Monday, January 25, 2010

Never thought I'd say this...

...but I gained a lot of respect for Toby Keith when I read this snippet from a CMT interview:

Speaking of award shows, at the People's Choice Awards, Keith Urban said something controversial during his acceptance speech: "I don't even care if you guys download my music illegally. I really don't care. ..." You're a head of a label. How does that strike you?

Maybe he don't care. I care. But it's his call. You have to be able to protect your copyright. The people you do have to protect in copyrights are the songwriters. So, you come to this town and you write. For 20 years, you work at Spaghetti Warehouse and you bus tables, and all of the sudden you're 38 years old, and you've been here 18 years, and all the sudden you write a song and Keith Urban goes and records it. And it's a smash. You get paid on that. If everybody downloads it for free, you don't get paid on that. So all you become is unpaid. You've offered a treasure, a piece of history to the public and they're using it to fill their dancehalls and fill their dance floors and listen to the music in their car. Put it on their iPods and all that. And if it is all for free, this guy is still at Spaghetti Warehouse. He gets nothing for it. Keith Urban gets paid. The guy at the bar that plays his music to pack the dance floor gets paid. So artists get paid because they go work and sell the T-shirts, but that songwriter won't get paid. That's the guy you have to protect.

I've heard people attempt to justify their illegal downloading of music for years by saying "the artist makes more off touring anyway," but no one ever said anything about the fact that they were in effect taking food out of the mouths of the songwriters and their families. God knows I've had enough issues with Toby Keith's post-"How Do You Like Me Now" attitude and music, but I will give credit where credit is due -- and it's due in a big, big way here. I'd hate to think Urban could be so ignorant about the business he's in that he wouldn't know that the music being paid for is one of the chief revenue sources, if not THE chief revenue source, for the songwriters. But either way that doesn't speak well for him. If Keith Urban wrote all his own songs that'd be one thing, but of course he doesn't. I know that two of his biggest hits, "Raining On Sunday" and "Making Memories Of Us," were both penned by favorite Texas singer-songwriters -- Radney Foster and Rodney Crowell, respectively. I know if I were either of those two gentlemen I'd be royally pissed off. It pisses me off anyway, actually. It's bad enough that country radio sees little to nothing that doesn't come out of Nashville worthy of playing, but here we have one of Nashville's biggest stars saying in effect it's all right to make it that much harder for the non-Nashville artists. Even if he doesn't mean to, it's almost like he's saying, "I got mine, the rest of you can go pound sand." I would love to know what folks like Crowell and Foster think of that.

(h/t The 9513)