Universal-Funded Campaign Equates Music Piracy to Drunk Driving

By Kiran Aditham 

Universal Music is funding a new “educational” effort called Music Matters, which is aimed at eradicating music piracy and tells the tales of notable musicians like Nick Cave, Sigur Ros and Kate Bush via animated short films which you can view on the campaign Web site (intro below).

Yet, Techdirt has already deemed this a “silly and amusing propaganda campaign.” Why? Because of comments made during last week’s London launch by UM’s Niamh Byrne, the Music Matters director who drew parallels to anti-drunk driving campaigns in terms of gradually changing attitudes–this time in regards to illegally downloading/sharing music. “It’s not going to happen overnight but I think the whole point is basically creating awareness and to chip, chip away,” said Byrne. “The key thing is that this is a starting point.”

And then there’s Chris Morrison of CMO Management, Byrne’s former employer which handles affairs for Gorillaz and Blur. Morrison, who’s no fan of Radiohead’s In Rainbows marketing approach according to his comments in the Telegraph, also brings up racism when qualifying what Music Matters is trying to do with piracy. “You can educate that out of people. Racial prejudice was rife when I was a child…the public attitude towards it has changed radically,” he tells the Telegraph. “You educate, it’s generational. It may take five, 10 years, but you need to start in schools.”

We’re not sure whether it’s appropriate to place Music Matters’ cause on the same level, and seeing as music piracy was reported to be “not that bad” as of early 2009, it’s hard to tell whether Universal’s latest effort will have any impact on the kids. After all, the music industry behemoth has gone after sites like MySpace in the past under the guise of tackling music piracy but its true motives with things like that are still up for debate.

As Techdirt says, “With the music industry, it doesn’t take long for kids to recognize that the issue isn’t that file sharing is inherently bad. They see lots of bands that are doing quite well by embracing it. So they quickly realize that it’s just those dinosaurs who refuse to adapt who start pushing this kind of propaganda.”

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