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Piracy's role in visual kei

Piracy and visual kei  

94 members have voted

  1. 1. What do you make of piracy's role in visual kei?

    • A necessary evil.
      71
    • I take it or leave it.
      17
    • We can do better without it.
      6
  2. 2. How instrumental has piracy been in getting you into and keeping you attached to the scene as an international fan?

    • Very influential
      68
    • Mildly influential
      20
    • Not a factor
      6
    • Not an international fan (I live in Japan)
      0
  3. 3. What do you think of Monochrome Heaven's role with piracy in the future?

    • Piracy should get more aggressive in certain ways (please provide examples)
      7
    • Things should stay as they are.
      74
    • We should reduce our piracy contributions with rules about what and when releases can be uploaded, or in some other way (please specify)
      13
  4. 4. If you are in Japan, have you noticed piracy having a major effect on bands and the scene?

    • Major effect
      3
    • Minor effect
      5
    • No effect
      9
    • Not applicable to me.
      77
  5. 5. HYPOTHETICALLY SPEAKING, if we were to close the download section, what do you think the future of the scene would be?

    • Things would get way better!
      4
    • Things would stay the same.
      31
    • Things would get worse.
      59


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If you've been in the scene for a while, you've no doubt formed your opinions about piracy in the scene. For better or worse, free music has become the cornerstone upon which Monochrome Heaven - and to a larger extent, the scene - has been built upon. It's worked for a decade, and possibly even before that in less organized terms. For as long as I can remember, piracy was seen as a "necessary evil" to build up the scene and to keep it going, and that was the consensus everyone in the scene came to.

 

But times are changing, and with that perhaps the attitudes of the scene are changing as well. A vocal minority of fans and band members are calling for all fans to put more money into the scene and to support their favorite bands with money. Here's an excerpt from a recent Facebook post that's gone viral within the scene.

 

Quote

People asking me to order DDRM NEW MINI ALBUM
And wonder why its so expensive...
🤔 because I didnt make the price?
Ask their managment. And 2500¥ (aka ~23€ ) its not expensive for a mini album. o.O thats why you guys want a copy or just download from internet. Www and wonder why bands are disbanding?

Let me tell you one thing.
To record 1 song only can cost you about 200€ 🤗 rent a studio for compose music up to 4000€ or more....
25€ is still too much? Not worth to pay? 🤭 than you should quit this music scene.

++++add some words...
...some bands are there for making money, some for girls and most of them are there for make music because they live for it.

No matter for what their intention are, to make music they need to SELL their music to continue.
You wont help them by calling ‚i love you, i love your music‘ but just download from internet.
Buy their CD is the best way to show them your love and support.
And not only DDRM also for other bands.

Many people agreed with this person. I want to understand how people here feel about this same topic. Serious replies only, and if you respond please vote in as many of the questions as you can. I will liberally delete any post that I interpret as attacking another member or otherwise not contributing to the discussion.

 

NOTE: This topic doesn't mean that the staff is planning on doing something. We are simply curious and have been discussing this among ourselves for a day or two.

 

NOTE 2: This topic will automatically close in two weeks on March 16th. If you have thoughts, try to share them before then.

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As someone who joined the file-sharing scene in the late 90's when Gnutella and P2P (centralized networks for file sharing) were at it's infancy, I have so many questions that I'd like to ask the users.

I just want to understand, so please forgive the ignorance.

 

I'm looking at all this from the outside in, and I'm simply perplexed at what became of file-sharing.

Wtf happened?

Such a simple idea to create exposure and salvage media that would otherwise be lost if not archived, to this?

 

I've heard of people becoming entitled, but to what degree?

I've always been an advocate for "sharing is caring" but after talking to people online, that saying is now a toxic ideal.

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The vkei facebook groups are full of white knights who feel they are above piracy from a moral standpoint, and listen to their music through YouTube while completely disregarding the irony that the vast majority of vkei on that platform in fact comes from piracy (and to add on another level of irony, said music most likely stems from this board).

 

I have a lot of thoughts on the subject that I'm having trouble putting together, but most of it boils down to "Westerners don't buy CDs + can't go to a gig in Japan, and the Japanese don't like streaming + have no interest in playing here, so unless one side gives no one is going to be happy."

 

That being said, vkei has a lot of novelty tax associated with it because no one actually buys it, so they're trying to make as much money off of each sale as they can. Pressing 400,000 copies of a U2 album is probably a lot more cost efficient for everyone involved than pressing 100 copies of the next Datura single.

 

I also get that music isn't free, it costs money to produce it, you're being entitled, Ayn Rand was a good writer, etc etc etc but for as much as people come across as entitled, the counter argument is hard to not interpret as rabid gate-keeping.

 

 

 

As an aside, here is an article a friend shared on facebook regarding Streaming:

https://pitchfork.com/features/oped/how-to-be-a-responsible-music-fan-in-the-age-of-streaming/

 

Basically, streaming doesn't yield a lot of money to bands either, and the author's proposed resolution is pretty interesting.

 

 

 

Edited by Peace Heavy mk II

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18 minutes ago, YuyoDrift said:

 

I just want to understand, so please forgive the ignorance.

 

I'm looking at all this from the outside in, and I'm simply perplexed at what became of file-sharing.

Wtf happened?

Such a simple idea to create exposure and salvage media that would otherwise be lost if not archived, to this?

 

I've heard of people becoming entitled, but to what degree?

I've always been an advocate for "sharing is caring" but after talking to people online, that saying is now a toxic ideal.

Literally same. We were having so much fun and I blinked my eyes once and the whole internet exploded. 

 

Also, from what I've seen in Japan with some friends who are into vkei, they don't really seem to spread things online but rather copy them on cds or dvds and give them to their friends (especially the old stuff that you can't get your hands on anymore or anything that was limited). They don't seem to share their treasures with just anyone and kinda get scared when it comes to that. I see when it comes to international fans we literally like to share amongst our fellow fans by uploading them on sites. I'm also trying to understand all points of views because tbh I've never actively done this before, aside from sharing music with my best friend.

 

Edited by Triangle

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I live in Australia and shipping costs are really expensive so its hard to justify buying releases unless it's on itunes or something.

But if the vk piracy scene died I would just buy the (relatively few) releases I'm interested in and share them on slsk (this is assuming jpopsuki is dead too). I'm lucky enough to live in a first world country so I would be able to do this. The main problem would be live limited releases which would completely fade out of existence to the West (or should I say more then they are now).

 

The other problem would be there would be less discussion about bands/releases because many people wouldn't be able to listen to them and it would be harder sorting the bad from the good.

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If I really want to buy something, I will buy it, doesn't matter if I've already illegally downloaded it or not.

How many acts of piracy are actual "lost sales"? IMO a lot of people weren't going to buy in the first place. Some others prob download to see if they will like it or not and maybe buy it - that could count as a lost sale. Making your discography avaiable on itunes and spotify might help with the whole foreigners pirating thing since it will be less expensive for us. Regarding the last question, I voted that things would stay the same because people would share things somewhere else. We always find a way. We have always found a way.

Edited by Chi

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To be honest, I don't know how to answer most of the questions above (I'll try later, brain isn't working as it should be rn).

I have to admit that I did download most of the music that's on my computer/phone/whatever. I just couldn't/can't afford to buy every new release plus I like to listen to it before I buy it since I was disappointed by some releases already and I regret buying those CDs.

But if I really like a release I'll definitely buy it sooner or later, as soon as I have enough money left.
I'd buy a lot more if shipping wouldn't be more expensive than the CD itself. Yeh, I know, there are cheaper options, but some of my orders got lost when I was still ordering with other options than EMS.
In my opinion it's mostly the shipping that keeps people from buying the CDs, like a few others already mentioned.

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I have very, very mixed feelings concerning this topic, so all I say may sound confusing. I may sound cocky too, but you guys asked for opinions. I also tried posting this under spoiler but phone won't let me...

 

Brace yourselves, rant is coming:

 

Of course, just like any foreigner, I got into this thanks to piracy. Of course, I do download pretty much everything shared on the VK section, even if just to sample it and delete it half an hour later (I no longer hoard music I do not like).

 

And, just like many people, I occasionally share rips because I know some people will enjoy them and some others might discover a band they will like and support.

Yet I truly despise when my rips are shared outside of this community, even though my common sense (who usually sounds like Yuyo) dictates it's the right way to preserve and spread it.


Maybe it is because here it stays within a community of people who also buy and share their rips and it feels more like an open trade. Key word: feels like.

 

But feelings are not meant to be rational, right?

 

I support about 10-12 active bands. A good portion of my salary goes towards VK. I make certain sacrifices in order to make sure my honmei can have their rice and redbull. Hell, I even pay people to get me goods at lives so they can get more money from me in a more direct way than buying second hand stuff.


Maybe that is why I feel I 'earned' the right to trade rips of the bands I do enjoy yet don't love enough to include in my monthly spendings. And I feel people who share rips here kinda earned the 'right' to get my rips for free. Because they support the scene too.

Sometimes I even dl rips from the bands I do buy from because I'll buy the release with the next paycheck or the following, or sometime in the future when I stop blowing my money on chekis (sorry, Diaura).

 

Which is why it kinda bums me to spend hundreds of dollars on music, share it with people who also support the scene as far as their wallets allow it, and then it gets leaked to people who not only don't support the scene, but feel entitled to be given rips anyways 'because they love the band so much, omg they mah favez!!'

 

I don't mean to say I am a better fan than they are, or a better person, or whatever. I'm probably a pathetic chick who blows her paycheck on asian drag queens who attempt to play metal instead of in... idk whatever shit regular people spend their money on. But it really gets on my nerves to read so many people on social media, especially Hispanics, viewing piracy as a 'right'. Demanding for HQ rips, whining about those 'fucking selfish japs/gringos who get everything and don't share fast enough'. Fuck you! If I buy a release I do not have the moral duty of posting it online. And in those very same communities I see a handful of people leeching, bragging about 'their collections' (virtual collections of course) and sharing our stuff just to make themselves popular. 'Look, I'm such a VK connaiseur because I have two hard drives filled with VK I got from MH. I'm a true fan cuz I have rarez. Now kiss my ass if you want me to share the rip I didn't even originate'.

 

I know a dude who's considered the 'wikipedia of VK' because he's always talking about the many bands he knows and buys. Turns out he doesn't buy shit, he leeches from JpopSuki and here AND HE FUCKING CHARGES FOR IT. HE IS SERIOUSLY MAKING HIMSELF A NAME AND MONEY SELLING OTHER PEOPLE'S RIPS. AS HIS OWN.

 

I understand the role piracy plays in the scene. I know it's exposure, and it helps spread the music and make bands popular. It preserves files online (though I've been all day looking for geek sleep sheep's albums and I cannot fucking find a decent rip, I swear). It also gives way to interesting discussions about music.


But I also understand it fucking pisses bands off, many have told me so. It even pisses off western VK bands I know when they see their music up for grabs where they didn't post it. It's sorta disrespectful in a way, to say "yeah, man, I love your art but I ain't paying for it'. I have literally read those words online.

I don't know if my point is even understood here... I've even defended piracy when talking to a few bandomen, saying that it actually promotes their music and gains them new fans. And I understand without piracy most of us wouldn't be here today. Boy, I really wish someone would share those Amai Boryoku live limited EPs. 


But I hate so much that downloads bring people here only to leech instead of for all the other amazing features this community has to offer. I hate that people outside of the community get popular or even get money spreading our rips without even mentioning Monochrome Heaven. I hate the way they talk about us when we don't share fast enough, like we owe them the rips. Like it's our duty to share the day before the release and in HQ...

 

With so many bands posting their previews on youtube, full releases on Spotify and iTunes, is such an open piracy still necessary to promote the music they work so hard to make?
(I refuse to use youtube and Spotify, I hate them, so I'm being cynical by just bringing them up myself). All the people who say 'I don't risk buying releases I don't know I'll like' can now hear the previews on youtube/spotify, right?

 

I think I'd really like to keep the DLs here to the community and the people who contribute, so maybe people elsewhere will stop taking us for granted and have a solid reason to complain about us...

 

I'm ready for the MH trolls to go berserk on my feelings and opinions. Keep in mind these are just rather irrational feels and opinions and that my opinions stem from my own experiences and my own reality, which is not the absolute truth and does not account for other people's experiences.

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To begin, we must pleeease understand that the correlation of piracy = loss of a sale is FALSE. People pirating releases ARE NOT making musicians lose money, period. If people hadn't shared, I don't know, batsu game's latest release, I would NOT buy it. I would simply go on without listening to it, because I don't care enough for them to go out of my way to buy a physical copy of something that would cost me 3 USD if it was an itunes release (btw the single sucks). This is true to 95% of the vk listeners, and has been widely discussed in sample pools much larger than a niche japanese music scene, like videogames for example. People buy what they like, period. If you do not let them at least try, why the hell should they buy your music?

 

That being said, people vastly, VASTLY overestimates the importance of western fandom to the scene. We are not the main target, we are not their main income source, the music isn't made for us. We are a plus in the scene, and every single release a westerner fan buys, it's an EXTRA income for the band. They are not counting with our money, people gotta understand that most of the bands simply don't care if we are listening to them or not, as long as their onemans are filled with japanese girls doing dance steps at their songs. Very few bands have the desire for more international exposure, and if that's the case, they sure have to adapt to our ways, as we are not obliged to accept their 90's thinking in the age of streaming. IF japanese fans started pirating instead of buying, THEN we would have a problem.

 

Music is dogs eating dogs everywhere in the world, why would be different for japanese boys in make up? Bands that are actually good, or at least are able to gather interest in their music will flourish, no matter what. People fail to understand that the scene is small because of it's characteristics, because boys dressing like girls and shredding guitars is niche and most importantly, it's foundation is what holds it back. No ammount of western pirates will make or break a band, period.

 

fun fact, UNiTE. shared most of their discography on Spotify, I don't know if it is restricted in japan (which would be a smart thing to do). Yeah they are bigger than most vk acts around, but that does show they are not following the outdated tunneled vision most bands are, and see us as what we are. Extra income, if they get to book a concert here and there, fine! If not, fine aswell, their focus is where it should be, their growth in Japan, without closing their doors to us, the outsiders.

Edited by chemicalpictures

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To preface this, I'm not in the vkei scene (neither Japanese nor international) and I don't know about its situation in regards to piracy. Aside of DIR EN GREY, I own maybe 30 albums/DVDs physically, and none of them is vkei stuff. So this is more about general piracy in the music scene.

 

I hardly knew about MH before joining, I almost never use it for vk downloads since I only listen to DEG (and their related bands) anyway, so I'm not here to grab any rips from random no-name vkei bands. I also have never been on batsu or used jpopsuki before.

 

But I have been using piracy for 99.9% of all music I've ever acquired. I don't say this with pride, but with indifference. I don't care if the artist doesn't make as much money because of me, because there's no scenario in which he would. Even if I wouldn't download the album, I still wouldn't buy it and I'm not a fan of streaming, either. So there's no potentially lost money, because there is no potentially won money.

 

And while I'm aware that this position makes my vulnerable to those with the moral high ground, I won't change this either. I currently have 100 artists scrobbled on my last.fm, that's about 1/5th of all artists I've ever pirated an album from. Imagine if the only way I'd be able to listen to those artists would be by buying their music.

It would be impossible. I would not even be able to DIR EN GREY alone if I'd only listen to their bought music (and I do buy their music, of course).

 

So the logical conclusion to me is: Either I pirate their music and listen to the band without paying them, or I don't bother with them and they won't get my money, either. It's a lose/lose situation for them.

 

And I think that this sentiment won't change, ever. Most people simply don't have enough money to buy all the music they like, it's literally impossible. So from my perspective, the artists are asking us to either chose them (for the purchases) or don't listen to them at all. I don't think that's the way to handle their fanbase, since the band needs the fans, not the other way around. I think that instead, the band needs to find other way to make money. They need to go with the flow, they can't be stuck in the "if we act like this, people will surely buy our music instead of pirating it". Nope, that won't happen. People will simply drop you and listen to other bands.

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It is a difficult subject to discuss, has its positive and negative sides, much of the material that has no access, is of piracy, still more  the 90's. But whenever I really want, I buy the CD. But a lot of people just come in to steal downloads on MH, and what bothers me the most is to think that it was she that buy and post out. But many bands or artists do not have access to their music, this is if you not is ignored even wanting to buy the damn CD.

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This is a great thread topic for discussion. Like others have mentioned I feel pretty conflicted on the subject. When I got into Visual Kei, I was hardly savvy with internet-ing, so if I found something I liked on Youtube, I would save and order it from CDJapan or something. I didn't even know about western VK communities/download forums/file sharing/torrents whatever. But at the same time, since discovering all those things, I have been able to find so much amazing music that simply never would have been available to me. The majority of bands that never make it and had super limited run CD's are lost to the sands of time, but kept alive through some of this file sharing. On the other hand, it being seen as the norm is certainly concerning.

 

The most important point I want to bring up about this whole topic is that this problem is not only concerning the Visual Kei industry. In the western music world, all artists are suffering from a trend over the last 15 years where people simply don't feel that they ought to pay for music.

 

People were eased into this idea through the retiring of physical formats, introduction of illegal downloading, and finally STREAMING. The final nail in the coffin for this issue, is, now, people can pay a small subscription fee that used to be the cost of a single record, most of which won't go to the recording artist, to listen to all of their music. And they have no sense that what they're doing might be unethical. Because they are paying for a legal service, after all. Ask most people below the age of 20 who their favorite artists are? Chances are they may have gone to their show, or seen them live, but the majority of the upcoming generation simply are not buying music (this refers to digital downloads, not even including waning physical formats).

 

 

I wish I knew a proper solution, but its a strange predicament for the entire industry. The previous generation went to record stores and saved for LP's or CD's. Their most devious exploitation might have been copying a friend's album to a blank cassette, so they could finally listen to an album they'd never be able hear to other wise. Simply speaking, there wasn't a choice. If you wanted to hear specific music, you had to buy the releases or go to concerts. Those were the only ways.

 

The current generation grew up listening to their music on YouTube and Spotify, for the most part. For someone to actually pay for an album, physical or digital, they have to be a diehard non-average music fan (ppl on this forum), not know how to use YouTube/Spotify, or they are exceptionally ethically considerate.

 

 

 

To give more of a solid response to the OP, I think promoting the purchasing of music is a good thing, but I don't know if cutting down on illegal downloading is the way to do that. Atleast in the case of the Western Visual Kei audience, there is argument to be made that much of the Western Visual Kei audience wouldn't even exist without file sharing. I may be an exception to the rule having no current bands I really care about, but I can't even financially support so many of my favorite Visual Kei (and Japanese) artists. ( ( Because I can't legally download or buy non-2nd hand cd's from due le quartz, aioria, or yarmulke, etc.) ) I know this is a sort of a wishy-washy answer, but I encourage further discussion of this topic and of buying music that rocks your world.

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I've been in this scene for quite some time and in the past been a contributor to said acts. But it's also been a major life saver for me and without it I don't know where I would be now if I couldn't have gotten the few releases that sucked me into the void. I think it's an nessacry evil for sure. I know it effects artists but because of those artists I really like I purchase what I can when I can via digital or other means. I also believe it's important to have uploads available as an archive. What if someone wants to check out what else a band has to offer but they're not ready to buy? Or perhaps the band they like have releases that aren't accessible any other way. 

 

I mean I get the bad side of it but there's a good side as well. It's opened doors for people to have access to something that makes them happy. I get it effects the artists and I encourage those who do like these bands to throw money at them when they have the chance but also not everyone has that luxury either. I know I didn't always have money available and this day I don't because of bills or other shit that comes up. I think it helps promote the scene rather than kill it because it's exposure. It influences people to take trips to see their bands and purchase their merchandise some even as far as to help promote the bands. 

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Well, I really understand that artists think ripping their CD doesn't help them at all because they "loose" money but that's not really true. I couldn't tell if any album is good judging only by promoting songs or cover. If album is really good it should be able to defend itself and appear to listener enough to make him/her buy it later on or support band in other ways (don't forget about t-shirts, accessories or just attending to concerts).

I also think that music industry is a really difficult branch to live from. Specially VK, which is... pretty underground. Comparing to other artists, which are more mainstream or just commercial, they have pretty small fanbase. A typical person really rarely buys real CD or get access to any kind of streaming (because most of them listen to the radio and then download single songs). So when it comes to such a small community it's more likely that few people will buy anything, what means less money for artists. And if they want to become more popular, piracy will help them, paradoxically.

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Seconding that the bands aren’t really losing money from people pirating, and no, not everyone is in the position to be able to buy things so easily. This goes double for casual fans. And honestly if not for piracy, most people wouldn’t have a way to get to know these bands in the first place, myself included. 

 

On the flip side, just to be real: not true for everyone, obviously, but man I’ve met a lot of cheap vkei fans. I briefly offered to do a shopping service kind of deal once and fuck, never again. Only for friends. It’s just not worth the stress of being nickeled and dimed by people when the prices aren’t even your decision. Moreover, if or when someone goes to the trouble to rip something - it costs less than cash to thank someone for their effort, but it’s like pulling teeth. Much less asking for anyone to link back to the source on the rip. And then people get demanding for more rips and it’s like ????

 

I don’t forsee any change, but I just wish people were kinder to each other in this regard I guess.

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Double-Edged Sword

I think it goes both ways. Most times I'll listen to something and if I like it I'll buy it. But sometimes, I might only download a few tracks I like from an artist and never buy anything of theirs.

 

Shouldn't previews be enough?

A lot of times bands will release a 30 second teaser or one-two songs for an upcoming release, but that's not enough to convince me to drop $20-40 on something I may or may not like. If I'm not a fan, chances are I wasn't gonna buy it anyways. 

 

Listening Platform

Streaming is becoming a prominent way people listen to music nowadays. I don't think there are many people who still mainly find new music through just physical purchases. Heck, many people I've talked with have stopped going digital music hunting for downloads. Convenience is key here. Why go through all this trouble when I can just find what I'm looking for on youtube right on my phone?

 

It's also not uncommon for some people to almost exclusively use a single platform like Google Play or Spotify. Labels can really help their bands gain more exposure through these streaming services simply because a lot of people this generation will never buy music in a physical format and use whatever method is faster and easier.

 

What seems to work?

I've seen plenty of "pay what you want" systems work quite successfully. One label I follow always puts their artist's music on as many digital platforms as they can for free (Youtube, Spotify, Bandcamp, etc.). They open it up to their consumers to donate how much they see fit. This is in addition to physical CDS and vinyl records they sell as well. I find this method appealing because it allows anyone to contribute regardless of their financial situation. Got only a dollar to spare? That's better than nothing. Leechers were just gonna leech anyways, and the collectors can spend more on physical releases if that's their thing. This also encourages people to just go to the source and download instead.

 

It feels a bit unfair to say the only way to support a band nowadays is by spending a minimum of $35 for a new album, especially when there do exist more ways for fans to show their support this day and age. And, you just know labels are in it just for money when they pull crap like "New Single [Type A-Z]".  And on that note, live limited releases are not doing anyone favors and only encourages piracy. Sure, it's a special little something for attendees but there are so many scalpers who use this opportunity to make money off the band. 300% markup is not cool.

 

Label Involvement

I think how a label takes care of their artists is crucial in driving sales. So many bands have been stifled by a label's involvement with rushed timelines, requirements to change creative direction, and not having an understanding of their audience. I can't tell you how many times I've gone from loving a band to abandoning them because of a label change. It's usually at this point I typically just download a band's music just to see if I'll like what they've put out instead of buying their music.

Edited by ghost

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I mean, I think I get it why some people never get any official CDs, especially if they are young and still in school. I was them at one point, but now I have a job and make a living for my own, I can spare some for bands that I favorited and buy their new releases, and catching up by buying their old albums as well. Still, I limited myself only for the albums mostly, unless the singles are maxi and the title song did not make it to the album. For these, I usually bought it late when I already know it isn't included in an album. 

 

Also, another thing is, there are so many VK bands in the scene, many are names that most people never heard of before, one died, twenty more sprouted. For me it isn't a big issue. But for someone else who are really really into this scene and want to check every one of them, that might be problematic unless they are wealthy. Hence, illegal downloads came into play in this community. I am not sure how it's like in Japan, but communities abroad likely to commit in illegal downloads more since opportunity to get original CDs are limited since they are either not released locally, or they are too expensive to get (CD cost and shipping combined are usually not a small amount). As for iTunes, most bands are still not putting their music there. And those who does, well, getting iTunes Japan credits seems like arduous work. Some sellers even wanting to know information like ID card, Bank statement, electricity bill scan to prove someone is legit, before they can purchase iTunes credits, which is unnecessary. Like, WTF, honestly.

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I literally would have never stumbled across visual kei without access to illegally downloaded music in the 2000s. Since then, it's prompted me to buy the albums, DVDs, magazines, posters – You name it, of the bands I truly love. I've gone so far as to take trips around the world to various venues to see the bands I admire play in a live setting. In short, what led to a few stolen tracks in the beginning led to some eventual money (and full discographies) of the bands I support. The ones I don't like end up getting deleted sooner or later anyway.

Us in the west and Europe simply don't have access to Japanese music the way those in Japan do. It would take an awful lot of convincing for me to shell out more than $20 on a CD for an unknown indie band if I hadn't a clue what they sounded like, never mind the exorbitant shipping costs on top of it. There would have to be some pretty reputable names attached to them for me to do something like that. 

This whole topic brings to mind the VK reselling scene. Stores like Closet Child, Pure Sound, etc. – You've got to wonder what the difference would be between paying a distributor for a used CD (of which I assume no money goes to the artist) and downloading an mp3 would be? In the end, it would generate a similar level of exposure, no?

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I'm enjoying the read guys.

I can relate to a ton of your points.

 

When I first started downloading shitty Japanese 128kbps albums online (like many OGs on here it seems), I did it because I was a kid first off haha.

I downloaded everything I could listen to because I was in love with Japanese music, and it sounded so great to me. I went out of my way and got a ton of my friends hooked, and played it nonstop in the car, at school, and made mixtape after mixtape of the songs I enjoyed. This defined my future with music.

I never knew how to get my hands on the actual CD's though, but that was not necessary because the point of file-sharing was so that I didn't have to.

 

Now I want to clarify: This was music I could not get outside of the USA, or was harder to obtain/process of finding it was too much effort than it needed to be.

I had the means to buy local, and I always did.

Why try and waste hours of my day trying to get the latest Linkin Park CD for free, when I could just go to the store and buy it in 10 minutes?

 

Perhaps I'm in the minority, but I appreciate file-sharing for what it is.

I have never taken it for granted, and it led to the beautiful discovery of other genres of music that would have been wayyyyy out of my budget at the time.

Did that mean that I was never deserving of listening to all that music in the first place? I think that's a terrible way of looking at it.

I feel that I've paid my respects by playing the artists music until my ears bleed, and I'm returning those efforts made by the uploaders by contributing what I can and preserving VK for those who join tomorrow through Monochrome Heaven as a moderator.

I try and buy the releases that I can when they are reasonably priced. I feel that along with others who have stated here, there has to be an agreement to lower the cost of the media to us internationally.

 

Also, the consensus seems to be that since its 2018, the music industry needs to step their game up, and make their music more available to the masses.

I completely agree.

Had streaming services existed back in the 90's, I think I would have gone that route, as listening to the music was my main goal.

At the same time, I would not be as tech savvy as I am now (and I wouldn't have pursued a career in Information Security) and the process of file sharing to have not existed would mean that I would never have stumbled across the sites, the people, and the music itself to which I spent years losing sleep in pursuit of.

 

This topic is something that I know all too well, and I'll be damned if we are trying to get rid of a system that has been a vital source for music exposure and preservation worldwide, with no concrete substitute by the music industry and technology, as well as lack of support of.

 

 

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no piracy no western touring

 

american labels won't pick up anything that is not outrageously hetty and radio-friendly

 

european pressings of CDs haven't saved a single declining band from disbanding

 

we have no control over bands shit decisions no matter how big/famous they are (kagerou, rentrer en soi, pierrot all give good food for thot)

 

18 minutes ago, YuyoDrift said:

Also, the consensus seems to be that since its 2018, the music industry needs to step their game up, and make their music more available to the masses.

music industry has less commercial value than movies or videogames, and has been always behind the times technologically/entrepreneurally (is this a word?..)

they don't care about broadening their reach because everyone in the business gets most of the revenue by performing stuff, not distributing copies of albums.

Edited by nekkichi

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I suppose I have a bit of a different perspective on this than most. I rarely ever download any music, and I buy the vast majority of my music via CDs (with some occasional digital purchases on Bandcamp). When I first started getting really into music in general, I did pirate a few things but even in those early days I mostly stayed straight. In high school I started collecting CDs, and I still do to this day. I can honestly say that piracy had very little to do with my taste in visual kei, Japanese music, or just music  in general. For me, it was just grabbing a few albums here and there based off of a clip I heard on youtube (could be an official one or not). Over time I got very good at judging albums based off of a song or a trailer and I rarely get any misses. Hell sometimes I buy stuff blind just based off of the members in it.

 

There are a handful of exceptions like when a band I like releases something that's just flat out impossible to get because it's live only, out of print for insane prices, or something like that. In those cases, I might grab a rip because I'm not going to just drop $100+ on a CD to some scalper on Yahoo Auctions (although I've done this before). In my case, I do have a pretty strong desire for a physical CD + booklet,  so I'm extra appreciative of Japanese bands generally taking the time and effort to make sure their CD releases are really nice (a lot of western bands are hackjobs in comparison).

 

Now, I understand that not everyone is necessarily in a position to drop hundreds of dollars on this stuff. My position is pretty fortunate since I have basically zero hobbies that cost money besides music and my expenses are very low. I won't pretend to be on a moral high ground either since I've got terabytes of anime rips on my hard drive right now. Hell talking to some other people around the world, the US actually has it pretty easy since we don't have to deal with ludicrous VATs/duty on imports which most of Europe seems to have. Those taxes drive the cost way up and make it even more unfeasible for some people.

 

However, I think that if you are able to afford it, you should support the bands you really like. It could be buying CDs, merch or whatever you want. If you truly value what an artist puts out, then I think you should support them if you can. These days there are plenty of online retailers (Amazon, HMV, CDJapan, etc.) that are pretty easy to use and you can get decent deals (by Japan's standards anyway) if you know what you're doing. Hell, sometimes I end up paying more money going after western CDs simply because I usually can't buy those all from one seller and have to split shipping across a bunch of different people (that adds up).

 

If a band's release is in print and easily available, I will absolutely buy it if I want it. I won't even "download a copy in advance" while I wait for the CD to arrive (I know someone who does this sometimes). Even if something is out of print and not exactly easy to find, 99% of the time I won't download it either. I'll generally put that album on the backburner and wait for a good time to lurk Yahoo Auctions or something.

 

I suppose I also will differ from most people on streaming. I personally can't stand the idea of streaming in any shape or form. Even if there was the magical perfect streaming service that had every artist I wanted, I still wouldn't use it. Streaming isn't truly ownership to me because you don't have any real control over the files. You just get whatever the host serves you. Just on principle I dislike it. This also extends somewhat to digital purchases. I will not purchase any digital downloads unless they offer lossless (so Bandcamp basically). Not because I'm dumb enough to think FLAC sounds better (it doesn't against decent lossy encodes). But I don't like not having the freedom to use the codecs and/or transcodes I want (since lossy downloads basically lock you into that format). And yes, I have actually re-encoded my portable library before (switched to Opus from Ogg Vorbis a while ago). I don't feel I have the real deal if I don't have a 1-1 copy of what's on the CD.

 

As for Japan's music industry, they're in the unique position where their music industry (for now) is still dominated by physical sales. This is rapidly shifting though. They never really got into downloads over there, but they're rapidly getting on the streaming bandwagon. Is this a good or bad thing for the quality of music? I'm tempted to think it will mostly end up being a bad thing overall if music gets driven by a more streaming-like market instead of a core base of dedicated fans. But maybe I'll be wrong. Japan has magically avoided a ton of trends that the West has gone through, so it's hard to predict what will happen.

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I feel as if piracy is a necessary evil, and honestly keeps a scene full of mostly underground bands supported by such a large foreign fanbase. 

Especially for those like me who prefer bands who by coincidence, are hard to find the music of.

Also, as someone who cares about the preservation of the history and stuff, I feel as if piracy does help preserve a lot of stuff that would otherwise be lost to time.

And some bands, I can't support directly anyway, since a lot of them release 90% of their stuff as a live distro. If I lived in Japan, I'd probably pirate less because I'd have larger, easier access to stuff. 

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One has to think not everybody has the financial situation to buy CDs, especially from Japan with those high prices and it is not like downloading illegally prevents you from buying the real stuff once you have the money. Most people want to by the original stuff despite illegal downloads.

 

It is because of illegal sharing that Visual Kei can receive extra money from purchases from abroad and bands can play outside Japan so it hs brought some benefits for them.

 

In my particular case, my downloading has dropped drastically given that today's Visual Kei doesn't appeal to me. I mainly try to find old stuff.

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I'd definitely be buying a lot more Japanese music if the stuff was physically easier to come by in record stores near me. Whenever I happen to visit one, I tend to buy at least a couple of CDs or tapes I stumble upon. Granted, that's mostly Western music, and also stuff I found out about thanks to streaming/downloading, but still. If it's for a fair price, I'm willing to buy it. Spending roughly €20 on a two-track single or like €35 on an album is not what I'd call fair. In the past, when businesses like HearJapan were still a thing, I would sometimes pay to buy digital copies of certain albums I really wanted to hear, but I don't really know where to turn for that kinda stuff now. A Spotify membership just ain't the same.

 

Piracy kind of inevitably turns into a necessary evil anyway in music scenes where there's basically a constant risk of certain artists' more obscure or limited releases either straight-up vanishing into the void, or perhaps being relegated to only ever popping up on auction sites once a decade for roughly the price of a new kidney, if only for the sake of preservation.

 

Another question we can ask in relation to this particular topic is the following: Is it still really a viable life decision for someone to just drop everything they've got going on in their life in order to focus full-time on trying to become a popular  (rock/metal) act on the level of Metallica (or whatever other 'household' rock band name you wanna fill in here) in 2018?  

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I use it as a screening, because 80-90% of what I test out listening to I end up not liking and I delete it.

Before youtube I had no idea how to even find music so I just wandered around the cd store looking at the covers, or typed random words into radio.blog.club and that's what led me from video game remixes to vk.

I would've never have been able to get into it, or even the rest of the music I discovered without piracy.

 

I support as many independent bands as I can afford on bandcamp, and if I really love an album but can't afford a fair price I usually pay what I can, leave a note saying sorry, and then come back when I can to pay them back fully for giving me the ability to listen to a 20 track album for 3$.

 

In the art world everything is about word of mouth anyways, especially when you are up and coming. If no one can see or hear your stuff and you just drop a 30$ album, no one will know who you are and nearly no one will be interested.

It'd be like hosting an art gallery of an unknown with an absurd cover charge. Very few will take that gamble.

 

I think I spend more money on band merch than CDs, but in the end the shirts usually cost 2 or 3 times what the CD did. Which that just comes down to how much space I have to store things.

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