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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 April, 2004, 07:07 GMT 08:07 UK
Musician to debate song-swapping
by Stephanie Todd
BBC News Online Scotland

Alex Kapranos
Lead singer Alex Kapranos will swap the stage for a lecture hall
Students at Edinburgh University will be treated to a gig with a difference when Alex Kapranos, of Glasgow band Franz Ferdinand, gives a musician's perspective on internet file sharing.

Alex, lead singer of the chart-topping group, is to address about 100 students on the ethical, legal and commercial issues surrounding song downloading.

He will also participate in an hour-long question and answer session.

The singer will be joined by a panel of law, ethics and IT academics.

'Global word of mouth'

Speaking before Thursday's event, Alex championed the wider access to audiences the internet provides.

He told BBC News Online: "To be honest I'm all for song swapping online. Downloading music from the internet is something I do myself and something that I'd be keen to encourage.

"From my experience it isn't necessarily the musicians themselves that are against it, but those companies involved in the music industry.

"The way the music industry is trying to regulate online sites at the minute is very heavy handed - fining kids for downloading songs is just crazy.

"File-sharing is something that has really helped us as a band in getting established. When Franz Ferdinand played a gig in New York for the first time, a lot of people there already knew our songs and were singing along."

The internet to me is like the radio, it's a way of hearing new songs and then going to a shop to buy them
Alex Kapranos

He added: "It was amazing because our album wasn't even released in the UK at that point, never mind the US. Without the internet, we never would have had that reaction.

"For us it has been global word of mouth that has helped our progress, not hindered it."

Lilian Edwards, senior lecturer at Edinburgh University's School of Law, said she was delighted that Alex had agreed to spend time talking over the issue with students.

She added: "Music downloading is one of the great ethical controversies of the moment.

"We'll be debating whether file sharing on P2P networks is really a way ordinary people can protest the stranglehold a few record companies have on the music market, or is it theft and greed pure and simple?"

'Revolutionary invention'

Artists like Madonna and Eminem have already taken action against file-sharing networks, in some cases flooding them with fake tracks to discourage the downloading of singles prior to their official release.

But Alex insists it is an action that Franz Ferdinand have no plans to take.

"The internet to me is like the radio, it's a way of hearing new songs and going to a shop to buy them," he said.

"It can also whet your appetite to go out and buy a single or album you previously wouldn't have gone for.

"I don't think it is damaging musicians at all. Downloading music is as revolutionary an invention as the gramophone and I'm all for it."

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Sound of 2004: Franz Ferdinand
08 Jan 04  |  Entertainment

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