Wednesday, 20 August 2008

How To Support Bands

In Canada, until very recently, it was indisputably legal to download music from the internet for free. The argument to support this, put forward by various organisations including the Canadian government, was that most people who download are those who also support their favourite bands anyway (via CD's, concerts and merchandise). Furthermore, I would add that my recommending a band to someone else who I am quite sure will like them, as a fan, will further add to the band's profits as this other person purchases their CD or visits their concert.

In all honesty, buying a CD is very rare for me. From the hundreds of albums that I have already downloaded this year, I have purchased hard copies of only two. Did these albums deserve it more than the others? Well, to an extent. They were by my favourite artists and sounded great, but there are other awesome albums in my iTunes that I may never purchase, which is a shame - The main problem being their cost!

My way of supporting bands has moved on from CD's to concerts. Prior to seeing Mark Ronson last October, I had never seen a famous band/artist play live. I always preferred recorded music over live music on albums and so I figured that the same would apply to the real thing.

In the last few months, I have been to a few more concerts, of varying size. In the spring I saw "In Medias Res" and "Pedro the Lion" play at Trinity Western University, in the cafeteria. The gig was small but sounded great; Jesse and I sitting on the floor in front of the stage, in front of the seated crowd. Both played interesting lyrics to indie guitar music and I enjoyed it a lot. In July, I saw Newton Faulkner (the first concert where I'd heard a song by the artist/band before buying the ticket!) with Thea (my cousin) and we also got a pretty good location, at the front of the room - where we could hear both Newton and his support act, Haley Sales, really well.

In April, I heard that Radiohead (promoting their latest album, "In Rainbows") were coming to Vancouver to play a show in August. Immediately I jumped on the opportunity to get tickets (albeit too late to get them from Ticketmaster!) and found a guy on Craigslist who sold me two - one for Jill who was also a fan!

In fact, the concert was probably the reason that Jill and I became friends at all so I was really looking forward to it when we started dating in June. The show was to be filled with songs that I knew and I was excited to see how they sounded live since their music was less acoustic than most of the concerts I had seen. Coupled with this was that their show was to be my first outdoors one; in the open-air UBC Thunderbird stadium.



At the concert, I bumped into a few of the people who I'd heard were going (as well as being stood pretty close to Jesse and Virginia - from how they described their location - though we couldn't see them!); the concert being one of the most popular of the year for Vancouver - and my friendship groups all containing fans!Supporting Radiohead, I decided to buy a T-shirt (which turned out to be woven from recycled plastic bottles in landfills!) and already have the latest album, also looking to buy "OK Computer" in the future. The event was awesome and despite a bad start, the night went quite well.

The bad start was that Jill, who had been away at camp for three weeks, had decided in that time away that she wasn't ready for a relationship after all and was going to break up with me. Although she had planned to bring it up after the concert - so that it didn't ruin my night - I had noticed her looking uncomfortable and it had come up just before we got to the gates.

The news came as a shock and I was devastated but after some thought, I realised that I would find someone else and still had a really good friend in Jill. As much as I am not over it yet, I know that I will be eventually and was glad that it happened at all - since it had been fun whilst it lasted.

Other concerts this month are to be Jack Johnson and Oasis and I think that I will have an excellent time at both! Jack Johnson's music is a lot more upbeat so I will be drifting into "depression" mode a lot less during my second time at UBC Thunderbird stadium. Oasis' concert is at GM Place (home of the Vancouver Canucks NHL team) and will also be exciting.

In the coming few months (a bill having been proposed in June) the Canadian government (under pressure from the RIAA and other American music corporations) has introduced plans to make downloading illegal and enforce hefty fines on people who disobey. As much as I would like to think that I wouldn't get caught anyway, I am likely to change my habits when the law comes in so have been stocking up on new and old music recently, in case any of it appeals to me after the law has been passed.

Though frankly I still fail to see how the argument that "downloading doesn't support the artist" would affect The Beatles, Tupac or Pavement anyway...

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