When I was in middle school, I remember that being able to purchase a CD was the biggest award I could have gotten.
Saving up allowance and washing dishes to earn the money to go and buy music was a common practice and I thought nothing of it. It’s just what you do. Someone does hard work and you pay them for it.
I worked hard at my chores (most of the time) and I got paid for it. The artist, producers and distributers worked hard to make a product and we pay them for it. It’s a lot like a restaurant; we pay for a good meal.
Unless you lack morals and common courtesy, I like to think that you wouldn’t walk into a store and steal a CD.
However, I can almost guarantee that a majority of my readers have done this, even if they aren’t aware of it — in the form of illegally downloading music on the Internet.
With my old mindset of having to work hard to get what you want, I can’t fathom stealing. Unless you’re so poor that you’re starving and you steal a loaf of bread, I just don’t understand it.
Now, going against my own argument for a moment, I understand that a lot of kids these days do not have money to buy music. I also understand that often, they’re illegally downloading music that their parents do not want them listening to.
Since I do, in fact, consider music a necessity to live these days, if you’re genuinely too poor to purchase it, I suppose you’re the exception to the rule. That being said, if you can afford an iPod, you should be able to afford a 99-cent song.
Now that fans think nothing of illegally downloading, I hope that I can shed light on the issue so they can know of the harm it does to the artists.
I shouldn’t even have to mention that it’s bad for your computer, but if you want to mess up your expensive equipment that’s your own decision.
Now, recently, the Supreme Court refused to take up a case of a woman ordered to pay a $220,000 fine for illegally downloading music.
Jammie Thomas-Rasset has been fighting and appealing charges filed against her for use of file sharing program, Kazaa. She had been ordered to pay amounts as high as $80,000 per song — nearly $2 million total.
This wasn’t the first time the Supreme Court refused to review a case. Joel Tenenbaum was ordered to pay $675,000 in fines.
The Recording Industry Association of America has sued around 35,000 people for online piracy over the decade.
Now, all that time appealing, appearing in court and money over some stolen music — ain’t nobody got time for that!
So save yourself the time and just pay for the song. Seriously, it’s $1.29 for major singles on iTunes, and $10 for a CD on average these days.
Now, let’s go to those the problem truly affects.
When I think of bands that have been majorly screwed over because of the cutthroat nature of the industry, I think of The Bigger Lights.
They had so much potential to change the face of music — so much anger and honesty in their writing, and a true dagger to my heart when they released 2011’s “Battle Hymn,” and never toured on it.
I’ll never forget when Ryan Seaman, TBL’s drummer and current drummer for Falling In Reverse, told me about their stuff being stolen in 2010.
Laptops, equipment, instruments and money were taken from their van. This was a financial and emotion struggle for the band as they were already losing money by touring.
After what happened, they still went on tour again, because they had fans waiting, and touring was the only way they could get out of the hole.
At a show at The Grog Shop in Cleveland (my third TBL show), the band had at least known who I was enough to know I was a huge supporter of the band, and that I’ve owned at least one of every merch item. I also tipped their merch girl, knowing they relied on tips to survive.
Seaman saw me buying another physical copy of their self-titled CD and said “wait, you already have this.”
I responded with “I know, bu my nephew needs a copy.”
“How old is he?” he asked.
He gave me a hug. “You have no idea how much your support means to us.”
You see, especially for indie record labels, they have to rely on numbers. It’s a business.
Twitter followers, likes on Facebook and, you guessed it, album sales have a huge role in determining what tours a band can go on, and how much money they receive while on tour.
It even affects which cities they can visit. It all comes down to what areas their music is thriving in — where they can turn a profit.
More often than not, upcoming artists do not break even when it comes to making music.
As far as an album or song’s position on the charts is concerned, Billboard is now taking YouTube views into consideration, as well as Spotify and Pandora requests. Unfortunately, this means that something like “Friday” by Rebecca Black could take the number one spot.
And whereas Spotify and Pandora are legal solutions to listening to music, not all artists they play see profit from their music being played.
So I plea with you readers, when illegally downloading music, think about the vast array of people it affects.
The music industry is constantly changing, and while I’m stoked that musicians can be heard, the fact that they cannot make a living in a society where people will pay $4 for a cup of coffee, but not a dollar for a song is saddening.
If nothing else, think about this; Do you really want to open up Rolling Stone in 20 years and see Rebecca Black representing this generation of music?
I didn’t think so.