Brian Wilson’s New Album – Why People Turn To ‘Piracy’

Before I start, for those expecting PEP! today, I’m afraid I was so overwhelmed with fielding the response for my last post I’ve had to leave it til this weekend. That’ll teach you to actually read and like things I write. But to make up for that there’s two posts today – one on comics shortly, and then one on Brian Wilson’s new album later.

But this is just a rant about precisely why people turn to ‘piracy’.

I pay for the vast majority of the music I listen to, because I believe music deserves paying for. I subscribe to eMusic and pay for a Spotify subscription. I tend only to torrent bootlegs. But more and more I wonder why.

Take Brian Wilson’s new album. It comes out today – if you live in the USA. If you’re in the UK, you have to wait til September 6. Also, you can’t buy the ‘Super Premium Edition’ (autographed vinyl, plus CD and MP3/FLAC copies) if you’re anywhere outside the USA. I might have bought that – I like vinyl. But OK, it’s a limited thing, there’s probably enough USians to buy them all up.

However, I do have an American wife, and so I have access to an American debit card, which luckily had the $9.99 available to purchase the album in MP3/FLAC format direct from Brian Wilson’s site. So I have to jump through a few hoops, but I get a confirmation of my ‘advance purchase’ – I can download a single track ‘now’ and the rest of the album ‘on August 17’. Even though it is now August 17.

But to be fair, Brian Wilson’s site is based in California, where I bought it at about 5AM, so I download the single track, and come back at 5:30 PM my time, 9:30AM theirs – a reasonable time, you would have thought. Certainly at this point the album has been downloadable at Amazon for several hours, but foolishly I chose to buy direct from the artist rather than go through a middleman (a middleman which also requires me to install proprietary software, of which there isn’t a copy for my operating system version) – and Amazon also refuse to sell the album to me anyway because my IP address is in the UK.

So at 5:30 PM I click the link provided in my email receipt, to be informed that I have ‘exceeded my download limit’. This despite the fact that I have not yet downloaded the album at all. The forums are now full of people asking when they’ll be able to get the album that they’ve already paid for.

On the other hand, checking one of the major bittorrent sites shows a full copy of the album, at the same quality as is being offered on , was uploaded ten days ago.

So by wanting to pay for this music – music created by a multimillionaire who doesn’t need the money nearly as much as I do – I’ve had to obtain a debit card registered in another country, be lied to by a website, pay $10 and make a complaint through an automated system – and I’ve still not actually got the music. Had I not been able to get access to a foreign card, I would have had to wait a further month before I could even start on that process.

When you make it *THIS MUCH MORE DIFFICULT* for people to give you money for your product than to get it illegally for free, you don’t *DESERVE* the money. Wilson has another album coming out next year, apparently. If it’s sold in the same way, through the company ‘Topspin’, I shall for the first time in my life torrent one of his legitimately-available recordings rather than buying it. Because I don’t appreciate being punished firstly for living outside the US, and then again for actually paying money for the product.

ETA – Minutes after writing this, I got a reply to my complaint, and can now download the music
ETA Again – the link to the FLAC version they sent me breaks at the 2MB point. The MP3 version is downloading, though…

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8 Responses to Brian Wilson’s New Album – Why People Turn To ‘Piracy’

  1. Marc Harry says:

    Hi Andrew,

    You are completely right, of course! The whole thing is a fiasco – it really is as if the ‘industry’ is trying to give people as much excuse as they ‘need’ to acquire the stuff illegitimately! Same with films being out in the US prior to UK or Region 1 only etc etc.

    I was fortunate enough to receive a promo copy of the new CD late last week (I was owed a favour by one of Brian’s ‘camp’), otherwise I would, almost certainly have succumbed to downloading the said torrent and my pre-ordered copy from Amazon (UK) would have remained in unplayed, mint condition!

    Even worse is the ‘bonus tracks’ issue – NOBODY is going to make me feel guilty for acquiring these however I choose – if they expect me to buy the original CD, a d/l from iTunes, one from Japan, one from Timbuctu etc. they can’t be serious!

    And, yes…I would have gone for the autographed vinyl too…if…

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      Oh, absolutely. In the case of bonus tracks I will torrent those with no compunction whatsoever – *especially* iTunes-only ones. Apple make it impossible for people using any operating system other than Windows or Apple’s own OSes to access their site (even blocking programs written for GNU/Linux allowing people to do so). If they didn’t *deliberately block me from giving them my money* I’d be happy to pay…

  2. Scott Stuit says:

    I went through the same thing today and paid for the album on the 14th. While all the people were posting how awesome the album was just after midnight eastern time, I had to wait till after noon and also after complaining to Top Spin. I should have used iTunes but was trying to support Brian’s website. It is not his fault and may never even know about the issue. There are about 5 of us who have posted the issue on Brian’s FB page. Live and learn.

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      Oh, absolutely, it’s not Brian’s fault himself. Still, at least we’ve got it now, eh?
      (Am writing a review at the moment, which should be up in an hour or so if you want to check back…)

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  4. Mike Taylor says:

    So, so true and so, so infuriating. And so avoidable. And so mindbendingly, spleen-spliteringly stupid on the part of the rightsholders who are trying so very, very hard to prevent us from giving them our money.

    As it happens, I blogged on a closely related subject — though perhaps even more insane — just a couple of weeks ago: The stupidest thing in the world.

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      Thank you for linking that – I’ve spent a very pleasant few hours browsing through your blog. I’m ashamed to admit that I hadn’t connected the Mike Taylor who comments here and on Rilstone, Gavin B and Millennium’s blogs with the one who writes for Sauropod Vertebrae Picture Of The Week, and I’m finding your Reinvigorated Programmer blog absolutely fascinating (I’m nowhere near as advanced a programmer as you, but I’m enough of one that I can follow the programming stuff). I’m adding it to the sidebar.

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