File Sharing and the Canadian Indie Musician

From Arbitrage Magazine:

A war is raging in the U.S., one that pits the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) against individual file-sharers. Six years in, the RIAA has spent $64.1 million on legal proceedings, winning only $1.4 million from its offenders.

But while downloading the album of an established, world-famous rock star might not take a bite out of the artists’ wallet, the spread of file sharing has begun to impact artists who do not have the luxury of a private jet or a world tour.

“We were sleeping on the floors of friends-of-friends’s apartments. We had $10 a day for food, no per diem. We were definitely pinching pennies,” says Phil Maloney, drummer for Newfoundland band Hey Rosetta!, of their first tour. “It’s not until the third tour or so that you hope to at least break even.”

Max Kerman, front man of Hamilton quartet The Arkells, says record sales provide “pretty little in the form of money. It’s probably like that for most bands.”

It’s not just the artists taking a financial hit from declining sales. Mike Greatorex, of Sonic Entertainment Company, says labels are being forced to find other ways to stay afloat as sales crash. “If (Sonic Entertainment) was just a record label, we would have gone out of business years ago,” says Greatorex, noting that Sonic Entertainment’s management of bands is what generates most of the income. Sonic’s label has signed four acts in the past eight years but, ideally, the number of acts signed would be at least twice that.

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