File sharing is NOT going to ruin your career.

“I don’t think that artists should expend any energy keeping people from listening or seeing or hearing or reading their art. I think that’s antithetical to the whole principle of being an artist.”

Jeff Tweedy (in reference to sharing Wilco’s music online)

I understand the fear musicians have surrounding file-sharing. It’s very natural to fear the unknown. But that fear is becoming more irrelevant with knowledge of how file-sharing affects musicians growing everyday. Myths about declining revenue because P2P networks (peer-to-peer) are causing fewer CD sales are being proven false with each new study. It’s ever more apparent that the RIAA is suffering because of quality and a general “leveling of the playing field” caused by the internet, not because of file-sharing. Bands have sold gold because of weblog “buzz” alone. Today’s bands have bigger fan bases on MySpace than they do in real life.

Paris Hilton is a perfect example of how in today’s marketplace consumers aren’t interested in tangible content, they’re interested in personality. Paris wasn’t an actress, model, singer, fashion designer, or anything of worth prior to being famous. Those roles came after. Sure, she was the heiress of the Hilton’s and a celebrity party goer, but did that alone really warrant international fame? I’m not suggesting that every member of your band start busting into NY and LA party’s in attempts to become notorious. What I’m suggesting is for musicians to stop thinking they’re just selling plastic coasters and start thinking about what they’re really attempting to do, that being, getting people to listen to their music.

The most important thing a musician has is listeners. That’s it. It doesn’t matter if somebody bought your CD new, used, or at all. If a friend burned them a copy, it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that they’re listening to it. Money will come if listeners enjoy what’s piping into their ears. People inherently want to support what they like. Whether that comes in the form of someone attending your show that otherwise would have never known of you, or someone purchasing your next album because they downloaded and loved your debut.

For a musician, being against file-sharing is akin to a florist ripping the petals off they’re roses. Why would anyone looking to buy some flowers settle for a bunch of stems?

Read: The Perils of DIY