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Filesharing and Music Activism Strategy

AS WE DISCUSSED in our previous post, a new study was released this week which concludes filesharing doesn’t hurt major label sales. We noted that we disagree with these findings, and wanted to add one more thought about music activism strategy.

While it’s easy (and fun) to use studies like this one to make the RIAA look stupid, in the long term it’s just not good politics. Music activists should be always defending filesharing on its cultural merits and for its potential to bring positive change to the music industry– we shouldn’t fall back on the defense that p2p helps major label sales (especially since it’s very likely that it doesn’t).

To make progress in the fight for a fairer music industry, we need to move the debate to questions like: “What’s good for musicians?” and “What’s good for culture?” If we can do that, we’ll win the debate every time because the record companies simply don’t have a leg to stand on (see the reasons). But if we rely on the argument that filesharing helps sales of major label CDs, we trap ourselves in their game: falling major labels sales then become a justification to ban filesharing, rather than a success for the campaign to break their monopoly.

Most of all, if filesharing doesn’t hurt the major labels, it’s bad news for music, for musicians, and for fans. It’s crucial to remember that we aren’t here to convince the big 5 labels to reform their businesses; good people have tried and failed at that for decades. Instead, we’re here to finally break the major label monopoly, and filesharing is one of the most potent tools we have. We should be proud that people are deciding not to pay for major label music and are using p2p instead– it’s a true victory for music.

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