Kaboom! Big explosions going off in the world of music today. Maybe you read up on it already but I’ll break down some of the key posts..
Emily, an intern at NPR, wrote a frank article about the way her generation listens to music. Mostly, they don’t pay for it. Surprise.
David, of Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker, wrote a scathing response directed at Emily and her peers.
The thing is, I kind of want to support Emily here. I don’t know. She seems ok.
And maybe it’s because, in a way.. I am Emily.
I was a Computer Science major in college and I had access to things. Everythings. My drives were brimming with music and I was able to train myself in several high-end pieces of software I wouldn’t have had access to otherwise.
I rationalized it of course, I wouldn’t have purchased these things and I wouldn’t have stolen them but cloning them was different, it did no harm.
Maybe I was wrong but I was a kid and kids get it wrong.
Emily for example, I never said she was right, I want to support her because I think she’s just being Emily. She’s offered up a frank assessment of how she consumes music and she’s been throttled with the club of morality. The pent up aggression of a thousand starving musicians is now focused on her like a laser… and hey.. did I mention, she’s a kid?
After college I went through a transition. First, as a business owner I made sure that every piece of software I used was legit. Then, I tried to clean up my music. It was a rocky transition, first to quasi-legal Russian Mp3 outlets and then to harvesting Mp3 files from music review blogs. Then, with one blunder, I accidentally wiped out my giant hard drive full of pirated Mp3s and I decided it was the end of an era.
I think the way people support the arts evolves with age. They get out of college, begin to understand real world economics and start to see that some of their favorite artists are insane people who will keep following their passions regardless of if they’ve been fed.
I think I do a lot more to support the arts these days than I did in college and I don’t know what you all were doing to support the arts at Emily’s age but guys, she’s interning at NPR.
Of course, all of this is bigger than music and the arts as Johnathan Coulton points out. It’s about.. Legos!?!
So.. yeah.. people are going to be printing toys and gadgets instead of buying them. Music is just one of the first bees out of the hive. Just you wait, it’s going to get stingy.
Kickstarter might be something to cling to. Maybe it’s a step towards the “Holding Things for Ransom” business model where an artist pitches an idea, gives a little taste of that idea, then tries to rake in cash up front before creating and releasing it to all the free grubbers.
This public review of proposed projects is fascinating. It actually seems similar to the old model of trying to submit your music to a label except now the label is the audience and maybe you stand a chance of finding your niche.
If you don’t, no one is stopping you and you can still pursue your project without up-front funding. At least you’ll be armed with the knowledge that people didn’t think it was worth supporting.. which is ok.. it isn’t about money and besides, they just don’t get it man.
As my personal economics improve and my abilities to support other artists improve, I try to support them more and more.
I don’t think it’s a cultural shift for me, I think it’s more about my age and place in the world.
I’m sure Emily will turn out fine, ease up on her a bit.
Update: More reading from Chris Griffy – The Case for Digital Music