Michelle and Frida weigh in on the pros and cons of getting free music.
PUNTAL—Free Music For All
Disclaimer: I’m not here to suggest that we should all should acquire our music illegally. I buy most, if not all, of my music—more out of the fact that I’m not torrent–savvy than out of any particular political stance.
That being said, I do believe that the world would be a better place, both for the artist and for the average music consumer, if all music on the internet were free. And that’s not because of any anti-establishment slant on my part, but because free music means more music being heard and appreciated.
I’m not going to be a pretentious whiner either and say that nothing good’s ever on the radio anymore. Truth be told, “I Knew You Were Trouble” plays on every station all the time because it’s catchy as hell. That being said, plenty of other artists who are just as good as Miss Taylor Swift don’t get radio play because their music is riskier. With evil mega–monster corporations like Clear Channel controlling the radio, the stuff that takes time to appreciate gets passed over for the instant crowd–pleasers.
Case in point: everyone likes Kanye, but not everyone likes Del tha Funkeé Homosapien. But the people who like Del will tell you he’s the best thing to happen to rap in decades. When artists like this one get passed over by the radio stations, they lose the type of exposure that’s critical in gaining fans and acclaim.
That’s where I think free music available in various ways on the Internet comes in to save the day. Whether it’s through legal or currently illicit outlets, this sort of music streaming gives underexposed bands and artists a chance to be heard. The fact is, the viral nature of the Internet makes the listening process that much more democratic, both for the consumer and the artist’s benefit.
Some people say that streaming and downloading music without paying for it is unfair to the artist and unfair to the record companies. While it’s true that they lose out on potential profits from CDs and iTunes downloads, such outlets for listening to music are well on their way to being irrelevant anyway. Just as people once dropped their Walkmans and cassette tapes for iPods and mp3 players, people are now dropping their 99–cent downloads for Spotify, Pandora and YouTube. The times are definitely a–changin’, and it’s up to the music industry to keep up.
CONTRAPUNTAL—Pay For Your Music
I remember LimeWire. I was sitting in my sixth grade computer class, listening to the girls next to me talk about the latest Ryan Cabrera song. I hadn’t heard it yet and couldn’t understand the intricate connections between his lyrical prowess and his fledging relationship with Ashlee Simpson. But I wanted to. When they suggested that I find the song on LimeWire, this amazing desktop application that let you search for music and download it for free, I was floored. The power of music, of being in the know with the Top 40 and everything that follows, was at my fingertips, and it didn’t cost me a dime. It felt too good to be true.
That’s because it was too good to be. I didn’t know it then, but at 12 years old, I was breaking the law. One shoddily made anti-piracy ad at the movie theater was enough to scare me into deleting LimeWire off my computer for good. I realized that there were, in theory, legal repercussions for my actions. The need for immediate gratification in the world of music downloads felt like poison to me.
Fast-forward some nine years and I no longer live in fear of imprisonment. The legal argument against downloading pirated music is hardly the most effective—I never actually heard of anyone going to jail for downloading the newest Katy Perry album and you probably haven’t either. None of my friends were arrested the first time they listened to “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” and you can bet they didn’t pay for it. Police sirens aren’t going off every time my roommate downloads the newest One Direction song for her workout playlists. Maybe it’s against the law, but you’d never know the difference.
The most important reason for paying for your music is that it’s shitty to not. Do you love your small indie rock bands? Your folk singers discovered as buskers and given their first tentative record deal? Do you want them to keep making music? Nay, do you want them to be able to pay their bills and eat? Then stop feeling entitled to free access to the fruits of their labor and pay up. Don’t tell me you can’t afford it—if the music is good, the money is worth it. Yes, it puts a dent in your wallet, but it keeps an industry alive. It’s not only economically responsible, it’s the decent thing to do. Take a fucking stand against indecency and PAY FOR YOUR MUSIC.