The Muppet Show

About four or five years back I was featured on a big compilation (it’s still available on Amazon, Play.com, etc). Needless to say, to appear there alongside some of the absolute brightest stars in the game was a huge opportunity for me. That opportunity went down the drain.

When the CD came out I found out they had come up with a different artist name and track title for my tune. I didn’t get credit and also never saw the 350 pounds I was promised for the release. Someone was cashing in big time though.

I tried to reach the label but they wouldn’t respond. I was fuming!!

There are a couple of other occasions I’ve discovered my tunes blatantly ripped off and sold under different names. There must be more cases of which I will never even find out about.

Then there’s regular piracy. There are torrents, forums, shady russian shops selling your MP3s without permission, the list goes on.

Bad apples

It took me years to comprehend this but I’ve realized it’s usually not worth it to spend the time and energy to fight it or even worry about it. It’s much better to put all your effort into making more (and more importantly – better) music.

That being said – you should always be really careful with your material before it’s released.

But when the worst has happened (and it will)… In most cases it’s really difficult and generally too expensive to go after what’s rightfully yours. Just learn your lessons and work with people you know and trust.

It’s inevitable to get ripped off at some point. As you get better and more popular, the number of people trying to take advantage of that will grow as well. Think of it as an indicator that you are on the right path. It means a lot of people are paying attention to your music. Some of them are bad apples but that’s life.

Back to the Future

The other thing I wanted to touch down on here is the music industry, lousy record sales and how a lot of them are blaming everything on piracy. WTF???

They are spending ridiculous amounts of money and energy to fight a battle when they should be looking at their systems and how to make them better.

Who are they fighting against? Time and change. How can you possibly fight time and change in life and expect to win? Did they watch “Back To The Future” too many times?

As for the downfall of record sales, there are of course a ton of factors that come into play. I could quickly think of four off the top of my head:

  • Piracy. It’s there but only makes up a part of the equation, contrary to what the music industry wants us to believe.
  • New consumables. We now have this whole industry of computers, smartphones, video games, software and entertainment that simply didn’t exist on such a scale 20, 15 or even 10 years ago. It’s gone through the roof. The money people used to spend largely on music is now split between a lot of different things.
  • A change of times. Internet has changed the world and it will never be the same.
  • Decay of quality. Nobody wants to spend 20€ on a CD album with mostly fillers. Or a vinyl EP with one good track on it. Don’t put out shit products and then complain about sales.

Conclusion

My bottom line is: people who download pirated material are less likely to buy it anyway. It’s not hurting the sales that much.

If anything you should think of it as giving out free promos to people who would never hear from you otherwise. Before, it used to cost you a lot of money to achieve that kind of exposure through conventional marketing.

If some of the people like what they hear they are likely to invest in you later on or tell their friends. This is why it’s crucial to consistently keep on delivering good quality material.

People are always going to want to hear good music and those who truly appreciate it will support the artists and labels. You might have to find new ways to leverage your music and provide people with different ways to show their support.

For example: I provide services to leverage the skills and experience I gained through my music.

Four simple things to remember:

  • Work hard, be productive and consistent.
  • Always provide the best quality you possibly can. You won’t succeed with fillers anymore.
  • Learn and improve. Nobody can pirate skills and experience.
  • Connect with the right people.

That is the kind of thing that will be rewarded on the long run.

The Muppet Show will go on but you don’t have to worry about it.

So what was the label that ripped me off? I will only tell I’ve worked with them since. Why? Good promotion. Did they pay me the next time around? Nope, turned blank on me again. At least this time I was already expecting that.

Any thoughts on this? Let me know…

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  • Good writings Ilpo. I really feel your words. Bigup of your hard work mate.

  • Peter

    FINALLY an artist who GETS IT. Thanks for writing this.

    And really nice blog as well 🙂

  • Ville Lope

    One way to look at the situation is that the people are using the same amount of money to entertainment than they did 10 or 20 years ago.

    What has changed is that there’s a lot of medias & sources fighting over that money: movies, music, magazines, books, games – both in physical and digital form. The latest newcomer fighting for that money is apps.

    I do agree, we do have to find new ways to get the income in, rather than blame piracy of bad sales.

    • Agreed 100%! The old days ain’t coming back.

  • YoungmasterReed

    I agree with the overall point of you article, up until the end – why on earth would you work with this label of thieves again? In what way is this good promotion if they’re not using your name on the track! I hate to hear about this kind of thing, in my mind its much worse than piracy. Stealing someones creative hard work and claiming it as your own? That’s low.

    • Ilpo Kärkkäinen

      Ha, well the second time around I did get credit for the work so I was able to leverage the promotional value. Which in this case was much more important than a small payment from record sales.

      Unfortunately loads of labels in the DNB scene (yes, even some of the big ones) are run by people who are mere hobbyists in business. This unprofessional approach can lead to many problems, especially with projects where there are lots of people involved. And usually it’s the upcoming artists that suffer the most.

      That’s just the reality we live in. There are of course still labels who do things properly, and you should try to gravitate towards them!