I know – you're still reeling from the headline, aren't you? You're thinking, 'Whoa, hold on there, Heavy Soil! Hold on ONE MINUTE! I love record companies. They've done nothing but good in this world, and I personally owe them a great debt of gratitude. What's more, they are run by people with unimpeachable ethics, boundless altruism and Solomon-esque wisdom. So WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU SAYING?'
So, yes. Okay. Record companies aren't exactly a difficult target. And plenty of people have written about exactly how stupid have been their strategies over the past decade or so.
Y'know. Suing fans, that kind of thing.
So what I'm saying isn't new.
It isn't scythingly iconoclastic. But I'm a bit pissed off, so indulge me, won't you?
If you're a frequentish visitor, you may remember that we rather liked Jarvis Cocker's latest album. Not, perhaps, to the point of pant-soiling paroxysms – but at least to the point of overenthusiastic nods and weird approbatory throat noises.
(Which is a good bit more than some get, I might add.)
Anyhow, we ran up to our review of ol' Jarv's new release with a post about its lead single, the fabulous 'Angela'. We were unequivocally positive. Our prose practically dripped with admiration (which looks a little like treacle, incidentally).
But we made a terrible, terrible mistake.
We included a downloadable mp3 of 'Angela'.
Now, let's set aside the fact that, as a single released in advance of the album, the prime purpose of Angela was to promote Further Complications. Let's set aside the fact that it's now downloadable on ANY torrent site you'd care to mention. Let's set aside the fact that THE MP3 ITSELF WAS DISTRIBUTED FREE OF CHARGE BY COCKER'S RECORD LABEL.
Yes, let's set all those things aside, shall we? Shove 'em into a cupboard and lean on the bulging door til it's forced shut. Because, yeh, fair enough: it's not my music. And, as a music-maker myself (though, I might add, one not so fortunate as to receive a salary for my makings) I respect the owners of creative works. For the most part, I don't like illegal downloading (though I don't see any sensible means by which to prevent it).
So, had Jarv's record company contacted me with a request to take down the mp3, I'd have done so. I'd still have thought they were bloody stupid, mind, because WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF A SINGLE (especially one you have GIVEN AWAY FREE) IF NOT TO DRIVE ALBUM SALES? But I'd have respected their request and carried it out immediately.
Instead, I received a legal notice – in confoundingly difficult language – informing me that my post infringed copyright. Fair doos. It also informed me that my post had been removed by Blogger, the service on which this blog is hosted (for the moment).
And, sure enough, it has totally gone. It's not been 'unpublished' and left as a draft for me to review and amend. It's not had the mp3 removed. It's been destroyed. Eliminated. Exterminated.
Considering the fact that the sentiments of the piece were so glowing, and that its gist was clearly 'this is a great track, let's all get excited about the album', it seems pretty fucking churlish (AND BRAIN-WOBBLINGLY, TONGUE-LOLLINGLY STUPID) to crack down on it as if it were a 5-part instruction manual on DIY biological terrorism.
Record companies, if you're listening (you're so, so clearly not, are you? You still read fucking NME, I imagine): wise up. You are dying. And, as you die, I – and legions of bloggers like me – are laughing at your spasmodic thrashings.
It could have been so different.