Metro View from inside: Michael Franti on why music deserves to be shared

CD sales are down. Downloading is up. The future is coming. Don’t be afraid. Despite the fact the record industry dinosaur is sucking on its last barrel of oil, the goddess of music is more alive than ever before. I remember a time when an average fan had perhaps 50 CDs in their collection and most were from one genre. Today, nearly every listener has thousands of songs tucked away in their shirt pocket and everyone’s got their chill-out, rock-ou and make-out playlist among them. Did they pay for all of them? Unlikely. Are they inspired by all of them? Definitely. Some songs only inspire us to click delete but even that churns up to delve deeper into the vast sea of supply that is feeding the world’s insatiable desire to move and be moved by music.

So from an artist’s perspective, what good can come from people sharing music? When I turn someone on to new music I’ve discovered, my reputation as a tastemaker is on the line. I recommend a couple of duds and suddenly I’m “DJ non-grata”. The absolute best promotion any band could have is word of mouth and the internet is the music world’s blowhorn.

I cannot count the hundreds of times I have heard from fans after shows say “My friend burned me your disc and that is why I am here tonight.” Playing music on the streets of Baghdad in 2004, one man said: “I have seen you on the computer.” It really was an awakening for me to witness the power of song in the world today and the beauty that it’s reaching more people than ever before.

Michael Franti and Spearhead’s latest album, All Rebel Rockers (Anti), is out now

This was originally published in the Metro free newspaper.