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The Eternal Debate of Nobody Buys Music Anymore

Over
the weekend, NPR’s All Songs Considered summer intern Emily White, a college
senior and music lover, blogged about how she has over 11,000 songs in
her iTunes library but have only bought 15 CDs ever.

She admitted that some were not exactly legally acquired (ahem, file
sharing), but noted that the idea of buying music is foreign
to her generation
:

As I’ve grown up, I’ve come to realize the gravity of what file-sharing
means to the musicians I love. I can’t support them with concert tickets
and T-shirts alone. But I honestly don’t think my peers and I will ever
pay for albums. I do think we will pay for convenience.

What I want is one massive Spotify-like catalog of music that will
sync to my phone and various home entertainment devices. With this new
universal database, everyone would have convenient access to everything
that has ever been recorded, and performance royalties would be distributed
based on play counts (hopefully with more money going back to the artist
than the present model). All I require is the ability to listen to what
I want, when I want and how I want it. Is that too much to ask?

The blog post sparked a spirited discussion about the state of the music
industry and the eternal question of how to properly compensate musicians
(indeed, this sort of debate has been going on forever, sparked by the
rise of Napster and file-sharing, then the advent of iTunes, and now music
subscription services like Pandora and Spotify).

David Lowery of The Trichordist,
songwriter for the bands Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven, and lecturer
at the University of Georgia’s music business program, wrote
a post that captures the anxiety of musicians everywhere about how the
Internet is changing music:

What the corporate backed Free Culture movement is asking us to
do is analogous to changing our morality and principles to allow the
equivalent of looting. Say there is a neighborhood in your local big
city. Let’s call it The ‘Net. In this neighborhood there
are record stores. Because of some antiquated laws, The ‘Net was
never assigned a police force. So in this neighborhood people simply
loot all the products from the shelves of the record store. People know
it’s wrong, but they do it because they know they will rarely
be punished for doing so. What the commercial Free Culture movement
(see the “hybrid economy”) is saying is that instead of
putting a police force in this neighborhood we should simply change
our values and morality to accept this behavior. We should change our
morality and ethics to accept looting because it is simply possible
to get away with it. And nothing says freedom like getting away with
it, right?

[...]

Congratulations, your generation is the first generation in history
to rebel by unsticking it to the man and instead sticking it to the
weirdo freak musicians!

And so, it goes (If you’re interested, Robin Hilton of All Songs Considered
has a nice recap).

My questions to you, Neatoramanauts: how has technology
change the way you listen to music? Do you still buy music?

Post Metadata

Date
June 20th, 2012

Author
Stranger to the World

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