Bassnectar: Make it easy for fans to support you

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August 18, 2011 by DJ Elroy

Came across this article by Tim Cushing on Techdirt… And as much as I despise Bassnectar for his musical activism, he’s spot on when it comes to piracy. Don’t have too much to add to this one…

California dubstep/bass artist Bassnectar has built a solid following over the past decade, culminating in appearances at major music festivals, including Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo and the Ultra Music Festival. Despite his loaded touring schedule, Bassnectar (a.k.a. Lorin Ashton) still keeps in touch with his fans (30K on Soundcloud, 550K on Facebook) via his regular Fan Bass Q&A feature.

An anonymous fan recently asked a question that’s on the minds of artists all over the creative spectrum:

What do you think about the people that leak and download your music (or any music) without paying?

Bassnectar’s thoughtful (and amazing) response runs an entire page and is quotable all the way through. He begins by addressing the “leaked album” situation:

When we sent out promos of “Divergent Spectrum” we knew without a doubt it would get leaked. It is kind of an honor that enough people care, that they want to get it and share it as soon as possible. Instead of worrying about it, we just figured “Let’s let people decide what they want to do.” If they want to support me, let’s make it easy for them to do so. We created a presale option, and added a stack of exclusive Bonus Material (loops, bits, outtakes, sketches, …kind of like the “Special Features” on a DVD) as a gift to everyone who did this, knowing it was an act of love and support for them to pre-order something they could just download for free.

There are two key points to this statement, points that other artists (or more often, their default representatives — label spokesmen, royalty collection agencies, etc. ) tend to ignore when discussing piracy. One: a leaked album is a si gn of interest. Very few people will track down a leaked album from an artist they have no interest in. Two: make it easy for fans to support the artist, preferably directly. The more paranoid you are about leaked albums and “lost sales,” the less likely it is that your music is easily found and purchased.

Bassnectar goes on from there, letting his fans (both paying and non-paying) know how thrilled he is with being Bassnectar:

For me, I am so incredibly grateful for everything in my life right now, i can’t really ask for more. We have sold out nearly every single show in the past year, and the legion of bass heads is growing every day. I am honored that people want to explore my music. I am honored that they want to share it with their friends. I am not worried about being supported, because I feel so much support each day, in so many different forms.

On principle though, I do think it is important for ALL ARTISTS to make it easy for people to support what they love. And it is important for those who love the art to decide how they can support art and artists, and allow it to continue.

There it is again: “make it easy for people to support what they love.” Hitching your music to major label’s whims, proprietary systems, various rights agencies and digital rights management “tools” does nothing but make it harder for fans to support you, much less share the experience with others.

He also hammers home a point made over and over again here at Techdirt: spending time and energy attempting to prevent piracy will only leave you tired and frustrated. The m usic world doesn’t work the way it used to, relying on “top down” distribution. At the same time, he makes a genuine request: if you love an artist, find a way to support them.

In 2011, art and culture exist as DIGITAL MEDIA, and it is naive to think it will not be leaked or downloaded or shared or “stolen” repeatedly. It is just a fact of life. People need to decide for themselves if they want to steal or not. And if they *DO* then they can decide if and how to follow up with support. If you download leaked music, and you enjoy it, why not go buy an official copy? It seems fair. You are not obligated to do this, it is just a choice. Do you enjoy the artist? IF YOU ENJOY, THEN SUPPORT. If not, then simply carry on. It takes a LOT of time and energy for artists to create their craft, and even more time and energy for them to prepare a release, and to distribute it. You can support what you love in man y ways, and in a sense you vote with your dollar.

It’s that simple. An artist’s best weapons against piracy aren’t takedown notices and legislation. The best weapon is still an honest connection with your fans (paying or not). Simply talking to them directly about you and your work does more for your bottom line than a million anti-piracy screeds. Even better, give them a reason to buy and as many ways to buy as possible.

I’ll leave you with this choice clip of Bassnectar in action, sporting the finest head of heavy metal hair to ever find itself in front of a tableful of electronic noisemakers:

Oh, and his discussion has spilled over onto his Facebook page as well, which is worth checking out.

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