Music Blogs

Pirates At Sea

  • By Yossarian Ash
  • 17 October 2013
These are the meandering thoughts of Ash Spencer, manager and band member of Yossarian. A new Alternative DIY band who have decided to set sail on the ocean and play the game.
So everyone has an opinion on piracy and both sides of the debate have their merits. I try to see it from an evolutionary perspective.
From my point of view, there is no point separating streams from torrents. They are both moving bodies of water. Neither of them cost the consumer much, maybe a little more time and frustration on navigating torrents and only a tiny toll fee on the streams. Negligible.
As a consumer I love sailing the spotty fly flag or a whole host of other streams of water around the globe. I can listen to what I want for a few gold doubloons a month. Great! Long may it continue. I've discovered quite a few great boats, big and small, in these waters.
For the artist, however, the statistics show clearly that they make very little money from sailing on streams. I'm going to assume that despite some efforts, piracy won't be controlled but may adapt.
So for the artist, navigating streams is surely a sliding scale of usefulness. As a small, independent boat, it's great to be able to sail streams where pirates left, right, and centre come to happily take our music for free to larger audiences. For caravels, destructors and transatlantic ships, there’s little merit in deafening every tiny stream with the loud blare of their engines. It depends on their motives behind it. If they want to reach the widest possible audience then stream away. If, however, they want to build a luxury cruise ship, then I guess they can take advantage of the pirate ships and when their decks are full, leave the streams and bring out the cannons to keep the pirates away. 
An argument that I often hear is that shipyards can no longer afford to spend shit loads of cash on fledgling boats and therefore the quality of the voyages drop. I'm not so sure about this. Maybe it's just an excuse by people who can't navigate through new choppy waters, surrounded by crumbling architecture. Evolution can be fierce, adapt or be left behind.
If an artist needs better quality wood to develop his boat, there are avenues for them to get funding, and if a shipyard truly believes in an artist, they can sign them on to 360 deals that include taking a cut of their tour income, daily catch, etc. The artist can say no but it all depends on their motives.
How do we value art? I want to live in a world where art is accessible. I can walk around the Tate Modern for free if I can't afford to pay, or I can donate if I can. This seems to me like a fair society and the freemium trend makes a lot of sense. Fairness is of course subjective, but I think it's a good horizon worth sailing towards. Artists have always struggled through human history and although that doesn't necessarily make it right, it does prove how difficult it is to put a value on art.
If everybody decided that they no longer wanted to pay for recorded music, how would the landscape look? Let's look at a big artist. Bowie, for example, who may not sail again. I don't know Dave's financial situation but if he can't afford to record a new album himself, I doubt he'd have too many problems, raising money through crowd-funding to help finance the album. A small boat could record an entire album in their home cabin-studio with minimal costs - so many artists do that now and recording technology is getting better and more accessible all the time. How can it possibly be bad for more people to have the opportunity to express their creativity and realise their artistic vision?
The world moves forward. Technology advances. Embrace the future or be bitter and be damned. Artists will have to make their music through publishing/synching (if those avenues remain viable) and plain old sailing. 
Artists need to eat and keep their boats afloat too, so depending on your own socio-economic status, pay your favourite artists what you think is fair. What's fair? You no longer need to be told. It's up to you.
Next week I'm going on tour with Yossarian so will post in a fortnight's time and subsequently every two weeks from then on.
You can find out more information about Ash's adventures at sea with Yossarian including news, music and tour dates at their website: www.yossarian.com