Virgil Dickerson has always suspected that people have been stealing his music. Now he has irrefutable proof. When we spoke last month, the head of Suburban Home Records had no quanitfiable evidence to support his claims that illegal downloads were taking a toll on the label’s bottom line. Still, he had his premonitions. Those suspicions were confirmed a few weeks ago, when a friend tipped him off to a blog that had been linking to free downloads of Love Me Destroyer’s latest effort, The Things Around Us Burn -- in its entirety.
Understandably exasperated, Dickerson expressed his frustration in a recent post on IndieHQ.com. Without realizing it, though, his online musings inadvertently directed even more unscrupulous folks to the offending site that was hosting the files. Subsequently, the tracker, which had only registered 80 downloads at the time of his post, has since logged triple that number. With the disc retailing for between $9.98 and $10.98, the digital shrinkage -- assuming that Dickerson had been compensated for each of those downloads -- equates to several thousand dollars in lost revenue. While that may be chump change to a major, it's a substantial sum for a small indie like Suburban Home.
Last Thursday, the same blog was taken to task by Marc Debiak of Eyeball Records, who had also recently discovered that music from his imprint was being distributed for free as well. Rather than ringing his hands, however, Debiak took matters into his own, well, hands and promptly fired off the following sarcasm-laced, somewhat heavy-handed missive (see below) to the owner of the blog, who turned out to be “a terrified 16 year old girl,” as Debiak puts it.
We recently looked at your blog and found you’ve been distributing our record to your readers for free. How nice of you!
New Atlantic The Streets, The Sounds and The Love http://kinixtion.blogspot.com/search…New%20Atlantic Accessed: 632 Times
New London Fire I Sing The Body Holographic http://kinixtion.blogspot.com/search…0London%20Fire Accessed: Unknown
The Number Twelve Looks Like You Nuclear Sad Nuclear An Inch of Gold for an Inch of Time http://kinixtion.blogspot.com/search…0London%20Fire Accessed: Unknown
Since we have access to the numbers for New Atlantic, I assume you’ll be sending us the wholesale amount for the copies you distributed? 632 Copies at $9.16 Wholesale = $5,789.12
The check can be made out to Eyeball Records and sent to the address below. The band will be so excited when they find out about the huge royalty check coming their way! They’re starving on the road right now so the extra money will really help!
Please also send a check for $9,160.00 for the New London Fire downloads. 1000 downloads sounds about right, They will be so excited! The singer has a wife and two kids. The money you’re sending will put food in those kids mouths! You’re a great customer.
Number Twelve is really popular. Go ahead and send us a check for $18,320.00 for that one. 2000 downloads sounds about right. The staff here can all use raises since we work damn near close to free to help these bands out. A raise will really bring morale up around here! Just in case you choose not to send the checks, we’ll have the lawsuit ready and waiting. Look forward to your prompt response, and thanks for your business!
-- Eyeball Records
In response to Debiak’s letter, the blogster promptly apologized and took down the links. Unfortunately, as Dickerson pointed out in his most recent post (“Good work, Marc. Now if you can get to work on Limewire and all of the other peer to peer sites, the industry might have a chance yet”), Debiak’s gesture, as laudable as it might’ve found it, was really just like shoveling the walk while it’s still snowing.
For his part, Dickerson -- who’s scaled back Suburban Home’s operations dramatically and is, in fact, moving out of his Colfax warehouse this weekend -- has mixed feelings about the whole thing. On one hand, he’s stoked that the blogs are buzzing about his bands. On the other, though, he knows that if people keep giving away his the music for free, sooner or later he’s going to end up 'Homeless.-- Dave Herrera