This column is dedicated to our beloved Scott Ian, who I couldn't see on a gig on Orlando because he suffered from food poisoning that night; I hope everything turned out OK.
Times are changing way too fast for everyone to keep up. Drones are an issue now, privacy has a whole new approach, the media and social networks overwhelm us in every way possible. There are several courses of action that we can take, but it all boils down to whether we accept these changes or not; and what are we going to do about it.
Actually, it's way simpler than you think. It doesn't matter if we accept it or not, the cold fact is that these changes are occurring and they will keep on evolving and growing, and therefore, becoming part of our lives. It's what we do in response that counts.
What's important is to take a reasonable stance, which will help you and others around you grow and progress through this messed-up world we live in. You can't just say that "The Internet is garbage and should be banned because banana." What. The Internet is huge, free knowledge is huge; setting yourself against all of this might not be the best stance to take in this present time. The whole Internet phenomenon has made knowledge and education more accessible than ever; you can now learn whatever you want if you have the dedication and an iPhone (now who takes the time to do it actively instead of playing "Clash of Clans"?).
And as knowledge is easier than ever to access, so is content. You can now find any movie, music or whatever by typing its name on a search bar. Artists can use this medium to publish their works so anyone can access them, but it also can be a way of getting that artist's work for free. Let's focus on music, for now.
Musicians work their a-ses off to produce an album, to play gig after gig, to keep learning and growing, because if they don't, they fall back and fail. It is only logical that a piece of work which took many hours and moneys to produce, should be paid for so the artist gets rewarded for doing it, and so he keeps producing even more content. But now, thanks to the Internet, it is easier than ever to get this content without paying.
The idea is that, it can (and should) be said that piracy hurts the musician because you're taking his or her sweat and blood for free. But that's just one side of the matter.
On the other side, there's the ones who download the music. Kids on their computers getting stuff for free; that's a not-so-new thing that's happening.
But it's not just some thing. It's music.
Why do they do that? Do they want to "steal and download a car" just like those silly ads? No! They want to hear the goodness because perhaps they do not have access to it otherwise. Not every record store sells technical death metal albums; and now record stores have starting to disappear (at least in my country, Venezuela) because people simply do not buy CD's anymore; they get their music either from YouTube, Peer-to-Peer programs or any other method that, sadly, is taking for free something that should be paid for.
But it's also not just some thing they steal. It's music!
Wouldn't you do anything to get that thing that makes your heart beat faster and your life have some sort of meaning? If it was all that it took, wouldn't you just click a button to hear prophetic riffs from Metallica and then learn them on your guitar, because you praise those guys so much you would just do anything to get near them? I'm not trying to justify "stealing" music, I'm trying to bring some light into understanding the causes within, and not just bashing the Internet and its users because they get things for free whenever they can.
Another part of this is the argument that "smaller bands can't get big anymore/rock is dead." What are you talking about, man? Hey Mr. Famous, what's the last time you went to a small-name venue to hear a no-name-band play? They do grow and fight against the industry that saturates the media with its so-called "pop" music; you're just way up there in Rock Heaven where you can't see all of us building our own Stairway (either a stairway upwards or a highway downstairs). Big-name rock stars's stance on this whole matter is completely understandable though; but wow, it would be glorious if they came back down here. It's the exact same thing just like when they where long-haired teen bums, with jean jackets and whiplash on their necks; but technology is way different now and media gets around in a more massive way. Let's do this together.
Help those around and below you, learn from the guys above, and you will never go wrong.
Piracy cannot be stopped. Plain and simple. One of the main pillars of computer science nowadays is that knowledge is unstoppable and it will continue to evolve whether we like it or not. There can be ACTA, or whatever law to try and stop the Internet from spreading free content; but that's something those suit-and-tie guys do not understand, if it gets contained, it will find a way to spread itself in some way or another. Well, instead of SAYING things about it, DO something about it. And we're not law-lobbyists or computer-scientists over here, we're musicians. While most of us, Ultimate-guitarists use the Internet every day, and some of us even as our main work source, a bunch of the guys we praise like gods simply do not want to understand why are things the way they are like now, that the music that's released to the general public is more "mainstream" than ever; and in the same way, the music on the backstage of media is still strong, just like the old days. They seem to have forgotten about giving away mix-tapes, playing just for the sake of playing (which must always be the case), and the sheer joy of finding a new band that makes you suddenly love all of its music.
So we must not choose if we're in favor or against the media phenomenon; we have to take advantage of it, tame it like a wild horse, and then teach it who's boss, because the Internet is here to stay.
As a treat, here is one of my favorite bands, which I found on YouTube a couple of months ago. They're from Ukraine.