Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Piracy - The Underground Music Industry
"Mini-LP" style Beatles pirate from Russia, not Japan!
Since at least the '60s, music piracy has been around in some form. It used to be pirated LPs in the then-USSR and even South Korea (where some official Western releases were censored). Even after communism ended in Eastern Europe, many of the ex-bloc countries along with mainland China continue this practise to this day with pirated and even counterfeit CDs, and now there are several mp3 sites based in Russia and Ukraine that offer downloads for free or at prices much lower than iTunes and emusic. The black market has even expanded to the west with CD-Rs of the latest albums (though the police have cracked down on those in cornershops and city street stalls). It costs the real industry millions annually, and the artists and record companies make sod all from it.
In these far-flung countries, its the only way, even for local fare, as people don't make as much money there as they do in more industrialised nations, and the knockoffs are more affordable and available.
Wired have an informative article on the Ukrainian end (I'm in touch with someone in Kiev who I trade US LPs with for these bad boys). Its been likened to the Mafia, though not in a glamourised manner. The discs are usually made in plants like the labels use in the States and EU, though some people use CD-Rs, which I think is too easy, really. There can be typos due to a language barrier.
I guess if you're gonna take the high ground, you may wanna avoid these rogue records and buy the real thing. Believe me, I rather would, though well-made pirates will always have a home with me, as I also have the Russian I mentioned months ago hooking me up, though its more piecemeal with him. We both can only do so much, you see.
I once ordered a Russian pirate of a-ha, but the dated artwork and wrong record companies made it painfully obvious and I was sent the real McCoy from Germany at no charge after e-mailing a girl at their website, selling the phoney edition off straight away since the album was and still is unavailable officially in the US. This is nothing new, really.
Even though the majors have offices in these countries, there are still the John Gottis and Tony Montanas out there trafficking these CDs around Europe like dope.
These countries may have bigger fish to fry, as the situation is as open-ended as a soap opera! That's why its hard to wrap this up!