My Life As A Music Pirate (Part 2)

This article is the second in a four-part series on piracy. Click here to read the first entry.

We love creating content for this blog, but the true mission of Haulix has always been to provide the most secure music hosting and distribution services available online. It’s no secret that piracy has crippled the music industry in many ways over the last decade, and we strive every day to do whatever we can to prevent future music leaks. You see, we may not be musicians ourselves, but recognize that the livelihood of everyone in the music business is dependent on the continued success and support of the artists we sign, promote, and otherwise get behind. If we do not do our part to help them support themselves however we are able then how can we expect anyone to help us when piracy eventually erodes entire segments of the industry?

Recently, it dawned on us that we did not have a strong grasp on what actually makes someone want to leak music. The assumption has been made in the past that these so-called ‘music pirates’ think the praise from anonymous commenters on message boards and forums is enough of a reward to convince them to hurt artists and those who fund them, but frankly we thought that felt a bit too simple to be entirely true. So we decided to do something we had never done before: Seek out a music pirate and convince them to share their story.

This afternoon we are thrilled to share the second in a four-part series that aims to take a closer look at music piracy as seen through the eyes of someone directly responsible for the leaks of several high-profile albums. It’s the story of one individual who managed to engrain themselves in the music industry professionally while simultaneously sharing unreleased records with the world, and it’s told entirely in their own words.

**As part of our agreement with the author of this series, a number of names and websites have been altered to protect identities and certain brand reputations. We have no intention to reveal the author’s name or location.**

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PART 2 – High School

Throughout my last years of middle school and the beginnings of high school, I kept on collecting. These were formative years by means of my general taste in music. Many of my favorites today were discovered on new release shelves at libraries and in my friend’s collections. I continued to plunder and steal and tally. It was around this time that I first came into contact with the idea of torrenting.

I was always good with computers. My Powerpoints and Windows Movie Maker projects were always the most detailed and animated in classes. If a teacher’s PC wasn’t starting correctly, I was normally the first they’d ask to look at it. My family relied on me for setting up, fixing, and cleaning up their Windows XP-based desktops and I took pride in that. Still, there were things could admit to not understanding and torrenting was one of them. Limewire was one thing. To search and download was easy enough, but somehow the idea of torrenting from The Pirate Bay seemed daunting to me, so I brushed past it and stuck with the citrusy latter.


Oh Limewire, you dangerous little thing. You never did quite know what you were getting with this P2P service. Mistitled songs, incorrectly attributed ID3 tags, viruses abundant… My grandparent’s PC was at the whim of Internet strangers when I began using its services. This was my first real taste of the dangers of piracy and its use was the first thing that made me question not only the legality of music downloading, but the morality as well.

At this point, my library was starting to get a bit messier. I was downloading more single songs than albums. Correctly naming them took time and time was something I began to have less of due to after school activities and clubs. So my collection grew untidy and my care for the music I was getting outgrew that of the number of songs I had. This is when I started becoming a “fan.”

As high school progressed and more Internet access was available to me, I started using my computer ability to my music hunting advantage. First I’d navigate around my school’s Internet blocker of choice using a proxy (or occasionally the actual bypass password itself if I could find it). Then I’d bring up Myspace, Purevolume, or YouTube and peruse the charts. If a download was available, I’d take it. If it wasn’t. I’d make it. Audicity was good for that. A quick switch from “microphone” to “wave out mix” made any listening experience an act of copyright infringement.

Then came blogging. Once I found WordPress and Tumblr, I took piracy a bit further. I went from music collector to music distributor with ease.

My Life As A Music Pirate will continue next Thursday, April 3. Follow Haulix on Twitter and Facebook for updates.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.