Tag Archive: P2P

My Love is Shared


Image courtesy of Laserwolf

Anchorage’s music scene has been growing in recent years. This is not the result a of resurgence in music interest, but rather the blowout of social media. Everyone plus their grandma can be searched and found on Facebook, and the same goes for musicians. Having a social media presence allows artists to spread their work. Local artist Laserwolf is no exception to the trend.

On a cold, windy night in early March, local musician Todd Armstrong aka Laserwolf agreed to speak about file sharing and the ever-evolving music industry. The 21-year-old virtuoso scratched his unshaven chin and sipped on a glass of orange juice and vodka while recording equipment was being laid upon an unstable dining room table.

Across the living room sat a record player; something you rarely see in a young person’s dwelling. Within Armstrong’s room is a walk-in closet occupied with thousands of records. Tucked away in the musician’s pocket is a 160 GB iPod Classic. The MP3 player contains close to 15,000 songs. Armstrong is obviously a music enthusiast. Someone so embedded in music culture would never think of obtaining music illegally. But such an assumption is far from the truth.

Armstrong began making music when he was 14 years old. He downloaded the program FruityLoops, now known as FL Studio, after being introduced to it by a friend.

Image Taken from FLStudio.com

“I downloaded it, the same program (FL Studio). I stole it,” said Armstrong glancing into the camera with raised eyebrows, as to indicate the “theft” of the software launched his music endeavors.

As Laserwolf’s Facebook page indicates, he has been DJ-ing since 2008. Since turning 21 years old, he has played many more performances than in the past. The tracks Armstrong chooses to play at his shows are largely obtained through Internet blogs, and he likes performing because it allows him to share what he has found.

“I like DJ-ing because I like sharing the music that I’ve heard,” Armstrong said. “Because in general people don’t know how to get music… The good music. You know, you gotta’ dig on the Internet. I don’t know. I think of it as a way of sharing music.”

Music options are now limitless thanks to the digital revolution. People can easily download the newest singles or albums available at the click of a mouse. Whether that click carries out a legal or illegal action is up to the consumer. Many have opted for the illegal route despite multiple campaigns funded by the largest names in the music industry. According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), an organization that represents the interests of the recording industry worldwide, close to 95 percent of music downloads are unauthorized, with no payments to the artists or producers.[1]

Treasure trove of “free” data

The majority of these downloads happens through peer-to-peer (P2P) networking. This networking is a distributed application that divides tasks or workloads between peers. Peers are equally privileged participants in the application. They each make a portion of their resources, such as processing power, disk storage or network bandwidth, directly available to other network participants. Sharing without central coordination creates peers that are both suppliers and consumers of resources.

Peer-to-peer networking, or file sharing, works in direct opposition to the music industry’s traditional model of business. A model in which they solely provided the goods (music) and clients consume. P2P file sharing became popularized by systems like Napster, and the networks tend to have a considerable emphasis on music.

P2P decentralized network. Image taken from Wikipedia Commons

New distribution methods have caused a power struggle between the industry and consumers. The dominant players of the old economy forcefully lobby in support of legal acts that target file sharing, such as the Digital Economy Act, which passed through the UK Parliament on April 8, 2010 and entered into force on June 12, 2010. The act grants the UK government wide-ranging powers to tighten copyright law. File sharing is focused on, with serious offenders having the speed or capacity of their broadband service limited or temporarily suspended. This means that the owner of a connection (café owners, universities or libraries) can be held liable, even if the owner is not personally responsible for downloading pirated material.

Others see file sharing as a positive step toward open and free information. As Birgitte Andersen of the University of London puts it, “New digital technology has the power to revitalize the cultural industries and the service economy, and to create more value for its businesses and its consumers. Through access to resources, low cost virtual premises and worldwide exposure, it opens up opportunities for businesses (no matter how small or big) and individuals, who have the determination and ideas to do something, providing they understand digital technology.” [2]

Regardless of which argument you find yourself in agreement with, the music industry has changed immensely in the past decade—Napster was introduced to the public in 1999. The industry is also struggling to keep up with the new digital economy.

“You can get anything. I had a really slow Internet connection and I would start to download a bunch of albums. I would go to sleep and wake up and have like five new albums. Yes!” Armstrong shouted clenching his fits for emphasis. “I can listen to these for weeks and be happy. They’re (major music labels) dead. They’re mammoths. They’re dinosaurs. They’re going extinct, and it’s inevitable.” -Todd Armstrong

[1] Andersen, Birgitte (2010). “Shackling the digital economy means less for everyone: the impact on the music industry.” Prometheus, 28: 4, 375-383.

[2] Andersen, Birgitte (2010). “Shackling the digital economy means less for everyone: the impact on the music industry.” Prometheus, 28: 4, 375-383.


(Listen 1)(Listen 2)

Last year, songwriter and musician Evan Phillips started a booking company for Indie bands, dubbing the operation Monolith Agency. According to the Agency’s website, Monolith is an “artist-centered business who’s primary goal is to provide high quality booking and publicity services for independent musicians.   We believe that hard work and mutual investment over time is the best way for our artists to achieve a long lasting and gratifying career.”

Image obtained from Monolith Agency website

Phillips has been involved with music for more than 15 years. He is the lead singer for the Alaska band The Whipsaws; they have released three albums total. He is also a member of the Indie folk group Easton Stagger Phillips; the group consists of Phillips, an American songwriter and a Canadian songwriter. ESP has released one album in America and Europe. Phillips is embedded in the music industry. He performs and aids aspiring musicians to travel and spread their music. Thus, he must purchase CDs all the time.


“Honesty, I haven’t bought a record or song in over a year.  I either listen to Pandora, or sync my iPod with friends to get their music,” said Phillips. “I don’t consider it stealing.  In a perfect world, every musician would be compensated for every song that gets downloaded.  But let’s face it; any band that plans to make it in this day and age needs to have a live show.  Touring is the bread and butter of any band’s income.”

Aronno believes that file sharing is a double-edged sword. He stated it is probably the greatest tool that lesser known artists and bands can have to get exposure. Indie bands traditionally are not the ones fighting file sharing.

“Lars Ulrich of Metallica was the leader in the fight to break Napster, but he wasn’t exactly hurting, in terms of making money. It was just greed, and possibly some recognition that they weren’t making very good albums,” Aronno said. “Most bands are thrilled to get their music out there; most bands believe in the music they write, and thus depend on our better nature, as consumers, to respect their hard work and go out and buy their album if we like what we hear.”

People’s better nature doesn’t always shine through, however. A high number of downloads doesn’t always translate into listeners attending concerts. People download songs and listen to them at home rather than fork over $20 (or much more) to attend live performances. Despite sharing his thoughts on the negative aspects of file sharing, Aronno considers the current method of dealing with offenders as ineffective.

Image taken from LA Daily Journal Article

“I think criminalizing and prosecuting piracy is a pretty dumb use of time and resources. Technology always outpaces our ability to control, or even understand it. The only piracy that offends me is third party piracy; people who download with the express intent to repackage and sell it to someone else. That’s disrespectful to the artist. But downloading a band because you like their music? That’s a compliment,” said Aronno.

Armstrong explores multiple blogs to prepare his sets (lists of songs) for performances. Lacking an Internet connection this can be difficult at times, but whenever he has access to a computer he finds doing so useful and easy, being familiar with the technology. The spread of music through the Internet inspires the DJ. Inspiration doesn’t always spark enough interest to persuade Laserwolf to purchase music.

“I dig through blogs. I have a set number of blogs I go to whenever I have access to a computer. And I just dig through them, through the posts, and I might listen to about five albums at the time. Whatever I like, I download,” said Armstrong. “But I mean it’s the artists giving it to the blogs, so it’s not illegal…for the most part.”

It’s still P2P file sharing.

“Yeah, I guess.”

And you do that?


Do you consider it stealing?

“No. It’s overpriced. They’re just robbing me with their overpriced CDs. Why should I pay $20 for a CD when I can get it for free? I will only buy a CD if I like the artist enough.”

Music downloading is commonly identified as an activity that is predominantly undertaken by music fans.[1]

[1] Kinnally, W., Lacayo, A., McClung, S., & Sapolsky, B. (2008). Getting up on the download: college students’ motivations for acquiring music via the web. New Media & Society, 10(6), 893-913. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

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