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Thursday
Oct212010

The Real and ONLY Reasons Why Fans File-Share Music

Thus far, we’ve looked at eight reasons why fans file-share music.

Mainly, they’re unaware of the number of legal and alternative options to consume music that are available; they want to hear music and grow to like the songs before they buy them; or they don’t know the artist, either not well enough or at all, or don’t trust them, due to recent line-up or sound changes. Rebuilding that trust takes time and isn’t easy.

As well, fans file-share music when there’s too many hoops to jump through on an artist’s website or because the offer that the artist made, whether by price, package, or delivery, was terrible. Next, we looked at the role that the biases of digital technologies play into file-sharing—the different ranges of social behavior they promote in audiences.

We also tried to understand how choice overload can cause decision paralysis, leading fans to become overwhelmed. To cope, they take the path of least resistance, attempt to explore all of their options at once, and end up committing to no decision at all.

Lastly, we looked at how fans employ their own Internet law of economics when buying music and end up file-sharing it to mitigate the risk purchasing with an album they wouldn’t have otherwise bought. A number of motivations were intentionally left out of this analysis. Let us now explore some of the more common reasons why fans file-share:

1. Because They Can 

Why do dogs lick their butts? Because they can. Why do teens sext each other? Because they can. Why do men and women cheat on each other in a relationship? Because they can. So, why do fans file-sharing music online? Because they can. Taylor Northern went as far as writing an entire blog post to illustrate this idea.

The whole psychology of the behavior can be ignored, as this simple fact of life explains everything. It’s an axiom of human conduct. This assertion, however, implies that there’s no rational behind file-sharing. Since fans can just download music for free, they do. Why did they download Katy Perry’s new album instead of legally downloading it off iTunes?

Because they can. They have no argument or excuse to justify why they downloaded the music. It was there. They wanted it. So they file-shared it. End of story. This is a dangerous argument—not because there isn’t truth to it. It, however, implies the reverse thought.

How do we make it so they can’t file-share? After all, if they’re only doing it because they can, then this is a simple fix. We can stop them.

The problem is that this notion flies in the face of everything else we know:

1. Mass behavior is hard to change.  

2. Copying will only get easier.  

3. Sharing is human.

4. Knowledge is a curse.

5. Unintended consequences occur.

On a later date, I will follow up on these ideas. Suffice it to say, there’s no way to make it so fans can’t file-share. Trying to do so only ignores the many problems that are bigger than file-sharing music. 

2. They Don’t Care

I’ve been told that fans don’t buy music because they don’t care about paying artists. It’s that simple. Technology writer Nick Bilton has argued that it’s not so much that people don’t care about cultural creators; it’s that the web, by its very design, lacks humanization.

“People are oblivious to the fact that a human being is on the other side of the digital information that they are consuming,” Bilton writes in I Live In The Future & This Is How It Works. Yes, the web has enabled performers to connect with their fans and humanize themselves. But to most, artists still live in the radio and don’t exist in the real world. 

Instead of assuming that fans don’t care about paying artists, why not ask why they don’t? 

Our society places a low premium on cultural creators. Arts and music have been pushed out of the classroom in favor of subjects that prepare students to take their standardized tests better. Like many aspects of their lives, like food, clothing, and electronics, people don’t have a clue where music comes from. They’re disconnected from the processes of arts creation and from the real people and places involved. The business of music and the commercialization of the public listening sphere is something that they’re ignorant of. 

If the contention is that the fans don’t care about paying artists, it assumes that as a society we’ve given them a reason to care. Have we given them one? Or have we failed to nature a public that cares about any kind of artists? Painters and poets are artists too.

Last I checked no one cares if they make money either.

3. Music Is Worthless

It has also been suggested that fans just don’t value music in a meaningful way.

As I’ve argued in the past, this argument is misguided; it fails to ask the more meaningful question. Is it that people don’t value music? Or, is it that music has become in some way disconnected from its cultural value? Months later, I still don’t have the answer to that one.

From the perspective of Steve Lawson, there’s another part of this argument that its proponents fail to consider. The simple fact, he argues, is that, “Music is worthless.”

The kind of music that we recognize as music and of having value—those noises that fit within the ‘organized sound’ definition—that has “no inherent value at all.” Lawson continues, “All the value is contextual. It can be invested, it can be enhanced, it can even be manufactured counter to any previously measured notions of ‘quality’ with a particular idiom, but it’s not innate. Noise is not a saleable commodity.”

His whole argument, one he has made before: the financial value of music “is entirely based on the listener’s sense of gratitude for it.” To him, that gratitude manifests itself in different ways, but is commonly expressed by sharing, saying thank you, or paying for it.

So, what happens when that person is no longer grateful for music itself for existing, the artist who created it, or the person that introduced them to it? As well, what happens when that person has become unwilling to express that appreciation by sharing it friends, saying thank you to the artist, or buying it from a retailer? Well, that scary experiment is playing out right now. Music is being taken for granted—almost as if it’s a fact of life.

It is. But, not on the scale that fans are betting it to be. The ramifications to this aren’t obvious. Nor will they reveal themselves for quite awhile.

Why are people willing to pay $6.21 for a Venti coffee and muffin from Starbucks, but recoil at the idea of spending that much on a few songs? It’s a hard call. Somewhere along the way, they’ve become disconnected from the value and society has failed to instill in them an appreciation for all cultural creators. Somehow, I don’t think turning off their web connection or suing them for everything they have will make them value art more.

4. Keeping the Money

Pop-culture essayist Chuck Klosterman nailed this one.

“People didn’t stop buying albums because they were philosophically opposed to how the rock business operated, and they didn’t stop buying albums because the Internet is changing the relationship between capitalism and art,” he writes. “People stopped buying albums because they wanted the fucking money. It’s complicated, but it’s not.”

Napster spread on college campuses full broke students looking to save money. They found a way to save money by downloading music and not buying it. Therefore, they did. No lawn protests occurred. Fans didn’t care about the corporate influence on music in the public sphere; the mistreatment of artists by labels; or even the declining quality of commercial music. They wanted to keep the money. It’s complicated, but it’s not.

His wider theory is file-sharing came at a time when many fans where looking to reallocate money to pay off their self-imposed debt, whether that be credit cards or student loans. There’s an article that appeared on Forbes titled “No Job And $50,000 In Student Debt. Now What?” The answer to that question, as I see it, is that they’re not purchasing albums anytime soon. They can’t afford music or their burnt coffee anymore either.

Assuming that the fans aren’t that broke and are keeping the money. What are they spending it on? Klosterman isn’t convinced that people’s disposable income budgets are interchangeable—that because they aren’t spending money on music, they’re buying video games and movies instead. Charles Arthur at The Guardian has argued otherwise.

He has contended, “the music industry’s deadliest enemy isn’t file-sharing – it’s the likes of Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony, and a zillion games publishers.” He thinks gaming packs more value than music and the attention of fans, along with their money, has shifted.

Additional Reasons

There are two additional reasons that fans file-share music.

Everyone’s doing it . “The simple truth is that humans, being first and foremost social creatures, rather than independent agents, rely on copying to learn and to negotiate the rich and sophisticated social reality they inhabit,” write Mark Earls and Alex Bentley in Forget Influentials. “Copying is our species’ number one learning and adaptive strategy.” Fans copy the behavior of others fans and they spread; it’s pulled through the population.

No one gets caught. Fans file-share because everyone else they know does it and certainly, they aren’t the ones that would ever get caught. They’re smarter than that. Those who got sued must have done stupid things that put them at risk. No matter how scary the stories get about fans getting sued, people generally believe that bad things won’t happen to them. It’s basic psychology. We imagine the future and see only good things. Of course, around 30,000 fans have been caught file-sharing music. But, none of us knows enough people to know someone close to us that got sued and we wrongly assume that our chances have lessened. After all, I don’t know anyone who has been caught—do you?

Where Does This Leave Us?

Breaking the Internet won’t fix the record industry. Instead, we must build a digital ecology of music culture that pays artists for their art and supports creativity. Along the way, we must protect, as legal scholar Larry Lessig says in Free Culture, “the space for innovation and creativity that the Internet is.” Just as we strive to defend artists and the innovation and creativity that their music is, we must defend what the Internet is: an architecture to enable unplanned and unforeseen innovation. Doing otherwise would be a grave mistake. 

It’s time that we start thinking honestly about what music means to us and the future we’re attempting to create for it. This is a time of turbulence. The evolution of this ecosystem, if fueled by our curiosity and imaginations, will resolve most facets of music piracy. File-sharing is both market and moral failure. “The Internet is in transition,” Lessig writes. “We should not be regulating a technology in transition. We should instead be regulating to minimize the harm to interests affected by this technological change, while enabling and encouraging, the most efficient technology that we can create.” The changes that we seek won’t happen overnight, as beyond the technological, they’re also cultural and societal.

Meanwhile, the best thing we can do is focus on reconnecting real people, places, and values. If we desire to nurture a society that values that ‘art’ that music is, it begins at a local level. Show people the beauty beneath the scars and the lyrics became the bloodstained poetry on your heart. Why music matters has nothing to do with musicians and everything to do with the meaning it creates in people’s lives. Connect your audience to that meaning and value is created. Preserving that value doesn’t take breaking the Internet. All it takes is reminding real people in real places why music matters to you.

Reader Comments (28)

Great post, but I still wager that the whole topic is being way over thought. For anyone who cares, here's my take, which is very similar to "because they can", but with a slight twist that answers WHY they can. Comments are welcome, hoped for, pined for...

http://cerebellumblues.squarespace.com/blog/2010/10/9/music-theft-and-the-culture-of-free.html

Jeff

October 21 | Registered CommenterJeff Shattuck

Video games are definitely a huge factor. Throughout the 90s and most of 2000s much of my free time was spent on games and I only really cared about a small number of songs that I got through napster and I wouldn't have bothered getting them otherwise. Now the gaming industry has really blown up and isn't considered to be so "geeky" so of course it will have an impact throughout the entertainment industry.

October 22 | Unregistered CommenterZib

The first para of that 'Because They Can' explanation is bonkers. There's far more specific reasons for all those things - eg. why do men and women cheat on each other? because they're unable to suppress the natural biological drive for sex. saying "because they can" is really vague and unhelpful.

why do music fans file-share? because it's FREE, and easy, and because there's next-to-no-chance of being punished for it.

October 22 | Unregistered CommenterAlly

I'd rather give the money to the artist, on tour, at a show. That way I know where my money's going... a) their gas tank b) their belly c) to make more music. There's no mark ups, no fat cats getting their share, no one who didn't deserve a piece of the pie getting 3/4 of it. Just the artist. I've heard it argued that "well the producer...." - It's then up to the artist to spend that money on an mpc or an mbox and diy it, or getting someone else to record it...
and most of the artists who produce their own stuff have better sounding records, because they don't have a producer layering it and over doing it with reverb.

File sharing is a wonderful thing. I wouldn't know of half the bands I love, had I not been given the opportunity to check them out due to file sharing. But, if you're one of those people who don't hit up a show and cop a cd, then you're just a jerk.

October 22 | Unregistered CommenterGnarthrash

@Ally

It's supposed to sound outlandish. I wasn't being serious in that part.

October 22 | Registered CommenterKyle Bylin

This is a great review. I venture to say that in addition to 'Everyone's doing it', you can add the iPod/iPhone/mp3 player. Music has been around forever, and the tools to file-share are everywhere. The one thing that is 'cool' that everyone is doing is buying an expensive portable device. College kids are poor, but they will find a way to buy a $300 mp3 player. If they spent $300, you can be assured they will get their money's worth by loading it up. The digital file might not have value, but the physical device does.

October 22 | Unregistered CommenterChris

I rarely find myself disagreeing with your essays, Kyle, but neither do I feel that we're treating the causes (I might insert one of the common medical hyperbolic analogies here but that could unfairly characterize music ripping as a cancer, etc. - still, I would argue we're conversing about band-aids). While I won't pretend to have answers, I am pretty confident that the questions I would ask make for a better starting point . . . for example: "Why do we (any of us - industry execs, artists, publishers, and so on) think we have the right to expect the industry to continue?" "Why does Don Henley think he deserves to get paid every time someone hears or buys one of his songs?"

My point is that the entire business - the one we all keep talking about - is about 125 years old. Music and music performance is what . . . a million? 2 million? When did the first tribe member find a hollow log and start pounding on it in rhythms that made the rest of us want to stop and listen? And then, all of a sudden there were radios and stations, and pressing plants and trucking companies and warehouses and one-stops, and we act like all of that was somehow part of Earth evolution and anyone who shares, or downloads without paying, is committing crimes against nature.

We will figure out a new model faster if we all recognize that the old one was a short-term anomaly to begin with.

October 22 | Unregistered CommenterRA May

Before digital file-sharing.g, we used copy on tape cassette so the idea of not paying for music is not new. I think when people part with money they like to have something tangible to hold e.g. a cd case, box-set or vinyl album sleeve with artwork etc. I file share purely for convenience but if I value something I prefer to have the vinyl copy or settle for cd if vinyl is not available. I figure if I download a song and only listen to it once or twice because I don't like it, then I owe the artist nothing. And anyway, most artists concert prices have increased way in excess of inflation over the last 30 years.

October 22 | Unregistered Commenterjazzdude

Hey Kyle,

Very interesting. I think your final paragraphs read very much like my original Huff Post article you replied to. If you read it carefully, you'll see I completely agree that suing people is stupid, the internet is awesome, and people need to re-think how they value music.

When you say, "Is it that people don’t value music? Or, is it that music has become in some way disconnected from its cultural value?" it is really asking the same question, with some semantic differences. In the end, you get the same answer. Music cannot forcibly disconnect itself from anything. It is up to the evaluator; the listener, to make that disconnection. What I think you really mean to ask is, "Have we as listeners disconnected music from its cultural value?" I would argue that yes, it many instances we have.

Boiled down, I think our two perspectives are very, very similar. I'm actually surprised you seemed so heated after my article was posted, considering we're making very similar arguments. Musicians should try to educate fans on why supporting them financially is a good thing, and listeners should take a step back and think about what file-sharing really means.

Like you said, people pay $5 for a coffee. So why don't they do the same for a record? I'll tell you why, because people (i'm talking the "masses" here) are only as faithful as their options. If they found out a way to pirate Mochachinos, watch Starbucks stock plumet.

What's needed is a campaign from musicians themselves to educate listeners. The reality is you cannot stop people from file-sharing, thus the only way to salvage a music industry where recorded music is valued monetarily is to convince fans that $10 benefits them in some way. That's what I attempted to do in my article, and that's what a lot of other musicians/labels have started to do.

for those curious to read it, here you go:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/modiba/why-you-should-pay-for-mu_b_606430.html

until next time...
jon

October 22 | Unregistered CommenterJon Sheldrick

Technology advances often; when will the music industry come up with something new.

My short answer to the current file sharing is for labels / artist to add value to their music. Then consumers will buy more, but, they will never stop illegal file sharing.

Lastly, no will will ever stop them no matter what format you distribute music.

Value is adding in offering a larger package along with the music.

October 22 | Unregistered CommenterKSE

I steal music all the time, but it isn't like you think. I have a few reasons you might find interesting (or boring, who knows).

1) It's a pre-release song: I searched high and low for Sophie Ellis-Bextor's "Bittersweet" a couple weeks before it's release. I just loved it. I still bought the CD single when it came out on May 3rd, in fact I bought my sister one too. I want the artists I like to keep a career, but don't make me wait for a release date. It won't happen.

2) Take the above comment and add this: The CD single came with only two songs. All of the remixes were only available through iTunes and 7Digital. I couldn't buy these songs from the US, even if I wanted to. In fact, a lot of UK/Australian artists do not have copyright or distribution deals in the US. Tina Arena has most of her records on iTunes in the US, but there are still a couple not available (inexplicably, "Just Me," even though the rest of her Sony discography is available and "The Best & Le Milleur," though most of the tracks on it are available on the albums).

I am still trying to buy the promo for "Bittersweet" on eBay that has the remixes on it.

3) Out of Print: Tori Amos' "Little Earthquakes" singles used to fetch a pretty penny on eBay, but now that most are available via her "A Piano" collection, they don't sell for as much as they used to. Most of them. The second release of "Silent All These Years" fetches a pretty penny. So does the promo for "Strange" off of her "Scarlet's Walk" album. The mix of that song is totally unavailable unless you scour the nets or pay $150 on eBay for it.

Take a look at Madonna. In 1988, Sire released "You Can Dance," with all the songs extended and sequed together. However, there is a little known CD promo that has all those songs, remixed but in "Single Edit" form. Go see how much that costs!

I have eccletic tastes. Take Bob Welch, late of Fleetwood Mac. HIs last record from RCA is unavailable anywhere. It's the only one. Sure, only 1,000 people will buy it, but that's 1,000 people buying it from just uploading the damn thing to iTunes.

Or Christine McVie, her "Christine Perfect" record was the hardest record to find for years. You can get the "Complete Blue Horizon Sessions" but it's still missing a song.

Keeping with Fleetwood Mac, or anyone that had a 45 rpm single, where are the B-Sides? Not on iTunes. We are still waiting for remastered albums to have those B-Sides.

CD Singles: B-Sides from UK are expensive. Garbage had a 3 set of "Shut Your Mouth" that is expensive to buy still, even after the fact their career tanked.

Japan Bonus Tracks/Australian Tour Editions: Really? Japan gets 2 songs unavailable elsewhere and you're charging $30 more dollars? Australia gets a 2-Disc set with live material and the US won't release even a single.

So you see folks, I steal music because it's inexplicably expensive, just generally out of print, or on foreign online services. But I would like the RIAA to come find me. I'll show them my iTunes receipts, which probably amounts in the thousands. I am an artists dream. I'll follow their careers, but I am not paying $45 for 2 bonus tracks from Japan or a damn disc of alternate takes anymore. It ain't happening.

The reccord companies did this to themselves. Give fans the music. We'll pay for it, but don't send us on a wild goose chase to have it.

October 22 | Unregistered CommenterNoah

Innovation will end file sharing. Although it seems practical to some now, the next generation will find that it's just not worth the effort. It's just going to be far too easy to obtain exactly what you want, when you want it; nobody will bother collecting lumps of MP3 in the (near) future.

October 22 | Registered CommenterBruce Warila

I'm with Jazzdude on this. An MP3 just doesn't seem to have any value. You can't touch it, smell it or even taste it. An MP3 doesn't exist in a tangable way. Humans like things they can physically possess. The recording industry has to re-engage folk with physical sales.
Is any CD worth more than $5? With all the other entertainment media out there are people just no longer bothered about owning CD's?

October 25 | Unregistered CommenterLoon

Honestly, none of these reasons apply to me.

The real #1 reason is "It's not available for download in my country."

Until the industry solves THAT, people will keep "stealing" music - if indeed it can legally be termed "stealing" when the record company in question fails to make the product available. We cannot "buy" what nobody is "selling". Trust me, if it were made available legally on a timely basis, we'd buy it most willingly. But it's not.

October 25 | Unregistered CommenterLiz

I didn't see any mention of the curatorial role ("Listen to this, it's cool!") which drives the music blog part of the filesharing world.

October 25 | Unregistered Commenterwallow-T

Following on your second reason (They Don't Care) and Loon & jazzdude's comments, I think one of the strongest reasons comes down to a matter of transparency and obfuscation.

TRANSPARENCY:

The argument's been made (and pretty often proven) that people pay for value. Loon, jazzdude, and many others counter that the MP3 has no "real" value, and that's its problem. I only half-agree.

MP3s have no value to the techno-literate masses because they understand just how easy it is to "make" an MP3. Counter that with something like a replica 1960s Batmobile. Sure, there are places for you to find out how to make one yourself -- the blueprints ain't tough to find -- but the transparency proves the value proposition.

OBFUSCATION:

So if the value in MP3s (or in CDs, which you can buy blank for under $0.10/each) is lost due to transparency, you might counter that "people should at least appreciate the work an artist puts in!"

And they do. Look at Gnarthrash's comment -- s/he would rather buy from an artist at a show. This echoes the sentiment a ton of my friends have, particularly those who don't understand that sales from a merch booth do benefit the artist's label and publisher (instead of the artist alone), and sometimes even the venue too.

The problem here is the reverse of MP3s, CDs, or any transparency-related issues that have come to light since the first tape recorders: consumers don't understand the machinery behind the music they hear. All they know is that it's there, it's complicated, and many artists have been screwed.

---

Admittedly, transparency and obfuscation aren't the only factors (which, Kyle, you've been doing a fantastic job at highlighting). I believe, though, that they're the easiest ones to deal with head-on... and will probably make a world of difference when we do.

October 25 | Unregistered CommenterAidan Nulman

A great post: "Why We Hack." Includes a discussion of file-sharing, and how the disobedience of file-sharers has transformed things to be better for consumers/users.

http://lifehacker.com/5672997/the-benefits-of-disobedience-why-we-hack?skyline=true&s=i

October 26 | Unregistered Commenterwallow-T

Music (specifically recorded music) isn't worthless, but it has become devalued, in the economic sense. Recorded music is SO EASY to make (all the essential tools are free, cheap, or can be pirated) and so many people want to do it that there's just so much new music available. As pop music adds more and more years to its history, there's a lot more old music to listen to as well. When supply exceeds demand, price goes down.

Music doesn't only cost money, it costs time for the listener. One couldn't possibly buy all the available music one wants to hear, and one couldn't possibly make the effort to select certain artists to spend money on, so why not just pirate everything one wants to listen to? Why should I spend money on Artist X if there are ten other artists that sound similar or better? Artist X is lucky I'm willing to spend my TIME listening, let alone spend my money to listen.

October 26 | Unregistered CommenterMark Cichra

iTunes has digital rights management. It's not hard to encrypt your music so that people can't steal it. Just don't sell it on Amazon.com or any other online retailer that doesn't encrypt.

Movies and games aren't having this problem because they don't sell on amazon.com where you can just download them and share with everyone.

Lastly, if everyone is just giving music away, get creative and use other revenue streams. Merchandise, subscriptions, etc...

October 26 | Unregistered CommenterJoe Schmoe

ENOUGH with qualifying the reasons. The simple truth is that an ever increasing percentage of those that try to justify this fundamentally unethical behavior will in fact themselves derive some or all of their living from an Intellectual property based economy. The light 'will' come on down the road for many of these individuals. Technologies and policies 'will' emerge that address the problems of payment and compensation. They will not be perfect solutions but....

I would like each and every individual that thinks nothing of improperly acquiring any creative works that are not legitimately offered for free by the creator of same that they are further infringing on a duly recognized Human Right (UN Charter and now a legal decision out of Ireland). Yup, that's correct I do not make a living from IP myself but I'll be damned of I am going to stomp on someone's globally recognized rights. I ask all you in the media to start reporting on well considered and intended solutions. You are boring me to tears by constantly revisiting the same underlying motivations of consumers. Please. Move on!

October 26 | Unregistered CommenterMusic Man

So we know a giant gob of music is being downloaded. Does anyone know how much of it gets listened to?

October 26 | Unregistered CommenterTheGC

Agreeing with Noah, but adding an American Perspective:
I have downloaded music illegaly in the past, between 2003-2007, but the majority of them were either not available in stores, giving out freely (in the form of Mixtapes, that were not available online during that time..I am a hip-hop head, although I listen to all types of music, as well as a musician), or I wanted to listen to the songs of an artist I didn't like that much to see if their album was good enough for me to purchase (and in the majority of cases they were not that good and I deleted the songs as quick as i possibly could... as some might know alot of rap/hip-hop is garbage..but not all). Now I don't need to illegally download songs, because the mixtapes I want are available for free legally on the many sites, most are released by the artists themselves. So if I find that their material is up to par, I will indeed purchase a physical copy of their cds and frequent their concerts. I think the greed of the executives in charge of the music business is what made the industry into what it is now. Having control over something that most of those executives have no interest in, other than making money off of it is absurd. The music industry should be in the musicians hands, and those executives should work for us..not the other way around.

October 27 | Unregistered CommenterMr. Synikal

The author has missed the most obvious reason why fans file-share music and that's because they ENJOY it. That alone means that songs have value in our society. Now, why do they download illegally? Because the creators of the digital technology did not have the foresight to develop it with safeguards that prevent simplistic copying. Does that make it okay? Of course not. This is why banks have guards and stores lock their doors at night and don't trust that people will not come in when no one's watching and take what they want. I believe the only solution is recreating the technology. Yes, this will come at an expense, but protection isn't free. The industry needs to look at the future and envision solutions which may require an initial investment.

October 27 | Unregistered CommenterDonna Opfer

How appropriate that the comment thread represents the spectrum of music consumers; we have Noah at one end and Mark Cichra at the other. Despite the industry's current difficulties, I'm amazed, proud and truly grateful to be a musician, cuz music today is like God's love; everybody gets it, whether they deserve it or not. It's awfully difficult to make a living in music, now, but it's never been easy; I'm really more concerned with what music consumers are doing to themselves than what they're doing to the music, (which can take care of itself, so long as musicians are in charge) and to musicians. The crisis, to me, is one of character, not finance, because character is defined by what you do when no one's looking. It's also a fair point that no human has a right to be paid for shoddy work; it indeed does me more harm that my song sits on your hard drive and you never listen to it or play it for your friends, than that you never paid for it. I've spent a healthy amount of time speaking on this issue and listening to the debate, and I've become convinced that copyright infringement/piracy is a lot like drug abuse; no amount of enforcement will ever make it go away completely, and what's most urgently needed is education, because people with the best information tend to make the best choices.

It's true that the means of music production is cheaper now than at any time in history, but it's still not free, and some investment of time and effort is still required in order to make meaningful use of these wonderful tools. One point I'll disagree on; musicians have been compensated for their work since long before the recorded music business began; we'd make our instruments out of rocks or sticks, and if we played your daughter's wedding, you owed us a sheep or a goat. I hope that before anyone clicks an illegit download link, they give a thought to allowing the musicians to at least share in the feast.

October 29 | Unregistered CommenterMojo Bone

Dear Mojo Bone,

Your words are heartfelt and appreciated. I have spoken similarly on other blogs.

MM

October 29 | Unregistered Commentermusicmanagain

“People are oblivious to the fact that a human being is on the other side of the digital information that they are consuming,”. While this may be true in some cases, more often it is that people don't like the "human being" on the other side.

There are many reasons why people are buying less music.

1) Poor Quality: Much of the music released these days is garbage. Very "cookie cutter". Everyone is just making what they think will sell and not what's good. As a DJ, I buy tons of music but it's because I have to not because I want to.

2) Oversaturation: Artists put out so much material these days it's insane. Everyone is trying to stand out from the crowd. I'm a DJ, Remixer and Musician and belong to record pools and I can tell you there is no shortage of music out there. I see some artists put out new songs every couple of days. It's hard to get excited about a song or an artist when you know a new song will be released tomorrow. I remember the days when an artist would put out an album every 2-3 years. They would release a single every 3-4 months and the song would get a chance to get into people's heads. People would get a chance to listen to the song, appreciate it and if it was a good song it would stick with you and build happy memories for you and stay with you forever. How often do you hear a song today that you will remember a few months from now much less many years from now? Now artists have 3 or 4 singles released at the same time sometimes before the album is even in the stores. Why would anyone go buy an album when all the good tracks have already been released all at once? There is also the fact that every jackass in the world now thinks their either a DJ or musician, which makes it more difficult for those of us who actually make their living doing this.

3) Internet: Yes, the internet has played a big role in this. Why buy an album when you can just download it? I still like buying music when it is from one of my favorite artists. I still especially like going to the store and getting a CD in my hand. I grew up in the day when you looked forward to that experience of going to your local record store, buying the album (in my case, vinyl records), rushing home and putting it on the stereo and looking over all the artwork and reading the inserts. When was the last time most people did that? Why would they now? Do you really want to consume your time reading "My humps, my humps, my lovely lady lumps.."? The industry has turned music into a can of corn, a commodity instead of the art that it is and should be. Most artists should embrace the internet because it's probably the only way anyone would ever hear their music. Some artists even leak the stuff themselves, complain about it, blame the public and then reap the benefits of it. Their anger and frustration is very misplaced. The artists should be mad at the record companies that give them only about 40-60 cents for every album sold. That's why they have to tour, sell merchandise etc. When a CD sells for anywhere from $10-18, whose making the real money? The record company. The artists are still rich and complaining too even after getting ripped off so it's hard to feel to sorry for them.

October 30 | Unregistered Commenteraveragejoe

Typically musicians/instrumentalists and producers/engineers are paid for their studio work as "work for hire". It is the creators of the music - the songwriters who lose with illegal downloading. The songwriting industry has become incredibly more competitive with the Internet and so if you're lucky enough to get a bonafide cut, it's heartbreaking to not be compensated for what may have taken a decade or more to achieve.

November 1 | Unregistered CommenterDonna Opfer

uuuuuuuuuuuuh yeah. wow you guys finally realized this, that is impressive. It only took over a decade!!! nice! So long as there is torrent sites and places where people can download music they will for free. hell you can download free programs that allow you to record something being played out of internet radio or a myspace page without having to pay for it People say the future is month subscriptions to streaming music or music in the cloud, doubt it, if can get it for free or find a way to recorded from any place for free people will. The cat has been out of the bag for soooooooo long that now everyone is trying to "Figure out" WHAT EVER HAPPENED?! I have no empathy for morons in the labels that didn't see this coming I hope they all go bankrupt. As far as the rest of us indie musicians I guess well have to spend our money, make sacrifices to stand up go online, get a fanbase so they can find your shit on a torrent site for free, and then the'll forget you when the next 5000 new artist come out this month!! yeaaaaaayyyyyy this is suck an exiting time in the music industry. I can't hardly wait.

November 1 | Unregistered CommenterChris

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