Based primarily on interviews with musicians who sit on the margins of the music industry and for whom music is not their main source of income, this paper reports on how these artists and performers think and talk about copyright. If, as many suppose, the business of making music is more and more about the distribution of rights, how are these rights understood and values in the practices of these musicians? What are these rights seen to protect and to what end? The paper explores these questions by considering how aspiring musicians connect their thoughts about their music and its value to them, to claims made – ostensibly on their behalf – by a copyright regime that is intended to reward their creativity. Their attitudes are often a mixture of the pragmatic and principled, where that pragmatism is not simply linked to money, any more than principle is solely about the musicians’ claims as creators. Information can be more valuable than cash; loyalty to their fellow musicians more prized than the recognition of individual talent. Such views run counter to many of the assumptions that ground copyright, suggesting that, for this group of artists at least, ‘copyright’ assumes a different guise to that conventionally assumed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)422-433
Number of pages12
JournalPopular Music and Society
Issue number4
Early online date1 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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