produce from family farms, and custom motorcycles? You’re right I’ve been stealing custom choppers for years. How stupid of me. You win.

10. “It’s okay to steal from musicians cause they are all rich”

Response: Although I am dictating this into my solid gold jewel encrusted dictaphone from horseback I’m not rich. Now Steve Jobs he was rich. You know he was buried in a 300 yard long platinum coffin along with 50,000 of his favorite servants? A funeral procession 66 miles long stretched from Vacaville California to Mountain View. Thousand of Buddhist monks burned themselves alive. I’m not rich.


A lot of you may be shocked by this response.  But should you really be surprised?  I mean i’ve spent  29 years making music for people who think  the world is full of a lot of unadulterated bullshit and can see the humor in it.  Have a sense of humor people.

19 No More Bullshit

41 Responses to “#78 No more bullshit. The top 10 lamest excuses for stealing artists music”

  1. And it’s not only the band. A lot of pay cheques come from a sale. Engineers, Mixers, Producers, Runners, Rental houses, The coffee shop next to the studio….. The list goes on

  2. kdennis57 Says:

    My local library has a very hip music buyer and a deep catalogue – both Cracker and CVB cds are there. When I check out a cd and make a copy for my personal use, am I stealing the music? I’ve always assumed my library-directed taxes cover the payments to artists/labels.

    • Libraries are considered exempt as illegal file sharers for some reason so technically no, but the artist only gets the money from the album that the library buys.

      • Actually the libraries buy a single copy and can only have that one copy in circulation at any particular time. Libraries are a time honored tradition in most civilizations. But the original questioner should’ve gone and asked the question of the boss. Library Science people are probably more aware of Copyright than any other paid profession on the planet.

        And the answer to the question is that copying material gathered from a library is illegal with the exception of exemptions of fair use. IANAL (nor a Library Scientist), but I’d say that copying CDs from the library violates copyright – even for library employees.

  3. I feel that an artist should be paid for what they produce. This topic reminds me when I was young and the first time cassettes came out and you could record music for personal use. Generally, most people did it so you could listen to music outside the home..car, etc..after you had bought the album…Recorded music wasn’t as good as the one originally produced by the label. Even then, if someone recorded their album for you on a cassette tape….it was illegal but the percentage of this happening was much less than the internet crimes being had on massive levels. There was nothing like owning your own album. Reading the lyrics or looking at the pictures …..

    Artist should be paid for their music. All of their music. Regulations should be put in place so that this can take place. It is the only fair way to achieve valid compensation for the artist and whoever produces the piece of work.

  4. Give ’em hell, David. It’s probably no consolation, but I’ve personally bought two Cracker albums and one CVB album this year. Kerosene Hat was a re-buy because I wore the old one out, it was scratched to hell.
    Peace, @jtparsonsmusic.

  5. I worked in the music business for over 20 years. It was for an independently owned record shop. I started sweeping the floors in the mid-80’s, then become a buyer and then ultimately the general manager. We were very well known in our area as a great store that exposed thousands of people to music and culture. In the early 2000’s we started to see the downward tick of sales, much like the whole of the industry. We knew some of this came from online shops like Amazon who could undercut on price and had a large new and used selection. For some customers, the experience was better and they moved to buying off the internet. At the same time, it was obvious that we were also competing with free. More and more we saw people stand inside our store and scoff at the idea of paying any amount of money for music. I had the bright idea to get indie record stores into the download business. Maybe we just needed to change with the times and evolve in the new business model. This idea actually turned into a download store that was funded by a large group of stores. I ended up being immersed in all the new ways of selling music via downloads. In the end, the endeavor failed as it launched during the housing bubble and it was clear that not that many people actually bought downloads. The few that did were using I-tunes. We did have one success. Free tracks. Record store people know good music, so people loved what we picked to promote. So what is the point of this rambling. During my many years of working in the music business, I got to know many people at various labels, both big and small. I would estimate that 90% of the people that I knew no longer have a job in the music business. Piracy has burned through the music business and leveled it down to just the lucky survivors. Clearly, the major label pop machinery still has a handful of pop superstars. The remaining Indie labels are surviving day to day. The ability to make a living at music is severely hampered by the uncontrolled amount of internet piracy. Until this is addressed, a majority of upcoming musicians will struggle to survive. There is no competing with the free of piracy. Music suffers because the infrastructure cannot survive on pennies.

  6. stimpyvan Says:

    @ Kdennis57 ~ Do you also make photocopies of the books you borrow from the library? To answer your question; you are in violation of the Code of Federal Regulations >Title 17 > Chapter 1 > Paragraph 106. Yes, you’re stealing. Now that you know, will you stop?

  7. stimpyvan Says:

    David, I’m fully behind you on this issue. I absolutely cannot believe the intellectual dishonesty of people that attempt to justify theft.

  8. There’s been a complete paradigm shift, which has little to do with “get with the hi-tech”-ness argument that is sometimes thrown around. I teach middle school/high school kids guitar, and encourage them to write their own music. These kids are recording stuff at 16,17 years old that would have cost me a 1000 bucks to do when I was playing guitar and delivering pizzas in the hope that we could press a 45. Once they record it they throw it on the Internet, for free. There’s not even a question about it: its how they’ve grown up. For them, money isn’t a question, but many of them- hopefully- can turn this into something: they can sell schwag, they can tour. They don’t feel as if the Internet has sold them out. They don’t sound like Metallica or Duff McKegan or- sorry- David. They realize that pop music is moving away from “selling” your recorded music. The money- if any- is in touring. There will probably never, ever be another BIG rock band; but there will be thousands and thousands of little rock bands that are making music because they love it, and not for any desire to be stars. And the majority of these kids won’t make it in the business, because the business doesn’t exist anymore. But they’ll have ten years they can look back on and be proud of, because they did it themselves, on their own accord. I’m not sure if there’s anything more punk rock than the direction new music is taking in the shadows of internet piracy, and blogs, and the sheer amount of people exposed to new music. It is staggering, and exciting, and- yes- a little scary, too.

  9. kdennis. ummm, I think maybe you should examine your statement. Do you check out books at the library and make copies of those for yourself as well?

    • kdennis57 Says:

      Thanks to David for the post, and for the comments. They are giving me a lot to think about on the issue of libraries and music.

      The vast majority of my music collection has come from used stores (physical cds) and the library (digital copies). (Note: I bought two copies of The Palace Guards on cd last year.)The artists see no money from used cd retailers. The artists get their percentage of the library sales. Hundreds of years of retailing art second hand is a human commercial mainstay, and the artist almost never sees a penny. Not commenting on the morality of it, that’s just a fact.

      I remember when blank cassette tapes carried some sort of built-in surcharge, an acknowledgement that duplication of copyrighted works was the product’s most likely use. An early attempt to get some money for the piracy – I wonder how many artists actually got their cut?

      Sony has a program called Freegal (unfortunately, it’s ending) with my local library to provide free mp3s of their artists to library card holders. I’ve downloaded the limit (sometimes 3 songs, recently 7 songs) weekly. If a giant major label is giving their stuff away, where does that leave the artists and little labels?

      So to the comment about the wealth of new young kids and their bands springing up in the “free” soil of the internet music world – I agree, that’s the future. The cream will continue to rise to the top, and hopefully playing live will let the music breathe. I go see Cracker/CVB/Lowrey as often as I can, and usually buy a cd at the show. Because I know those guys have chosen to follow their hearts and souls, and that path rarely leads to the bank.

      I’ll quit copying the library cds, and use those listens as auditions for the new stuff available by bands working the field today. Thanks again for the thoughts.

      (I also have a band, and the music has been free for years – http://www.thekevins.bandcamp.com

  10. I do feel bad that the 100+ I’ve spent on my cvb revord collection is less than it cost me to buy all the albums on itunes

  11. You know what really galls me – the fact that some of the worst freeloaders are musicians themselves, People I know who make a living – some good some not so good out of playing, recording and selling music. It is as if they belong to some elite club who are absolved from paying for music because they need it for research purposes.
    It is a thorny one – basically it exposes the lie that we are all lovely at heart. I buy music but I can afford it. If I couldn’t would I steal it? I like to think I wouldn’t but I am not sure…..
    I also think we have to expand the argument beyond music. I am a photographer – well ex-photographer as I can’t make a living at it anymore – so don’t get me started on unlicensed use of my photos on the web. Huge corps like BMG and AOL use my photos for free even though I own the copyright and they totally ignore any attempts I make to get them to pay for it. They know I can’t afford the sort of lawyers I am going need and they ‘require’ all sorts of proof that I own the photos according to their terms and conditions. They are not willing to give me proof that they own them.

    The whole thing is very depressing and I don’t know what the answer is – especially as there as so many fuckwits with the sorts of attitudes Mr Lowery lists.

  12. On the other hand how many people check out new bands with filesharing or youtube? I would never have known Cracker beyond “Low” if not for napster. Instead I checked them out, learned how great they are, and have since bought all their albums and seen them and David and Johnny live close to a dozen times. Youtube for sure isn’t a substitute for albums, it’s a substitute for the radio. File sharing is used by some people, not all, to investigate bands they may be interested in. Now if you like the music and never go buy the songs then I’m with you…

    • we PUT our songs on Youtube. Napster TOOK our songs and shared them. Sean Parker became a billionaire. The fanning brothers became multi millionaires. nothing wrong with that. except that they originally made their money off of pirating others intellectual property.

  13. David, please tell me that your creative mind came up with most of those excuses and that people aren’t really that stupid. I am trying to remain optimistic about the future!

  14. @STEVE – yeah the internet really seems to be a help for artists on the very bottom end, with getting exposure, and such. Then it seems if you get to be a medium size artist, it really hurts you. I think it probably on balance helps more than hurts the mega-big artists.

    Yes, David I’m probably just talking out of my ass on the last one. I know the first part is true, and trust you on the second. The third seems logical enough, though, considering the media onslaught and “BUZZ” that we have to endure about these Gaga’s and such.

  15. http://www.jonathancoulton.com/2012/01/21/megaupload/ provides an alternate outlook.

    Sites such as Megaupload exist in large part because many people want stuff without paying. The economic question, asked too rarely, is one of costs. How much does it cost you when someone downloads a song? It clearly is not the same loss a cobbler suffers when someone steals a pair of boots, but you do suffer a loss. What are the costs to the person downloading? There is a little time involved. There is a small risk of being caught and losing a lawsuit. The benefit is being able to listen to the music whenever and wherever. Few, if any, channels for legitimate music purchase provide that purchase with the ease and freedom of illegal downloading. Why not? Music from iTunes is restricted in multiple ways. Most other online music stores have similar problems. These problems do not justify cheating artists. They might provide clues about solutions that do not focus on having record companies write our laws and the legal system dole out punishment.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_of_thumb Please stop spreading the conventional ignorance about the rule of thumb. It obviously involves measurement with ones thumb, not necessarily domestic violence and spousal abuse.

    • actually this is totally disingenuous responses. the question with sites like megaupload is as follows: if megauploads makes millions off of sharing others content they have created, why can’t they share some of the proceeds with the artists?

      It’s really quite simple. If filesharing sites equitably shared their revenue we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

      Why are you against artists getting paid?

  16. This may be totally batshit, but what the hell. With the talk of free downloads denying artists rightful access to royalties for their work, what about scathing reviews from critics? Does such a review not dissuade the potential customer from purchasing the album (or whatever), thus having a derogatory effect by constraining potential earnings for the artist? Could one not argue that a review of that sort is an unfair impediment to the artist’s right to free trade? Just wonderin’…

  17. Well, you better get on the local record stores then, you don’t make money when I buy a used Cracker album.

    • tired. tired argument. there is a moral difference between burning a cd for a friend. and “seeding” a file on filesharing site that results in 11,000 free copies of the song.

  18. Camper / Cracker…

    It was David Lowery night at the Pageant a few Fridays ago. After the opening band, he came out with favorite Camper Van Beethoven. The KDHX blog has this review. After the show, I found 300 Songs, his blog about both bands’ songs. The most recen…

  19. The piece on filesharing you wrote to accompany the release of _Palace Guards_ made me decide to purchase rather than download the record. (And has played a small role in changing my thinking on filesharing more generally.) So these screeds do make a bit of a difference!

    I was totally overjoyed that Cracker + CVB were playing while I was in SF and dragged along everyone I knew that could be persuaded to attend. I think I still came out better on that transaction though…

  20. I have a feeling you’ll be getting a lot of this one now, even if nobody tells you about it…

    #11 – Fuck you, Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven. Now that I’ve read your smarmy bullshit about file sharing, I’m going to find copies of all your music and download them just to spite you. I’ll burn copies to give my personal friends for free, and assure them that it’s okay because you’re assholes.

  21. jayschwinn Says:

    A friend recently turned me on to Spotify, and I signed up with a paid membership. I see that Palace Guards is up there, plus all the Camper ones, but no Greenland or Sunrise. So how do you and the others in your bands feel about this method of supporting your music? I have physical copies of everything, so this is just a convenience factor for me, but does it work out well for you when people only pay this way?

    • as i said spotify is on the the “good” side of the equation because they pay. the only problem is there is a wide variation in how artists are paid. and there is little transparency. because of that we don’t know if it’s the artists label screwing them or spotify. but generally i put spotify in the good for artists camp.

  22. David-
    You rock. Some people just suck. People that get rich off of others talent suck even more and computers have helped those people suck even more. Cosmic justice will win, it just won’t pay us what we deserve.

    Let’s form a Copyright squad and take care of business; I’ll represent in the Southeast. Seriously. ASCAP, BMI and yadda-yadda can only do so much from their offices.

  23. bobbydriver Says:

    I get a bit fed up of musicians moaning about the file-sharing culture, but this was actually pretty damn funny.

    If there is one thing worse than a musician moaning about file-sharing then it’s file-sharers coming up with excuses to justify it, so this is a perfect post.

    I’ve downloaded music and not paid for it. I know it’s wrong and I don’t feel great about it but I’m not going to try and justify it.

    It’s about living with your conscience I guess. I have some pretty simple rules. If I download it and I love it then I go out and buy it legally. If I think it’s OK then I’ll maybe buy it or at least go to a show if the band play in town. If it’s crap then I just delete it again. I’d like to think that most people have similar rules, I’ll be sad if I’m wrong.

    My hope is that this sort of behaviour in the long term will force musician’s output quality UP and a lot of crappy bands will fall by the wayside.

    Am I dreaming?

  24. stevengordonson Says:

    David- Hope you got paid when NBC/ The Golf Channel played a few bars of Low as they faded to commercial yeterday.

  25. David: Thanks for this. I wrote a piece that was picked up by Digital Music News in response to your SF MusicTech talk. It did not contradict you, but instead chose to illustrate that there are angles for the creative person to work while mired in the chaos you describe well in your .pdf.

    I’ve been in the middle of similar fights in another arena – PROs, sync, cue sheets. Spotify doesn’t pay, but neither do some networks, as I’m sure you know.

    I want to win specific battles that will get artists paid, and I’d love to talk with you some time.

    Mike Errico

  26. How cool that libraries came up in the conversation.

  27. Mr. Lowery, first of all, what are you doing with my weapon standing outside of my CHU?? Cracker was awesome on Victory Base Camp. I knew I should have locked that thing up. Second, I just repurchased Key Lime Pie for the 3rd time, download from I-tunes, last night. I won’t ever steal your music, brother. Second question, if you had to write a thesis and the subject was either the military role in the “war on drugs”, or the Soviet Afghan war, which would you pick? I’m leaning one way, but what do you say??

    • I think the soviet afghan war would be more interesting, cause then you can go all the way backt to the mongols and shit. Although I see the value in studying the military role in war on drugs and it’s not really been told.

      yeah thanks for loaning me your weapons. next time you lose an album write us and we can email you a free download link.

  28. My friend just moved to Eugene, OR. I was gonna send him the link to your post from that, because he’s a Henry Rollins type roadie with a heart of gold, but having problems understanding the locals. Could you please repost?

  29. Actually, “In the middle ages there were no music sales. It was all based on live performance.” is BS. A minstrel would come around and sing, then, after the song, he or an assistant would come around and ask for money. Just like not paying the guy who hands you peanuts at a ball game is bad form, so was not paying the minstrel.

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