There is no bigger debate in the entertainment industry than music piracy. While illegally downloading music and sharing it is a great way for bands to be heard, and it is more the record labels that are losing out than the artists (who earn mainly through touring), it is also illegal, and denies musicians money for the work that they have put so much of their life into. There are a few artists that are in support of piracy, however, and these artists clearly care more about people hearing their work than they do about selling it.
10. Joss Stone
English singer-songwriter Joss Stone is not only okay with pirating music, but she is a big fan of it. Stone stated “music should be shared” and “I don’t care how you hear it, as long as you hear it. As long as you come to my show and, like, have a great time and listen to the live show.” She would also speak about how the only aspect of music she dislikes is the business side, and how if the music is free then there is no business. The R&B singer clearly has a passion for music and wants people to hear her music through any method, but she has also performed phenomenally well in the charts and has sold 14 million albums worldwide. This makes her one of the best-selling artists of her time, which I’m sure she is more than happy with, despite her views on piracy.
9. Norah Jones
Singer-songwriter Norah Jones believes that music piracy is a way for those with not much money to be able to listen to music, and she states on her own music that “if people hear it. I’m happy.” She certainly raises an interesting point in regards to money, as buying a record, either in some kind of physical format or digitally, is not cheap, and music can have such an impact on people’s lives that it should not be about money. Jones also sees the other side of the coin, however, and how it’s not ideal for the record industry and “young artists who won’t make any money off their album sales, but at least they can tour.” Whether music piracy is a good or bad thing, there is no denying that now that, in order to make money, artists need to go on tour and perform around the world.
8. Henry Rollins
Legendary punk figure Henry Rollins has a sympathetic view to fans who pirate music, and clearly has no problem with people downloading his music if they cannot afford it. He has said “I’d rather be heard than paid” and “if you can’t afford to listen to my music, and you gotta get it off the internet, at least you’re rockin.” On top of this, the Black Flag front-man also believes that it is up to the artists to show that they like their fans through making “CD’s long and add a lot of cool bonus cuts. You don’t charge 50 bucks for a t-shirt; you charge a little bit more than what you made off it.” You will struggle to find a musician more passionate than Henry Rollins, and like most of the entries on this list, he would prefer that people could hear his music than be paid.
7. Neil Young
Neil Young has been in the business for around 45 years and is widely considered to be one of rock and roll’s finest, and he has certainly seen the industry change in this time. Speaking about piracy, Young has said “it doesn’t affect me because I look at the internet as the new radio. I look at the radio as gone…Piracy is the new radio.” This seems to be a common sentiment shared by those that are pro-downloading, as this is now how many bands get exposure and develop a fanbase (this is particularly true for newer bands breaking onto the scene). Although Young sees piracy as a way for music to be heard, he clearly has an issue with the quality that you find online, as he has just stated that he won’t allow his music to be streamed on Spotify anymore due to the poor sound quality.
6. Ed O’Brien and Thom Yorke (Radiohead)
The boys of Radiohead are famous for embracing the digital world, and this is most evident through their 2007 release, In Rainbows, which was available as a digital download where users could pay as much (or little) as they wish. They clearly have an understanding of how times have changed, and members Ed O’Brien and Thom Yorke have offered their thoughts on the situation. Guitarist Ed O’Brien believes that downloading is “a more sophisticated version of what we did in the 80s, which was home taping” and that those that download will often pay for gigs or merchandise. Front-man Thom Yorke states “the reason people pirate, is because they want access to good music. And they don’t get it because the radio is so s**t.” Radiohead are one of the greatest bands of the last 25 years, and they have a clear understanding of how things have changed over time.
5. Liam Gallagher
Similarly to Ed O’Brien, Oasis and Beady Eye singer Liam Gallagher believes that music piracy is no different to home taping. “Download is the same as I did: I used to tape-record the songs, the successes that I liked on the radio.” He has also spoken out against the rockstars that complain about illegally downloading music by stating “At least they’re downloading your music you f**king idiot, and they are paying attention to you…you have five huge houses, so just shut up.” Much like his brother Noel, Liam Gallagher has enjoyed a tremendous amount of success and clearly has no problem calling them as he sees them. The music industry has treated Liam Gallagher well and Oasis sold around 70 million albums worldwide, but he clearly has no problem if people download his music for free and believes artists should stop complaining.
4. Jack White
Jack White is heralded as one of the finest guitarists in the modern era, and he has enjoyed plenty of success with The White Stripes, The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather. He also has two popular solo records, as well as appearances in other projects. He is an artist that is known to speak his mind surrounding issues within the music industry, so he, of course, has weighed in with his thoughts on piracy. White has stated that he does not have a problem with music piracy (it clearly hasn’t impacted him too much), but it is not for him personally. As somewhat of a purist, he wouldn’t do it because “I really need to have the album in my hands—preferably the vinyl. I like to have the artwork and the notes and the lyrics. When it’s on the internet, it feels like it’s invisible.”
Shakira is a fan of music piracy and has said “I like what’s going on because I feel closer to the fans and the people who appreciate the music.” She also added, “It’s the democratization of music in a way. And music is a gift. That’s what it should be, a gift.” The Columbian singer clearly has no problem with people having free and easy access to her music; however, record sales have also treated her well with 70 million album sales worldwide as well as 125 million singles. This makes her the third best-selling Latin artist of all time (behind Julio Iglesias and Gloria Estefan), but perhaps she would be even higher on this list if people were not illegally downloading and sharing her music each day.
2. Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga has remained one of the biggest names in the industry since exploding onto the scene in 2008. She has never stayed out of the headlines for long, and is famous for her eccentric outfits and live shows, which is a huge part of her appeal for fans. She clearly recognizes this, and sees this as her way of making money. She seems to accept music piracy, and has said “You know how much you can earn off touring, right? Big artists can make anywhere from $50 million for one cycle of two years’ touring. Giant artists make upwards of $100 million. Make music—then tour. It’s just the way it is today.” This seems to be a common feeling amongst those that are pro-downloading, as artists can still generate huge amounts through performing live, and it is the already super-rich studios that miss out on record sales.
1. Dave Grohl
For many years, Dave “the nicest guy in rock” Grohl has been on a personal mission to get everyone to feel as passionately about music as he does. In addition to all of the fascinating projects he has embarked on in the last few years, Grohl has also used the huge platform he has to voice his thoughts on people downloading and sharing music. Grohl believes “It’s a good idea because it’s people trading music. It has nothing to do with industry or finance, it’s just people that want music and there’s nothing wrong with that.” In addition to not believing that it is a crime and that it is good for music, the Foo Fighters front-man also believes “the first thing we should do is get all the f**king millionaires to shut their mouths, stop bitching about the 25 cents a time they’re losing.”