Cinderella Frontman: 'Piracy Caused Loss of Millions of Jobs and Nobody Seems to Care'

"When all art starts to suck, then maybe people will say, 'Wow, did we do this?'" says Tom Keifer.

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Cinderella frontman Tom Keifer gave a thorough analysis of the impact piracy has on the music scene, branding it one of the key factors in quality deterioration of art in general.

Telling American Blues Scene that the lack of revenue is taking a major toll on music, Tom explained how the financial power of record labels back in the '80s guaranteed that the bands were given "the best studios, with the best producers and the best engineers."

"I think that because record companies don't have as much money to put into artist development and working with new artists that they're really more and more these days looking to them coming in already developed with a finished product. So you're kind of on your own these days, you know?" the musician elaborated.

Dubbing "entitlement" as the word of the day, Keifer noted that piracy clearly isn't committed with an intention to harm anyone, but is definitely done with a lack of deeper thought.

"It's just kind of like become the accepted norm almost," the frontman said. "I guess through continuing to educate people and really make them realize that ultimately it affects the art and the quality of music that they're receiving."

Shifting to the big picture, Tom pointed out that piracy is costing the society millions of jobs, and nobody seems to care about it. "The general mentality not only impacts the art itself and new artists and arts development, but just in general the idea of piracy, there's more to it," he said.

"It impacts four major industries; everyone's so concerned about the economy, and I don't hear a lot of people in Washington talking about this, but there's four major industries impacted by piracy. Music, software, literature and movies. That's a huge segment of our economy. It is. And everyone's just kind of like, 'F--k it.'"

Blaming the government for ignorance about the ways of the web, Keifer added, "I mean, it's like, we already have laws in the books, they’re called copyright laws, it's just no one’s enforcing them on the internet because they just think the internet is this other crazy place where laws don't apply or something.

"I don't know what they're thinking in Washington, but we have laws to stop all this, and my understanding is there's even technology, it just needs to be legislated as to who is responsible for installing it. Whether it's the servers or whatever. I've read a lot about it and it's just kind of crazy the way this bleeds into our economy, down to trucking and retailing and across the board in those four industries, it's a huge impact.

"Look at all the retail stores that have closed, between movies and music, it's just crazy. It's huge, I mean, it's millions of jobs there’s no doubt about that."

In conclusion, the musician once again stressed that he doesn't see piracy as a "malicious" act, but rather as an "accepted convenience," saying that people might take notion only when all of fresh art starts to "suck."

"I think until people realize how much it impacts our economy and how it affects jobs and how it affects the art and the artists who are trying to create this, and ultimately the quality of music and art. I think when maybe society needs to feel that impact before they make a change, you know? When artists can't afford to be artists anymore, and art suffers, and all the music and art that we're getting and literature and movies just outright suck, then maybe people will say, 'Wow, did we do this?'" he concluded.

32 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Most guys who pirate will use any justification they can think of to pirate and then complain about the large amount of commercial music being pushed in the mainstream (that generally creates revenue) while the stuff they like isn't really getting noticed. If you bought it they might get more recognition.
    I think pirating is/was a good thing. Puts quality in the forefront. I'm glad I did it, because thanks to it, Spotify, Netflix, etc happened, otherwise, I would still be buying CD's I never listened to more than once. You have more DIY and independent bands and artists than before. Everybody has got a change to showcase their work through sharing, all thanks to P2P before Youtube, Grooveshark, bandCamp came along etc. And even before the Internet, I discovered Metallica and the likes through illegal copies, and back in the day they were hard to find in normal music stores. It's important to notice that if a product is really good, you will eventually buy it. Some people maybe never do, but they wouldn't buy it anyway, this is been proven over and over. There is no loss in sales that wouldn't have happened in the first place. After I obtained my Metallica illegally, I then became a fan. I've bought all the albums, Live DVDs, and went to 5 of their gigs, without that piracy, they wouldn't have won a fan. And that's why Lars is still hated over the Napster thing, because he failed to realize that Metallica won most of their fans in this way. I remember downloading a very well known DAW illegally, a few years later, when I could afford it, I bought my first original copy and I've been upgrading ever since. But the most important thing to remember, is that the music industry is plainly butthurt, because they can't fool people with one amazing single to buy an entire album anymore, people are much more clever now, they don't fall for that trick anymore, so they buy only the single, listen to it a couple times on youtube or download it for free, because it's probably rubbish anyway. But people that actually care for music will support their artist like I do. When people tell me stuff like, "oh, listen to the latest Slash song with fergie". I'm glad I didn't have to buy it, because I listened to it, and it's rubbish, haha : Saved myself £0.99. Kerching!!! That's what people like you don't get, that I don't have to pay for something I don't like and don't want but feel "entitled" to try it before I make the mistake of buying.
    So you're trying to justify illegally downloading music because you don't want to spend money? You must be quite young, I'm only 38 but I remember the days when you bought an album or a tape for one song and ended up loving the rest of them on an album. There may be duds here and there but that was the risk. Keifer nailed it when he mentioned the word entitlement. It's ridiculous the kinds of arguments you've been presenting here. So what if your boss, when you first start a new job told you that you're going to work for free just to see if he likes what you do, and then he can just "delete" you from the workplace if he's not happy? Your arguments hold no water. Jaded youth...
    Amen on the "buy for one song love the rest of the album". I don't get the logic, people will tip someone (above and beyond their wage!)for doing a job that anyone could do. Yet god forbid someone who can sing, play piano and lay down a mean solo makes any money for a skill that less than 1% of people have, that they got through hard work.
    I'm not justifying it, I'm simply trying to show it's not as black and white as people make it out to be. Metallica became big thanks to pirating, even Breaking Bad did. Pirating as it's positives as well, as wrong as it may be. But, if you ask me, is it right, I'll say NO, it's morally wrong. But that's not my point, and that's why I have all the down votes I do, because I'm coming across as downloading illegal music is RIGHT, I know it's not right I've admitted I downloaded stuff, but I mostly paid for the things I like, and these days, I download nothing at all illegally. My other point was the positive things brought by pirating. Now most bands let you listen to the album before you buy, and that's a positive thing coming out of a negative thing. I don't understand why am I coming across as pro illegal downloads, that's not what I am saying at all. I stating the positive things pirating forced the industry to do, and how it made them start thinking that we are not a bunch of sheep that buy whatever they want us to buy. It was a much needed kick in the butt, and that's why albums cost around £10 and 10 years ago they were close to £20. I also disagree that an illegal download equals a lost sale, but that's not me saying downloading is RIGHT. Why is my point so difficult to understand. So, conclusion, all I'm trying to say is, Piracy is Wrong, of course, we all know that, but it's not black and white, and you can find positives in it. Just like the World Wars weren't right, but it brought great positive change afterwards, that's all I'm saying.
    Also, I'm not young, my Metallica story, is a tapes story, didn't make that clear. Early 90's story.
    I realized I shouldn't have started with "I think pirating is/was a good thing". It was a bad way to start my point. And my last point on not buying the Slash song, was fiction, and a bad example on how it's great you can try all music before you buy these days to ensure you don't make the mistake of getting a dud.
    Whilst I agree with your point on piracy taking away money from the physical or digital sales, it's not like there's much difference between a band's streaming services and piracy... the artist still gets jack all. Bands have to learn make money in new avenues and as such adapt. For instance the resurgence of vinyl and special handmade packaging for albums is a new way to generate money. Because realistically music is an art form and a completely individual experience, the people who appreciate and understand the importance of this human element will find ways of getting money to the artist whether it's through purchasing tickets or collectors material.
    I don't believe it takes money away. Let's assume I download all the music that exists in the world onto my PC, am I really taking money away from ALL the artists I downloaded. Could I ever afford to spend trillions of Pounds in music? That's why that argument doesn't make sense. Music still sells a lot, but unfortunately for the major record labels, DIY artists and independent labels are making money too, and that's what's really taking money away from the greedy labels, not the potential sales from illegal downloading, which you can't prove it would translate to actual sales. Bandcamp has paid millions of Dollars to independent artists, so has Youtube, Loudr, Movies, CDBaby, iTunes, those start-up websites, etc. But Sony, EMI, Virgin, they hate this, so they try to blame it on piracy and make everybody feel guilty and drive them to buy more Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, etc, because otherwise they can't pay their mansion bills. Another factor is that music is not as big as it was a few decades ago, people have Apps now, more TV channels, more games, all things on the rise that people prefer doing instead of sitting down and listen to music. If people are spending money on Apps, TV channels and games it means so other industries will suffer, music being one of them. But this is a very complex subject, very hard to explain. I just don't think it's as black and white as some people make it out to be. The all PIRACY = BAD, BUY = GOOD is too lazy for my taste.
    It doesn't take money away? Lets see... Artist releases record for $5. One fan buys the record. The artist has made $4. Fan puts album up for download and 5 people get the album for free. The artist has just lost out on $20. Obviously that's on a much, much larger scale so yeah, it is taking away money that could be earned through CD sales. And let's not forget, depending on the Artist and distribution etc... They won't even get the entire $4. And Youtube just ****ed over millions of artists and indie labels and streaming services pay pennies to artists.
    Person downloads album and is pleased, buy limited edition album for $30, goes to their concert for $80. I'm not saying piracy is 100% positive but it's promotion, just like the radio. If all these whiny crappy "artists" would actually tour more like real bands, they'd know where their real revenue comes from. You see many big artists who are pro piracy because it spreads the word about their band, just like mixtapes did back in the day.
    Amen! I've been trying to say that for 4 or 5 posts now, lol. All they think is that I'm promoting piracy, where I'm only trying to say that it's got a positive side to it, just like you described.
    I dunno, I've heard Ed Van Halen say many times they used to break even on the tours and made bucks only from the album sales. Probably depends on the size of the venue and production though obviously.
    Just another thing. Ed Sheeran was downloaded 140 million times on the US and UK in 2013. Does anyone actually believe that these are lost sales? Nobody has ever sold this amount of singles and albums in one year. The Beatles, best selling artist of all time, has sold 600 million albums so far, that's in 50 years. So you think Ed Sheeran was going to sell 140 million albums and singles in one year? Adele's 21 sold over 3 million in a year, and she's 10 times more successful than Ed. I repeat, illegal downloads, wrong as they may be are NOT lost sales, why do people insist on this fallacy.
    But the question always is, would the other 5 people buy it otherwise, that's the only thing I'm trying to get at. As simple as that. I'm sure there is loss in some way or another, but you can't say each illegal download is a lost sale, because that's impossible, there isn't that much money in the world to pay for all the illegal downloads. I've seen figures that users download way more than they could ever consume in a lifetime anyway, just because they can, but never get round to listen or watch any of it. Bottom line, people wouldn't be able to afford it anyway, it's more of a greed thing, there was no money to be made from these people anyway. I've download stuff in the past, especially bands I didn't know, because I could carry on throwing my money down the drain on albums that sucked, or because the nearest record store didn't have it available to listen, but now I have Netflix, SKy, Spotify, Steam, etc, almost everything is there and Steam does amazing deals and it's a great platform, I can say that I no longer need torrents, because fortunately somebody found the right way to fight piracy, and that is to create platforms with fair prices and great services. Now to listen to old dinosaurs saying, "Yeah man, piracy is wrong, we should send everybody to jail, get the government in on the bastards", etc is just sad and desperate. Like Steam say, paraphrasing, the best way to fight piracy is to give people a better option, and that's exactly what they did.
    But piracy is (Depending on how you look at it) wrong. You're effectively stealing from the artist. They should have the choice whether to release their music for free or not or however they want to do it. Not a consumers right to illegally download their work. And yeah, the streaming platforms are a great step in the right direction, but artists are still aren't getting much. And no matter how you justify it, it's a lost sale. Those 5 people obtained a product without paying for it. Maybe 1 or 2 of them might actually go out and buy the album after hearing it, that's not really a lost sale then. But what about the rest? Simply put, you pay for something to own. They haven't paid for it but now own a copy, whose loss is it? The artists. And just because you can, doesn't mean you should. You can do all sorts of illegal things, doesn't mean you should do them. Go out and buy the DVDs for movies, or rent them, or pay for a streaming service, it's not really expensive compared to other things people spend money on, like coffee and alcohol.
    Since when does art = commercial success?
    I think he's saying more so about how even if it is a piece of art, 99% of the time money will need to be involved somewhere along the line, and piracy has taken a large amount of money away from artists and labels.
    Well, you might kinda want it to be, once you start doing it for a living...
    I'm with you, people who go in the art field do so knowingly they have like a 90% chance of just failing, really hard. That's why if you want to make money you don't become an "artist". You don't expect it because chances are you're going to tank and if you're lucky you'll be famous after you die. If you want money go into Computer Science, Engineering, Medical or something that has a large need and high pay structure.Entitled brats nowadays...
    Yeah, screw people for wanting to make a living out of something they're passionate about.
    Thanks to piracy there's no money in looking for new bands. No reason to invest in their projects, no space to take creative risks. Less and less bands are able to break thru, because they have to do everything by themselves. This is real, guys.
    Sony just gave 1.6 million dollars to a group of 12 year old metal kids from Brooklyn. What are you talking about? That is a serious risk to take in a very bloated genre. It seems that nearly every kid who picks up a guitar wants to play drop-tuned metal....and Sony just signed some 12 year old boys to do the job.
    Fuck this guy. He doesn't know what he's talking about. The artist loses either way because the trickle-down effect NEVER HAPPENS.
    Millions of jobs? If millions more people were writing music and poems, the world would not turn any faster. Better off with engineers and janitors and teachers, etc. Your earning potential as a software developer with a head full of ideas is exponentially greater than a metal singer with a head full of ideas. I would imagine that they would still have to grind it out at fairs and casinos even if there was no internet today in 2014.....They were late into the hair metal fad and it died out shortly after they started....I was still surprised to see that they sold 15 million albums according to wikipedia.
    And now for something completely different: Can Cinderella please come tour the UK, and get Ratt to tag along?
    Wait now, does he really believe no one's trying to enforce copyright laws on the internet?