Fans or Pirates? – Our Participatory Culture of the 21st Century

If I download a movie in Jamaica, am I a pirate of the Caribbean?

The evolution of the Internet has transformed the way we communicate. Our ability to share files has shifted from a tangible product like a CD to intangible data. The rise of broadband and an increase in its speed means that we can now download movies in half an hour. Could this be encouraging us to download our movies illegally?

Stadler (2005) states that Peer-to peer file sharing has made it clear that music and film can be distributed very effectively outside the traditional channels. We often hear of crisis within the music industry, which has lead to many concerns for its future.The causality of this is online file sharing and personally I am guilty of this and my view is that they are clearly making enough money if they can own the latest Ferrari, what impact will my 1 illegal download have on the entire industry?

Well in fact it has changed the industry dramatically. Netlables – is a contemporary practice in the music industry where we are seeing an emergence of music producers creating new way to distribute their music to encourage online filesharing (Stadler 2005). Stadler further states that the decision behind this is not ideological but pragmatic, however the new model offers a threefold advantage: promotion, community and durability. For stadler to say that this model is not logical I find quite contradicting because ‘underground’ or less well known musicians who are catering to the niche markets will not make their money through audio sales but rather through live performances, thus the logic clearly states that by offering your music free online, you encourage sharing which will enhance your audience and will encourage engagement with fans.

Amanda Palmer is an extremely loud, solo artist who sought a changed from her fans and they delivered. In her Ted Talk – The Art of Asking, she wants us to re-think how we think about paying for music (Lillie 2013). After a show a fan come up to Amanda and handed over a $10 note and said “I’m sorry, I burned your CD from a friend and I want to give you this money”. This was the turning point for Amanda and she decided to set up Kickstarter – where she would give her music away for free and in return ask the fans for help. The goal was to raise $100,000 and by the end she has received $1.2 million (Lillie 2013).


From this we can conclude that a connection with your audience is integral to your success. I believe that this can be applied to the television industry for example TorrentFreak estimated that the Game of Thrones was the most pirated TV series in 2012 with one episode pirated 4.28 million times (Andy 2013). What if they took the same approach as Amanda Palmer, asking the fans for a donation or even charging $1 every download. This insignificant amount that a fan will be happy to pay, can amount to millions of dollars in profit. It’s a no brainer and the logic is clear. Connect with fans and ask for help!



Andy 2013, US Ambassador Pleads: Stop Pirating Game of Thrones, It’s Stealing, TorrentFreak, viewed 11/10/2013,

Lillie B 2013, Trust people to pay for music: Amanda Palmer at TED2013, TED, viewed 10/09/2013,

Stalder, F 2013, Open Cultures and the Nature of Networks, The Note Book, pp 2-47, Futura Publikacije, Frankfurt

 image source



About Nicola Salter

Nicola. 21. UOW Graduate
This entry was posted in BCM310 and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s