Who Is Really Making Money When We Don’t Buy The Music We Listen To?

The new 21-year-old intern on NPR’s All Songs Considered claims to have only purchased 15 CDs in her entire life. This amounts to shocking news for some, probably because it doesn’t match our collective mental image of a true music enthusiast, especially one who works on a national radio show about music.

The passionate music enthusiasts I have known in my life have been, without exception, collectors. They scour the music scene for the next new thing or maybe an old awesome thing nobody remembers. They buy weird-smelling albums from stoop sales. They have milk crates full of music. I don’t even know where one gets milk crates! A cool music nerd of the caliber that could be hired by All Songs Considered should be like a musical Indiana Jones, right?

Emily the Intern is not a collector in the traditional sense. From her description, it sounds like she has amassed her gigabytes of music in huge chunks, looting digital copies of songs from her college radio station, senior prom date, and various family members.

And if it got deleted? She thinks she could probably recreate it fairly easily. She doesn’t have an emotional connection to the “collection.” She just likes listening to music.

From her article:

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?

Now, as you might have guessed by the fact that we are writing about it, not everyone is thrilled with Emily’s view of how the music industry should work.

The most lucid and polite (if lengthy) of the many responses to her article comes from David Lowery, of the bands Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker.

He makes quite a few points, but the most interesting one is this: Plenty of companies are making money off of what Emily the Intern is doing. (She paid for her laptop, internet access, etc.) It’s just that artists are not chief among them, and there is no market pressure that will help that change.

Mr. Lowery:

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?

But it’s worse than that. It turns out that Verizon, AT&T, Charter etc etc are charging a toll to get into this neighborhood to get the free stuff. Further, companies like Google are selling maps (search results) that tell you where the stuff is that you want to loot. Companies like Megavideo are charging for a high speed looting service (premium accounts for faster downloads). Google is also selling ads in this neighborhood and sharing the revenue with everyone except the people who make the stuff being looted. Further, in order to loot you need to have a $1,000 dollar laptop, a $500 dollar iPhone or $400 Samsumg tablet. It turns out the supposedly “free” stuff really isn’t free. In fact it’s an expensive way to get “free” music. (Like most claimed “disruptive innovations”it turns out expensive subsidies exist elsewhere.) Companies are actually making money from this looting activity. These companies only make money if you change your principles and morality! And none of that money goes to the artists!

And believe it or not this is where the problem with Spotify starts. The internet is full of stories from artists detailing just how little they receive from Spotify. I shan’t repeat them here. They are epic. Spotify does not exist in a vacuum. The reason they can get away with paying so little to artists is because the alternative is The ‘Net where people have already purchased all the gear they need to loot those songs for free. Now while something like Spotify may be a solution for how to compensate artists fairly in the future, it is not a fair system now. As long as the consumer makes the unethical choice to support the looters, Spotify will not have to compensate artists fairly. There is simply no market pressure. Yet Spotify’s CEO is the 10th richest man in the UK music industry ahead of all but one artist on his service.



Edit Your Comment

  1. Coffee says:

    But I honestly don’t think my peers and I will ever pay for albums. I do think we will pay for convenience.

    Sorry, Emily…you sound like a nice girl, and your idea about making all music a ubiquitous omnipresence is cool, but the thing is…well, you see…how do I put this?

    I don’t believe you.

    I was your age. In college. Poor. And I’ll be damned if I wasn’t going to jump through hoop after hoop if it meant getting something for free. If I couldn’t afford a game, I would acquire it through usenet groups or whatever, then I would SCOUR the internet for crackz and hackz and whatever…for hours and hours, frequently damaging the file structure of my computer in the process as it was pelted with barrage after barrage of malware. All because I didn’t have money to pay for shit. Convenience had nothing to do with it.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      We’re not all computer literate like that. Not everything actually A) Knows about these hack sites, B) has the wherewithall to exploit them, and C) Has the cajones/moral ambiguity to go through with it

      • Coffee says:

        She’s already implicitly stated that cajones and moral ambiguity are not a problem, as she readily admits that her and her friends do not pay for the music they own via file sharing. Regarding your points A and B, it doesn’t take the same wherewithal to pirate things these days; music torrents require no hacking or cracking, and even torrented programs usually come with cracks included. All it takes to own a vast collection of music is a free torrent client and piratebay.org. The rest I could teach to my 62-year-old mother in five minutes.

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          “I was your age. In college. Poor. And I’ll be damned if I wasn’t going to jump through hoop after hoop if it meant getting something for free. If I couldn’t afford a game, I would acquire it through usenet groups or whatever, then I would SCOUR the internet for crackz and hackz and whatever…for hours and hours, frequently damaging the file structure of my computer in the process as it was pelted with barrage after barrage of malware. All because I didn’t have money to pay for shit. Convenience had nothing to do with it.”

          My point is that you do not represent everyone. We are not all like this. It seems she openly admits to her methods of obtaining music without paying for it, and it did not involve similar methods as your personal experience.

          • Coffee says:

            From the article: But I didn’t illegally download (most) of my songs. A few are, admittedly, from a stint in the 5th grade with the file-sharing program Kazaa. Some are from my family. I’ve swapped hundreds of mix CDs with friends. My senior prom date took my iPod home once and returned it to me with 15 gigs of Big Star, The Velvet Underground and Yo La Tengo (I owe him one).

            Her methods may have been different than the methods I used to obtain games ten years ago (yes, I buy everything now because digital distribution has made it easy and cheap to attain almost anything over a year old), but they are no more or less morally questionable. How is 15 gigs of music mysteriously showing up on your ipod after you give it to a high school friend different than downloading it directly, morally speaking?

            • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

              These are examples of how they DIDN’T pay for music. She’s trying to build an argument for a model where she, and her peers, WILL pay for music.

              • Coffee says:

                I understand what she’s saying. What I’m saying is that she and her friends don’t currently pay for music because they don’t like the model. She is making the assertion that the reason that they don’t pay is because current models are not as convenient as she would like. The entire point of my initial response is that I am skeptical because – as numerous torrenters on Pirate Bay illustrate – it is not convenience that really directs their behavior; it’s money. As others have pointed out, people use different rationalizations for listening to pirated music all the time, and when providers adapt technology to make distribution more convenient, the yardstick moves, and they’re still acquiring music for free wherever they can.

                Please don’t think that I’m pro or anti-pirating here; I think it’s something that will always happen, and similarly, I think that people will always make excuses about why the current system prevents them from purchasing the music they want to listen to.

                • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

                  I don’t disagree, there will literally always be someone stealing services.

                  That also doesn’t mean the excuses people give aren’t valid ones.

                  • Coffee says:

                    Of course not…if they weren’t valid excuses, the theft wouldn’t be justified in their minds.

                    Switching gears here, I think that part of the problem with the music industry is its dogged insistence that the value of an album or song doesn’t really change over time (I’ll grant that there are exceptions, and that albums go on sale, but that’s not the norm), so if you want to download some Pearl Jam, you’re paying $.99 for the music, even though it’s 18 years old. I don’t want to pay that much for a song that I just might feel like listening to.

                    In contrast, there was a sale on Gamefly this morning, and I was able to buy seven high-quality games (Bioshock 2, Arkham City, LA Noire, etc.) games for $40 because they recognize that people are going to purchase things at different price points, and that price worked for me. If, using the previous example, The Best of Pearl Jam went on sale for like $3, then I would think nothing of purchasing it, and then at least the record label would get some money.

                    I’ve seen more sales since Amazon got involved in digital music distribution, but it’s bee slow to happen.

                    • Sneeje says:

                      GAO Concludes Piracy Stats Are Usually Junk, File Sharing Can Help Sales


                    • Coffee says:

                      The study you link seems to have more to so with counterfeiting than it does with piracy, and specifically in regards to music, the data they discuss deals primarily with physical counterfeits of CDs, not music downloaded off the internet. Furthermore, the general tone of the study is that most studies agree that the net effect of counterfeiting and piracy is negative, but there are some positive effects as well, so I wouldn’t say it’s all rosy.

                      Also, I would just like to point out that at the beginning of this thread, it wasn’t my intent to support or condemn piracy, but rather to state that the OP’s rationalization that convenience was the main issue barring her and her friends from purchasing music was a spurious one at best.

                    • Leksi Wit says:

                      I have to agree with coffee on her argument of “convenience” being spurious. Not to make this thread pasta-thin, but also, young people are much much poorer now than previous generations going back to the Great Depression. Could that have something to do with their choices to pirate in addition to easy access and little policing of said theft? It goes well with Coffee’s money argument in a sense.

                    • Sneeje says:

                      Yes, but the link I posted has links to many other studies as well.

              • rugman11 says:

                I guess my problem is that we’ve spent the last decade building several different models based on the reasons people gave for pirating music. First, it was because there was no method for legal downloading. Then it was because people didn’t want DRM. Then it was because people wanted to stream. Now, it’s what? What is Emily asking for? She says she won’t buy albums. Fine, she can probably buy any song she wants as a single. She wants streaming. Fine, there are a dozen streaming services out there.

                For the most part, pirates will always be pirates because they’re cheap. Give them a new model and they’ll just move the goal posts further down the road.

                • RvLeshrac says:

                  That’s because *GASP* consumers are evolving along with the communication network they use.

                  Why should we offer an online streaming video service? We rent VHS tapes and DVDs from our store. That’s what consumers have always demanded. What? They’re downloading videos without paying for them? But we already offer the convenience of being able to rent videos!

                  We sell our videos to Netflix for enormous sums of money. What? People are downloading new releases? Why?! We offer some, but not all, of our film catalogues for viewing online! Why can’t people just wait six months until they can purchase the film or stream it?! We already offer the convenience of streaming, they just have to wait until we’re good and ready to offer them a product!

            • varro says:

              Do you know what a mix CD is? Home taping. And home taping is killing music. How else could labels afford solid-gold Humvees and mountains of coke for their executives?

            • chefboyardee says:

              For every person like me, who knows how to get music illegally without batting an eyelash, I have 20 friends who wouldn’t even know where to start. Save for Youtube, most of my “lay” friends wouldn’t have the slightest idea how to use a torrent, or usenet, or even a keepvid-type service that steals the music directly from youtube.

              Outside of my small circle of computer-literate friends, I don’t think I know anyone with 15gb of music on their iPod, unless I were to give it to them, which I refuse to do.

              I honestly don’t think the number of people who know how to obtain music illegally is nearly as high as you think.

              As an aside, I was also in college, and poor, and felt entitled. I downloaded *every* album I could find, and went out of my way to find more. I’m now 30+ and successful. I know better. When an album is offered “for whatever you can pay”, I pay the $10. When a band that I like (whom I wouldn’t have found out about without my illegal downloading college spree days) comes to town, I go to the show. I buy two tees or a hoodie from the merch table.

              What am I trying to say? I don’t know. But I do know the artists that I “stole” from in college didn’t lose any revenue because of me, because I was too poor to buy their album, and would have listened to nothing (or their ad-supported Youtube videos) instead of buying their album. However, they are making money off me now that I can afford it. Is it right how that came about? Probably not I guess. But if I were an artist, I’d be happier with getting my money now than with no money ever because I never heard of them. Or something.

              Honestly I see both sides of the debate and don’t know where I stand. That’s why, while I do sometimes download music for myself, I don’t share it with others. That’s their choice, and it’s not mine to help them make.

    • nishioka says:

      Not to mention that buying music through iTunes (or Amazon, for that matter) is already pretty damn convenient. You don’t even have to put pants on!

      Just sounds to me like she’s trying to justify not opening her pocketbook to pay for music.

      Albums are $10 on iTunes. If you can afford to go to Starbucks, you can afford to buy that new album from that band your BFF won’t shut up about.

      • rugman11 says:

        Exactly. iTunes was supposed to be the compromise. “All the ease and convenience of Napster and torrents, but legal.” Turns out that wasn’t good enough. The music pirates moved the goal post. Now it’s not good enough that an enormous collection of music is available at their fingertips (hell, they don’t even have to buy albums, they can buy individual songs). Now they want to be able to listen to any song they want any time they want without even buying it. For some people, cheap and convenient will never need enough.

        I guarantee, if some company created a service that allowed somebody to listen to any music, any time, on any device and offered it for $20/month (a pretty damn good price), people like Emily the Intern would still pirate and still find a way to justify their piracy.

        • Alexk says:

          Look, I think we should all be reasonable. Emily can have all the music she wants–and in return, she must personally service (for free) any musician whose music she listens to. For their convenience.

          • highfructosepornsyrup says:

            Doesn’t seem to be a fair trade. If a musician wants unlimited servicing on demand, he should be putting up unlimited live performances on demand. In this case, the analogous payment would be a movie of her servicing someone. Of course the musician’s job is to play music whereas Emily is an intern, so maybe she can make freely available on the internet a movie of her learnin’ stuff and messing up occasionally.

        • Kuri says:

          Actually, Itunes themselves did it by DRMing the hell out of the files on it, plus the fact that should something happen to your collection, say your computer gets wiped after a crash, you have to pay for all of it all over again.

          • nishioka says:

            > say your computer gets wiped after a crash, you have to pay for all of it all over again.

            And if your house burns down in a fire, you’re probably going to have to buy all your CDs/vinyl/whatever all over again too.

            That argument has never really meant anything to me. If anything, making backups of files downloaded from iTunes negates it completely. (And really so does the fact that they now allow you to re-download your purchases at your leisure.)

            • OutPastPluto says:

              Windows crashing is a much more mundane occurrence then your house burning down.

              You are trying to conflate a pimple to a sucking chest wound.

              • Derek Balling says:

                And if your 3 year old decided to use your CDs as frisbees, you’d have to buy it all over again.

                Don’t get hung up on the specifics of the metaphor, the fact of the matter is: there’s easy ways to lose both “meatspace” and “digital” media, that require you in theory to go buy it again (although, as someone else pointed out, not with iTunes any more since you can redownload all your previously purchased tracks now)

          • rugman11 says:

            Except that, as I point out below, without piracy, there would be no DRM. The reason recording companies wanted DRM was to prevent people from downloading a song for $.99 and then sharing it with a million other people. If piracy had disappeared the day iTunes was released, there never would have been a need for such strict DRM.

            • unpolloloco says:

              But DRM punishes the buyer, not the pirate. Pirates will get around it and the buyer just gets annoyed. Making it less convenient for paying customers isn’t good business.

              //I don’t buy music either – but I also tend not to listen to music unless it’s on the radio or Pandora.

              • Coffee says:

                The DRM issue is also moot and has been for more than two years, since Apple wised up and removed it from the itunes store.

                • RvLeshrac says:

                  Apple didn’t, until very recently, allow you to download anything again without calling them up. And then they acted like they were being OH SO INCREDIBLY GRACIOUS by allowing you to re-download the songs you’d already paid for.

                  They also remove music from the catalogue constantly, and if it isn’t in the catalogue, you can’t download it.

                  • mannyvel says:

                    Blame the labels. DRM was there because the labels demanded it. DRM is now gone because the labels realized that it was in their best interest not to get locked into iTunes/iPod.

                    iTunes match is there because the labels finally allowed it. Redownloading is there because the labels decided that they wouldn’t charge you again for downloading music you already bought.

                    The relationships between the labels and the distributor (iTunes or Amazon) aren’t really transparent to the public, which is why the public (ie: you) are confused. You have to pay attention to know why something is they way it is.

          • exconsumer says:

            Ok, but that’s just iTunes. Amazon mp3s are drm free. Same for bandcamp and numerous other file download services. ‘I’d pay if only . . .’ is just something people tell themselves to feel better.

          • kaleberg says:

            The last time I checked, yesterday, the Apple music store has a “purchases” feature which lets you re-download anything you’ve bought from them including music, movies and TV shows. Since I rarely watch TV episodes more than once, this is very convenient if I want to watch something again without have to archive everything.

        • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

          iTunes is convenient and all, but I like my bitrates higher than that. I’m buying my music collection on Amazon and ripping it lossless. I made a promise to myself when I said that I couldn’t afford the music I was downloading, that when I could afford it, I would buy it out-right. And although I have $50k in student debt, I’m making good on my promise as quickly as I can.

          • nishioka says:

            > And although I have $50k in student debt, I’m making good on my promise as quickly as I can.

            $35k here myself – but that’s the thing, I’m employed, and I earn enough that buying one album won’t kill me. As has been mentioned elsewhere, the goalposts have been moved so many times by people who continue to pirate music.

            First everyone used Napster because that’s all there was for online distribution. Well, that’s not the case anymore.

            Then everyone said it was because they were tired of buying a $15 CD only to find it has one good song and 12 fillers on it. Well, now you can buy the one song you like and be done with it.

            Then it was because of DRM. Well, iTunes and Amazon are DRM-free now, and the public got their pound of flesh out of Sony BMG for the rootkit scandal from seven years ago.

            Then it was “because fuck the RIAA”. If you don’t like what the record labels are selling, don’t consume their product. I don’t like the Catholic Church, but you don’t see me sitting in the pews on Sundays only to duck out just as the offering plate is being passed around.

            Now this NPR intern wants “convenience”. I have access to the iTunes music store on my iPhone and can buy music while I’m taking a dump if I want, and Apple keeps my library on hand in case I get a hankering to listen to that one album I’ve been thinking about while I’m at work and it’s not already on my phone. I imagine the competitors have similar offerings too. So you can’t point to convenience anymore.

            Bottom line is some people just think they don’t have to pay for music. And wherever you stand on intellectual property law, licensing vs. owning music, the semantics of “stealing” a digital product, etc., in the end it’s still wrong.

        • orion43 says:

          $10/month for Zune pass. Any windows device anytime. Download or stream. Its a great service.

      • 5up Mushroom says:

        WHAT!? Having to track your own personal music catalog full of Apple’s DRM’d music is NOT convenient. NOT CONVENIENT! File sharing and torrenting and then maintaining your catalog of music on your computer is NOT CONVENIENT. Is it more convenient then driving to the record store and sorting through piles of crap to find the thing you might want to buy. Heck ya it is, but it is NOT convenient.

        What is convenient then? Paying 10 dollars a month to have access to nearly every song ever published is very convenient. Tossing in an artist or song and hearing a personalized radio station, complete with ads, is very convenient. Watching your favorite artists latest music video on youtube is convenient… I’m willing to sit through a 15 second commercial just like I do when I watch TV. Now my library consists of 15 million songs that are easily searchable, playable on any internet connected device and my hard drive is freed up for more important things like family pictures and videos, important documents, and my OS. That’s convenient.

        The days of carefully crafted personal catalogs of music are over. The days of organizing shelves of records, tapes, or CDs is long long over. The days of devoting a spare hard drive to holding all of your precious music are over. The days of turning on your phone, pushing a button, and saying “Listen to ” are here.

        Furthermore, for those bellyaching over the anecdotes from no-name artists that feel they aren’t getting a fair shake from spotify and other streaming services, or the complaining from formerly-large artists and artists with an aging non-internet-saavy demographic, please for the love of god look at the numbers. Do yourselves and the rest of us that have to listen to your misconceived whining a favor and read up from folks that actually know what they are talking about. For instance, Jeff Price at http://blog.tunecore.com/2012/06/can-artists-get-rich-in-a-streaming-music-industry.html?utm_medium=email&ref=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_campaign=newseletter06_07_12

        I need a tylenol.

        • nishioka says:

          > WHAT!? Having to track your own personal music catalog full of Apple’s DRM’d music is NOT convenient.

          Apparently the truth isn’t convenient either, because otherwise you’d know that Apple stripped FairPlay off of their music several YEARS ago.

      • jesusofcool says:

        I’m a few years older than Emily and I no longer illegally download because I find Amazon and Itunes to be much more convenient, so it’s a crap argument. That said, I buy very little music anymore because the business model still sucks and I think it’s fair to point that out. I frequently have trouble buying high quality DRM free versions (because I bought it and I’ll do what I damn well please with it thank you – no different than when tapes and CDs were readily copied and shared by friends at the height of the music industry’s moneymaking). This is particularly true of older or more obscure stuff. I also find the pricing to be absurd. Sure, you can get a whole album for $10 but often half those songs will be crap because of the singles emphasis in music. And the difference between an older deep track few people purchase and a new single is a whopping .29 cents.
        Here’s how artists could get me to buy more music – fight the deals that Apple and Amazon are making. Make the pricing of individual songs better reflect their demand in the market. And give me a discount for buying 10 or 15 or 20 songs at a time, regardless of whether they’re all on the same album. A discount isn’t a discount if you’re paying for filler.

    • CosmosHuman says:

      My BF buys boatloads of metal music off of Amazon and then gives it to me. I feel zero guilt. He listens to Liquid metal on SAT radio, if he likes the band; he then buys the music. As far as I am concerned once it is paid for it is yours to do what ever you want.

    • Saltpork says:

      ” I would acquire it through usenet groups or whatever, then I would SCOUR the internet for crackz and hackz and whatever…for hours and hours, frequently damaging the file structure of my computer in the process as it was pelted with barrage after barrage of malware.”

      Then you either
      A. Didn’t know what you were doing.
      B. Didn’t have the means to find faster, easier methods of acquisition.

      The entire idea behind file sharing isn’t to make something damaging or cryptic. It’s just like any other entity for public use, the point is to be able to filter out those who can’t handle the work for the prize and once you figure out the method, re-applying it simply over and over.
      The only filter that really exists for entities like these is making the intentionally difficult, and that can be usurped by developers making things much easier, such as p2p clients.

      The simple truth on music is that digital is the way it’s all heading. Unless legit systems can mirror the ease of use, quality level and downright compatibility and usefulness as the pirated options, then they will fail. It is far easier to acquire an entire album via a 10 second google search than to go into something proprietary like iTunes that doesn’t work with my hardware.

    • HeartBurnKid says:

      The unbridled success of services like iTunes and Steam disagrees with you.

  2. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    What I want is one massive Spotify-like catalog of music…With this new universal database, everyone would have convenient access to everything that has ever been recorded

    And that right there shows the mentality of someone who has never lived in the real world. That kind of dreamy wishful thinking is fine in junior high school, honey. Now it’s time to grow up.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      She should also get off your lawn, right? Damn kids and their innovative ideas. Who needs innovation? I’m perfectly fine with my wagon and ox.

      • TheMansfieldMauler says:

        There’s a wide gap between “innovation” and “something I saw on Star Trek”.

        There’s also a thing called “reality”, in which it’s impossible to get every copyright holder of everything ever recorded to agree to put their property in a single location with everyone else, where there would be no competing services and no issues with it being shut down for being a monopoly.

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          You’re right. Hurdles should be treated like castle walls, and if it’s hard we shouldn’t do it.

          • TheMansfieldMauler says:

            Well then go ahead and do it, I’m not stopping you.

            But remember – monopolies are bad (aren’t they?), and what this girl is suggesting would be a monopoly as well as being a massive business (which is also bad, so I’m told). I bet she would change her tune if she had the foresight to understand that.

            • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

              Not at all.

              Assume for a moment – and in today’s client it’s a stretch I will grant you – that all record labels allow their music to be streamed for free with ad-supported revenue so long as they get their pre-determined cut of revenue, and the same for artists.

              Then any number of companies could utilize this to create streaming services. Apple and Amazon could compete openly with the same content. In this situation, it becomes a matter of personal taste and how well a company makes a good customer experience.

              So no, Emily’s idea does not mean monopolies will occur; no more than they exist today.

        • sagodjur says:

          I saw a flip phone on Star Trek episodes from the 1960’s and strangely enough they appeared a few decades later!

          It’s not reality that it’s in the way of such a concept (unless you’re referring to a perfect, complete catalog – but that’s irrelevant to even conceive of). All you have to do wait one, maybe two generations until the people who think that digital media should be treated like physical media die off or at least retire and leave it to people who grew up hearing music over the internet instead of the radio.

          • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

            Used his own analogy against him. Well done, sir.

        • Hartwig says:

          The problem is there already is a database like she described it just doesn’t provide any pay back to the artists. This is the problems the labels and artists have to deal with, their competitor is already there and it is easy and free. They need to get over the squabbles between companies and artists and figure out a decent model for monetizing their material that the public will also support.

        • FengShui says:

          There are services that get pretty close to this universal goal. People just don’t use them. Rhapsody is the main one. For $12/month, you get streaming access to the catalogs of all the major record labels. It’s not a complete database, but it’s nearly complete, and you can easily buy the remaining albums that you want that aren’t carried on Rhapsody.

      • ARP says:

        While “the Mauler” and I don’t agree on much, I do agree with the crayfish/crawdad on this one.

        I think she’s being naive, with a dash of whiny entitlement. She’s essentially saying, give me my music exactly how I want it or I will steal continue to steal it. I will grant her that she has a good idea, but to simply demand that it magically happen, while not supporting the embryonic versions of that service (or even purchasing her music for that matter) is annoying.

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          I think you applied some bias to that opinion of yours, or maybe I’m doing the same.

          When she says “Spotify-like” model, I see a ad-supported music location, similar to radio or television. You might even pay a small monthly fee. But her idea is not magical or even out of line. It’s absolutely possible to create a model where all music is available in streaming format, where revenue is received, and distributed appropriately to artists and record companies.

          MasdfieldMauler made one good point, and that is that it will be difficult to get all record companies on board, and they seem to be holding on to old business models for dear life. But it’s definitely physically possible to create a model Emily has described. Difficult in the current climate, certainly, but not impossible.

          • Kevin411 says:

            The record companies are the ones getting all the money that people think is going to the artists now, as far as album sales are concerned. Thats the key to the problem. To shift to an all-“spotify-like” model would squeeze the record companies more than anyone, so they won’t let this happen.

            • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

              Agreed. We really need an artist revolution. If artists had a peer-driven way to advertise and sell their music, record companies would die very quickly and I think everyone would be happier.

              This could happen, maybe, if current big musicians funded it for everyone, and then artists that suceed in turn pay them back. It requires someone to push the boulder forward. After that, it might easily roll on its own.

              • exconsumer says:

                As a musician, this is kind of frustrating to hear.

                Like I said before, this artist driven market already exists: http://bandcamp.com/discover

                That’s just one of many. It’s easy to let the TV and Radio inform you of what’s out there. But they are unreliable sources, cornered by what remains of the big music industry. There is an OCEAN of artist driven music out there.

                • OutPastPluto says:

                  The Internet does not solve the problem of marketing or filtering.

                  You still need to inform your market about the product.

                  That part of the situation never changed.

                  The difference between success and failure in these new models of delivery is all about getting the word out. You can’t expect it to just happen automatically. You still have to work at that part.

                  • exconsumer says:

                    Well, again, that’s frustrating to hear. It takes very little effort to discover new music in these new marketplaces. Not every artist worth hearing can afford a major ad campaign. So you’ll have to decide whether or not you really want the enormous grassroots artist driven market that currently exists, or the old model that everyone complained about to no end. Asking music buyers to take the smallest responsibility in seeking out new music is not too much to ask. The Bandcamp ‘Discover’ page is pretty straightforward, and not unique at all. There are a lot of delivery systems and websites that will offer recommendations based on what you already listen to or by genre.

                    People have gotten pretty used to being told what to like, so it’s a little strange to go and listen to something that does not have a lot of momentum behind it already, but that’s the only thing that’s going to make an artist-driven marketplace work. If consumers won’t or can’t do this (and maybe they need to be spoon-fed, at this point) then we can’t have the music industry people have been asking for.

                    The mom and pop shops everyone loves can’t survive if you only go to Wal-Mart.

            • exconsumer says:

              Only if you’re listening to big name artists that get a lot of time on the old distribution models: TV, Radio. If you look, you’d never have to listen to music supported by a big record company ever again. The artist driven/owned music industry exists, is enormous, and is struggling because people insist on associating it with the old model.

        • Akuma Matata says:

          “She’s essentially saying, give me my music exactly how I want it or I will steal continue to steal it.”

          That’s the market telling sellers what they want to buy. If the sellers continue trying to live in the past, then they will continue to lose out. Whether you want to believe it or not, musicians will have to compete with free. There is no putting the genie back in the bottle on this. So sellers either deal with this new reality or they go out of business.

  3. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    His argument is that Spotify doesn’t pay artists enough, which is exactly what Emily also said.

    So he’s not really arguing her idea, only Spotify specifically.

    The way artists are compensated was something that didn’t just emerge; it took time to create that method. The same will be said of online music downloads.

    • rugman11 says:

      His argument is that people like Emily are preventing musicians from making decent money from services like Spotify because Spotify knows that the alternative to their service is not iTunes downloads, it’s piracy.

      If piracy ceased to exist (hypothetically obviously) then Spotify would have to pay higher royalties, thus enticing more artists and record companies to join. In other words, Emily and others like her are one of the main things preventing the type of service she wants from being built.

      • Sneeje says:

        This is a fallacy, in every way.

        More music is being made today than ever, and the music industry is larger (revenue-wise) than it ever has been. Selling music, however, is harder than ever.

        The question everyone needs to be asking is whether it is better for music (and culture) to be more open and available and a greater number of people making a living, or whether it needs to be locked up and a select few mega-artists and middlemen make 90% of the profits. Because the latter is what has existed for the last four decades.

      • Sneeje says:

        GAO Concludes Piracy Stats Are Usually Junk, File Sharing Can Help Sales


        • rugman11 says:

          There are a lot of “somes” and “mays” in that article. Can we just agree that the verdict is out on the cost/benefit of piracy? It still doesn’t justify piracy. I pirate a lot of TV. I also have cable and purchase a significantly higher than average number of TV shows on DVD. That said, if I couldn’t pirate Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire, I can guarantee you I would have HBO. Just because my past piracy has led me to make purchases I may not have later, that doesn’t justify my continued piracy.

          • Sneeje says:

            You may not have read any of the additional studies linked there. Look, I don’t condone piracy–what people need to realize and are supported by evidence and study:
            a) those that pirate are rarely, if ever, individuals that would have been part of your revenue base to begin with
            b) embracing it can benefit you greatly
            c) focusing on DRM and locking down content is effectively harming your relationship with all of your legitimate consumers

            You can focus on restricting value or you can focus on creating value. The successful businesses that have existed since the dawn of human time have done the latter not the former.

  4. caradrake says:

    There seems to be a slight fallacy in Lowery’s response – how many people buy a laptop, iPhone, or tablet just so they can “loot” music? Typically, these devices are purchased with other intentions, so you’re not spending $1000 just to loot music.

    You might even say that you’re “looting” the music to recoup your costs.

    That said, it was otherwise a rather intriguing analogy.

    • Jawaka says:

      Yeah, I agreed with everything that he said except for this one part. People don’t buy computers specifically to pirate, they usually already own the equipment for the most part which actually just makes piracy worse.

    • Coles_Law says:

      Agreed. At best you could argue you would need a faster/ higher cap on your Internet connection. With my ISP, the cost difference is about $10/mo.

    • varro says:

      And radios, phonographs, tape players, cd players, and mp3 players, amps, and speakers/headphones are free….

      • UnbelieverDjak says:

        This was my biggest problem with the response. I used to sling stereos for Circuit City, making a $12 commission on $400 speakers. Did Bose or Harmon Kardon pay the artists? Monster Cable (damn straight I sold some Monster Cable. huge commission)? Circuit City (barring CD sales)? No, but they paved the roads, to borrow his metaphor.

        Now the internet, while somewhat flawed in this regard as the kinks are worked out, isn’t called the Information Superhighway for nothing. It’s time to put down the buggy whips and get their trucks on the road.

  5. zandar says:

    David Lowery is a gentleman and a scholar. Not to mention a damn fine rock and roller.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      His argument is that the industry shouldn’t have to rethink the ancient business model under which it operates because they can’t seem to find a way for artists to be properly compensated.

      So rather than change, he wants to do nothing. That’s fine, artists can continue to starve until they grasp that a) They don’t have to sign with a big label and b) They can negotiate better deals with companies like Spotify.

      • SavijMuhdrox says:

        I don’t think he resisted change. He just called Emily out on being lazy and entitled, which she was.

  6. Blueskylaw says:

    “Further, in order to loot you need to have a $1,000 dollar laptop, a $500 dollar iPhone or $400 Samsumg tablet. It turns out the supposedly “free” stuff really isn’t free. In fact it’s an expensive way to get “free” music.”

    False. I need the $1000 laptop to apply for jobs, read news, comment on consumerist, check my e-mail, etc,. Free music is a side benefit of buying my laptop, I didn’t buy it just to get “free” music and use it for no other purpose.

    • rdclark says:

      You still need to have it, which is what he said. And no musicians were compensated in the course of the purchase, which he also said. So what he said was true: part of the process of setting yourself up to steal music involved several companies profiting, but no musicians.

      Your purchases may not have been made in order to steal music, but unless you don’t steal music, the argument is specious.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        No artist was compensated by my purchase of a victrola, grammaphone, stereo, speakers, headphones, audio cords, cables, or electricity.

        This is a ridiculously stupid argument.

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          The internet bully wishes to apologize for using the word “stupid.” That was uncalled for. I wish to replace that word with “fallacious” which better describes the situation.

          Also, the obvious exception to my comment would be if you bought Dr. Dre headphones, in which case the artist was likely overcompensated for that piece of marketing.

        • DAS37 says:

          But none of things allow you to obtain music, only to play it.

          • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

            Should I add a car to go to the record store, or a job to have money to buy the music?

            All aspects of life have ancilliary costs not directly related to that particular aspect.

          • Hobz says:

            The stereo in my car allows me to obtain music. Are they getting royalties from Honda? I think not. It’s a stupid point that doesn’t apply. The issue at hand is that the music industry will not adjust to new technology and have decided to fight it rather than adapt. He should not be mad at the pirates, he should be mad at the RIAA and publishers. They should have seen this coming as it happened with cassette tapes and CD’s.

            • SavijMuhdrox says:

              A) when you obtain music via your car stereo.. via the radio.. he’s getting royalties. if you play a CD, you paid for it.. and if you stream an mp3, well, that brings us back to the original point.

              b) its not like he plays well with the RIAA and bigwigs, he’s vocal proponent of change. Cracker’s dealings with Virgin records are epic(ally hilarious).

        • Blueskylaw says:

          I have some Edison wax cylinders if you want to borrow them, unless of
          course the recording industry somehow managed to make that illegal too.

      • Such an Interesting Monster says:

        Yeah, the part that this asshat seems to forget, and this is a big deal, is that the whole royalty/copyright model of earning a living is, frankly, fucked up big time and needs to change. The days of writing a song or a book and profiting from it till 70+ years after you die is LUDICROUS.

        Lowery and his fellow rockers have been making quite a nice living from this fundamentally stilted earning system, as has everyone else involved in big media. And of course they are going to want to stomp out any ideas or innovation that threatens their ability to work as little as possible and make as much money as possible. But don’t for one second delude yourself into thinking that what you currently have is some God-given right, cause it isn’t. If you want to make money you have to work, just like everyone else. You already live better than most of us ever will. Quit yer bitchin’.

  7. MrMagoo is usually sarcastic says:

    There’s one big difference Mr. Lowery is ignoring when he says”people simply loot all the products from the shelves of the record store”. In his fictional store, when someone steals a product off the shelf, a new, identical product magically and instantly pops up, so the store isn’t losing inventory. They be losing a potential sale, or maybe not.

    I’m not saying that downloading without paying is morally right, but you cannot compare physical goods to digital goods, no matter how much the recording industry wants to.

    • SubDude says:

      “I’m not saying that downloading without paying is morally right, but you cannot compare physical goods to digital goods, no matter how much the recording industry wants to” Really? It is morally and legally wrong because property is property be it physical or intellectual. I am sick of people rationalizing theft of intellectual property and crying that they’re just using, not taking. You would never find it acceptable for someone to “steal” your source of income, would you?

      • MrMagoo is usually sarcastic says:

        I didn’t rationalize theft of intellectual property. I didn’t say it was morally or legally right. I didn’t say it was ‘using’ not ‘taking’.

        I am pointing out that you can’t compare the theft of physical property to the theft of digital property. The losses are greater when a physical item is stolen, but the recording industries constantly try to equate that to the theft (Ooooohhh, look! I said it was theft!!!!) of digital property.

      • Concat says:

        Did you read his comment and then make up your own idea about what he thinks? Because he never once rationalizes that it’s okay to pirate music.

        He is making an important distinction between copyright violations and theft. Downloading music is not theft as defined by the justice system. Period. End of story. It’s not even a criminal offence! It’s a torte, which is why you only ever see people being sued… not arrested for it.

        Don’t blame him for trying to educate you on the matter.

        And since I’m sure you’ll misinterpret this as well, I hereby assert that pirating music is wrong, mkay?

        • FLEB says:

          The problem is that this argument comes up every time someone makes this (admittedly false) comparison, and, at least in the case presented, it’s just noise. The GPP’s assertion that piracy is not theft, while correct, is presented without any opinion or link whatsoever to the question at hand– the defensibility of piracy. Since this is often pointed as a talking point with the further opinion “…so piracy isn’t as bad as theft.”, it’s not uncommon to attribute that stance to the GPP.

          • Such an Interesting Monster says:

            But the problem with this improper correlation is that when you use the word “theft” or “stealing” it imparts a bias that simply is not there. Everyone understands that theft of physical property results in a loss of an item that in most cases costs money to procure.

            This is not the case in copyright infringement. Digital files are not property, nor are they tangible goods. They cannot be “stolen”. Each illegally-shared copy is not a loss of any kind, and has zero cost of procurement or manufacture.

            Equating it with theft puts a grossly inaccurate color upon it in an attempt to demonize the practice. Cause we all know theft is bad; no one likes having their things stolen. So of course they’re going to go out of their way to liken copyright infringement with theft and stealing. But it’s not.

            Implying that it is is just as bad, if not worse, than those that insist there is nothing wrong with piracy because it’s “just sharing”.

            That being said, I wholeheartedly believe that piracy isn’t the problem. It’s merely a symptom of a fundamentally-broken revenue system and associated copyright laws that clearly put the buying public dead last, which is precisely why they have no problems “stealing” from them.

            • rdclark says:

              “Theft” is an appropriate word because the practice should be demonized. Term not used in a legally appropriate manner? Fuck if I care, this isn’t a legal forum.

              Someone stole my job. Someone stole my girlfriend. Someone stole my place in line. We all know what it means. Someone stole my market by distributing my music without compensating me. That’s real, and all the verbal sophistry on the Internets doesn’t change the fact that people who deserve, and have earned, the income from their work are being deprived of it. Call it what you want, but building a wall of words between you and the guilt is just morally bankrupt.

              • Such an Interesting Monster says:

                And there’s your second problem: the words guilt and morally. There are no morals in business. Just money.

                You can call it whatever you want, but it only makes you look foolish.

              • OutPastPluto says:

                If you need to LIE to demonize something then you are a moral failure.

                Your morals simply aren’t good enough to avoid the lie.

                Your argument is “the ends justify the means”. Great. That’s a wonderful basis for moral superiority.

                The fact that you can’t avoid the lie does nothing but undermine your position to anyone with a shred of critical thinking ability or honesty.

          • TasteyCat says:

            Downloaded music does not equal a lost sale, even though it may. Obtaining something for free shows interest, but not intent to purchase.

            • rdclark says:

              Irrelevant. The theft is not the appropriaten of a copy of the music. The theft is the reduction in the earning potential of the intellectual property. That is a real, functional thing even if it’s not a physical opject. It’s real because it hurts the victim, who makes a living by creating it.

              You can argue that we need a better model for calculating the worth of that earning potential, but you can’t argue that it doesn’t exist, or that making a free copy for yourself reduces it. Nor does the argument that “I would never buy it anyway” hold up. Your tastes may change. You may buy something as a gift you would never buy for yourself. As a 17 year old folksinger in 1968 I would have said “I will never buy Frank Sinatra music.” As a much more sophisticated musician in my sixties, I have come to appreciate the arrangements of Nelson Riddle and did indeed buy a Sinatra Cd just a couple of years ago.

              • Such an Interesting Monster says:

                Completely relevant. Loss of potential income does NOT equal theft. Full stop. Period. End of story.

                Seriously, why is this so difficult to understand? Theft is a very clearly defined legal term. Either use it correctly or don’t use it all.

                • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

                  Words have multiple definitions, and evolve over time.

                  • Such an Interesting Monster says:

                    Fine. So in 100 years it might be ok to call copyright infringement theft. But for now, they aren’t the same thing, and anyone who continues to insist they are is simply wrong.

                    I can call you a gorilla. Repeatedly. And make assertions as to why I think you’re a gorilla. And maybe someday the term “gorilla” will be synonymous with “Internet troll”. But as of right now, it’s not, and using it as such would be pretty damned stupid.

              • OutPastPluto says:

                Nothing is “appropriated”. Something is copied.

                No direct demonstrable measurable harm is done. No physical effect occurs.

                There is nothing to quantify but the unjustified assumption that the act of copying is worth a certain dollar amount. That is absurd because the situation is mathematically absurd. It represents infinite demand and an undefined number. It’s an inverse relationship where the denominator (price) is zero.

                You can’t relate that non-quantity to anything in the real world.

                Even charging a single cent makes it an entirely different thing.

                You are trying to argue that value exists out of nothing. Now that’s really stealing, especially when you try to enforce that valuation with lawyers and guns.

                • Derek Balling says:

                  Harm doesn’t have to be “measurable” to have happened.

                  Here, let me have the Thought Police silence you. MEASURE your harm for me.

                  The practical fact of the matter is this: The rights-holder owns the work, and gets to determine the time, manner, and nature of its consumption. If you don’t like the terms associated with the work, don’t consume and enjoy the work.

                  If an artist wants to price their album at $1,000 per song, and aim for a “high end, high profit margin, but low volume” market, that’s THEIR choice to make, and morally and legally, your options are “pay the $1000” or “don’t enjoy the songs”.

        • OutPastPluto says:

          A song is not property and never has been. Get over it.

          Copying is not a crime. Prior to about 200 years ago, such a notion was an alien concept. Copying was commonplace. It’s how human progress occurs. It’s why we dominate the planet. It’s also why you even exist.

          Without rampant copying, you would not exist. Neither would your cushy high tech lifestyle.

          Songs are just intellectual capitol for the next generation. Someone claiming ownership now is probably themselves a thief by your standards. This is one of the many reasons that expansive notions of creative property is so harmful.

          Copying is copying and stealing is stealing.

          You gain no moral superiority by lying or pretending a simpleminded notion of ethics is relevant.

          • Derek Balling says:

            And prior to 200 years ago, nearly every great artist died poor, never having been able to reap the rewards of their work.

            Man, I bet artists everywhere are longing for those days.

      • Akuma Matata says:

        “property is property be it physical or intellectual.”

        Incorrect. Physical and intellectual property are not the same. Intellectual “property” can be duplicated, modified and destroyed without any harm to its original creator. That makes it fundamentally different than physical property.

        • Real Cheese Flavor says:

          Well, no harm other than the creator not getting compensated for the copy that was made.

          It’s funny how everyone likes to get bogged down in semantics and half-assed justifications for their actions but ultimately the whole thing boils down to one person getting something “for free” and someone else not getting money that they should have.

    • who? says:

      I was a musician for a time. If I had $10 for every time someone came up to me at a show and told me “I love your music so much that I made copies of your CD for all of my friends,” I’d still be a musician. But I’m not, because for every 10 copies of my CDs that were out there, I got about $10 in actual sales, which wasn’t enough to pay the cost of making the CDs.

      The digital bits may magically appear on the store shelf after the music is stolen, but the artist doesn’t get paid. It’s still stealing.

      • SabreDC says:

        “If I had $10 for every time someone came up to me at a show”

        And how much did you make doing shows as a direct result of people getting your music from their friends?

  8. highfructosepornsyrup says:

    I’m not sure why it’s relevant that OTHER people are making money on downloading. When I go to pee at a Starbucks and don’t buy anything, the utilities companies make money. When I poach the king’s deer with my shotgun, the ammo companies make money. The economic system is pervasive in everything you do, and it’s background noise. The only relevant parties are the downloader the IP owner.

    • sagodjur says:

      It illustrates what’s wrong with the current system when you have to specify “IP holder” instead of artist since the artist may not be the IP holder.

    • sagodjur says:

      It illustrates what’s wrong with the current system when you have to specify “IP holder” instead of artist since the artist may not be the IP holder.

      • jim says:

        Why is this wrong? Artist sign away their publishing rights in return for an upfront payment. When you are a new artist this is nearly always going to be the better long term finicial decision it only sucks when you become a superstar and those publishing rights are now worth a lot more then you received. But, remember most signed artist never even get close to the super star level.

        • sagodjur says:

          So it’s great to get an advance you’ll never be able to pay off since the label gives you a very small portion of the proceeds to just pay right back to the label for production and advertising, so the label can continue to make money off of you while it charges you for the privilege of working for them?

          You have a strange concept of “great.”

    • darklighter says:

      Because it’s a value statement. The point isn’t just that people steal music, it’s that they don’t value it. They value their devices and they value their internet connection, but they don’t value the content.

  9. GMFish says:

    “People only made money out of records for a very, very small time. When The Rolling Stones started out, we didn’t make any money out of records because record companies wouldn’t pay you! They didn’t pay anyone!

    Then, there was a small period from 1970 to 1997, where people did get paid, and they got paid very handsomely and everyone made money. But now that period has gone.

    So if you look at the history of recorded music from 1900 to now, there was a 25 year period where artists did very well, but the rest of the time they didn’t.”

    – Mick Jagger

  10. Hartwig says:

    I think the music industry caused their own problems, and it is only hurting the artists. In the early 2000’s they fought tooth and nail making music easy to buy in non CD form, this led to people getting the music in a much easier fashion, downloading it illegally. As they caught on by being forced into it my Apple they learned that they could make money with digital entertainment, but they still fought new innovations. Instead they let Pandora and Spotify try out these new models where people didn’t pay for music but instead were subjected to Ad’s to offset the cost of licensing rights. Now they have a whole generation of people who should be buying music but instead are used to getting these items for next to nothing through online sites. If the music industry would have monetized these areas themselves they would have been able to do so at a more profitable level, but now they have to convince their customers that music does cost money after all.

    If anyone needs to look at this with fear it is the TV and Movie industry which are only beginning to see the options come out to make people feel like they are getting their entertainment free. They still don’t want to offer streaming options for the most part, even though they continue to see their profits drop.

    While it may not be right, as customers learn to get around the limitations of existing distribution models they find cheaper and often free ways to get their entertainment, unless you provide alternatives which meet their needs. So work on providing alternatives rather than forcing users into your model.

    • rugman11 says:

      I think you’re conflating cause and effect. Every move the recording industry has made has been in response to their desire to monetize piracy. The iTunes store didn’t debut until a year after Napster died. Illegal music downloading was already in its prime by that point. They thought format was the problem and figured offering people a legal way to download music would fix it. They were wrong.

      People kept downloading illegally even after being given a way to download legally, so they started trying streaming services thinking maybe the pirates wanted to access a bigger catalog without wanting to buy all that music. They were still wrong.

      Most pirates will never be happy until they have everything they want, how they want it, and when they want it…for free. How that can happen is beyond me.

      • bsh0544 says:

        See you might be able to claim that they’ve tried digital distribution and streaming, but they’ve tried it in the most half assed, consumer unfriendly manner possible. DRM (limited portability, remote kill of stuff you own, incompatibility with many devices, and many diferent DRM techniques inflate compatible device cost and reduce functionality) and limited selection are chief among their offenses.

        • rugman11 says:

          Except that every single one of those DRM features is implemented to avoid people downloading their stuff and then sharing it with millions of others. Again, conflating cause and effect. Piracy causes DRM, not the other way around.

          • Kuri says:

            And look at what DRM has done to curb it. Absolutely nothing, except making legitimate users feel like criminals.

          • Akuma Matata says:

            DRM was the manufacturer’s half-assed attempt to keep their existing business model, and while it may have been their attempt to reduce piracy, I wouldn’t be surprised if it actually increased piracy because DRM only hurts legitimate purchasers.

        • Carlee says:

          This. I bought a Backstreet Boys CD (I think it was their Never Gone album?) and to this day, I still have not heard over half of the songs on there. The disc is “enhanced” which means I can’t rip the songs to play on my iPod. I can’t even play the cd on a cd player – appears to require the use of a computer (CD-ROM). And when I did try using my computer to play the disc, the screen goes into full-screen mode and you can’t do anything else on your computer while the disc is playing.

          It’s absolutely ridiculous and from that point on, I have never bought another Backstreet Boys cd. I also kind of lost interest in their music, but the frustration of buying a cd that was so difficult to listen to definitely made an impact.

        • exconsumer says:

          Bzzzzt. Wrong.

          Amazon.com and a number of other online stores are DRM free.

  11. Bagels says:

    Both of them are asshats, but Lowery should know better in his wise old age. As for Emily, I can’t fathom an existence solely consisting of compressed music and 192 kb bitrates….there are many benefits to owning vinyl

    • sagodjur says:

      Physical scarcity and ease of acquisition not being among them.

      • caradrake says:

        Thanks, my desk now has hot chocolate all over it.

        Well played?

      • El_Fez says:

        Wait – vinyl is not easy to acquire? Man, I cant stop coming across copies of Frampton Comes Alive. Seriously, there must be 7.3 billion copies of that record!

        • scoosdad says:

          From Wayne’s World 2:

          Wayne: “Frampton Comes Alive”? Everybody in the world has Frampton Comes Alive. If you lived in the suburbs you were issued it. It came in the mail with samples of “Tide”.

    • InsertPithyNicknameHere says:

      I really don’t get the whole “vinyl is better” perspective. With vinyl, even with the most top-of-the-line equipment, there is an inherent amount of noise just from the medium.
      Now, I don’t advocate the 192-bitrate MP3 format, because there is a loss of sound quality there. But can you please explain how a vinyl record is better than a fully digital CD?

      • Mark702 says:

        Vinyl is “better” cuz you can puff your chest out and act like a stuck up asshole who thinks they’re better than everyone when it comes to music, even though they aren’t. In my opinion, listen to whatever you want, whatever makes you happy. I personally am totally satisfied with 320k mp3 audio rips.

      • RayanneGraff says:

        Heh, the luddites who prefer vinyl are usually also classic rock snobs who think anything made after 1978 isn’t real music. I used to have a small vinyl collection a few years ago & while it was fun to break out at parties, it all sounded like shit. I cannot fathom how anyone could think a noisy, scratchy old record could possibly sound better than a CD unless they’re just blinded by nostalgia.

  12. eccsame says:

    As a young kid starting out in college radio, I met Mr. Lowery on the first Cracker tour and made the mistake of asking a question about Camper Van Beethoven. He berated me as boring and then wandered off leaving the other bandmates to answer my follow up questions. I was crushed, kind of embarrassed, and the incident kind of disenchanted me.

    I, therefore, believe that if stealing music or this Spotify model means that David “too good for your question” Lowery has to eat Chef Boy-ar-dee from a can and play “Pictures of Matchstick Men” over and over again on the second stages of Midwestern county fairs to make minimum wage, then I welcome it.

  13. bsh0544 says:

    There’s an interesting and possibly good response buried in Lowery’s… piece. It’s just so muddled by the crazy idea that every piece of equipment even slightly involved in piracy is purchased solely for that purpose, and the similarly crazy idea that the service providers and advertisers are knowingly and intentionally profiting from nothing but piracy. You could argue that with a service like Megaupload, though I don’t know what actual percentage of their uploaded content is pirated, but I’m fairly sure I don’t pay Time Warner a monthly rate for my piracy service.

    • bsh0544 says:

      I should also add that Emily’s justification for piracy is just that, a (poor) justification for more or less stealing something. If you’re not willing to pay for music, fine, don’t listen to it. But that doesn’t make it okay to pirate the content. Just the same as not being able to pay for a pair of shoes makes it okay to steal them.

      • 5up Mushroom says:

        There is no good justification for piracy. It’s clearly an amoral action and most folks that pirate information would agree. Scrounging up unwanted CD’s is not piracy though and it doesn’t appear that Emily has admitted to any piracy, therefore she is not trying to justify it.

      • Such an Interesting Monster says:

        Well, if we’re going to go down this road let’s clear a few things up. Firstly, pirating music isn’t theft. It bears absolutely zero likeness to stealing shoes.

        And why does music need to be a “buy it or don’t listen to it” proposition? There are a multitude of ways to legally listen to music free of charge, the most popular being the radio. There are at least a dozen apps that let you stream music absolutely free and 100% legally. If I’m breaking no laws it’s all good, right?

        What I’ve never understood is this assbackward idea that consumers are supposed to be held to some high and mighty moral standard while corporations are free to rape and pillage at will. If the music industry doesn’t give a crap about me, why should I give a crap about them? If they refuse to provide me with content in the manner I desire, why should I pay them top dollar for something I don’t want in a manner not of my choosing? Whether you pirate or not is irrelevant at that point, and it goes back to some corny notion of “stealing” and “theft” that simply isn’t there and should never be part of any serious conversation regarding piracy.

        • The Porkchop Express says:

          A. Radio, while free to listen to, generates ad revenue and labels get paid (hopefully the artist does too)

          B. We get it, you don’t want to pay for music.

    • glorpy says:

      I buy maybe one CD a year. I buy maybe two virtual CD’s a year. And the rest I stream through paid services. I pirate no content, but I also don’t buy physical media. I’d love that universal library so that I’m not merging Spotify, Pandora, YouTube, Vimeo, Amazon, iTunes and others. Then I get the benefit of not managing a library and getting to listen to music I like – and yes, I would pay for this service.

  14. incident_man says:

    I can say where exactly Emily is coming from, but I can say what MY opinion is regarding the music industry.

    I feel media publishers are a bunch of vultures.

    Because the content being produced is being produced by the artist and not by the publishing company, I feel the most important person in this chain is the artist, not the publisher. The latter wouldn’t exist without the former, but the amount of money earned by the latter far outstrips that of the former. In what world does that make sense?

    The artist is subservient to and being exploited by the media company, by sheer virtue of the media company owning virtually all the resources and distribution channels. The media company doesn’t actually create anything, they just act as a middleman and skim off a majority of the earnings from what the artist produces. The real sad part is that most artists believe that they have to enter into such an arrangement to “get noticed.”

    This is precisely why I choose not to be a typical “consumer” of media; I won’t resort to illegal means to get it, but will not go out and buy it unless it is something truly exceptional.

    Moreover, the media industry’s tactic of “John Doe” lawsuits to stop pirating efforts, rather than evolving with the changes in technology, further puts a “bad taste” in my mouth regarding media consumption via CD, DVD, video game, and blu-ray purchases and going to the theater.

    Until more artists wake up, realise what is happening, and change it for the better, I’ll just continue going about my business and vote with my wallet.

    • incident_man says:

      *I can’t say where exactly Emily is coming from.*

      /damn lack of an edit button!

    • SlayerKeith says:

      “Because the content being produced is being produced by the artist and not by the publishing company, I feel the most important person in this chain is the artist, not the publisher. The latter wouldn’t exist without the former, but the amount of money earned by the latter far outstrips that of the former. In what world does that make sense?”

      Welcome to every business ever. ;-)

    • Derek Balling says:

      Well, part of that dichotomy is that the labels take an awful risk and actually sign, produce CDs for, promote, etc., far more artists that FAIL than that which SUCCEED. In other words, the “take” on the winners subsidizes the losses they incur on the larger quantity of losers.

      That model allows (in theory at least) for a wider range of voices to be heard, and for niche artists to still get promotion, published, etc. (whether that’s happening as much these days is a different discussion, simply explaining ‘why the model is the way it is today’ from a historical perspective).

  15. shepd says:

    Enforcing payment via threat of copyright infringement is a dying business. It’s been at least 20 years in the making and will come to a head in our lifetime.

    The choice will either be freedom or the government watching your every move to keep you from making copies. Either way, the artists will lose. But at least with the freedom comes the opportunity for artists to find a way to make money. With the monopoly comes nothing but loss for all except those in power.

  16. JLP at AllFinancialMatters says:

    How is this any different from people being able to read blogs via a reader instead of visiting the blog (because it’s too much trouble to click through)?

    • darklighter says:

      Because RSS feeds are provided by the blogs.

      • JLP at AllFinancialMatters says:

        Reluctantly. I hate full feeds.

        • Derek Balling says:

          Then, as the rightsholder, choose not to provide the feeds.

          Make your choice between “niche market with higher returns” (the ad-supported-only you must come to my site), and “wider market with lower returns” (the you can read my work via an ad-free medium like an RSS reader).

          The same way artists can choose to participate in a “high price niche market” (like the current record publishing industry), or a “low price wider market” (like Louis CK has started doing with his comedy works).

  17. powdered beefmeat says:

    Looting digital content IS the same thing as stealing a CD from a brick and mortar store. It was created by a group of people for the intent to sell to a consumer. It’s called theft whether it’s a plastic disc or a series of ones and zeros.

    • Coffee says:

      I know this is nit-picking, philosophically speaking, but it’s not the same. When you steal, you’re depriving someone of property. The store paid for the physical CD, and in stealing, you’re depriving them of the revenue they would generate selling it. You’re costing them money. In contrast, when you pirate, you’re not depriving anyone of property.

      • bsh0544 says:

        But you may be depriving them of the profit they would have made on the content if you had bought it. The “may” is where the argument heads off into the weeds. By content company math every download is a lost sale, thus the same as a theft, but we all know this isn’t the case. Nor is the opposite argument true, that the content company (and therefore artist) have been deprived of nothing because you haven’t actually taken anything away from them. The reality is somewhere in between. A careful study may reveal some sort of derating system that can be used to convert downloads into an accurate estimate of lost sales.

        • Coffee says:

          Right…the “may” is the real sticking point here, and it’s a really hard thing to quantify. When I was younger and very, very poor, pirating a game or CD resulted in no actual lost revenue because there was no way that I could afford to buy either. No one was really being deprived because the pirating did not result in a lost sale. Today, in contrast, I can afford to purchase music or a game, so if I did download, say, Baldur’s Gate 2 instead of paying for it over at gog.com, there is likely a lost sale…maybe if it weren’t on Pirate Bay, there’s a 75% chance I would have paid for it…so .75 of a lost sale in this case.

          • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

            When people make the argument you’re making, they really come off as sounding like it’s 0% lost revenue, that it is 100% not theft because no sale would have occurred. You property quantified that stance here, but that took some ribbing.

            It’s either theft or it isn’t. If it’s 75% theft, it’s theft. It’s it’s 1% theft, it’s theft. Then there’s the theft of service argument. Even if the company did not lose any money because you never would have purchased it, you still stole from them the service they are providing. So, it’s still theft.

            We can argue the true degree of theft that occurs individually or communially until the cows come home…. but it’s never not theft.

            • Coffee says:

              Except it’s never theft. Because theft involves “the intent to deprive the rightful owner of property”, and no one is being deprived of property here. Yes, you are copying something of value and you are not paying for the right to do that, but it’s still not theft. This is why in my initial comment in this thread, I qualified my statement, calling it “philosophical nit-picking”.

              • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

                Theft of service. I suppose that IS a philisophical arguement – if I perform a service, I should be paid for the service if you benefit from it, even if benefiting from it causes no loss to me.

                Otherwise, why am I even providing the service if I’m not being paid for it?

                • Phyltre says:

                  “Otherwise, why am I even providing the service if I’m not being paid for it?”

                  That sounds like a personal decision. You seem to think everyone who benefits from something should pay for it. But that’s an extremely nebulous concept. As a single human being, I reap the myriad benefits of living in a western society and enjoying the inventions of literally millions of inventors and content creators. How many thousand songs have moved me? How many tens of thousands of crewmembers who have worked on films I have seen have contributed to my artistic view of the world? (Seriously, check the credits, that’s a lot of people every single time.) More to the point, how many university scientists’ research does my current standard of living depend utterly upon? (By the way, the research was considered the property of the university and put inside a paywall by our journal system, so the researcher didn’t really see any return on that.) Pretty much no matter how you slice the benefits I enjoy as a direct result of the output of these countless people, there’s no conceivable way whatsoever that I can address that debt. I’ll never make enough money in my lifetime to give one red cent to each of those people.

            • Sneeje says:

              Don’t forget that it has been shown that the people that pirate the most also correlates with those that buy the most music.So you could equally argue that piracy results in net sales.

              I think if you actually look at the research in this area, you’d find that it is likely that piracy has either no impact or a positive impact on sales.

              It has been shown that piracy almost never occurs because someone would have otherwise purchased the product. The majority of those that engage in copyright infringement would NEVER have been a sale in the first place.

              • rugman11 says:

                [citation needed]

                I responded to another of your comments, so I’m not going to repeat myself, but just because people who pirate buy more content doesn’t mean they’re buying more because they pirate. I can give you an example of items I’ve purchase because I pirated and I can give you examples of items I’ve declined to purchase because I pirated them instead.

            • OutPastPluto says:

              Redefining words is for the morally bankrupt.

              If you want to make a moral or ethical case against piracy, you lose it the moment you start lying to make a point. All you’re doing is making the case for enlightened self interest a much harder sell. You are demonizing the very thing you are trying to “support”.

              The artists are really much better if you and all the other liars just shut up and stop trying to be helpful.

        • DENelson83 says:

          Yeah? I really don’t care about their profit. Clearly, big corps have never heard of a simple concept called “enough”, nor will they ever hear of it.

      • SubDude says:

        So, if I take funds from your bank account that only exist as electronic balance information (because they don’t have cash piled in a corner with your name on it) then it’s okay? Please submit a reply with your bank routing and account number because I would like to “not steal” your non physical funds from you.

        • Coffee says:

          Your reply is a poor analogy. Money, even in electronic form, is finite and tangible. If you remove it from my bank account, it’s not longer there. Using the pirate example, you would go to my bank account, hit control-c, go to your bank account, hit control-v, and magically have as much money as I do. I would not, however, lose money in the process.

      • [censored] says:

        He knows, he’s just trying to act all cool.

      • who? says:

        So, I was a musician, back in the 90’s, when it was possible to copy CD’s, but before internet piracy made copying crazy easy. I would self publish an CD. It cost me about $4000 up to produce the album. If someone bought the album, then I got $15. If 1000 people bought it, I would get about $15,000, or $11,000 profit. If 100 people bought it, and each person who bought an album made 9 copies for their friends, the same number of people were listening to my music, but I got $1500, not enough to pay my expenses. Honestly, I don’t care about the arguments about whether or not someone would buy the album if it wasn’t copied and given to them for free. If they get it for free from their friend, they’re sure as hell *not* going to buy it from me.

        For me, it was the difference between being able to make a living, and being badly in the hole on every album. I don’t care if magical faeries create the new bits with my music on it each time someone steals a copy of a song. It’s still stealing.

        • Such an Interesting Monster says:

          So you don’t care about the most outstanding part as to why it’s not theft, but then blather on about how it’s theft. Riiiiight.

          Digital files are not tangible goods. You cannot steal something you can’t hold or touch. It might seem like theft to you, but the law says otherwise. Your hypothetical situation is interesting tho. But you left out one crucial possible outcome: what happens where there is no piracy and you only sell 100 copies? Then who do you blame? It’s nice to imagine that if you spend time creating a CD that you’ll sell a bazilliontrillion copies and if you don’t, well, it must be because of those dirty filthy pirates. But what if the pirates had nothing to do with it and it didn’t sell because, well, no one liked it enough to pay for it? Then who do you blame for your failing? If people don’t value your content enough to pay for it, whether they pirate it or not is irrelevant.

          Let me propose another hypothetical situation:

          Say I have a scanning device that can make a perfect 3D imagine of an object. Let’s also say I have a replicating device that can take that perfect 3D scan and turn it into a physical object.

          Now let’s say I take my scanner to a store, scan a coffee maker, and then go home and make a new coffee maker with my replicating device.

          Question: did I just steal a coffee maker? Am I guilty of theft?

          Let’s go even further. Let’s say I take the data from the 3D scanned image of the coffee maker, pack it into a digital file, and then share it on the Internet so anyone that downloads the file and has a replicating device like mine can make a coffee maker. Did I just steal again? Am I and everyone that downloads and shares that digital file all thieves?

          If so, who did we steal from? The store who was selling the original coffee maker? How could I have stolen it when it’s still there sitting on the shelf? Did I steal from the manufacturer of the coffee maker? Not sure how that’s possible because they made precisely 25,000 units of that coffee maker and 25,000 units are all accounted for. So how is it stealing? Where is the theft?

          Food for thought.

          • exconsumer says:

            A fascinating thought experiment. Hopefully I have a thought provoking answer for you.

            Who did you steal from? No one: Only those who make the replication machines deserve any money; design and creation are not valuable, only the production of raw material goods. Therefore, we do not need to create legal systems to protect creators of intellectual property. Wealth should concentrate only where one or more persons secure and process pysical natural resources.

        • t-spoon says:

          Honestly, I don’t care about the arguments about whether or not someone would buy the album if it wasn’t copied and given to them for free. If they get it for free from their friend, they’re sure as hell *not* going to buy it from me.

          Well you can go on not caring, it doesn’t negate the argument.

          For me, it was the difference between being able to make a living, and being badly in the hole on every album. I don’t care if magical faeries create the new bits with my music on it each time someone steals a copy of a song. It’s still stealing.

          Yeah but music is a uniquely ethereal thing and you know it. It’s why this situation is such a tough nut to crack. Everybody agrees artists ought to be compensated for their work, but it’s unrealistic to expect the rest of the world to just begin blind buying albums.

    • SubDude says:

      At last, a voice of reason and decency. I recently encountered a number of high school students who found an open snack vending machine at school. They looted it but were caught, punished, and made to make restitution. Sadly, not one kid would admit or acknowledge that what they did was stealing. It was the owner of the vending machine who was at fault, not them. One kid even had the audacity to claim that if I picked up a pencil someone had dropped in the hallway, I was guilty of the same crime. Being given the opportunity to steal does not justify it.

    • Concat says:

      Yes, well, it is not theft as defined by every legal system in the world.

      I mean, you can go ahead and call it theft all you want. Shout it from the roof tops. It won’t magically make you correct.

      It isn’t even a criminal matter.

    • SeattleSeven says:

      Dowling v. United States

      The supreme court decided that it isn’t theft in 1985.

    • RayanneGraff says:

      So basically if I save a movie still to my computer to use as a wallpaper, I’m a thief? Cause that’s damn close to the argument you’re using.

    • exconsumer says:

      “But it’s not theft as defined by law!!”

      So what? First of all, you’re probably already aware that this isn’t really the argument the ‘it’s theft’ people are making. They speak of the spirit of the action, not the strict legal definition.

      And second, yes, we get it, a copy made does not translate to a sale. Perhaps only those people who otherwise would not have purchased are copying, and everyone who can afford it bought it as intended. But that’s just wishful thinking. We know full well that some copies would have been sales had it been impossible to copy or if copying were not so available.

      Just saying it’s a wash is not all that different than telling a sore owner who got robbed that these’s no way to know if shoppers would have otherwise bought that object, or that maybe he would have lost money somewhere else. The math is different with material goods, but not that different. The slope of the function of how much the next unit costs to make for the artist is steeper, and reaches near zero faster, but it is still a slope. Just like the shopkeeper, the artist incurred costs while creating their product. If they don’t cover them, they won’t make a profit or be able to sustain their business. It’s not as black and white as with tangible goods, but the market is still skewed.

      Does it make sense that we assume that the seller of the tangible good could have made a profit (or had the right to try), while we assume that artist would not have otherwise made a sale?

  18. tinmanx says:

    I’m probably in the minority, but music to me is just background noise. I usually have ear phones on for my daily commute, it’s used to drown out the people and train noise. I can have any music and it’s fine, I sometimes even have music in languages I don’t understand. So I don’t need to buy any music, there’s enough free stuff out there to fill my MP3 player.

    • OutPastPluto says:

      If if you cared about music more. There’s still radio. There’s still MTV. There’s still Pandora.

      In many cases, there’s no reason to buy. You can avoid paying for a band’s work for years or even decades and it’s all perfectly ethical and legal. Nothing has changed. The new generation just thinks that they’re smarter than everyone else and that they’ve discovered something new.

      They haven’t.

      It’s just the same old free content model. It may or may not be more complete depending on how demanding you are.

      Adding a computer or the internet to a process does not make it a new thing.

  19. El_Fez says:

    It turns out the supposedly “free” stuff really isn’t free. In fact it’s an expensive way to get “free” music.

    Oh please, I didn’t get my thousand dollar computer and high speed bandwidth for just to steal music. I got my thousand dollar computer and high speed bandwidth for UNLIMITED PORNOGRAPHY!!! The free music was just a happy bonus.

  20. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    No artist was compensated by my purchase of a victrola, grammaphone, record player, CD player, stereo, speakers, headphones, audio cords, cables, or electricity to run any of these devices.

    Artists are not losing out because I also bought a laptop and an iPhone.

  21. roccosima says:

    The solution is for musicians to go on strike until an equitable solution is reached. But they won’t because a real artist creates art for it’s own sake. There are no realistic expectations of making a living as a recording artist unlike other professions. For every musician who makes any real money from selling their recordings there are thousands who make nothing. Fortune only smiles on a few and until those rare few exercise their power by withholding their music not much is likely to change.

  22. Taylor Rolyat says:

    To David Lowery and his fellow musical artists: Play the world’s tiniest violin all you want, ’cause I’m not going back. I’m only 3 years older than Emily the intern, and I haven’t purchased a CD (for myself or anyone other than my Mom in her 50s) in 8 years. I’ve had a Spotify subscription for a little under a year, and I’m not gonna return to buying CDs so long as Spotify charges reasonable prices. Bitch and moan all you want, I’m not buying physical albums again. iTunes albums, even those I’ve said buh-bye to.

    • who? says:

      As a (former) musician, I’m okay with that. Spotify isn’t really paying the artists enough, but Spotify is at least an attempt to follow the copyright laws and compensate artists for the music.

      Personally, I use my satellite radio the same way, I prefer the radio/DJ model of listening, but “free” radio stations are all too crappy for words. So I pay a few bucks every month for satellite service, and I’ve bought maybe 2 CDs in the past 5 years.

  23. cbatt says:

    “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”

    What poor Emily is asking for already exists – It’s called a Zune Pass. It may not include absolutely everything ever recorded but you can sync and listen to essentially any and all music made for about $10 a month. I’m with Emily – Who buys albums and CDs any more?

  24. SubDude says:

    D**n pathetic how many of the comments submitted don’t recognize it as theft when they deprive someone of their source of income. On a similar note, I recently encountered a number of high school students who found an open snack vending machine at school. They looted it but were caught, punished, and made to pay restitution. Sadly, not one kid would admit or acknowledge that what they did was stealing. It was the owner of the vending machine who was at fault, not them. One kid even had the audacity to claim that if what he did was stealing then if I picked up a pencil someone had dropped in the hallway, I was guilty of the same crime. I couldn’t convince him otherwise. Being given the opportunity to steal does not justify it.

    • Concat says:

      Third time I’ve said this… but it’s not theft just because you and a bunch of Joe blows says it is. The vast majority of the comments you are referring to are just trying to correct everyone on semantics.

      Seriously. Even the wikipedia article says it’s not theft. And I’m totally not condoning piracy. I just don’t see why you’d argue so whole heartedly about something that is false. You have this notion of what theft is, but can’t be bothered to even look it up.


    • visual77 says:

      If you are still saying “infringement = theft” in 2012, you will never learn.

      And yes, I did use the word “learn” with the intent to say you are wrong and it is not a matter of opinion.

      • who? says:

        If you still think that depriving someone of their legally earned living *isn’t* theft, you will never learn either.

    • 5up Mushroom says:

      If I steal a car, that car can no longer be used by its owner. If I steal snacks, the owner can no longer sell it. That is theft. Music piracy is not theft it’s music piracy. How hard is that to understand?

  25. tz says:

    Lets say I want a song. I can’t just buy one on CD, I have to buy a package. I don’t want to use the iTunes roach motel – oh and does Apple pay out of the flat fee – if I can get a copy on my Mac or PC, apple will give me ubiqutious cloud access. Amazon mp3? I’ve bought many. But it isn’t lossless. Am I paying $1 for the song or media or access or what?

    • who? says:

      mp3’s aren’t lossless. Fine. However, that only matters if you’re planning on editing the mp3. Amazon mp3’s use a 256k bitrate. Studies have shown that, even to the trained ear, 256k mp3’s are indistinguishable from the original CD.

  26. Here to ruin your groove says:

    I buy records. An ungodly amount of vinyl to some people. I will also download the mp3 files from blogs if there isn’t a digital download card included with my purchase.

    I also live under a rock and have no idea what goes for popular music nowadays, but the forums I frequent show me a ton of people who are willing to pay good money for music and do so regularly. Sure the releases are usually in the 500-1000 pressing range, but shit tends to get sold.

    • Jules Noctambule says:

      A friend recently opened a record store – vinyl only – and you know what? Every day after school and on the weekends the place is packed with teenagers. Absolutely packed. They buy everything from 60s classics to new releases from small local labels, and they love the hell out of it.

  27. Draw2much says:

    The Internet is the “new Radio”, essentially. It’s a cheap (meaning “free”) method of listening to or sampling music. Sometimes you like something so much you buy it, sometimes you don’t. Either way, you can always go back to the Internet (or Radio) to get your fill of music.

    I don’t particularly feel sorry for the music industry. They had their chance to adapt and make a functional business model using the Internet. If they’d been proactive, they could have shaped how we listened to music online. They didn’t. Piracy thrived because they didn’t give people a compelling alternative to it. They’ve only themselves to blame for being so short sighted.

    And no, I’m not trying to rationalize piracy. I don’t pirate music, since I never saw the point of it. I use to just listen to the radio and very very occasionally buy a CD if I liked something I heard. (When I was with my parents, they had a massive CD collection so I was never wanting for something to listen to.) Now I listen to the radio, Spotify, Pandora, last.fm, and occasionally buy a CD (or purchase something through iTunes or Amazon.com). I probably buy more music now because I can preview more music than I did back then.

    *pauses* Wait, does that mean the music industry is making MORE money off me? I mean, I’m using twice as many services to listen to music than I use to AND buying more music because I’m more aware of what’s out there.

    Yeah, I’m feeling even LESS sorry for the music industry now.

    • jim says:

      Its not the new radio. Radio actually pays for the music it plays.

      Next up the mistake the music industry made was selling music online in the first place. While napster and the rest of the theives no question hurt the industry Itunes has been as bad if not worse to the bottom line. Because of Itunes the cart total has shunk both in total music content bought and more importantly dollars invested. This was their mistake. What they should have done was come out with a new physical format with stronger DRM.

      • HeartBurnKid says:

        “Its not the new radio. Radio actually pays for the music it plays. “

        As do Spotify, Pandora, last.fm, and the rest. At a far higher rate than radio, in fact.

  28. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    I have no problem supporting my favorite artists. Too bad most of the money we pay to ‘buy’ music legitimately gets nowhere near them.

  29. QrazyQat says:

    I liked Lowery’s piece overall, but his calculations are a real sleight of hand show. When he does this and comes up with her needing to pay $2,139.50 for the music she’s gotten, he ignores, deliberately, the fact that he’s only going for 20% or less of the total she’d actually have to pay. Whether or not you consider either the untrue figure he uses to be a reasonable sum, or the much higher true figure she’d actually have to pay to be a reasonable sum, he’s not being honest in what he does with his calculations. This undermines his argument, which is too bad because otherwise he makes a good case. But what he ends up doing with his calculations is to argue that $2,139.50 is a reasonable price, and therefore she should pay $10,000.

  30. exconsumer says:

    The problem is this: We’re no longer stealing from record companies. We’re stealing directly from artists, for the most part.

    See, unless you’re listening exclusively to music written before 2002, or the current music you hear on the TV or Radio, you’re probably listening to the fruits of an artist that did not create or sell their music with major label support. Maybe they used an artist friendly boutique label or a publisher, but they probably still own the bulk of their own music, and get the bulk of the profits thereof. Tell yourself what you’d like, but the artist-owned music industry you’ve been asking for is right here, and people still download.

    The cruel filpside of this is that it guarantees that an artist will have a very hard time making a living unless they can afford to merchandise heavily. T-shirts, Lunchboxes, guest spots, endorsements, etc. This is actually what the big record companies are still really good at. So they don’t really have any more incentive to stop downloading. Better to let the quality indie artist drown in the giveaway market while they make money on backpacks and syndication on the disney channel.

    Illegal downloading creates a market that rewards those who excel at the superfluous.

  31. DJ Charlie says:

    I’ll tell you who pays for it. The radio stations, that’s who! True, the artists don’t make billions off us, but at least what the stations pay goes TO the artists, unlike what the listeners pay going into the fucking black-hole of RIAA and ASCAP.

    A certain artist friend of mine (not naming names here for legal reasons, but she’s VERY involved in the industry) told me not long ago that she gets a statement each month from RIAA saying “We have collected $this.much in license fees in your name.” but never mentions how she can collect it. She’s part of a class-action suit against them to get the money they’ve “collected in her name” once and for all. Suffice to say, it’s an amount in the 7-figure range.

    ASCAP is worse. They force an artist to join, but the artist never sees or even hears of any money coming from them.

  32. coffeeculture says:

    I understand her completely.

  33. podunkboy says:

    I have hundreds of CD’s that I purchased; 1/2 of them for full-price, the other half through record clubs where I’d buy the one required (over)full-priced CD and collect the other 12 free-with-shipping CD’s. But I don’t remember the last time I saw an ad for Columbia House or BMG, and all the record stores I used to buy from at the mall (Musicland, Sam Goody, Camelot, Sound Warehouse) are all gone, and the selection at Best Buy, Target, Walmart, etc. leaves something to be desired if you don’t want to buy the top-20 recordings.
    So when I want a CD now, I check eBay for a well-below-retail copy. I refuse to use iTunes because it doesn’t play nice with my non-Apple mp3 player, so the record companies lose sales to me by not providing an adequate delivery service. Most times, i just turn on Spotify for background noise.

  34. wrecluse says:

    Thanks consumerist, Emily & David Lowery for reminding me that there was some music I was thinking about downloading!

  35. wrecluse says:

    Thanks consumerist, Emily & David Lowery for reminding me that there was some music I was thinking about downloading!

  36. varro says:

    Spotify actually pays much more in royalties than commercial radio, but pays it one listener at a time.

  37. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I listen to a streaming radio station that plays soundtracks. Often I hear a soundtrack that really moves me. I may then go to Amazon or iTunes and buy it. Being able to listen exposes me to new artists and then I become a fan, and then a customer. I think it’s fair to say my music friends and I are collectors. I’m still buying CDs, and often I pay a premium for them because they are out of print and not digitally available. I wish I had a suggestion for this problem. The delivery method is changing, but how do we ensure a fair profit without locking down and alienating customers?

    Artists need to be paid for their work. Writers, musicians and painters do what they love but they still need to eat! I hope the system can be worked out.

  38. orion43 says:

    Emily the pirate would download a car.
    Megaupload has been shut down.
    You don’t need to spend thousands on gear.
    Free WiFi is everywhere.
    Zune pass is $10/month for unlimited downloads and plays.
    The list goes on and on but I don’t feel like typing it all out.

  39. SlayerKeith says:

    I may be misremembering something here, but I recall reading an article about donating things a few years ago in a Martha Stewart magazine. Don’t judge, I was bored. Anyway, the suggestion was that once you ripped all of your CDs to MP3s, you should donate your CDs to the Salvation Army or the like. The problem with this is that once you give up physical custody of the CDs, the music contained on them is no longer “yours”, as I understand it. The same goes with DVDs, etc.

    Now, with digital music, movies or whatever, you don’t “own” that data. You may have a copy of it, but it doesn’t “belong” to you. A hard drive crash could wipe out all of it. I believe that when you buy digital media, you’re paying to use it, not to own it. Again, I may be off base, so please correct me if I’m wrong.

    Not to go off on a tangent here, but this is precisely the thing that scares me about cloud storage. What’s to stop the RIAA or the government from claiming copyright infringement against any cloud storage site out there and shutting it down like MegaUpload? Anything that you stored on the cloud could be lost due to this. Pretty scary stuff. http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57450153-93/doj-tries-to-block-return-of-data-to-megaupload-user/

  40. kathygnome says:

    Rhapsody pretty much does everything she wants. You can download it, listen to it on your phone, listen on an MP3 player (as long as it has playsforsure) and you pay I think it’s 10 a month.

    Honestly, I pay my $10 for Rhapsody (it actually used be $15 and I paid that price too) and I’m with her. I’m perfectly willing to pay for it and I’d much rather pay to rent everything than pay for one CD or one track at a time. The industry is going to have to suck it up and cope with what their consumers are asking for. If they can’t make the paradigm work at some reasonable price point, perhaps they will have to cut back on their cocaine and heroin expenditures.

  41. makoto says:

    …at some point, we should stop paying artists to be artists any more than we pay writers or composers. They make a lot. If they charged reasonable amounts for the things they sell, for their artwork, people might actually be CAPABLE of paying. Saying you have to pay to consume art means essentially that you wish to hoard your artwork for only the wealthy. In reality, that is not the true intent of any artist or I’d call their art ingenuine. It sounds bitchy, but it is the heart of it. You listen to music you enjoy as part of enjoying the art of it… I understand they are not getting the trumped up royalties they feel they are entitled to, but true artists produce art for the sake of its poetry, not it’s monetary value.

    • SubDude says:

      You need to tell your boss you work for the joy and personal fulfillment it gives you and you would prefer to work for free.

  42. AntiNeutral says:

    How ironic. If artists can’t make money making music, they’ll be like anyone else and be forced to make money doing something else. This will ultimately dilute both the quantity and quality of the new music. Song writers, musicians and the others who actually create the product being sold here have been victims of the “record business” for decades on end. Many songwriters are driven, creative souls who pour their lives into the creation of original works. They are not unionized and must work within a music distribution system that favors the seller, not the creator. Creativity is precious resource. It has value and is renewable. Yet, at virtually every turn, it’s the creative person who ends up on the wrong side of the deal.

    The music industry , like the movie biz, television industry and advertising agencies, are in constant need of creative people. One song can make a career; one movie can change a life. It seems that creative people who offer such high-value rewards, should be well-paid, encouraged and nurtured. Instead, creative people are minimized, underpaid and often ripped off, many times by those they originally thought they could trust. Artists not being fairly compensated is a very old story, but for a very specific reason: it’s true & it’s always been this way. It will probably always BE this way until creative people organize and speak with a unified voice. Only then will the screwing of creative talent cease. But until that day comes, musical artists must fight for every nickel they have coming.

    The saddest part might not just be that some talented music creator loses his desire to create. Sadder still, would be that we loved listening to music so much, we choked the life out of it.

    • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

      I don’t think there has to be a ‘coming together’ of artists. What should happen is a better distribution channel forms. I was a member of eMusic for years until I realized that when a band becomes famous, their music vanishes from the database and becomes part of the ‘big five’s’ DRM collection.

      Eventually, internet radio, independent artists and some co-op internet music distributor (an improved eMusic) will evolve. I expect the big five dinosaurs will go extinct. It’s only natural.

  43. edububble says:

    She’s a selfish teen. I hope she grows out of it, but I worry.

  44. shthar says:

    You don’t need to buy a 1000 laptop to get music for free.

    You need your parents to buy one for you.

  45. Kuri says:

    It’d be a tad easier to feel guilty about downloading music if Metallica wasn’t such whiny bitches about it during the Napster mess.

    That, and episodes of MTV cribs.

  46. usernameandp says:

    “we should simply change our values and morality to accept this behavior.”

    No need to CHANGE anything! The morality I grew up with was to find a friend with a Dual Cassette Deck & have them copy that Cassette for you. If friends had CDs, you would copy those best songs & make a Mix Tape. No one has the Tape / CD? Then just record it off the Radio!

    Don’t forget too, you could always BORROW that CD from a friend.

    Radio was free. Broadcast TV was free. They still are too. But now we’re expected to pay licensing fees for the luxury of hearing a song.

    A $13 CD gives you a physical product. One that took raw materials to produce & distribute. It was sold from a retail store that needed money just to stay open. So I was paying $3 for the music & $10 for the tangible product.

    I REFUSE to pay $13 for a Virtual Product. I can’t lend it to a friend. I can’t re-sell it.

    The “Artists” should buy stock in Google, Apple & Microsoft. Then they’ll profit along with everyone else!

  47. ianmac47 says:

    Maybe musicians are looking at this all the wrong way. Maybe thy should make music because that’s what they love and hold down a fucking day job like everyone else.

  48. v1ctorsag3 says:

    I’m surprised no one has put up the analogy that pirating music and movies is essentially the same thing the Federal Reserve is doing with the US dollar.

    They’re not stealing money from you, they’re just printing more (copying). Which means I (the “musician”) am making less money because the Fed (the “music pirate”) is devaluing the dollar (my “music”) by reproducing it with little to no accountability.

    Basically, I’m suggesting that if you pirate music, you’re no better than the Federal Reserve.

  49. MaximusMMIV says:

    I think the album “collector” mindset is a music industry generated attitude. They conditioned us to behave that way in the 90s when we had no option other than to buy entire albums for ridiculous prices at the local Best Buy.

    Then Napster and iTunes came along and shattered that business model, and the music industry has been whining about it ever since. Today’s generation doesn’t care about albums. They purchase a handful of the best songs at 99¢ apiece and leave the rest.

    I grew up the 90s way and still enjoy listening to full albums even to this day, but I do it via Spotify (which is currently the cheapest way to enjoy tons of music legally). I’ve long given up on the notion of supporting artists through album sales. Artists have never made much money off of them anyways. The merchandise and ticket sales have been their primary source of income for years. That is, except for the poor souls that go on American Idol and sign their lives away to 19 Entertainment.

  50. SavijMuhdrox says:

    People really need to get past the whole Theft/Not Theft argument. If you acquire music ‘for free’; then the artist who worked hard to produce said music never sees a dime. All these arguments get caught up on whether you are stealing something. Ignore that for a moment and ponder how long this artist will continue to make music if he/she simply never gets paid for it. Sure, if he’s a lackey of some corporate music conglomerate, yeah maybe he’s sitting around hoping for some paltry income that no longer flows, and he’ll be out on his butt real soon.

    but a lot of artists, Lowery among them.. gave up on this model. Produce your own music, market it yourself and play your own shows. They’ve learned how to garner a loyal following of people who appreciate their music and pay for it, and those artists get ALL of the money. They may not be raking in the dough, but they are surviving and doing alright for themselves, and in some cases (Glen Phillips comes to mind) producing amazing material that no record company would touch anyway (but you should all go find, plug, plug).

    They produce their music and they play shows.. and to quote another awesome frontman, Neil Fallon:

    “Well, if bands want to make a living playing music, what they’re gonna have to do is just work harder. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It means going to play shows. It doesn’t mean sitting around hoping that some knight in shining armor record label is gonna give you a shitload of money and you’re gonna be babied for years. Those days are gone. It’s probably for the best, too. Most bands are like us, I think- we don’t make money selling records. To do that on a label you’d have to sell platinum numbers. We make our money playing shows, and that’s what it’s always been about. Everybody’s kind of being forced to re-focus on that, and it’s made a lot of people nervous who don’t want to go out there and work for it.”

    so artists will figure out a way to make due.. hopefully.. because they love what they do.. and when their fans love them for it, they will pay them for their art. If Emily simply doesn’t want to pay for her music, I question her devotion to said music and applicability as a host of a radio show about music.

  51. SubDude says:

    Copying or reproducing an author’s work without his permission is copyright infringement. The penalties you face for copyright infringement vary. First-time violators that reproduce or distribute copyrighted material (10 phonorecords or 1 copyrighted work) with a retail value of more than $2,500 during an 180-day period face up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine or both according to the United States Department of Justice. If this is not your first copyright infringement conviction, you may face up to ten years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or both. Violators that reproduce or distribute less than the requisite number of copies, or the retail value is charged with a misdemeanor violation. Misdemeanor charges have a maximum penalty of one year in jail, a $100,000 or both.

    Read more: Laws & Penalties on Copyrights | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/list_6567628_laws-penalties-copyrights.html#ixzz1yLOb53iV

  52. Nogling says:

    Hi there.

    For Mr. Lowery, a link to Amanda Palmer’s recent Kickstarter.


    For everyone else, a link to Amanda Palmer’s recent Kickstarter.


    Interesting tidbit of information about Amanda Palmer. Every last bit of her music is available online, for free. Most of it is available on her website, in a high-quality mp3, with no DRM, for FREE. And yet, not only did she just rake in just shy of 1.2 million dollars to produce her new album, she has also managed to pay her bills and eat in the years since she left her record label. Which tells me that she’s somehow managing to get paid for her music, despite offering it for free. I wonder how she managed to do that?

    Oh, wait, I remember now. She acted like musicians and performers and artists acted for years up until the record labels/movie studios/publishing houses told them they didn’t have to do anything but make music anymore. Things like reaching out to fans, building an image and a reputation and a fan base and producing content that people want to consume. I blame the record labels for a lot of this – they are responsible for the idea that musicians become rock stars without effort. That they are “discovered” and gold rains down from the sky upon them because they are so magical and perfect that they don’t have to WORK anymore.

    Art has value. It is HIGHLY subjective. What I am willing to pay money for, you might think is absolute garbage. (For example, I have a friend who cannot understand why I listen to Amanda Palmer – she doesn’t have that great a voice, her music is sometimes jarring and atonal, and the subjects of her songs are often less than polite. I don’t know how this same friend listens to Eminem.) As with all things, gatekeepers and middlemen do more to hurt both sides of the equation than anything else. Producer of content produces content, consumer consumes content, middleman rakes in huge profit and tells everyone else to go pound sand? That model has NEVER worked. It has NEVER been good for ANYONE other than the middleman. The problem with the internet is that it makes it very, very easy to cut out the middleman, and the middlemen are terrified that more people will figure it out.

    I support the artists I love. The internet makes it a heck of a lot easier to do so without having to negotiate with a backwards, frivolous, and unnecessary industry.

  53. Weekilter says:

    And part of the problem is that “artists” are low on the food chain and “labels” get the majority of any proceeds from the artists’ work and labels like it that way.

  54. uncoveror says:

    For people who just use music as background noise, it has no value, so they will not pay for it. Art and frivolous entertainment are worth what the audience thinks they are, and no more. If that is nil, tough! No one owes the labels or artists a debt. If there is no money in singing and playing a guitar, get a real job.

  55. fheald says:

    “I don’t even know where one gets milk crates!”

    You have to steal them.

    I’m tired of “buying” things, and then being told I don’t “own” them. Being told I can’t convert them to another convenient, usable format. Having to buy things I don’t want, just to get something I do want. Being asked to pay more than things are worth – not to support artists, but to support a dying publishing industry.

    ITMS works for me, though I still don’t believe I “own” anything. Sharing whole hard drives with friends is a lot easier than downloading music, and if I like an artist, I buy their album. iTunes Match just made 25,000 of my songs “legit” for $25 – which seems like a pretty sweet deal, too.

  56. Shmoodog says:

    This whole problem boils down to what farking thing: entitlement. She says, “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?”

    Apparently you are unaware, milady, that most of the world doesn’t get even get to eat when they want, let alone what they WANT to eat. The dribbles of goo coming out of your mouth only signify that you have no concept or appreciation of the “real world” we live in.

    Just because you have always gotten what you wanted because of your socioeconomic and geopolitical status, doesn’t mean that the world owes it to you. The musicians giving you free music to sate your desires don’t get what they want, when they want, how they want, so why should you?

    Is that so much to ask?

  57. HeartBurnKid says:

    “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.”

    And that’s a really shitty analogy.

    You want an analogy for music piracy? Here goes:

    There’s a neighborhood called The ‘Net. In this neighborhood, there’s a music “store” called Limewire. The owner of Limewire doesn’t actually sell his records; he loves them too much. So instead, he invites everybody in the neighborhood to bring their tape decks over and make copies of his records, and asks them to do the same with the tapes they make with those records. He does this of his own free will, as does everybody else who makes those copies and lets others make copies from them, and so on, and so on, and so on.

    Now obviously, there’s some issues with doing this; after all, at some point, the artist needs to eat. But telling everybody that copying is theft is just going to fall on deaf ears, because they’re quite transparently not the same thing.

  58. consumerd says:

    I like to thank bit-torrent for my music, as well as stationripper and atube catcher.

  59. Papa Midnight says:

    “They have milk crates full of music. I don’t even know where one gets milk crates!”


  60. VHSer says:

    The only cd that I’ve bought in, probably, 10 years, is one that I’d been looking for for pretty much that entire time. Did the industry ever stop to think that maybe the reason that the money they make has been getting less and less is because the music coming out is getting crappier ? “Oh, it’s wrong to not pay for music.” Sorry, but I don’t think so. When we were kids, we would hear a song at our friends’ house and they’d make a tape for us. It’s the same thing with the internet, only now, our friend could be halfway around the world instead of down the street. I just got fed up with buying a 10/15 dollar, 13 song cd for only 2 or maybe 3 songs that I want.

  61. Felix says:

    I have a big collection of LP`s Vinyl The Beatles,The Stones,Pink floyd,David Bowie,Queen,Fleerwood Mac,Moody Blues,and so on. And we played them on a music centre which had a tape deck,and if your mate wanted a copy of one of of the records,you gave him a tape of the ones he wanted. If you were in his house he would do the same for you.
    So according to the copyright law we should have all been sent to prison.
    In those days it wasn`t evan mentioned at all,everybody did it. In my opinion the music today is crap,evan my son likes all the music i have.