The Ultimate File Sharing Battle: Lily Allen, Patrick Wolf, and Others Speak Out Against Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien and Crew


The topic of file sharing has sparked a heated internet debate between two seemingly disparate music forces. On one side of the battle, we have Nick Mason (Pink Floyd), Ed O’Brien (Radiohead), Dave Rowntree (Blur), and Billy Bragg supporting illegal downloading. Opposite of this pirating posse is Lily Allen, Patrick Wolf, Matt Bellamy (Muse), and Bjorn Ulvaeus (ABBA), who are calling for the end of file sharing. Which side are you on? Each artist’s arguments after the jump.

In a Times UK article, Team File Share laid out their arguments on why they are against Business Secretary Lord Mandelson’s plans to suspend the accounts of internet users engaging in file sharing.

Team File Share Nick Mason: “The last thing we want to be doing is going to war with our fanbase. File sharing means a new generation of fans for us . . . It’s a great thing to have another generation discovering your music and thinking you’re rather good. File sharing plays a part in that, because that generation don’t do it any other way.”

Ed O’Brien: “My generation grew up with the point of view that you pay for your music. Every generation has a different method. File sharing is like a sampler, like taping your mate’s music. You go, ‘I like that, I’ll go and buy the album’. Or, ‘you know what, I’ll go and see them live’. What’s going on is a huge paradigm shift.”

Dave Rowntree: “The fact that file sharing goes on, and is as popular as it is, is an incredibly positive thing for the music industry. The fact is that music is so popular that people are willing to break the law to get it.”

Billy Bragg: Bragg is a part of the Featured Artists Coalition, along with O’Brien, Mason, and Rowntree. The FAC, a group set up to represent the interest of recording artists, supports going lax on file sharing to further encourage the sale of concert tickers and merchandise. Bragg is merely in the photo for moral support.

Allen responded to the Times UK article via a MySpace blog post on file sharing, which calls out Team File Share. Patrick Wolf then posted a response to Allen’s blog. Muse’s Matt Bellamy later emailed Allen his thoughts, which she promptly posted. Bellamy suggested setting up “a meeting with Lord Mandelson as he is on this issue at the moment, I’m sure he would meet us for breakfast!”

Team Anti-Pirate Lily Allen: “Last week in an article in the Times these guys from huge bands said file sharing music is fine. It probably is fine for them. They do sell-out arena tours and have the biggest Ferrari collections in the world. For new talent though, file sharing is a disaster as it’s making it harder and harder for new acts to emerge.”

Patrick Wolf: “…in the early 2000’s it seemed likely [that I would be able to afford a house] but file sharing means that most musicians will probably just make ends meet their whole life now and most musicians dreams will have to be put aside for need for part time work and doing the odd gig and free download only single made on garageband.”

Matt Bellamy: “Broadband makes the internet essentially the new broadcaster. This is the point which is being missed . . . usage should have a value. Someone who just checks email uses minimal bandwidth, but someone who downloads 1 gig per day uses way more, but at the moment they pay the same. It is clear which user is hitting the creative industries and it is clear which user is not, so for this reason, usage should also be priced accordingly. The end result will be a taxed, monitored ISP (internet service provider) based on usage which will ensure both the freedom of the consumer and the rights of the artists . . .”

Bjorn Ulvaeus: According to Allen’s blog post, Ulvaeus has also spoken out against file sharing. He is also in the photo for moral support.

Where do you stand on the issue? Are you Team File Share or Team Anti-Pirate? When was the last time you bought a CD?

Update: Prefix reports that Allen has started an anti-piracy blog called It’s Not Alright; it features contributions from Bellamy, James Blunt, and Natasha Khan from Bat for Lashes.