No Address Knows the Impact of Illegal Music Downloads

By Jessamyn Cuneo on January 31, 2006

No Address, pictures, photos, pics, illegal, song, music, downloading, impact, interviewsFighting to claim a space in the record industry is a constant battle for musicians. As soon as the music exists, it belongs to anyone who wants it. No Address is a band that has had first-hand experience with this struggle. Alternative is one of the hardest genres to master in the music world, and this band can feel how slippery their footing is.

Millions of people have downloaded free music. We all have our various rationalizations when confronted with the fact that it's illegal: "But I only like one song," "I can't afford to buy every record I like," or how about, "CDs can get scratched, MP3s can't." I'm sure you can hear your own excuse ringing in your ears right now.

Rolling Stone printed an article a few years ago, when file-sharing had just begun, exposing the fact that each $10 to $20 CD sold cost seven cents to make, and pennies of the sales actually go to the artist. This was my excuse to steal music for years, until I had a chance to sit down with the highly articulate and intelligent rock group No Address. They were able to explain to me what goes on behind record production and sales.

The truth is so important and interesting. Talking with guitarist Justin Long, and lead singer Ben Lauren, I discovered something that every music listener in the world should know.

Long slouches in a chair under bright florescent lights, his bleach-blonde hair hangs in his face, and he speeds through cigarettes while laying it all out. Lauren is sitting on a couch opposite from his band mate. He's wearing an oversize red hooded sweatshirt, and looks like he's someone's brother home from college for the holidays. He's got a sort of teddy-bear quality that makes him hard to picture in front of the mic, screaming at the top of his lungs.

Long begins by saying, "People think that music among all things on earth should be free. You suffer, and you spend all kinds of time and money, and you give up so much just to do it — and that's all you've done. It's not like you're trying to sell them a juicer that's not going to work."

Lauren is nodding in agreement and says, "Say we go across country, and we can sell out show, after show, after show. That's great, but only 10,000 people have bought our CD. Someone puts it on the Internet, and a couple million have downloaded it. That hurts the record company, so the record company stops putting money into your band, so there is no [next] CD and people will never hear from you again.

"We don't have money to be on tour. We get money from the record company to be here. If you're not moving enough units to make the record company happy, they don't put you on tours like this, and you don't get out to new people...so these [fans] are actually shooting themselves in the foot."