TorrentFreak Apologizes to Music Expert Avalon, But Disses Indie Artists

TorrentFreak issued an apology– sort of.  The P2P site keeps picking a fight with a leading music expert. But why? Their readers don’t respect words like “expert” anymore than they do words like, “intellectual property.” Meanwhile TorrentFreak and their readers seem to think that Indie labels and their artists are insignificant when it comes to who gets ripped off via illegal P2P.

Moses Avalon

An old saying goes “Keep your words soft and tender because tomorrow you may have to eat them.

Ernesto Torrentfreak does not have a bio or photoErnesto, the faceless, enigmatic lead writer for the P2P lifestyle site TorrentFreak, retracted both his insults to me and some sloppy fact-checking about GrooveShark yesterday in his Mea Culpa.  But also implied that, despite the recent sweep of Grammy nominations, Indie artists/labels are not relevant  and only the RIAA has authority in the music space.

TorrentFreak led off their story with, “We have an apology to make… At TorrentFreak we have a policy of doing proper fact checking on everything we write, but occasionally we make a mistake. When this happens, we’re more than happy to make a correction, and today is one of those days.”


The piece goes on with a sugar coated comment that made me feel good… for a moment. “We would like to thank Avalon for opening our eyes… In addition, we would also like to retract our earlier statement where we said that Mr. Avalon was a classic narcissist.

But then comes the hammer, a twisted headline that got everyone’s attention:

“RIAA Promotes Illegal P2P Services, Expert [Avalon] Claims”

Yes, Ernesto, the lead editor for one of the most popular P2P sites, who confesses to having “no background in journalism” couldn’t just apologize like a grown up and be done with it.  He had to twist my words into a headline that panders to TorrentFreak’s readers.

Now,  readers of  Moses Supposes know that I would never write something so ridiculous as that the RIAA is promoting illegal music services. That’s insane.  Ernesto and I had an exchange on my blog that you can read for yourself and decide if that’s what I’m implying or if he took a few liberties with context.



Much of this chitchat revolves around Ernesto’s investment in his own nomenclature, “RIAA Approved,” and this an assumption from which, perhaps, we can all learn thing or two.

TorrentFreak suggests that because a site is listed on the RIAA’s website as “legal” it therefore is immune from prosecution or litigation.  Both are poor assumptions.

The RIAA claims to represent “85% of all legitimate sound recordings produced and sold in the United States.” Leaving alone the fact that this is somewhat self-postulated, the focus for this discussion is that companies like iMesh or AOL, do not make deals with “sound recordings,” they make deals with companies. Not the RIAA– a trade group–but record labels and publishers.  In that measurement, the RIAA represents a vast minority of the territory in the US.

It’s hard to say with certainty what their coverage is but a safe estimate would about between 5 and 15%.  The GrooveShark incident this past week proves with amazing clarity that a deal with one is not a deal with all.

There are thousands of indie labels.  The RIAA represents only the four major record distributors (soon three) and approximately 35 “major” labels (give or take, depending on how you define a major) who are controlled by those distributors, Sony, Universal, Warner Music Group and soon to be defunct EMI.

Plus, the RIAA only represents labels and not music publishers. I’m guessing that Ernesto, since he has not worked in the music space, ever, might not realize that you need two sets of “thumbs up” to be legit; one from the labels and one from the publishers.

But assuming that “RIAA Approved” equals “safe to share music from,” it still disregards the thousands of indie labels and artists, that TorentFreak and their readers claim to be all about supporting, but who are not represented by the RIAA and who are not satisfied with how of many of  the “RIAA Approved” sites are operating.  And let’s not forget about the 500 pound gorilla and member-of-no-trade group, Disney. “RIAA Approved” certainly does not equal, “Disney Approved” and from a law-suite standpoint, given a choice, I’d rather be “Disney Approved.”

This massive and transparent hypocrisy seems to have avoided TorrentFreak’s ken in their smear campaign against me (or their SEO campaign for themselves, depending on how you look at it.)

Many readers on TorrentFreak seem to think that stealing music is okay because you’re only pinching the rich a tiny bit.  They seem to simultaneously think that illegal P2P is good for indie artists.  But, if Ernesto represents the collective voice of this P2P group, then we have a glaring contradiction.  “RIAA Approved” should have no weight to a group that disrespects the RIAA and their client-labels and artists.  And the services listed on the RIAA’s site as “legal” are not paralleled by other key trade groups including the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) who represent indie labels.

Indie labels/artists nailed about 50% of the categories in this year’s Grammy nominations and are statistically responsible for far more releases each year than RIAA labels.  I’m guessing those nominations and releases were not “RIAA Approved.”

Despite what they claim, do TorrentFreak readers care even less about indie artists than they do about major artists?



But, forget the bickering.  What’s far more entertaining than the back and forth between TorrentFreak and I are the comments by their readers on his “apology.” They were outraTypical Torrentfreak commenter reader freakout 1ged, calling me a “fag” and other mature terms, that betray their age and social leanings over any actual knowledge of facts or even how to use English to make a point.  My favorite comment was this one: “Have you ever been so far even as decided to use go want to look more like?”

No, the above is not one of my famous Dyslexic typos. It’s verbatim. And remember that before posting on TorrentFreak you have to review and approve your own comment and then Ernesto has to approve it as well. Scary.

Typical Torrentfreak commenter reader freakout 2Comments seem to come in at about 10 an hour but so far, the most intelligent comment is this: “Come on TF quit giving this moron [meaning me] what he wants [implying I am only out for publicity]. At least leave it out of the “news” section. We all [like?] to harass monkeys at the zoo for fun on occasion but lets not make it a habit.”

I like this guy and he’s right. Why would TorrentFreak give this “monkey” so much attention if they hate what I have to say?

With over 500 responses, the article bashing Moses Avalon "the music industry expert", ranks as the most popular post on

With over 500 responses, the article bashing Moses Avalon "the music industry expert", ranks as the most popular post on

The answer is simple– business. I guess it’s hard to stop when the Avalon articles are among the most popular pages on TorrentFreak.

Yes, contrary to what many TorrentFreak readers presume–that their coverage is good for my SEO–  a closer examination reveals something more surprising;  apparently, bashing Moses Avalon is very, very good for TorrentFreak.

According to their public page count, the responses for pages that use my name rank higher than all others on TorrentFreak.

Hmmm.  I wonder if Ernesto will be willing to donate some of his ad revenue to my Artist’s Rights Advocacy fund? Probably not.  Considering TorrentFreak reader’s lack of regard for Indie artists and their property.

The stones.

Ever onward…

Mo out.



13 responses to “TorrentFreak Apologizes to Music Expert Avalon, But Disses Indie Artists”

  1. George D says:

    Your writing is moving MoMan. This tiff with the non-musician torrent web masters moves the musician’s case forward with fairness that’s now more and more, fact based. Actually you now have a very good but necessarily brutal argument: people’s art is being killed, no matter what side of this discussion you’re on. And you’d have to be either heartless or from mars to be on the side of the no love believers in “no pay for nuthin”. Maybe wasn’t true two years ago, but everybody gets what’s going on now. Easy not to pay, but… The Love You Give Is Equal to The Love You Get.

  2. jbrodey says:

    I’m not much on ‘experts’, they tend to be wrong a lot, whether the subject is economics, politics or sports. When the iPod was first introduced, a major Wall St. electronics analyst predicted that it would be a fringe player in the MP3 market and account for ‘only 3-6%’ of the market. Ten years later it’s at 70%.

  3. Chuck Griffiths says:


    Honestly, I had never even heard of the TorrentFreak site before you mentioned it. I expect that shows your place in the legitimate industry and theirs.

    Don’t give them the satisfaction of a plug. That will throw off all their SEO metrics. The world doesn’t need even more mis or disinformation.

  4. again you small fu—rs bicker while the major music biz restructures the machine.If the majors say they are against something it’s double speak,they are actually in favor.Everything that’s going on is the work of the Biz.They will eventually have total control of all content and as a result total control of thought.WAKE UP IT”S A CONSPIRACY!

  5. martin thomas says:

    class wins the long race.

  6. Katie Smith says:

    “Indie artists/labels are not relevant and only the RIAA has authority in the music space.”

    I believe that in the music industry everybody who loves music has their own place to share whether they are indie or not. WE should not separate them from RIAA just because they are indie.

    Katie Smith
    My Blog:

  7. Zoltan says:

    Hi Mo and All,

    Katie Smith is absolutely right.
    The thing is, technology enables all kinds of people to do what they want.

    Stealing one apple is theft, just the same way as stealing 10 truckloads of apple is.

    Or, what would any of these supersmart torrent guys (illegal download site operators) say to the attorney defending the truck driver who raped their daughter once? Would they accept the attorney’s arguments that
    1. Oh, it happened only once
    2. Oh, it was only one truck driver
    3. It generates publicity for their daughter in the neighborhood anyway.

    I admire your patience, Mo. What were the parents and teachers of these guys doing? I mean how come that such unethical rubbish gets followers?

    It is really like when somebody robs you and then attempts to come up with an ideology to legitimize their wrongdoings.

  8. Val Gameiro says:

    On the plus side, in t his case, you don’t have to fight too hard for the truth, ‘cos it will hit them like a ton of bricks… and on a more positive note, that’s awesome to see that Indie artists are being noticed at the Grammy’s… that gives me hope, as an indie filmmaker, that in the not-so-distant future, indie filmmakers can become more noticed and perhaps we can make a full-time living out of it… I guarantee that when that happens, we’ll have a lot more quality films coming out… films that don’t have to pass the stamp of approval of a bean-counter (read studio execs) and actually have meaning and content… one can only dream 🙂

  9. EyeSeeSound says:

    Beyond the specifics of this tet-a-tet which is obviously won (if a winner is needed, though a modicum of intelligence will make one realise it wasn’t even a contest) by Moses, the fact is that Pandora’s box is open and is never being closed.

    What amuses me about it is:

    a) Had the Majors shut up about download sites in the beginning they would have remained underground and ultimately irrelevant. Everyone knows about them now.

    b) iTunes, we7 etc., far from being the saviour for the Major labels actually make it rather easy to listen to every new album released (easier than downloading via p2p) and realising that most are crap and not worth the money… so, another shot in the foot there.

    c) Spotify is currently the death knell for music purchasing, if indeed there is one. I’m of an age where friends still bought music because downloading was a pain for them (they had lives and couldn’t be bothered to figure it out) but they’re all joining spotify because it is only £10 a month and they can listen to what they want. These are real music purchasers. Spotify only exists because of the Major labels licensing to it (and being given shares in it). Again, more desperate short-sightedness because before it goes under, and it will, the only people benefitting from Spotify will be the originators/employees on a wage.

    Obviously a lack of music purchasing also hurts the independent / DIY artist, but the argument that P2P is killing it for struggling artists is moot, the real point is that the outlets to HAVING YOUR MUSIC HEARD are still controlled by the PR $.

    Money and contacts still shout loudest.

    It’s catch 22 in some ways as websites/mags/blogs etc., feel the must write about what the ‘kids’ want in order to attract the kids, though they also write about what buys ad space from them, or what their mates in the Biz ask them to write about in exchange for ‘that’ interview or ‘that’ live ticket or ‘that’ freebie etc.

    It’s also a harsh fact that 90% of the plethora of DIY produced stuff is shit. Sorry, but it is, and 99% of the media outlets targeted at DIY artists has no quality control but works on the mentality that allow everyone to post their songs and by sheer weight-of-mates numbers they’ll generate enough page vies to justify ad revenue or some such.

    Everyone is scrabbling, independently, to take a piece of a pie that is old, mouldy and should be thrown out, and the DIY scene… the good bits of it… suffer.

    People still buy music. I paid £23 for the Her Name Is Calla double vinyl picturedisc LP and it is glorious (to hear and look at). We are a minority but we love music and are willing to spend. problem is we won’t buy the mainstream stuff because it is shit and it’s hard to find the stuff we would buy because it is hidden beneath the weight of shit.

    If you believe in independent music and the DIY scene as a music lover (not because you want to sell your music) what you can do is simple. Find the handful of websites and blogs who do it for the love of it and the love of music, support them by dropping by and let everyone else you know who loves music know about them.

    And I’m not talking Pitchfork, Drowned In Sound, Artrocker etc., who are all part of the PR $ machine… i’m talking Echoes and Dust, Cat On The Wall, Glasgow Podcart and us:

    And yep, that is a plug for us, but I know we believe in everything I have said in here… as do the others I have mentioned, and we link to a few more great blogs and music sites on ours.

    The argument about illegal music and the death of the music business is irrelevant because it is happening and has happened. That side is done because it was based on sub-standard product sold on hype. The smoke is dissipated and the mirrors broken.

    but music will never go. If you truly love music, feel it, need it, then don’t buy the same few and now creatively bankrupt bands that you’ve always done out of habit (new bland Foo’s anyone? Arctic’s 4th album of any value at all? Do Coldplay need to bore us again?) but hunt out something beautiful and powerful and unknown and buy that:

    Her Name Is Calla
    Sound Of Rum
    Ex Libras
    Spring Offensive
    Sunday Driver
    What Would Jesus Drive
    Iona Marshall
    Latin Dub Sound System
    Teeth Of The Sea
    Wolf people
    Bodies Of Water

    and so on.

    The music industry is dead. Long live music.

  10. Tom says:

    All of the torrent sites blow my mind. Internet providers and the government are tracking everything and if they wanted to these sites could be stopped easily. It is not just the big guys who have had intellectual property stolen, the who reality that this still is allowed to continue is mind boggling.

  11. Pat B. says:

    Classic SEO play (whether intended or not). Say something outrageous, generate a ton of buzz and watch it all bubble to the top. P2P sites aren’t inherently a bad thing, but they sure are handy for sharing pirated media. I wonder what Ernesto would say if it was his blood, sweat, and hard work being shared across all the torrent sites without him getting a penny in return? I also wonder what fraction of material on P2P sites is actually not pirated or copyrighted?

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