Let's be honest, we all pretty much think the big record companies are rip off merchants. They rip off we, the buying public; they rip off the musicians and they rip off the industry. They often stifle creativity and chain freedom of musical expression to the almighty dollar. But for all that, they still put food on the table of musicians. They still provide the means for those musicians to reach a wider audience. They still, occasionally, bring to our attention the odd artist or band that make us sit up, stop what we're doing and listen to the song being played.
For rock fans however, the role of the big record companies is becoming less important as many now crowd fund or sign up to smaller, rock-focused independent labels. Which makes the deed of stealing such bands material from torrent sites all the more disturbing when it is done by people who claim to be fans of rock music. Take one of the bands we support for example, Selene. Their new album is Number 3 in the hit parade. Of an illegal download site that is. That is 1000s of copies that have robbed money from these young musicians, £1000s that they can't use to promote their music, or do larger gigs at more costly venues. £1000s stolen by people who claim to be fans of the band!
What's even more shocking is that in conversation with John Conner from the band, he said to me that so called radio stations had been playing ripped copies on air. CFR has a strict policy on pirated music and is also governed by PRS and PPL licensing terms and conditions, one of which is we have to submit reports to them on a regular basis. What does that mean? It means that bands get something when we buy in the music, and even bands that send us their material for free to play, get something when the reports get fed into the loyalties pot of those two bodies.
And it ain't cheap to be licensed! But our thinking is these bands and artists give us and our listeners a LOT of pleasure. I've said many times, being a DJ is the most fun someone can have with their clothes on. We get ego stroked, it gives us a reason to get out of bed, and gives us something to focus on that is good, and bright, and full of screaming guitars and songs we can sing along to until we burst. In other words, we have a great time because of the talent of others. And that should always be acknowledged and paid for.
Which is why Crossfire Radio is so vocal about our non-piracy policy. It is why we have refused to allow the odd DJ to join us when, as one claimed, "if it's out there free I'm going to get it" (or, even more shocking, "one of us has to be a rebel"- let's be clear, one isn't a rebel if you steal music as a DJ, you're a thief, and a hypocritical one at that!). It is why we NEVER use an illegal site to download music. Yes, we will take donations from listeners (our licensing says we can have up to 8% donated music, a closer inspection of our library would put us at around 3%), but if we can't source a song legally, we will say so and play an alternative. Nor will we download an album illegally, just to say we were first to play it (as we know at least one other so called station does whilst claiming they went to iTunes or were sent it) .
At the end of the day, pirates need to understand one thing: if you continue to steal the music you say you love, then there will come a day when the musicians stop making music cos they need to put food on the table. In other words, they will stop producing music and get a so-called normal job!