Def Leppard Says Music Piracy Brings A Younger Audience To Its Shows
Given the numerous leg al altercations they’ve been enduring recently, it seems reasonable to suppose that Def Leppard would be upset about the piracy of their music, but apparently they’re celebrating an alleged silver lining of more young fans discovering their music and consequently showing up in droves for their shows.
Guest post by Timothy Geigner of Techdirt
The last time we checked in with 80’s rock band Def Leppard, the band was busy “forging” its own songs as a way to release its own back catalog without having its label cash in off of it. So bad was the relationship with Universal Music, apparently, that re-recording all of that music was the better option compared with having to deal with the label. So, one might wonder how the band views illicit music downloads then, amidst its anger at its label for not paying them properly.
Well, it turns out that Def Leppard thinks music piracy is making them a killing in concert revenue.
In an interview with Ultimate Classic Rock, Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell has been describing why he believes piracy has its upsides, particularly for enduring bands that are still trying to broaden their horizons.
“The way the band works is quite extraordinary. In recent years, we’ve been really fortunate that we’ve seen this new surge in our popularity. For the most part, that’s fueled by younger people coming to the shows,” Campbell said. “We’ve been seeing it for the last 10, 12 or 15 years, you’d notice younger kids in the audience, but especially in the last couple of years, it’s grown exponentially. I really do believe that this is the upside of music piracy.”
What’s useful about Def Leppard’s stance on this is that the band cuts around all of the usual pushback from copyright defenders. The band is not “just a startup with nothing to lose from piracy”; they’re a household name. The band is also not “simply a bunch of has-beens trying to eek out a few more years of meager revenue”; their popularity is surging. Campbell’s stance is also not simply one-sided in the belief that younger fans getting free music brings in the concert revenue. He also believes these new, young fans make the bands music better.
“There’s a whole new energy around Leppard, in fact. I think we’re playing better than we ever have. Which you’d like to think anyway. They always say that musicians, unlike athletes, you’re supposed to get better. I’m not sure that anyone other than the band really notices, but I notice it and I know that the other guys do too. When I play ‘Rock of Ages’ for the 3,000,000 time, it’s not the song that excites me, it’s the energy from the audience. That’s what really lifts our performance. When you’ve got a more youthful audience coming to your shows, it only goes in one direction,” he concludes.
This is the part of music obtained freely that never gets mentioned: the multiplier effect it has on a bands relevance and longevity. This isn’t to say that such a model works for every band in every instance, but it’s refreshing to see an artist step back and try to get the full picture of what’s really going on here. It would be quite easy for someone like Campbell to see the young faces in his audience and never give a second thought to how those younger fans got to a Def Leppard concert. By taking an intelligent look at that question, however, Campbell has reached a place where he’s found a friend where he might have seen an enemy.
The band is also very active on YouTube, even as the site has recently become a chief target of the music industry as a source of evil, evil piracy.
One only has to visit Def Leppard’s official YouTube channel to see that despite being born in the late fifties and early sixties, the band are still regularly posting new content to keep fans up to date. So, given the consumption habits of young people these days, YouTube seems a more likely driver of new fans than torrents, for example.
The band’s embrace of the internet as a tool for generating interest and revenue isn’t merely passive, in other words. The band that made its name decades ago is using today’s tools to actively cultivate a new audience, which then shows up at the concerts, bringing in ticket revenue and revenue from merchandise. All, again, as the band is re-energized for its own on-stage performances. It’s difficult to find the downside for the band in any of this, perhaps because one does not exist.