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?