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October 26, 2007

Some sense from the other side

I am often amazed at the one-sidedness of discussion about free music. It always seems to reflect the view that bands, artists or record companies have been ripping consumers off for so long that therefore any steps taken to obtain music for free are quite justified and OK. But I don't subscribe to that view and never have .. and never will. As with all things, there needs to be a sense of balance about this sort of thing.

So I was pleasantly surprised to read an article in Puddlegum that sets out the case for the artist whose music is ripped off and given away without their permission. It's entitled "Our entitlement mentality" and some of the comments posted to it reflect exactly what it's about ... sadly.

Those commenters have completely missed the point, which is that creating the music is neither free nor easy, and the creators are entitled to some mechanism for recouping the costs of recording and promoting. To argue that they are dumb to sign a label deal of that kind is missing the point - if they put up their own money they'd be in exactly the same situation. It's also pointless to argue that they should aim to recoup costs from live performance, etc, because they are probably $50K in the hole before they start paying for touring costs, etc. For an indie band, that's a huge fiscal mountain to climb.

There is no way for consumers to argue that artists should not be entitled to some payment for their creativity. Whether it's by the Radiohead/Sheba model of "pay us what it's worth", or by iTunes revenues or whatever, the music cannot be assumed to be free by consumers - otherwise the relationship has swung too far back in favour of the listener/fan and away from the sustainability of the artist ...

Sadly, a generation of music listeners (I won't call them fans because that implies that they respect and support the artist) HAS grown up with the expectation that demanding free music is acceptable. That's the real travesty of this situation.

Posted by Hughie at October 26, 2007 10:29 AM

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