“We’re Gonna Boycott Your Band” And Other Empty Freehadist Threats- 6 Months Of Campaigning Against Piracy.

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)

10 thoughts on ““We’re Gonna Boycott Your Band” And Other Empty Freehadist Threats- 6 Months Of Campaigning Against Piracy.

  1. Technically, isn’t a pirate already boycotting your band? After all, a boycott is when you don’t buy someone’s products/services. Starting out as an unabashed pirate, you’re about 90% of the way to a complete boycott already.

  2. I think the reason nobody boycotted your band — even if they disagree with you — is because music is not a commodity item like black beans: one brand is not a substitute for another.

    This ties back to something I ask anti-copyright people a lot, that they never have any kind of real answer for: if you’re so opposed to musicians copyrighting their work, why don’t you do what the free software people do with software, and only listen to music that’s public domain or Creative Commons licensed? I mean, if you really feel it’s an ethical issue, and you’re not just an asshole who wants whatever you want without having to pay for it, there are literally millions of records out there that you can get and listen to whose creator is perfectly happy for you to have for free. (Or whose creator is long-dead.)

    The answer, of course, is that music is not software. GIMP may be equivalent to Photoshop for a lot of people, in terms of what you can do with it, but old Alan Lomax Library of Congress field recordings, as wonderful as they are, are not “equivalent” to a Cracker record, and not a substitute. Music — all art — is extremely unique and specific to the creator.

    Which, for me, is what gives it value in the first place, and why it’s worth paying for.

    Now, having said that, I do release my own work under a Creative Commons noncommercial-share alike-attribution license, because I think it’s not a binary issue. I charge people for my work, but if they want to engage in actual “sharing” of my music, i.e. giving a copy to a friend and not the entire goddamn population of the planet, I’m more than fine with that. If some kid wants to play my music on his podcast or use it in his homemade short film, rock and roll.

    I really think the key is not legislation or technology, but creating a mindset where it’s declassé to pirate music, if you can afford to buy it. Part of that is teaching people to “revalue” music, I think.

    When I was a youngster, back in the Stone Ages of the early 1990s, good music was scarce. If you lived in a small town like I did, your options were the rotating rack of shitkicker music on the counter at the truck stop and whatever wretched Top 40 shit they sold at Wal-Mart. Your only option, if you weren’t into Brooks & Dunn or Bell Biv DeVoe, was to haul a box full of C90s over to your buddy’s house and dub shitty copies of what were probably already shitty dubbed copies of their records…especially since Amazon didn’t exist.

    Or, in the case of at least one thirteen year old redneck doofus with rapidly developing tastes, you stayed up late on Sunday night and held your boombox up to the TV speaker as “120 Minutes” played this amazing song about how what the world needed now was another folk singer like I need a hole in my head, and then listened to the tape until it snapped in your shitty secondhand Walkman.

    Was that piracy? Maybe in the strictest sense, but I personally think of it as more like getting that first free taste from your dealer. Because once you’re hooked, you’re hooked through the bag, and you’ll spend a lifetime standing in line at the record store at midnight to buy a record the moment it comes out, and standing around in uncomfortable shitty venues drinking overpriced, watered-down drinks just to see a band play a short set through a blown-out sound system. And it’s certainly not the same thing as downloading a band’s entire discography and then letting it sit, gathering electronic dust, on some external hard drive, which is the musical equivalent of hoarding, in my mind.

    My generation — and yours, David, since you’re a bit older than me — valued music because it was scarce, which made it something to be treasured, to be discussed and to be passionate about. Did you ever fall in love with a girl because of the music she played you? I sure as shit did. I have a buddy who says he’ll never date a girl who doesn’t like Tom Waits, and I feel the same way. (Well, I don’t even date girls who like Tom Waits these days, because my wife would probably get upset, but she’s a Waits fan, so that worked out well.)

    I’m not sure if we can ever get that back, but maybe we can try to help people understand the value of actually listening to music, rather than just obtaining it wholesale and listening to the first ten seconds of all the non-singles on the album. Because if you instill that sense of value, people will understand why you should pay for your rock and roll. (Or your hip-hop or dubstep or witch house or whatever the fuck the kids are grooving on these days.)

    And I see no problem with backing these motherfuckers up against the wall and making them admit they’re not coming from a place of righteousness or humanism or freedom: they just want whatever they want and don’t want to have to pay for it, which makes them massive assholes, not freedom fighters.

    Which is why I’m so glad to see you out there. I’ve been saying this stuff for a long time, but nobody particularly gives a shit about my opinion. People care about yours. So rock the fuck on, brother.

  3. Enjoy the realisation. We produce high end industrial software you won’t get much change out of $30K for a fully loaded license. The software drives equipment costing $500K and upwards. Our software was heavily pirated (some of it still is) now I don’t particularly mind some kid learning to use the software at home. I do mind their employer running 100s of machines with a couple of legit licenses and expecting full support. So over the last few years we’ve locked down our main product such that it is very hard, but not impossible to crack. I’ve not seen a new crack in the last 18 months. The crack sites are full of comments of the order well we won’t use their software – fucking good that’s the idea – our sales have increased year on year.

  4. I’d think it would be obvious that it doesn’t matter one whit if a thief stops using your product. I’d rather have 1,000 paid sales than 10,000 free downloads, because the thieves aren’t going to pay anyway, and probably don’t really care at all about the product. As the old blues song says, “they got a hand mull of gimme and a mouth full of much obliged!”

    1. “Thieves” are getting paid for most if not all transactions in the Web 2.0 black market because they sell advertising space on their black markets including to Fortune 100 companies through their corrupt ad agencies.

    2. I agree, but I’m a little conflicted by the web 2.0 indoctrination I have received: what you describe is exactly Spotify, isn’t it? 10,000 free downloads (essentially, you may make a dollar) for PROMOTION! MAN! cuz nobody would hear it otherwise… etc… versus the 1000 paid. Or in my case, 200 paid.
      My stuff is on Spotify still. Like I said, I’m conflicted.

  5. Early in this battle, a young musician took a hardline stance against the illegal downloading of his music. His name was Lars Ulrich; the band was Metallica. The response from the illegal downloading community was so vitriolic and mean spirited against this successful (read: wealthy) artist that it is still burnished into people’s memories, especially those of musicians.

    It is as if we were in Roman times and they stuck Lars’ head on a spike just outside the LA City Limits with a sign that said “if you speak out for your rights, this is what’s going to happen to you”. And damn if they haven’t been successful for ten years.

    I say, it’s high time we took poor Lars’ head down and replaced it with Kim Dotcom’s.

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