Carbon Silicon (a band of ex-Clash and Generation X members) have come out in favour of piracy. In an article on the BBC they advocate fans downloading and sharing their music and also filming and recording their gigs. Itís not as outlandish a request as it first appears. For relatively unknown artists supra-distribution via illegal networks gives them far greater potential exposure than they are likely to get via a small label, or being low down the pecking order of a bigger label. For first album artists file sharing is unlikely to negatively impact them directly as often they will see minimal returns on the sales of the album once production and marketing costs have been recouped from their share of sale by the label. So whilst the label will lose out directly in revenues the artists may actually get increased revenue from merchandise and touring due to their greater profile. Which sounds great on paper and works on an individual artist level. But if that happens with every new artist, labelsí margins would be squeezed and they wouldnít be able to sign many of those artists in the first place.
For unsigned artists (as these guys seem to be) P-to-P distribution has an even stronger appeal. Itís a quasi mass media marketing channel that can give them the exposure that makes A&R execs take notice. One thing which they also advocate (and is by no means a new thing) is allowing fans to participate in the creative process by posting working versions of tracks online for fans to give their feedback. This is a tactic which is an invaluable means of deepening a bond with fans and is an example of how the Internet can be used to make what were once small scale interactions into mass media interactions.