Fiona Joy, an award-winning pianist from Australia, posted on her Facebook a few days back that to her shock, she stumbled on a website that was offering a full download of her complete music album for free. The whole operation of the site is unauthorized, and there was not a contract signed, copyrights obtained, or terms agreed upon between the website and the artist.
Unfortunately, hers is not a solitary case. If you talk to some of the semi-successful independent artists in the music industry; you will come to know that almost all of them have faced some sort small copyright situation. Music distribution is suffering a lot of challenges because of digital availability of the art, and unscrupulous people (even major record labels and corporations) are leaving no stone unturned to exploit the situation of the independent artist or new artist all in hopes of them chasing their dreams.
Some of the reasons such things happen from a VERY high level include:
1. No strict policies or monitoring of such websites by governments of a particular country.
2. Users making those sites popular by using them because they can get free music. (ie Soundcloud)
3. Lack of a simple system or process to report such websites and getting them off the internet.
4. No support system for indie music labels, producers, labels in fighting against such people collectively.
It does not end here
The problems faced by artists don’t stop here. Some of the most prominent websites and internet companies in the world have the most bizarre payment policies in exchange for a mass following. For example, YouTube pays only for the payment that a song gets from the advertisement shown in the video. There is no royalty paid to the artists for streaming — which results in a meager earning for the artists even though the number of streams may touch millions.
Will Wildfire performing in Atlanta, Georgia
In the modern era, any artists producing new music can’t stay away from providing or releasing music digitally because they have to look for every avenue to earn money to make a livelihood.
So, the possibility of creating music only for live shows, gigs, concerts, etc. seems to be a lucrative option — to reach out to an audience, they have to release their music digitally which exposes their art to online predators.
In the end, there is NOT a need for a high need to regulate the digital distribution of music and other art forms. Just give the artist more distribution options some that they can creatively control of the distribution process.