Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Thoughts on that "All Songs Considered" Intern's blog post.

Have you been following the "All Songs Considered" intern and her post about only having bought 15 CDs in her life, despite having about 11,000 tracks on her iTunes? I read it a couple of days ago, and forming a response has been on my mind. I don't think I could top this response by David Lowery on his blog (thanks to several of my Facebook friends who shared his blog), so I'm not going to try. I'm very curious to see if Emily responds to it, and I hope she does.

Emily's post is not surprising. What shocks me is how many people apparently haven't realized that Emily is not alone. I got the big shock about seven years ago when I taught high school music. I asked students to bring in a CD one day, and just about every single one of them brought in something they'd burned from home. When I asked why, only a couple of them said they'd ever bought a CD. Several of them told me cheerfully that they'd downloaded my first album from Limewire, then burned copies for their friends.

Um, thanks? Sort of. It's complicated. Still, those kids have since graduated from college and have considerate buying power. But they're not buying music. Funny how a $0.99 app that makes fart sounds is no big deal, but a $0.99 song is a rip-off.

I understand things have changed, but there's no question that artists are suffering because of it. You wonder why I haven't released a new full-length album in four years? Well, promise me you'll buy it, and I'll make it. That goes for one thousand of you.

Anyway, I did think David Lowery's response was very well-reasoned. It's long, but worth the read. Then again, I'm over thirty now, so I can't be trusted...


  1. Your "promise me you'll buy it" comment is why I like PledgeMusic/Kickstarter campaigns (with a preference for PledgeMusic because of the charitable giving option). It's not that people won't spend money, it's how they'll do it. I recently saw kids after a show buying $20 posters instead of $15 cds for the artist to sign. They download for free, but will pledge $15 to get a signed postcard from the road. It's about finding a new way to connect with them (and their wallets).

    1. I totally agree and, like I said, I know the industry has changed. I started a Kickstarter campaign about three years ago for a new album, but couldn't bring myself to post it, for the sole reason of it felt like inappropriate begging. The attitude towards that site has sinced changed (and i think PledgeMusic is much better), so I've considered it again. Still...
      I think what gets me is the attitude that artists should play for free and give everything away. It's insulting. That probably goes into a whole other diatribe for the "This gig doesn't pay but you're doing what you love so what's the big deal" phenomenon ... the fact that I have more training and experience in my field than any lawyer or doctor seems not to matter when it comes to getting paid for a gig.

    2. By the way -- just visited your website -- what a great resource for musicians. I can't tell you how many times I've had to give tax advice to fellow artists. Will now send link to your blog:)

  2. I really think the industry shot themselves in the foot on this one. It was a case of the planets aligning [technology, etc], but the record companies did not protect their ground when this was developing, in the 90s. Of course it was difficult to see how this would play out ahead of time. That said, anyone who argues illegal downloading is morally 'ok' is deluding himself. All you have to do is look at Mexico or China to realize just how precious [and fragile] our cultural acceptance of copyright protection is/was. The government cannot make people do the right thing here, and shaming people doesn't really get at the point. The cat is out of the bag now, it's up the industry to set things up the right way. Music has never been more affordable to purchase legally as it is in 2012. It seems incredibly affordable, I never balk over spending the money on something I like or am interested in. I don't what the age cutoff for people not buying CDs anymore is, but I am doing my part :) I buy a couple CDs every week of the year! It's clear that the age of physical media is on its way out, so harping on CD purchases in particular is not really significant. What is key is retaining the special and beloved nature of the release of recorded music.

  3. OK, for what it's worth, my two penn'orth - two cent's worth if you're from the USA or, if you're from the future, my two pfennig's worth:


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What is it you miss the most? I miss interaction, which is strange because I'm mostly introverted. I can't imagine how the extrovert...