As some of you who frequent metal/hardcore news websites may have heard or seen Sumerian Records label owner, Ash Avildsen, recently started a Metallica-esque anti-piracy campaign. Normally, I wouldn't dignify such a thinly veiled act of self preservation with any type of promotion because at this point any anti-piracy campaign comes off as redundant and out of touch. However, the way this one is conducted is very troubling considering it's hypocritical nature, misrepresented facts, and all around innateness. After all Napster was sued in 2000 and Sumerian was founded in 2006. It is inconceivable that file sharing was not taken into account during Sumerians infancy. The question becomes why now, financial troubles? Maybe. Scenes shifting from Deathcore to Djent? possibly.
The most disingenuous part of this campaign comes in the form of a conspiracy documentary stylized "PSA". It is full of misrepresented "statics", hypocrisy, slippery slope ethics, and a outright lie. Let's start off with the statement in the first frame, "Global music piracy robs the Untied States of 12.5 billion in economic output and more than 71,000 jobs annually, according to a new study out this week". Since the study was not sourced, one can only be left to google the statistics to find out what study they are from. It doesn't take long to figure out that those numbers come from a IPI.org study released in 2007.The IPI is a right wing ultra-capitalist group who used a lot of questionable estimates and jobs not associated with media production to reach those numbers. It doesn't take but four seconds to figure out that Ash/Sumerian either doesn't know what they are talking about or are flat out lying. (I'll assume the later)
The "statistics" then are completely misrepresented by the language used. "More than 71,000 jobs are lost annually" this assumes that internet piracy is the main cause of job loss (which it isn't) then leads people to believe that that high of a figure has been a constant since piracy began (which it hasn't). The next figure given out is "Sound Recordings - and other content considered to be intellectual property -- are the most important growth drivers in the U.S. economy, accounting for more than 40% economic growth and nearly 60% of growth in the U.S". The emphasis put on sound recordings is misleading considering it is a small portion of what makes up what is considered intellectual property. After this he continues to quote 2007 "statistics", masquerading them as current data. "nearly 25,000 retail jobs due to music piracy" This is an absolutely absurd figure because the looming economic crisis was not taken into account, neither was the fact that not everything pirated would have been purchased, or the jobs lost to mechanization.
Ash goes on to say "Spreading full length albums on the internet is a great thing for unsigned bands". This is a slippery slope from a ethical stand point. How can something be good for an unsigned band when it is bad for a signed band? The only difference at face value is a label. When does file sharing become hurtful to a band? When they stop needing new exposure, or when a third party can profit from the artistic output? Ash goes on to makes generalized statements like "If they could do it on their own, then all your favorite bands would be unsigned" which couldn't be further from the truth. Plenty of bands are doing just fine without glorified bank loans from third parties, ex. Immortal Technique, Glassjaw, Trash Talk, etc etc..
I would like to address the apparent hypocrisy of Sumerians stance on free music compared to some of their artists. Periphery/ Bulb is not only one of Sumerians biggest artists, but they are also a shining example of how free music helps bands. While Sumerian has undoubtedly helped Periphery, where would they be without free music? Bulb went out of his way to give away everything from the start of his career till the time they inked a deal with Sumerian.
The simple fact is if Sumerian truly wants to help both fans and artists then they will cease this campaign and update their business model. It's pathetic that they would try to outright lie to "their" fans and supporters while blaming them for Sumerians possible financial short comings. Yo, Ash, It's 2011, start running your label like it, bro.
- Josh Huddleston (Keep It Wolf Son)