Sunday, May 23, 2010

A Lowdown, No Good Peace Offering

Jakob Dylan--"Everybody's Hurting" (mp3)
The Hold Steady--"Constructive Summer" (mp3)
Trashcan Sinatras--"Oranges and Apples" (mp3)

I have believed and acted upon all of the following beliefs, at times, somewhat chronologically and, at times, somewhat simultaneously:

1. Music should be bought and paid for.

2. Burning a CD of music that I got from somewhere else is no different than recording a cassette tape of music I got from somewhere else is no different from loading my Ipod with music I got from somewhere else. No one was ever prosecuted for his or her personal collection of self-recorded cassette tapes.

3. If I once owned a song or a bunch of songs in 45, 33, cassette, or CD form, it is fair for me to take free copies of that song or those songs that become available.

4. Music can be freely downloaded, if I only dowload music that was not available for sale (ex. live music, demos, outtakes, etc.).

5. It is okay to download music for free, if I do not intend to distribute it.

6. It is not okay for me to use the "lack of money" argument as a justification to steal music.

7. It is okay for me to buy some music and take other music for free. Corollary: if a musician performs at my school or at my house, I always buy the CDs rather than burn them from someone else.

8. It is okay to take music from other blogs to use on my blog.

9. It is okay to take music from other blogs to use in my mixes and to put on my Ipod.

10. I will buy an entire CD, but it may be okay to take the random song that comes my way (I say take, rather than steal, because so often now, the first song or two from a new CD is put out on a website as a free offering). I know, full well, however, that in a piecemeal fashion, I may acquire the entire CD over time for free.

11. It is the obligation of the music industry to protect music that it wants to protect from free sharing.

12. It is the obligation of the music listener to protect music by "doing the right thing."

There has been some discord on this blog recently, albeit anonymous, concerning how we or others do business, involving the procuring of and sharing of music. The comments "Nice to post any stolen song you feel like" and "Must be nice to just steal your music from other people" seemed to get other commentators (including me) cranked up.

Probably underlying the communal discomfort about Mr. or Ms. Anonymous' pithy remarks are their black and white implications. We infer from those comments the following perspective: #1 and #12 on the list above are the only acceptable statements. Statements #2 through #11 are either admissions of outright theft or equivocations justifying outright theft.

For most of us, equivocators or not, the issue of how we get our music is much more complicated than that. I'll wager that most of you carry around several simultaneous, irreconcilable perspectives, just like I do.

And, I imagine ethicists would or do have a field day with this issue.

Because, sure, it would be easiest if we just followed #1. But that would be in a world where we could put all of our Halloween candy in a bowl on our front porches with notes that read "One per person, please," while we head out to take in a movie and spare ourselves the annoyance of continual knocking on our doors. The fact is, we not only stay home to protect our candy, we also stay home to protect our homes.

While certainly I am not condoning basic thievery, I am also not naive enough to deny its very existence. When the cat is away, the mice will play. If you are not going to lock your door, Mr. Homeowner or Mrs. Music Company, eventually, perhaps sooner rather than later, someone is going to check to see if the door is locked. If I should not go onto, find a song that fits my blog post, go to the blog that has posted it, download it, and then use it on this blog, it is up to the gigantic, multinational music corporations to prevent me. I hope they don't, though, because I'm certainly not trying to hurt them, and may be helping them. It's unclear. I'm just taking advantage of the technology that allows a person to listen to the song(s) I've posted while he or she reads my post.

If you disagree, that's fine; I don't think my position is particularly supportable, schizophrenic as it is.

Anyway, by way of a compromise, here's a bit of a peace offering. If you have never ventured onto the incredible site called Daytrotter, you have missed an opportunity to hear, live in the studio or live on location, some of the finest bands going these days, often of an alternative nature, the kinds of bands that bloggers like, but also some pretty established artists, one that I happen to like like Aimee Mann. And the good news is, you can also download the songs for free and completely legally.

You can get 4-5 songs from someone, usually songs that you like as well as songs that are new, in crisp, performance versions that dovetail nicely from the studio versions that the artists have just recorded. I've offered a few examples in the songs above.

At the risk of speaking for Billy, the music industry really needs to figure out how to best serve people like us. Not only are we significant consumers of their musical products (I, for example, purchase regularly from Itunes, eMusic, and Amazon), but we spend a fair amount of time promoting and highlighting those products from the past, present, and future. For free.

All of the songs above come from the artists' sessions.


Jason said...

It is pretty amazing for me to watch all this from where I am. Intellectual property rights in a lot of Asia just don't exist, or are barely acknowledged.

Not that that makes everything ok, because it doesn't.

But otherwise certain unnamed people can kiss my ass for all their supposed moral superiorities.

cinderkeys said...

I am a musician who'd like to make money off of her songs, and I agree with the spirit of your points. We need saner copyright laws. It's not like you guys are offering entire albums for free download.

As a data point, I bought Written in Chalk after hearing "Chalk" on your site. I have never decided NOT to buy a song because I heard it for free on your site.

BeckEye said...

Bands now routinely "leak" free downloads, so they know that there is a benefit to doing so. There are always going to be people out there who will take whatever they can get for free and never spend a dime on music, and you're never going to change those people. But I think they're in the minority. Those people aren't "real music fans," and therefore don't scour the Internet like you or I do, looking for all the hot, cool, new and old stuff that they can get their hands on. People who do that really love music and understand that, without money, our favorite artists can't continue to make it.

I'll bet Anonymous is very happy that he/she finally got attention from someone.

Billy said...

RUSH's lawyers had Blogger pull a post of mine two times. The first time, it had a link to one of their songs. The second time, it only mentioned the song, but had no link.

Yes, Rush's lawyers pulled a blog post for merely mentioning "By-Tor and the Snow Dog". No mp3 file anywhere in sight.

And yes, even though Geddy, Neil and Alex might have had nothing whatsoever to do with this, the mere fact that they permit someone to be this much of an annoying fucktard in their names knocks them down a notch on my list of beloved bands.

goofytakemyhand said...

I was hoping for a musical troika of Van Morrison, Rush, and REO Speedwagon to accompany the blog post just to see whose lawyers would jump on it the fastest.

cinderkeys said...

They took down posts that merely linked to or mentioned "By-Tor and the Snow Dog"? Damn. When did this happen? Did you ever complain to Blogger or attempt to inform Rush of what happened?

jed said...

Anonymous - what say you?