The Sleep of reason brings forth monsters… and freehadists.
I remember posting something on Facebook in early January about content theft. something to this effect: “despite the problems with SOPA we still need to address massive piracy of artists’ sound recordings”. This produced a massive reaction. Mostly negative. Often the comments were threats. They generally went like this:
“Unlike! I’ll never buy another one of your albums again”
“I’m gonna boycott your band”.
At the time I wasn’t the only artist that seemed to be speaking out. And these other artists were getting roughly the same treatment. The barrage of hate mail was unrelenting. Many artists were bullied back into silence or “converted” under the influence of something like the Stockholm Syndrome.
But after a while I noticed something curious. Very few of the critics seemed to have actually “liked” my bands in the first place. None of them seemed to have jobs (unless they were being paid to spend all day on facebook arguing about their constitutional right to steal other peoples shit and dress it up as “free speech”) Nor were they my “friends” on Facebook. They were commenting on my public comments on my personal Facebook page. I had no idea who these people were or where they came from.
I have a Facebook account because I have to have one as a public figure. I regard posting to Facebook as somewhere between yard work and a dental appointment. I prefer my interaction with data packets on a command line not through some buggy and slow browser interface. So I really don’t give a shit if someone is gonna unfriend me or unlike my band. It’s hilarious to me when people say that, cause all it means to me is less unpaid slave labor for the Web 2.0 overlords. It also means that all the effort and work I do out in THE REAL WORLD enriches Facebook slightly less when our fans share pics and videos on their pages. So go ahead friend, unfriend me. Please.
This was my calculation. Most of the freeehadists getting so hysterical were not fans anyway. And If they were fans of my bands and they are defending stealing from artists they likely weren’t buying my music anyway. Further if they are so stingy they can’t buy a 99 cent song, or $9.99 album, the odds that these cheap ass parasites were gonna leave their parents basements to go to a show and buy a T-shirt was close to zero. I was better off worrying about getting hit by a meteorite. Anyway unless you’re in the top 1% of touring acts, touring is so marginally profitable it really isn’t much money anyway. Oh so i’m only gonna earn $27 dollars a day instead of $29. Fuck ‘em. They aren’t fans anyway.
About this time I happened to see a photo of some kids “protesting” Metallica or Lars Ulrich. I couldn’t help noticing the angriest one was wearing a Nirvana shirt. See that explains everything! It also occurred to me I hadn’t seen any Wall Street Journal headlines that read “Fan backlash forces Lars Ulrich to Sell Jet and Two Mansions”. This was truly encouraging.
So after 6 months of running my artists’ rights blog and serious mano y mano combat with the freehadists, how did it affect my career? How does it compare to the same period 2011.
*Did album sales suddenly plunge? No, not according to my royalty statements.
*Did I make less money on the road? No. In fact live revenues went up significantly.
*Did radio/tv play decrease? Not according to my Sound exchange and BMI statements.
*Did we have fewer placements in commercials, TV and Film? No. And honestly I don’t mean to be a poor winner here but I can’t resist it. We’ve had a pretty fucking good year. The usual commercial work plus a couple major film placements. Young Adult and now Perks of Being a Wallflower (currently #1 soundtrack even while showing on limited screens).
*And what about the ultimate expression of Internet fandom? The ultimate in click society impulsiveness ?What about Facebook Page Likes? The easiest and most painless thing for a fan to give up. The quickest and easiest way to show displeasure. Unlike. Our facebook likes should have shown some declines Right?
Nope. Never once did our net Facebook page likes go negative. Not even for one day. Even during the most heated debates. Further some of the bigger positive spikes in facebook likes were on the day I posted the most controversial stuff.
Turns out that Freehadists having fits on the interwebs, only matters to other Freehadists having fits on the internet. It doesn’t really matter out in the real world. And it doesn’t really matter on Facebook. Most normal people either agree with us about fair artist compensation, are open-minded or tolerate differences of opinion.
Turns out when artists speak out against file-sharing and take on the freehadists NOTHING BAD HAPPENS.I hope this encourages other artists to speak out. It’s actually quite fun and refreshing after having to listen to their bullshit for the last 15 years.
New Facebook likes or if you prefer the “delta” of our Facebook fanbase (above)
In my experience real world events produce greater effects on Facebook fan delta than “internet based events”. In other words playing a few shows dwarfs any sort of reaction you get by relentlessly posting and interacting on Facebook . Put the Facebook down and play your guitar. (Below)
(Thanks to http://www.nextbigsound.com for this data)