Once upon a time, people with an interest in music production could get into the game cheaply.
Back in the 80s, Amiga users (like myself) could mess around with tools like SoundTracker or OctaMED for hours, producing music at home that could be potentially fit for human consumption, if it wasn’t for a lack of talent.
Later, software like Cubase began to gain traction, since it was often bundled (in cut down form) with PC sound cards. But, of course, times moved on and in the short years that followed an avalanche of amazing tools became available; Fruity Loops and Reason, to name just two.
These days users are spoiled for choice but great production software in the 2010s often has great prices attached too, meaning that many turn to torrent and similar sites for their fix. Anyone who’s visited a back street studio will also let you know – they are often rammed with pirate software.
While controversial, pirate software gets many people into the music production business and, in common with those familiar with Windows or Adobe products, also trains people to stick with products when they can afford to pay. Some, however, forget to clean up the mess after.
Earlier this month, K-pop star Jeon So-yeon (Soyeon) learned that lesson the hard way. The rapper, singer, songwriter and general all-round star is signed to Cube Entertainment, which had put out a video on the label’s official YouTube channel (now deleted) which included a snapshot of her desktop. That turned out to be a big mistake.
Not only is Soyeon’s workspace the most cluttered in human history, eagle-eyed fans noticed that the star had some interesting additions that should’ve been kept away from the public eye.
The revelations in the video left the star having to explain why she had cracked copies of Native Instruments’ Komplete, Kontakt, and several other pieces of pirated production software on her desktop.
Like many before her, Soyeon’s excuse was that she made mistakes with pirated software before she became famous a few years ago, and forgot to clean up the free stuff she’d trained herself with.
“First of all, I would like to sincerely apologize for causing any worry due to such disgraceful news,” she said, as translated by Asian Junkie.
“I remember using many different programs back when I first started learning how to compose music. For reasons that I neither deleted nor organized these files in the past, and for not even having consciously thought about it, I sincerely reflect back on it with remorse.”
While it’s certainly not unusual for starting musicians to learn their trade using pirated software, it becomes a bigger issue when they use that software to sell records. Soyeon, however, insists that wasn’t the case with her.
“Ever since I began in earnest to produce music, up to the recent songs that I have made, I have only used official programs, but I apologize once again for worrying you with an ignorance of copyright issues as a creator, no matter what the circumstances. From now on, I will study and act more carefully, never to use or own any kind of illegal file in the future.”
In an apology, Cube Entertainment sang the same tune.
“The program in question were downloaded when Soyeon was a trainee and was just beginning to learn about composing music in the process of her using various programs and learning about them. The program was never used again after Soyeon began seriously committing to musical composition,” the company said.
“We have confirmed that all of Soyeon’s compositions that have been released till now were created with a licensed Logic program, instruments we own, as well as Splice, which requires a monthly subscription fee.”
Fans don’t seem to be too concerned about Soyeon’s use of pirated software but of course the news will be an embarrassment to her label which will have piracy issues of its own. That said, she certainly isn’t the first artist to get caught using pirated production tools.
Stars including Kanye West, Avicii (rip) and Martin Garrix have all been caught using less-than-licensed software in the past. They certainly won’t be the last.
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Written by David Minister
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