For a legacy act, taking a nuanced stance on the effects of music piracy is surprising and somewhat brave. But that's what Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell is doing in a recent interview with Ultimate Classic Rock:
“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.”
Techdirt has some thoughts:
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.
It is extraordinary how attitudes are changing across the board as larger artists begin to find advantage in the new music paradigm. (When it comes to topics like this, I wonder how much influence Bob Lefsetz is having on classic rockers.) The only question I might have: is music piracy still a concern when it comes to younger audiences? Are teenagers and fans in their 20s still downloading files? As statistics show streaming gaining traction at an accelerating rate, one might assume Daniel Ek's mission to eliminate piracy might be paying off.
Another side of the coin: Def Leppard are active on YouTube and engage on social media, regularly posting new content, which is also rare for a legacy band. Though Campbell's perspective is refreshing, he may be off-base about the reality of what is mostly driving young fans to his band's concerts.
Update: Music 3.0 blog also asks Does Music Piracy Still Exist In The Age Of Streaming?