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Brazilian Pop Music Scene Thrives on Piracy 211

Posted by Zonk
from the arr-they-like-their-piratical-music dept.
langelgjm writes "When people talk about the failing business model of the traditional record company, they often only offer vague suggestions as to how things would work otherwise. But a concrete example of a music scene that thrives on piracy is to be found in Brazil, in the form of tecnobrega. From the article: 'While piracy is the bane of many musicians trying to control the sale of their songs, tecnobrega artists see counterfeiters as key to their success ... Ronaldo Lemos, a law professor at Brazil's respected Getulio Vargas Foundation, an elite Rio de Janeiro think tank and research center, says tecnobrega and other movements like it represent a new business model for the digital era, where music is transformed from a good to a service.'"
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Brazilian Pop Music Scene Thrives on Piracy

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  • Welcome to 2006 (Score:5, Informative)

    by Smidge204 (605297) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @12:21PM (#21086599) Journal
    Looks like someone finally got around to watching Steal This Film [stealthisfilm.com].

    =Smidge=
  • Looks like someone finally got a chance to see "Good Copy, Bad Copy".
    http://creativecommons.org/weblog/entry/7727 [creativecommons.org]
  • You can't make money giving away music...except for taper/trader friendly bands like the Grateful Dead. And I doubt 50 Cent got any royalties from mix tapes with his early stuff, but the bling comes from somewhere.

    It's kinda like saying, everyone complains about Microsoft but there are only vague suggestions about alternatives.
    • Well, I bothered to RTFA. It mentions both mixed tapes for hip hop and trading tapes for the Grateful Dead. Both well established, time tested schemes.

      So what's "vague" about these "suggestions"?

    • by Xiaran (836924)
      I think the point is that CDs are dead/dying... digital exchange of music == a sudden and dramatic drop in supply scarcity. There are many other revenue streams artist can and do pursue to make money... live shows... endorsements... tee shirt sales... licensing of their intellectual property. None of this is vague. The people really making the noise are the ones with the most to lose from traditional music distribution channels changing. Some big name bands accasionally do but Prince recently gave his new a
      • There are many other revenue streams artist can and do pursue to make money... live shows... endorsements... tee shirt sales...

        Yes, I can fully picutre in my imagination how Brazilians would be creative with this too, from what I've seen at the (few) major artists that ever step here for a performance: fake tickets, pirate t-shirts looking just like the original, etc.
        • by Xiaran (836924)
          While you have a point I think its a lot more difficult to catch someone selling a fake shirt outside a gig(if you wanted to) or selling a fake ticket than someone downloading a mp3 from a torrent.
    • You can't make money giving away music

      Accurate if your entire business model consists of selling tracks of your music on a tangible media.

      Inaccurate if you include live shows, merchandise, et cetera.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SCHecklerX (229973)

      You can't make money giving away music.


      Giving away CDs and downloads as promotion for your live shows seems like a good idea to me.
  • by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @12:29PM (#21086729) Journal
    This is an excellent example of how what we think of as ethical derives not from a god, but rather from evolved justifications of behavior. There's a mighty struggle going on to re-define taking music without the author's permission as ethical, based on the ego-soothing concepts that it's really in their interest.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Xiaran (836924)
      With regards to your sig... one space after the period was not really started by the internet... but became the new typographic convention once everyone started using mostly proportional fonts. Its the defacto typographic standard these days and has been for quite some time. THe fonts these days are designed with having a single space in mind. Im not a graphic designer but have many of them as friends.
      • Well, it's hard to teach this old dog new tricks. I shall continue to use two spaces after each sentence end, and also after my state and before my zip code in address blocks. Neener!
    • There's a mighty struggle going on to re-define taking music without the author's permission as ethical

      That was the norm for thousands of years of recorded history. The notion of copyright is a much more recent (i.e. modern times only) idea. The redefinition was the introduction of copyright, not the desire of some people to return to the previous system.

      The situation in Brazil is somewhat unique in the world (and perhaps not the best example) because Brazil has among the highest (sometimes the highe
      • The situation in Brazil is somewhat unique in the world (and perhaps not the best example) because Brazil has among the highest (sometimes the highest, it fluctuates year to year) income inequalities on earth.

        Let me give you a recent number: 1700 X is the number between lowest and highest incomes.
    • by enjahova (812395)
      Only if you discount the mighty struggle that went on for the past hundred years to re-define music as property. As technology made it possible to record sound, then ship that sound, then broadcast that sound we had to find ways to make it fit into our economic model. The latest advancement has been digitizing sound, which completely changed the game. There are no longer (non-trivial) physical limitations to recorded sound and the distribution there of.
      I don't know which god you got your ethics from, but mi
  • From the article: 'While piracy is the bane of many musicians trying to control the sale of their songs ...


    Who are these musicians who "control the sale of their songs?"

  • by yoprst (944706) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @12:38PM (#21086875)
    SELECT country_name, "Pop Music Scene Thrives on Piracy" FROM countries WHERE GDP_per_capita < some_limit
    • by Xtifr (1323)
      There's quite a bit thriving on "piracy" in the US/UK as well. It may not be the mainstream model in such places, but it can be quite successful for those who give it a shot. Give-away-the-recordings-to-sell-the-shows works if your shows are interesting and varied enough to attract a regular audience. It's an obvious riff on the classic "give away the razor" scheme. Actually, I'm more surprised to hear about it working in a country where "GDP_per_capita some_limit" than the reverse.
  • by szyzyg (7313) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @12:45PM (#21086981)
    Back before edison and all those other people figured out how to record music the musicians had to play music live.
  • If the artist is giving this stuff away is it piracy?

    It seems that the issue is getting a bit blurred between the concepts of giving something away and piracy.

    I know it's not a popular idea but I still think that an artist should have rights to do what he wants with his creation. If they want to give it away for free to build a good fanbase that's great but that still doesn't dismiss people who are taking something without paying for it if the artist has put a price tag on it. Nor does it justify the down
  • by Camael (1048726) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @12:45PM (#21086991)
    This is what happens in Brazil, from the article:

    While piracy is the bane of many musicians trying to control the sale of their songs, tecnobrega artists see counterfeiters as key to their success. Artists, who make their money off of live shows, deliver their CDs directly to the street vendors, who determine the price that market can bear. This "mixtape" phenomenon is popular in other parts of the world, including Argentina and the United States, where it is an integral part of hip-hop.
    "Piracy is the way to get established and get your name out. There's no way to stop it, so we're using it to our advantage," explains Gabi Amarantos, who frequently appears on Brazilian TV on the strength of bootleg sales of her CDs (from which artists don't get a cut).

    Technically, there is no copyright infringement involved since the artists themselves allow their works to be duplicated.

    What is however interesting is that this technobrega movement severely undermines one of the arguments frequently cited by the RIAA in favour of stricter copyright laws, which is that piracy undermines the ability of the music and film industries to invest in the next generation of local talent by lowering revenues from current sales.

    Also from the article :

    "This year the multinational record labels will only release about 40 records by Brazilian artists, while tecnobrega artists will release around 400," said Ronaldo Lemos, a law professor at Brazil's respected Getulio Vargas Foundation. "The record industry argues if intellectual property isn't protected there will be no innovation. But tecnobrega has shown that's not true."

    The original intention of copyright as stated in Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_Clause/ [wikipedia.org] was :

    "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."

    Given that the tecnobrega movement has shown that copyright protection is not necessary to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, isn't it time to reconsider the whole basis of copyright law?
    • What is however interesting is that this technobrega movement severely undermines one of the arguments frequently cited by the RIAA in favour of stricter copyright laws, which is that piracy undermines the ability of the music and film industries to invest in the next generation of local talent by lowering revenues from current sales.

      Also from the article :

      "This year the multinational record labels will only release about 40 records by Brazilian artists, while tecnobrega artists will release around 4
    • The fine article said a tecnobrega musician makes R$ 850 and said that it's a "decent salary." That is a wage you can only live on if you're willing to live in a favela.

      The article also said tecnobrega puts out 400 albums/year vs 40 of the traditional music industry. Ask yourself which artist is able to carve out a confortable living, Caetano Veloso or tecnobrega.

      Don't take this tecnobrega too seriously. You, as a US American, European or Japanese would not be able to live with the consequences.
      • by TheLink (130905)
        I read the fine article as saying USD850/month since it's on CNN and likely to use USD as the monetary unit.

        USD850/month is not that bad in my country (Malaysia, in the capital city, USD850 = about 500 to 1000 lunches or 8-9 months rental of a single room). Are things so much more expensive in Belem?

        As for 400 vs 40, and Caetano Veloso vs tecnobrega, that sounds like saying "Ask yourself who is able to carve out a comfortable living, Bill Gates or some programmer in India". Answer: Bill Gates and Mr Veloso
    • Given that the tecnobrega movement has shown that copyright protection is not necessary to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, isn't it time to reconsider the whole basis of copyright law?

      Sure, as soon as I figure out how to make money by performing software on stage.
      • by Wordsmith (183749)
        You making money off your software isn't necessary to promote the progress of science and useful arts. Some people make software for money, some people make software for free. Some people make software for free and then try to make money off of related services. The latter two can still happen without any copyright protection.

        Do you believe that if copyright was undone tomorrow, people would stop making art and creative works altogether? Many would stop, but everyone?
        • by s20451 (410424)
          Do you believe that if copyright was undone tomorrow, people would stop making art and creative works altogether? Many would stop, but everyone?

          Of course not, although in your way of thinking, it must certainly be a strange coincidence that the most innovative and creative nation on Earth also has some of the strongest intellectual property protection.

          Also, you're admitting that "many would stop" producing software? So either IP laws are justified in light of the constitution or writing software is not a u
          • by Wordsmith (183749)
            I'm not sure what you're getting at in the last line. I recognize that software is a creative product of the same general nature as music, literature and so forth. If any of it deserves IP protection, it all does.

            But I question both the need and the underlying justification for IP protection. It's an artificial construct, this protection. Traditional theft is much easier to identify as wrong - what you take from me, I no longer have, and therefore I am harmed, so the taking is wrong unless it's of something
    • What is however interesting is that this technobrega movement severely undermines one of the arguments frequently cited by the RIAA in favour of stricter copyright laws, which is that piracy undermines the ability of the music and film industries to invest in the next generation of local talent by lowering revenues from current sales.

      It's not so much that it undermines the argument, as it underscores it for what it is -- a business model they insist is necessary for the production of music, but which proba

  • In Soviet Japan (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CurbyKirby (306431) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @12:54PM (#21087149) Homepage
    ... Manga copies Doujinshi.

    In Free Culture, Lawrence Lessig describes the doujinshi (copyright-infringing comics) industry in Japan and describes how it not only fuels the market for "official" manga comics but can influence them as well.

    These copycat comics are not a tiny part of the manga market. They are huge. More than 33,000 "circles" of creators from across Japan produce these bits of Walt Disney creativity. More than 450,000 Japanese come together twice a year, in the largest public gathering in the country, to exchange and sell them. This market exists in parallel to the mainstream commercial manga market. In some ways, it obviously competes with that market, but there is no sustained effort by those who control the commercial manga market to shut the doujinshi market down. It flourishes, despite the competition and despite the law. ...

    Yet this illegal market exists and indeed flourishes in Japan, and in the view of many, it is precisely because it exists that Japanese manga flourish.


    Linky: http://www.sslug.dk/~chlor/lessig/freeculture/c-piracy.html#creators [sslug.dk]
  • by synthespian (563437) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @12:57PM (#21087199)
    Just so you know, nobody listens to this in major cities. I don't think this stuff is nowhere near the airwaves of major cities. It's a very low-wage kinda subculture thing and as such gets very little attention. Except where it's lumpenproletariat galore, which is basically their scene, I suppose.

    "Brega" means "tacky", having extremely bad taste. Like refrigerator penguins. Like when you try to interpret a fashion trend but get it all wrong because it looks so cheap and ridiculous. Imagine rednecks, but a 1000 times worse. Definitely not mainstream. And limited to a specific region of Brazil.

    Low-wage Brazilians typically don't want to pay for anything. They get tax discounts after tax discounts. A typical porter or handyman is a tax-free guy. He gets free medical services and education (which both suck, BTW...), sustained by those that are between a rock and a hard place - the middle class that does pay a hefty 37% tax on income; and the businesses, industries, etc. That's 3-4 months working for the government. Yup. Doctors, engineers, consultancy firms - anyone who's not poor. The leftist corrupt government caters to these people, giving out more government aid and tax-cuts, because then they vote for them.

    So why would they pay for music? They're already a bunch of freeloaders, anyway. If they're unemployed, they just pack up and go buy contraband products in neighboring Paraguay (they have a tax-free policy on imports, I think) to resell on sidewalks. No Union protest... Just their very own tax-free shortcut to survival. This is just how their life is. How fucked up. And now some foreigners and academics are fascinated with this...LOL.

    Plus, that music sucks. Real bad.
    • I'm sorry my post was labeled a flamebait. Unfortunately, since I live here and am not just reading a Slashdot thread, I know what I'm talking about.
    • This doesn't seem like flamebait to me. Offering a counterpoint is not picking a fight.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by had3l (814482)
      Extremely bad taste in whose eyes? I also live in Brazil, and while I don't really like most things "brega", to translate it as "having extremely bad taste" is biased. Brega might literally translate to "tacky", but in this context, it would be something closer to "tacky-chic". (And I was particularly blown away by how bigoted your perspective is when you said "imagine rednecks, but a 1000 times worse".)

      Historically, Brazilian music has always come from your so called "low-wage freeloaders". Samba is one of
  • It's been happening here for a while. If you're a new band you can get critical acclaim and exposure at a level that wasn't possible say, fifteen years ago (unless you had a friend at Spin or RS that would do a write-up on you).

    Kelefah Sanneh of the NY Times summed it up nicely in this article [nytimes.com] about Vampire Weekend [vampireweekend.com]:

    For a proactive indie-rock fan in 2007 a debut album is more like an end product than a starting point. By the time that first shrink-wrapped and bar-coded CD finds its way into shops, the band will probably be old news, having suffered through many online cycles of hype and backlash. In a world that won't wait patiently for an album release date, it probably makes more sense to talk about a debut MP3, a debut YouTube appearance, a debut MySpace page.

    In a sense this new state of affairs is really an old one, a throwback to the early 1960s, when concerts and singles ruled, and albums were merely compilations. And it probably makes bands (not to mention record companies) nervous: It means you can pick up fans faster, and lose them faster too.

    I don't know how the economics work, but I'm sure that for certain bands, if they can give away an album to get people to come to a show, they may end up making more money that way.

  • Back To The Future (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) <obsessivemathsfreakNO@SPAMeircom.net> on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @01:00PM (#21087257) Homepage Journal
    From the dawn of history, music has always been a service, and never a good. I don't see why the existence of ultra rich musicians should be seen as anything other than an anomaly.
  • This looks a lot like the cut-throat competition of the Jamaican recording industry until they signed the Berne convention in 1994, after that date they became irrelevant from a cultural point of view.
  • I enjoy early music, which is medieval and before classical-styled ecclesiastical music. There are some who still practice it, and having their MP3s has allowed me to know what to buy when I do place that order through the pain-in-the-ass place in Ohio that actually has some of these CDs.
  • Why spend thousands on schemes to protect digital music, why spend millions on promotional material?

    Just post some tracks as mp3s on the website, let people copy it. Someone somewhere will buy it, you could sell the CD with a free t-shift and people would then buy it for the t-shirt.

    This is how Metallica became famous, people trading their bootleg recordings of them.
    • Reinforced concrete barriers help keep skidding cars from hitting the oncoming traffic.
    • Steel armor plates reduce the impact of improvised explosive devices.
    • Kibbutz sets the clock based on the terrorist rocket-salvoes timings.

    In other words, the presence of a work-around does not justify the actions which cause the problem, which, in this case, is "music piracy" also well known as thievery.

  • music is transformed from a good to a service

    Finally, someone gets it. Until the RIAA and co took over, that is exactly what music was, and is. They were trying to make it something it wasn't, which lasted for a while and is now failing. Time to get back with it and let music be what it really is.

    A musician is paid for their service of performing the piece. Everything else in music (e.g. MP3s, etc.) is fair game for free trade, which in turn promotes the artist, which in turn drives performances. Break

    • by cdrguru (88047)
      Unless it was to pick up a person of the opposite sex, why would I ever, ever want to go to someplace where it was noisy, crowded and the acoustics were awful? Especially when it is to hear - under the roar of the crowd - the same music I have already obtained?

      No, I don't see it. Unless you transform the entire scene into just a gathering place for drugs and sex - a rave - music performances are pointless in today's world.
      • Unless it was to pick up a person of the opposite sex, why would I ever, ever want to go to someplace where it was noisy, crowded and the acoustics were awful? Especially when it is to hear - under the roar of the crowd - the same music I have already obtained?

        Background music for places, dates, etc. People want entertainment and music has been one form that people have always desired. Some seek it to sooth the soul. There's a lot of reasons.

        Of course, we also have to get away from the whole "blas

  • You mean I would actually be paying to see and hear the performance as a service rather than treat the sequence of air compressions as a good? I mean that would be like... well, like it use to be.

    Go out and see your local philharmonic. I mean if you want to pay for talent, imagine having to put on the kind of performance they do. One and a half live performances a week for half the year. Oh yeah... your "set" might include a single movement lasting over 4 hours. ("For Philip Guston", composer: Morton Fel

  • Not piracy (Score:2, Informative)

    by pazu (99303)
    Why people are calling this "piracy" when the artists themselves are handing over the originals to be copied? This is not piracy, this is free, lawful, copying.
  • [..] new business model for the digital era, where music is transformed from a good to a service.

    [ "All new is well forgotten old." Russian proverb. ]

    New????? Under what kind of rock the people are living???

    For ages, service model was how artists lived - by making performance and getting paid for it.

    Most of classical music, paintings, sculptures were made now on whip - but after a offer from people with money.

    My favorite composer J.S. Bach lived by creating music for different religious eve

  • It's easy to be a 'sucess' and 'thrive' - just redefine the meanings of the words to suit your situation.
  • from the article...

    The best songs are played by "aparelhagens," hugely popular DJs running shows with laser displays, smoke machines and giant video monitors that alternate images of the dancing crowds with psychedelic imagery.

    Uhh...is it just me or does this sound strangely like a rave?

    Believe me it's pretty easy to make money at one of those.

  • Ok, I'm not exactly a major consumer here, but before I got into music downloading I NEVER bought any CDs at all. I just listened to the radio. Of course, since I could never remember the names of the songs I liked, I never bought anything. Now, queue filesharing, just yesterday I spent some $100 on music because I couldn't be bothered trying to find hundreds of individual tracks that may or may not be of decent quality, and which may or may not be correctly labelled etc... Sure, maybe I'm not in the main

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