I encourage you to read the whole article at the following link.
And if you "don't want" to pay for music, well I "don't want" to pay for food, housing, etc., whatever it is you do to make a living, so I guess I have a right to take it from you for free.
People want me to get my song "Surplus Goods" recorded, and I very much want to do so, but I am trying to live on social security (not very successfully, I have to use some savings almost evevy month) and I can't afford to get a demo made.
If you want to hear some music that I had recorded when I had a job, go to
June 18, 2012
Recently Emily White, an intern at NPR All Songs Considered and GM of what appears to be her college radio station, wrote a post on the NPR blog in which she acknowledged that while she had 11,000 songs in her music library, she’s only paid for 15 CDs in her life. Our intention is not to embarrass or shame her. We believe young people like Emily White who are fully engaged in the music scene are the artist’s biggest allies. We also believe–for reasons we’ll get into–that she has been been badly misinformed by the Free Culture movement. We only ask the opportunity to present a countervailing viewpoint.
My intention here is not to shame you or embarrass you. I believe you are already on the side of musicians and artists and you are just grappling with how to do the right thing. I applaud your courage in admitting you do not pay for music, and that you do not want to but you are grappling with the moral implications. I just think that you have been presented with some false choices by what sounds a lot like what we hear from the “Free Culture” adherents
I must disagree with the underlying premise of what you have written. Fairly compensating musicians is not a problem that is up to governments and large corporations to solve. It is not up to them to make it “convenient” so you don’t behave unethically. (Besides–is it really that inconvenient to download a song from iTunes into your iPhone? Is it that hard to type in your password? I think millions would disagree.)
Rather, fairness for musicians is a problem that requires each of us to individually look at our own actions, values and choices and try to anticipate the consequences of our choices. I would suggest to you that, like so many other policies in our society, it is up to us individually to put pressure on our governments and private corporations to act ethically and fairly when it comes to artists rights. Not the other way around. We cannot wait for these entities to act in the myriad little transactions that make up an ethical life. I’d suggest to you that, as a 21-year old adult who wants to work in the music business, it is especially important for you to come to grips with these very personal ethical issues.
Now, my students typically justify their own disproportionate choices in one of two ways. I’m not trying to set up a “strawman”, but I do have a lot of anecdotal experience with this.
“It’s OK not to pay for music because record companies rip off artists and do not pay artists anything.” In the vast majority of cases, this is not true. There have been some highly publicized abuses by record labels. But most record contracts specify royalties and advances to artists. Advances are important to understand–a prepayment of unearned royalties. Not a debt, more like a bet. The artist only has to “repay” (or “recoup”) the advance from record sales. If there are no or insufficient record sales, the advance is written off by the record company. So it’s false to say that record companies don’t pay artists. Most of the time they not only pay artists, but they make bets on artists. And it should go without saying that the bets will get smaller and fewer the more unrecouped advances are paid by labels.
Secondly, by law the record label must pay songwriters (who may also be artists) something called a “mechanical royalty” for sales of CDs or downloads of the song. This is paid regardless of whether a record is recouped or not. The rate is predetermined, and the license is compulsory. Meaning that the file sharing sites could get the same license if they wanted to, at least for the songs. They don’t. They don’t wanna pay artists.
Artists can make money on the road (or its variant “Artists are rich”). The average income of a musician that files taxes is something like 35k a year w/o benefits. The vast majority of artists do not make significant money on the road. Until recently, most touring activity was a money losing operation. The idea was the artists would make up the loss through recorded music sales. This has been reversed by the financial logic of file-sharing and streaming. You now tour to support making albums if you are very, very lucky. Otherwise, you pay for making albums out of your own pocket. Only the very top tier of musicians make ANY money on the road. And only the 1% of the 1% makes significant money on the road. (For now.)
Over the last 12 years I’ve watched revenue flowing to artists collapse.
Recorded music revenue is down 64% since 1999.
Per capita spending on music is 47% lower than it was in 1973!!
The number of professional musicians has fallen 25% since 2000.
Of the 75,000 albums released in 2010 only 2,000 sold more than 5,000 copies. Only 1,000 sold more than 10,000 copies. Without going into details, 10,000 albums is about the point where independent artists begin to go into the black on professional album production, marketing and promotion.
Now, having said all that, I also deeply empathize with your generation. You have grown up in a time when technological and commercial interests are attempting to change our principles and morality. Rather than using our morality and principles to guide us through technological change, there are those asking us to change our morality and principles to fit the technological change–if a machine can do something, it ought to be done. Although it is the premise of every “machines gone wild” story since Jules Verne or Fritz Lang, this is exactly backwards. Sadly, I see the effects of this thinking with many of my students.
These technological and commercial interests have largely exerted this pressure through the Free Culture movement, which is funded by a handful of large tech corporations and their foundations in the US, Canada, Europe and other countries.
The existential questions that your generation gets to answer are these:
Why do we value the network and hardware that delivers music but not the music itself?
Why are we willing to pay for computers, iPods, smartphones, data plans, and high speed internet access but not the music itself?
Why do we gladly give our money to some of the largest richest corporations in the world but not the companies and individuals who create and sell music?
This is a bit of hyperbole to emphasize the point. But it’s as if:
Networks: Giant mega corporations. Cool! have some money!
Hardware: Giant mega corporations. Cool! have some money!
Artists: 99.9 % lower middle class. Screw you, you greedy bastards!
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!
Sweet Relief. This organization helps musicians with medical costs. Vic Chestnutt, who I mentioned earlier, was helped by this organization. I contributed a track to the Album Sweet Relief II:Gravity of the situation. www.sweetrelief.org
Music Cares. You can also donate to this charity run by the NARAS (the Grammys). http://www.grammy.org/musicares/donate
By Mark Isham for ibuymymusic.org
Employment numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show a drop of 45.3 percent between August 2002 and August of 2011 “musical groups and artists”. Music piracy hurts both the music producers and the music consumers. I’m not the only one affected by this; most, if not all, professional artists have taken a slump in recorded music sales due to the illegal distribution and leaks.
What people like you refuse to understand: How are individual independent artists supposed to take on the entire for-profit un-authorized use industry? 99 percent of the people harmed by file sharing are the independent artists, the audio engineers, the roadies, the independent recording studios, the independent and specialty labels, the independent record stores, the independent publicists, the bus drivers etc etc. The vast majority of people harmed by unauthorized exploitation of artists rights are not rich and powerful. Unlike the EFF they do not have washington lobbyists to argue their case or employ staff lawyers to troll the internet arguing for their rights. The working class of the music business do not have foundations that receive large corporate donations to help them fight for their rights. The 99% are the 99%! The basic point of the law and civilization is to protect the weak from the corrupt and powerful.