December 5, 2008
A friend of mine who was always against downloading (since it does sort of hurt the musicians) sent me an article that completely changed her mind about downloading music. As a long-time proponent of music downloading, I was happy to read an industry insider’s viewpoint on why I was right (don’t we all love that?). I think this pretty much removes any last feeling of guilt anyone might have about downloading music (for those of you who do…)
However, I think there’s an even greater value to the article than just that. Take out any references to “music downloading” or “music industry” and it is a great critique on society as a whole. Some key lines:
- It was like the world’s largest music store, whose vastly superior selection and distribution was entirely stocked, supplied, organized, and expanded upon by its own consumers. If the music industry had found a way to capitalize on the power, devotion, and innovation of its own fans the way Oink did, it would be thriving right now instead of withering.
- The RIAA loves to complain about music pirates leaking albums onto the internet before they’re released in stores – painting the leakers as vicious pirates dead set on attacking their enemy, the music industry. But you know where music leaks from? From the fucking source, of course – the labels!
- If the industry tried to have some kind of compassion – if they said, “we understand that these are just music fans trying to listen to as much music as they can, but we have to protect our assets, and we’re working on an industry-wide solution to accommodate the changing needs of music fans”… Well, it’s too late for that, but it would be encouraging. Instead, they make it sound like they busted a Columbian drug cartel or something. They describe it as a highly-organized piracy ring. Like Oink users were distributing kiddie porn or some shit. The press release says: “This was not a case of friends sharing music for pleasure.” Wh – what?? That’s EXACTLY what it was!
- For the major labels, it’s over. You’re going to burn to the fucking ground, and we’re all going to dance around the fire. And it’s your own fault. Surely, somewhere deep inside, you had to know this day was coming, right? Your very industry is founded on an unfair business model of owning art you didn’t create in exchange for the services you provide. It’s rigged so that you win every time – even if the artist does well, you do ten times better. It was able to exist because you controlled the distribution, but now that’s back in the hands of the people, and you let the ball drop when you could have evolved.
- Maybe taking the money out of music is the only way to get money back into it.
- It’s time to show artists that there’s no limit to what an energized online fanbase can accomplish, and all they’ll ever ask for in return is more music.
- The major labels are like Terry Schiavo right now – they’re on life support, drooling in a coma, while white-haired guys in suits try and change the laws to keep them alive. But any rational person can see that it’s too late, and it’s time to pull out the feeding tube.
- Steal the music you want that’s on the major labels. It’s easy, and despite the RIAA’s scare tactics, it can be done safely – especially if more and more people are doing it.
If you take the underlying pattern there and apply it outside of the music industry/downloading, you have a pretty great approach for a lot of the problems we’re facing today.