“I've seen you on the beach and I've seen you on TV
Two of a billion stars it means so much to me
Like a birthday or a pretty view
But then I'm sure that you know it's just for you.”
We like to celebrate the odd and unusual days around the world here at NetNames, but for those of us who lived through the eighties, today stands head and shoulders above the others. In our Ordinary World, as the title and lyrics above may suggest, today is National Duran Duran Appreciation Day. Whilst the rest of the world is focused on events in Rio, I’ll be thinking about the Careless Memories from 30 years ago inspired by those Wild Boys.
Friends of Mine often berate me for my choice in music, which is eclectic to say the least. They can’t bear the thought of me being their Chauffeur and getting My Own Way in choosing what they listen to in the car. “Is There Anyone Out There on Planet Earth who has a worst taste in music than you?” they ask.
OK, enough of the surreptitious Duran Duran song titles – there’s a genuine reason to remember these days of celebration. Many of us ‘Duranies’ will now have their music on our digital devices. In the past 30 years, technology has shaped our listening habits, with a trend towards making things smaller and smaller. The digital revolution not only changed the way we interact with music, but also the way in which third parties can take advantage of the intellectual property.
Today, music piracy costs global economies over $12 billion a year, according to global black market information website Havocscope.com. The ease by which digital files can be passed across the Internet has made file sharing and downloading a global issue that music companies simply cannot control. This not only impacts those artists who are at the ‘top of their game’ today, but also the likes of Duran Duran who still potentially make significant sums through royalties on such hits as Hungry Like The Wolf and Save A Prayer, over 30 years since their original release.
Back in the 1980s, most youngsters used to tape music from the radio, although that didn’t stop us spending hours in record stores at the weekend. In fact, the term ‘bootleg’ was synonymous with the music industry, meaning an illegal recording of a live performance (in most instances) that then found its way onto the market. Many bootleg albums for famous artists sold for huge sums of money because of their rarity value, and actually increased the value and popularity of the artist.
Music companies tried to suggest that organized crime, including the Mafia, was behind bootlegging, and although it may have had a hand in the production and distribution of counterfeit music, the bootleg was normally produced and released by the avid fan. One of the most legendary bootlegs is The Black Album by Prince. Originally planned as the follow-up to his multi-million selling Sign o’ the Times, the album was pulled by the artist just days before its official release back in 1987. However, some promotional copies had already been circulated, and from those copies bootlegs were made and released, selling for huge sums. In 1994, Warner Music made an official version, offering a free copy the first 1,000 people to send back their bootleg versions. That album today sells for over £100 on eBay.
Whilst music has moved on significantly from the days of Girls on Film and the whole New Romantic phase, so too has digital piracy – now more pervasive than ever. Brand holders still need to create a brand protection program that at least identifies the issues that could harm their revenues and reputation, whilst balancing the opportunities that the new digital dawn offers.