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Sweet Music on Stolen Instruments?


As a music fan, music software piracy is not something that I usually care about. It was not until I encountered two examples of piracy first hand within a short period of time, I realized that some major New Age music titles are being made on pirated software. Is it morally wrong? 

It was a strange experience. I was recently invited into the studio of a successful New Age music artist. For a fan like myself I was in heaven! We sat in front of his big 4k screen, enjoying a fresh cup of coffee. When starting his music software (the daw), the artist’s virtual instruments (vsts) were being loaded one after another. When loading a prominent synth, a sign “cracked by” flashed on a DOS-like pop up screen, and under “owned by” in the user interface the same crack group’s name was presented shortly afterwards. The artist simply smiled and said “I have used that synth on every album for the last 10 year. It is the best.”

A stolen guitar?
I didn’t think more about it at the time, but on the plane travelling home I couldn’t help comparing the software piracy I had witnessed to an artist performing with a stolen guitar. I listened to his music again. It somehow changed the way I experienced it, the way it sounded to me.

But I let it go. It didn’t feel important.

A few days later, this segment from an email newsletter from another highly successful artist caught my eye;

Here the artist in question bluntly says that his debut album was made with pirated software instruments. It is a New Age music classic. Perhaps he bought the software afterwards, when he became a professional? The email doesn’t say. Perhaps.

I’m not going to say “plugin piracy is bad” or condemn the artists in question. I’m not even going to say that software piracy is morally wrong. When you steal a guitar, the guitar is gone from the owner. Copying software is not the same. It doesn’t disappear, and the original owner can sell it to other costumers.

But it is bad. Bad for music. Bad for creativity.

Even super rich superstars do it
I’m not going to imply that software piracy is widespread in New Age music.

Hopefully not.

All I know is that also A-list superstars have been caught stealing software synths. It is not unheard of, as seen in the below tweet from the Kanye West Serum controversy from 2016;

I want to conclude this post by saying;

If music matters, music equipment matters too.

Even if its just bits and bytes.


Above picture by outsiderzone – Bigstockphoto.com. Used under license.