advertising and other stuff. no, really.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Grab what you want, it’s free, right?

“I would have never heard of these writers or books had the net not been around and had they not been shared.”

So goes a typical response to the story of an author complaining that pirated copies of her work are eroding her income from sales. This is the same author who also has zero problem with designer knockoff handbags or downloading thousands of free songs. There may be *good* reasons in theory for why someone shares, (exposure to new music, The Man™ is screwing me, etc.), but no matter what excuse it is, the creator of the work ends up getting screwed. Do those arguments hold up anymore, if they ever did?

If you don’t want to be screwed by record labels, then supports artists who distribute directly. I also get that hearing new music via streaming sites turns you on to stuff you might not otherwise hear. But that only means something if you end up buying something from them. I’m sure the authors in the quote up top would be glad to hear new people have discovered them, but are they supposed to live on good reviews and love? In theory, this argument says you’re supposed to hear something, like it, then pay for it.*

That’s in theory though because how many people actually do that vs. burning music free on a CD or storing files on their drive. I come back to the creator of the work being the only one with the right to determine how much – if anything — they should charge for their work – not the end user. If the artist wants to give it away, cool. But at least they made that decision, it wasn’t made for them. Last I looked we’re still in a global economy dependent on monetary compensation in exchange for services rendered – not a barter system.

A Radiohead can ask you to pay what you want because they already have a catalog of titles you have to pay set prices on. But imagine if every band produced, distributed and promoted their music for free? How could they live? How could anyone in any profession do that? I know several bands support themselves with alternative revenue streams via concerts, DVDs, etc. But not the majority of bands can do that – or would.

So until that changes, I don’t know of any other solution except to respect the creators and pay them.

*Pirate disclaimer: Yes, I’ve used shared copies of applications or fonts when I couldn’t afford to pay for the full versions. While I also won’t download tunes without paying, let’s just say the music industry is insane if if thinks downloading files is the only way people can get music.

No comments: