London’s one man band Miroist has just put out his debut EP as a free download through Bandcamp, three tracks of heavy, headspinning arrangements and Meshuggah-esque riffmongery, combined with a keen ear for atmospherics and texture that sets him apart from much of today’s so-called ‘djent’ scene. M3 caught up with the man himself to ask about the free music approach, the benefits of the cloud system and whether we’ll be seeing any live Miroist shows in the future…
M3 – First of all, could you tell us a bit about yourself, and what it is that you do?
Miroist – I’m Miroist, a solo recording artist from London. I mix post-rock with progressive metal, and I self-released my debut EP ‘The Pledge’ a couple of months ago.
What inspired you to form Miroist? What is your own musical background?
I’ve been playing guitar for many years, and studied music technology at university. So I’ve been making music for a while, but have always struggled to tie my influences together in a way I was satisfied with. It has only been in the last year or so that I found a clear sound, and I was finally able to put something together. Sometimes it just takes a while to understand what works and how to do it.
Why did you decide to make your EP ‘The Pledge’ available as a free or ‘pay-as-you-please’ download?
There are a few reasons. Being new and unknown, it doesn’t make any sense to charge for my music – I want people to hear it, and hopefully enjoy it and share it. Second, I make music for myself and whatever expenses there are I would have anyway, and my day job pays for those just like it pays for anyone’s pass-times. Third, I don’t spend much money on recorded music myself, so charging people for my own music would be totally bogus. I very rarely buy CDs, and physical media is pretty lost on me, I’m a total convert to ‘the cloud’. That’s not to say I don’t support bands – I buy a good deal of merch at every show I attend. I also don’t really like the idea that someone might not be able to afford to enjoy my music, though in this day-and-age that’s unlikely, they’ll just share it or rip it or whatever. So, you know what, it’s fine, just take my music and don’t worry about it.
What benefits and/or disadvantages have you encountered through this distribution method?
There are no disadvantages. People have been able to hear my music and enjoy the artwork, share it and direct people back to my Bandcamp page. It’s been an amazing couple of months seeing my music spread and be listened to. The proceeds I have made from the EP have been put towards my first run of merchandise, and will continue to be used for the project – be it new merch, better gear, guitar setup, or taking the project live, which would bring a whole raft of new expenses to consider.
On average, how many people would you say still pay for a release when given the option to download for free?
About 5% of people have chosen to pay for the EP. That seems pretty good for a new artist trying to give it away.
Would you say this method is a realistic possibility for the future of music distribution?
Absolutely. It is the future of music distribution. Everyone is connected to the internet, even wirelessly, and web-ready devices are getting smaller and more easily hooked up. It’s going to be about how the music industry can stay afloat in a world where music files are simply so easy to duplicate. You might as well make ‘the cloud’ your ally.
So far, the industry is opting instead to criminalise the very people they hope will later be their consumers, and then police the internet in their interests. It’s just not going to work. I understand the industry’s concern – it wants to protect a time when £12-a-pop shiny discs were a money spinner, but won’t face up to the fact no business has ever survived on a product so easily duplicated and distributed. This has been the fact with every industry since industry began – technology has a habit of trudging on regardless of business will. People are going to share the music anyway and the internet makes sharing so easy that the real value of those physical things has headed towards almost zero. Physical has had its day, so make digital distribution your ally and find new ways to bring in revenue.
Spotify sort of shows the way – the number of people that jumped on a cloud music streaming service has been amazing, but it’s now making the owners way too rich in comparison to the content providers. I don’t understand why the labels don’t all pull out en masse and set up their own version (well actually, I suspect they still want high-priced physical media to turn the profits of yester-year, if they could just shut down every torrent site, hosting/file transfer service and VPN first), or work with the ISPs to work in streaming media as part of the broadband packages. I know I would happily pay £5 more a month on my broadband bills to have unlimited media. This idea would also stop criminalising the populace and helps navigate the issue of ‘is it up to the ISPs to police the internet?’.
Basically, there needs to be a whole new strategy on how to channel consumers via their wish to use convenient and widespread digital connectivity. The current strategy of criminalising them for this wish is nonsense.
What would be your preferred medium to listen to music (eg. Vinyl, CD, tape, MP3 etc.), and why?
Cloud-storage or streamed, probably. As I mentioned, I don’t buy much physical music at all. MP3s are still handy, but I don’t use an MP3 player and just want to dump a few MP3s on my phone for when I lose connectivity. I have a subscription to Spotify, although I’m close to cancelling it as I think the share of the revenue for this service needs to more appropriately remunerate the artists. I get the appeal of Vinyl, but as a trophy rather than a way to consume media.
Do you feel the idea of an album, as a piece of art that people will listen to from start to finish, has been undermined or forgotten about in the digital age?
Definitely not. People were skipping tracks even when CDs were doing well. People still appreciate the effort that goes in to the overall package. On top of that, I think you have to be immeasurably arrogant and totally deluded to think you can control how people listen to your music once you’ve put it out there.
Miroist is a solo-project, but do you have any plans to bring the project into a live setting?
Yeah, I love live music, I regularly attend gigs and have enjoyed my time in bands previously, so it’s definitely something I want to do. I’m just waiting to find the right set of musicians to make it work, and then we’ll see what happens.
Do you think traditional copyright laws are still enforceable in the digital age, or do you think we will have to rethink the concept of copyright itself?
Copyright is an important principle, but its relevance and its application need to be continually assessed as the world changes. I think what has to change is what people expect to gain from their copyrights. We have to adjust what we consider ‘fair use’ or in violation of copyright, because these expensive lawsuits against small people downloading a handful of songs is totally skewed. It might be legal, but the law is not appropriate yet.
Finally, what does the future hold for Miroist?
I’m working on a full length album over the next 6 or so months and it will also be released on Bandcamp – probably for free!
For more information about Miroist, you can freely download the debut EP ‘The Pledge’ through his Bandcamp page, and also visit Miroist’s official Facebook and YouTube pages.