Soooooooo...WTF? What are we thinking?
That was the reaction of some of my friends when I told them we were
giving a chunk of our album away to BitTorrent
for free downloads. The major labels will tell you that P2P is killing
the record biz, after all. But the record biz is not OUR biz. We are
interested in making and listening to music we love. We are invested in
connecting as many people as possible to as much music as there is. The
labels are packaging nostalgia for something that never existed and they
are lost. They are investing in dodo futures and getting exactly what
they paid for.
Our aim, since we wrote our first songs, has always been the same: to
connect. I remember discovering the Counting Crows Message Board on AOL
back in 1995 and realizing what it meant that something like that
existed. Here was a way to simply talk to people. Here was a way to
connect to anyone anywhere anytime. It was the cure for Babel -- and it
was just the beginning. In our job at the time, they told us there were
only really two ways to connect: you could bribe radio stations to play
your record or you could bribe record stores to carry it. No direct
connection at all between the music and the people - just these entities
taking bribes and promising to "pass it on". The message boards promised
a different kind of connection, more personal, more immediate -- just
As the Internet expanded through P2P, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter,
Foursquare, etc..., you realized it was all just connections. You can say
some of them were good and some were bad but trying to brand an
overreaching moral judgment onto something as ubiquitous as the Internet
is kind of small minded. It's all a way of connecting. Is there a hole in
the dike and is some of the $ you used to pocket draining out through
that hole? Yup. In fact, there are actually about a billion of those
holes so you can't plug them. Now does it really seem like the solution
is to dig another hole so you can stick your head in it and pretend like
none of this is happening?
Not to me.
Because that hole is a conduit and that conduit goes somewhere and that
somewhere is straight to all those people I've been talking to on
Facebook and Twitter and all the way back to that message board.
Underneath it all, it's still people choosing to connect. It's no wonder
the record companies can't see the upside to this - they were never
interested in bothering to connect to people in the first place. They
only saw the bribery. They paid for the fix and placed their bets
accordingly. I can see why it pissed them off when it stopped working as
well. Imagine, all those people choosing for themselves instead of buying
the records we paid the radio to tell them they should buy.
We imagine just that. And we leave it up to you. There are 150 million
users on BitTorrent. 150 million INTERESTED people (or they wouldn't be
here). 150 million people interested in watching a movie or playing a
game or reading a book...or listening to a song. And you don't have to
bribe them to do it!
You just have to give them a choice.
I'm not going to pretend there wasn't a downside to people stealing
records but if you can't see the upside to an audience of 150 million
listeners, then you're too dumb to be reading this anyway. These are our
new radio stations. Nobody's carrying a boombox on their shoulder
waiting for you to tell them what they can listen to anymore. But everyone has
an iPod in their pocket and a choice. Everyone. So we're going to give them some songs
they can put in their pocket and then let them choose for themselves.
Listen to it once, twice, a thousand times, or not at all. It's up to
you. You should only like it if you like it. If you don't, that's cool.
Not everything is for everyone. We'd be just as happy to recommend some
other music to you either way. There's so much great stuff out there and
a lot of these people are our friends. We'd like to help you connect.
Isn't that what everybody wants anyway?
Check out Counting Crows' Website
All downloads are for personal, non-commercial use.
All rights are retained by the artists