Emerging Artists Are Silenced by Content Theft
Author:  Howard Gantman
Date:  07/08/2011

Sobering op-ed today in The Oregonian by Concord Music Group President and CEO Glen A. Barros regarding the devastation wreaked on the emerging artist community by online content theft, and what’s being done to address it. 

It’s no secret that the music industry has suffered untold losses due to online music theft, and when record labels’ bottom lines began to reflect those losses, music executives faced tough choices to keep afloat.  Investing in emerging musicians became too risky as rampant online theft put a stranglehold on the industry. 

“It’s tough to justify the resources it takes to bring a new voice to the attention of the world – especially in less commercial genres such as jazz – when you lose so much of the potential return on that investment to those who ‘share’ music for free, all the while thinking that there's no victim,” Barros wrote.  “Aspiring young artists who don't get their chance are the real victims of music piracy.”

Barros signaled his optimism regarding the PROTECT IP Act, which now shares the bipartisan support of 25 U.S. Senators:

“In a time when partisanship seems at a polarizing level, it's incredibly encouraging that these senators, from both parties, are joining together in an effort to protect our creative future.”

Barros also took issue with Oregon Senator Ron Wyden for indicating his plans to block the bill’s passage:

“I would ask why [Wyden’s] primary concern is over a theoretical threat to innovation and economic growth when there's actual damage being done to innovation and our economy by these foreign-based websites. Quite simply, thieves have stifled our creative output and cost us real jobs for some time now.”

Barros drove his point home with the case study of Esperanza Spalding – winner of this year’s Grammy for best new artist – a talented jazz musician who overcame staggering obstacles to achieve a successful music career. Raised in a single-parent home with limited financial resources, Spalding worked hard to hone her talents and landed a record deal.

“We were so moved by her artistry that we took a chance.  And in this case, it worked.  Now she's winning Grammys, performing for the president, generating commerce and inspiring communities everywhere. Hers is a rare success story.

“What if we didn't take that chance on Esperanza Spalding? What if no one did?…While Protect IP is certainly not a panacea, it sure will help. And that's a good thing for that next kid from the other side of the tracks who has the potential to become tomorrow's best new artist. In fact, that's a good thing for all of us.”

All talented creators deserve a chance to be heard.  We stand with American workers in support of the PROTECT IP Act and all other legislation aimed to protect artists’ content from online theft.