David Lowery 2011

On Monday, June 16, NPR All Songs Considered intern Emily White published an essay in which she admitted that, while she boasted an iTunes library comprising some 11,000 songs, she had only purchased 15 CDs in her lifetime. In her 517-word story, White claimed that only a small fraction of her library came via piracy (“from a stint in the 5th grade with the file-sharing program Kazaa”). The 21-year-old called herself “an avid music listener, concertgoer, and college radio DJ [whose] world is music-centric.” Most of her library, she says, came from the type of personal sharing that might be considered the 2005 equivalent of home-taping:

“I’ve swapped hundreds of mix CDs with friends. My senior prom date took my iPod home once and returned it to me with 15 gigs of Big Star,The Velvet Underground and Yo La Tengo … I spent hours sitting on the floor of my college radio station, ripping music onto my laptop.”

In all, a pretty innocuous tale — 11,000 songs is a kinda puny collection; the 160 GB iPod Classic can store 40,000 songs, according to Apple (although YMMV if you care about things like “sound quality”). In conclusion, White suggested that she wasn’t happy with the current distribution models, and she hoped to see something better emerge: “What I want is one massive Spotify-like catalog of music that will sync to my phone and various home entertainment devices. With this new universal database, everyone would have convenient access to everything that has ever been recorded, and performance royalties would be distributed based on play counts.”

The piece struck a nerve with former Cracker/Camper Van Beethoven frontman David Lowery, who responded to White yesterday with a 3,300-word missive that grapples with White’s confessions as well as many issues never explicitly raised by White. Lowery’s targets are varied. He addresses the (supposedly prevalent?) notion that file-sharers justify their practices by claiming they’re not hurting artists but faceless record labels. He writes off Spotify as being an untenable alternative to purchasing music (“It is not a fair system”) and he crunches some numbers, concluding that White owes $2,139.50 to the artists whose music she has obtained sans payment.

Lowery makes a couple points that wilt under analysis (the idea that listeners of White’s generation are “willing” to pay for Internet access but unwilling to pay for music — as if there were a free alternative to paying for Internet access) and he never really addresses the extremely essential question of divining the point at which listeners should shell out their hard-earned cash (before listening to any music? After listening to a given album five times? Two times?). But for all its weaknesses, his essay is essential reading: passionate, eloquent and urgent. Read it here.

Do you agree with Lowery’s argument? Or do you think it falls short of addressing the problem? Do you pay for music, or are you, like White, sitting on a library of songs you obtained via sharing?

Comments (201)
  1. Here’s a wonderful response article by Wesley Verhoeve that everyone should probably read.

    “We are tilting at windmills here people. I used the expensive word ‘quixotism’ in the title of this article, and that is the actual problem here. David represents the impracticality in pursuit of ideals, manifested by lofty and romantic ideas. David, and many of the stake holders that have tweeted in his support, play the part of Don Quixote in this farcical short novel that is the transition phase of the music industry.

    Utopia as seen through the eyes of Don Quixote is merely an illusion. We should look at the Utopia seen through the customer’s eyes, and build a system around it. This is not about morals. This is about smarts. It’s not about being right or wrong. It’s not about rebelling. It’s about a giant shift in consumer behavior and how we as an industry deal with that.”

  2. You work for a very prolific and respectable music organization, and only have 11,000 songs? Get your weight up

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    • Just like how nobody but people who listen to music will give two shits when musicians can no longer afford to make and release their art.

    • This is one of the most ignorant and redundant comments I have ever read in the entire sphere of internet-dom.

      That’s like saying people who work in a factory only care about insurance and benefits because they might get injured on the job. OF COURSE he is passionate about it because not only is music his livelihood that he uses to support himself, but also he probably enjoys doing it.

      Also, someone who “wines” and one who “whines” are very different things. Perhaps you should give two, nay even one, shit about using correct grammer before lampooning those that are just trying to GET BY making their art, let alone support themselves.

  4. The “free alternative” to internet access is called the public library. Also, the most moving and convincing part of the entire essay is where Lowery talks about Mark Linkous and Vic Chesnutt, and their financial plight even though in many peoples eyes they were “successful” musicians and playing the late night circuit etc. Those stories are not just ideals but real people making real music being effected personally.

    I don’t think the essay was in any way saying that people should not be able to listen to a record before buying it, but just realizing if you don’t support something, even if you value it–it will go away.

    • Also, let me just say that I have spent the past 6 years of my life playing music in a band, releasing 4 albums, touring the country countless times and foregoing many niceties of life that other people have all to make music. I’ve quit jobs, gone without food, slept on hundreds of floors, and on and on, just to be in a band. All that to be said, I have not in the last 6 years made more than 10k in a single year, and much less for a number of years. The ability of a band to continue on and do what everyone here on this music website wants them to do (make music/tour) is undermined if you do not support them in some way. Any way. It doesn’t matter how, and there are artists trying to figure out new revenue streams, but ultimately if people don’t choose to engage with a band in some financial way through some revenue stream…ultimately it says that you don’t care whether or not that band ever puts out another record, mp3 or whatever.

      Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining, because I’ve loved the band experience, but costs can only be externalized for so long before someone has to pay the debt.

    • Via Lowery’s logic, isn’t ripping from a public library equivalent to getting it from a friend?

      • The problem is, Lowery’s logic isn’t really logic. It’s an impassioned plea masked as logic. There’s no defined cutoff point at which borrowed music becomes stolen music. In the ’80s, you had Home Taping Is Killing Music. In 1993, Garth Brooks (with the backing of several major labels) refused to release his then-new album to any store that sold used CDs, arguing that the used market was cutting too deep into profits. Surely these methods of distribution DID affect the bottom line to some degree, though exactly how much is not quantifiable. But there can be no middle ground in the eyes of the (loosely defined quote-unquote) industry — if home-taping / used CDs / file-sharing is deemed inconsequential, it is ignored. If it is deemed a discernibly negative influence, it necessarily must be abolished at all levels. It must be! The arguments against don’t allow room for nuance — because how could they? — they can’t explore gray area here. But realistically it’s all gray area, which is why these arguments never really stand up (which is unfortunate, IMO).

      • most libraries are tax-funded instituations that get books donated or sold to them. it is a service provided to you as a citizen because it was decided it should be a public service (after many years of libraries existing publicly because of voluntary funding or being founded by the wealthy)

        but guess what – you copying pages from a book and giving it to a friend is copyright infringement and illegal. you copying pages form the book and using them in your own work is illegal.

        since authors don’t do much selling merch and touring, i guess you’re ok with seeing them disappear because you don’t think you need to pay for that stuff they make for a living, right?

  5. My system for the past few years has been essentially to stream albums, get free downloads that are offered on sites like this one, spotify (since last year). If I really like the album I go ahead and buy it. If there are only a couple of songs that I like, I don’t bother with buying the whole thing. I probably own 100 CDs most of them purchased within the last few years, and many of them used (which I’m not even sure the artists get paid for used CDs, [pretty sure they don't]).

    Essentially if services like spotify don’t make enough money to please artists, labels, etc. Then I have no problem with adding more ads if it means I have a chance to listen to an album before I go out and shell out money for it.

  6. Buying music is the moral thing to do. It’s that simple. Unfortunately, most people don’t have strong morals. Given the unethical option, if it’s cheaper on people’s pocketbook, and no one is looking, they will take it. They can try to rationalize it any way they choose, but it doesn’t make it right.

    • This has always been my argument. It’s a classic example of the fraud triangle on a massive scale. All one needs is incentive, opportunity, and rationalization. The internet gives us that in spades. I can get any piece of media I want for free if I know where to look for it. And there’s an extremely slim chance I’ll ever get caught. What keeps me from just going for it? Stealing is wrong.

      I guess expecting people to do the right thing is idealistic in this case, which is actually pretty sad.

    • Bullshit. I will never accept a system where I 80-90% of the money I pay to most artists goes to label CEOs and such instead. I choose to support artists in other ways, like promoting them for free on my blog, going to shows, and buying merch (many artists make more money off of a single hoodie than off of 40 albums sold). I do much more for them than you do by paying Apple for the right to download an artist’s music. That’s not rationalization. That’s a fact.

      • In terms of the buying merch and going to shows part, I’m with you. But, it should be said that you shouldn’t confuse your enthusiasm for an artist by posting on blogs, tweeting, facebooking, telling friends, etc. with support for that artist by things you said you do like going to shows, buying merch there, etc. There is a clear distinction.

      • No, that’s rationalization, in that you can still promote artists for free on your blog and buy their hoodies while paying for their music, via a system, I might add, that THEY choose–even if YOU’RE not comfortable with the idea of record labels and the like, it’s a system artists elect to be a part of. Isn’t better to support your artist via a medium they’ve approved of than not to? And by the way, label CEOs? Just what kinds of albums are you buying, anyway?

        • a lot of artists don’t want to be on labels, but right now In this ever changing market it makes it easier for them. That’s why you are seeing big artists break away from labels (Radiohead) or start their own. It’s a nessecary evil that is slowly fading away.

          • I intern at Three Lobed Recordings, an indie record label from Jamestown, which is to say, a single guy who has a career and family and needs a college kid like me to do some of the grunt work like packing records. The label–or just “he”–is not a necessary evil. It’s a guy who doesn’t make music himself but loves it, who has made it his purpose to get it out there. That’s not an evil–that’s fucking noble! And as Stereogum readers, the albums we’re talking about stealing more often come from labels like Three Lobed than, say, Atlantic.

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          • Speaking of people who should shut up, how about a history lesson. Pre-In Rainbows Radiohead was under EMI, which they left to SELF RELEASE their next two albums. XL Only got involved in the printing of physical copies of the album. Get your facts straight before you start with your childish personal attacks.

          • Calm down…i’m sure this isn’t the first time you’ve been wrong.

            Yes, they self-released from their site for the launches…but why did they then release them on XL for physical? And more importantly, why isn’t it free to download from their site at this very moment? Why not “feed the world” with free downloads? I see that it costs 6 pounds…should we bust their balls about how we want it for free?

            Their own imprint label, Ticker Tape Ltd., is owned by XL Recordings. Most “big artists” that break away and start their own labels, start imprints that are subsidiaries of other labels that exist already- major, indie, etc.

            Yes, some bands release music from labels they completely own or run, etc. that’s great; it can mean more profit for them if they don’t have a lot of overhead involved. And sometimes, cheaper prices for us. Clap Your Hands say Yeah made a killing releasing their own music and good for them, they worked for it. This has nothing to do with your argument that it’s ok for you to steal it…the point is some bands relesse their own music, some bands release it on labels…but either way, there are costs involved and most artists want to be able to get money for this art so they charge you. You try to bypass that and fuck them.


      • What about independent record labels though? Most of what we Stereogum types listen to is released on labels which are run by musicians, music enthusiasts or self-released by the bands themselves?

        I wonder if people who make the ‘big bad music industry’ argument as a justification also refused to pay for albums by Sufjan Stevens (Asthmatic Kitty – Self Run), Animal Collective, Ariel Pink (Paw Tracks, run by AnCo) or The Strokes (Rough Trade – an important independent label that went bankrupt and was resurrected, but has never made big profits)

        • I continue to find this character — the misguided Robin Hood type who allegedly justifies his piracy by claiming he’s not stealing from artists but labels — to be a strawman. Not to say he doesn’t exist, but I think most serious listeners (which would include approximately 100 percent of Stereogum readers) recognize that indie labels are usually just one or two people who do a shit-ton of work for no money.

          That said, I’m baffled by the notion that buying music through iTunes — wherein Apple takes a healthy cut of your entertainment buck — is the equivalent of buying a T-shirt direct from a label — which would seem to me to be a transaction between fan and artist, more or less. In this environment, I’d rather buy the T-shirt — which gives to me something tangible, something that addresses a BASIC HUMAN NEED (clothing) and something that also offers, tangentially, collectible resale value — than the album from iTunes, wherein the artist gets a fraction of my outlay and I get digital files I could have gotten from the Internet, the library or Spotfiy with exactly zero reduction in tangible value.

          To that end, the last recorded music I purchased was THIS, which packages a vinyl LP with a limited poster and T-shirt. The record to me, frankly, is kind of inconsequential — I have the music already on my iPod. But I wanted the T-shirt and the poster. I think more purveyors of music have to adopt such strategies (not to say they haven’t tried).

      • You obviously didn’t read the article (Jordy) where he debunked all your points.

      • Jordy, you’re exactly the person I’m talking about. You just rationalized the shit out of your refusal to pay for the music you listen to.

        I’m not sure how illegally downloading an album from a small indie label is punishing anyone besides the artists, producers, engineers and handful of poorly paid label employees who put out the music.

        “I do much more for them than you do by paying Apple for the right to download an artist’s music.”

        Have you been following me around town? How do you know how many shows I go to, or whether I buy fucking T-shirts or not?

      • Did every band you stole from ask you to promote them via your blog? I bet they see more value in the 10 bucks they asked you for in exchange for copies of their art.

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  7. He didn’t “BLAST” her as your headline says. He was respectful and he makes MANY valid points despite your misrepresentation of his remarks here. I’m VERY offended by the tone of your article.

  8. I’m an awful music theif; I’ve got some 25,000+ songs in my iTunes library, most of which I’ve torrented. I can boast that I’ve bought a significant amount more physical music than Ms. White (150+ LPs, 400+ CDs, a handful of casettes), but the loss far outweighs the gain. I don’t have deep economic knowledge, so my opinion is laregly (stupidly) unfounded, but I’m gonna go with Emily White on this one. There’s gotta be a better way of distributing digital media than the current, at least one that’d make me feel less guilty.

    I can (barely) remember a time when labels were selling CDs for almost twenty bucks a pop, which is (and was) outrageous. But even ten bucks for something intangible (as digital files are) seems kinda unreasonable to me. It’d seem we’re moving in a cloud-based streaming direction, there must be some way to harness that for some cashola.

    My two cents.

    P.S. Thanks, Stereogummers, for last week’s best comments recognitions, I’m super duper honored.

    • i’d like to echo Lowery and ask have you never heard of iTunes and iTunes Match? those 2 things allow you to pay for music and they’re incredibly convenient – no more guilt!

    • 10 bucks seems unreasonable to you?

      • Yes. Some of us music lovers can barely afford rent and food, even with a college degree and constant job-searching. $10 is a hell of a lot of money to someone who buys ramen rather than Progresso because it’s cheaper.

        • Jordy mentioned food…soooo let’s say you’re as much of a Progresso fan as you are of music and let’s say that Progresso is the iTunes model of soups and it’s basically the only option you have of purchasing and comsuming said soup (Amazon is basically the same as iTunes with $.99 per song and about $10.00 an album). You can’t afford Progresso because you need to pay rent and food…but Progresso charges what the market driven price is, soncidering it needs a profit margin to exist and it needs to pay its vendors (carrot farms, salt supplier, etc. = artists, labels, etc.) to be able to make the product.

          So are you saying that because you need to pay for rent and other essential living costs, and $10.00 for Progresso doesn’t fit into that equation, that it is justified to steal the soup like people steal music? Wrong. The only proper way to drive the price down is for the market to demand it by forcing other ways of purchasing to emerge…I may not agree with Spotify’s model either but artists/labels can choose to be on there and/or on purchasing services like iTunes and Amazon. Wesz saying “But even ten bucks for something intangible (as digital files are) seems kinda unreasonable to me” is absurd…a lot of important and amazing things, ideas, etc. aren’t “tangible” but they may be valuable and belong to someone. This is intellectual property we’re talking about.

          It’s a very spoiled and selfish outlook on life to think that simply because you can’t afford something, you’re entitled to stealing it instead of using your own abilities to come up with a more legit way of obtaining it. Yes, artists may make more money on merch and touring these days, but it’s not up to you to decide if taking the IP of their art and not paying for it is fair simply because you contribute by buying t-shirts. Music and film are naturally more vulnerable to being stolen compared to some other arts because they can be duplicated without loss, being that we’ve made imprtant advances in the technology that transfers the medium. You can’t copy a painting and have it be an identical product. You can’t copy a prepared dish and have it be an identical product.

          I’d be lying if I said I’ve never ripped a song I didn’t pay for but I’ll never say that it’s my right because the people making the music and/or the entities than enable them to do so want too much money from me. That’s so shortsided.

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          • Thank you. The “I’m a poor college student, and I’m entitled to free entertainment” argument drives me up the wall. Same with the “If they didn’t make it so expensive, I wouldn’t have to steal it” logic.

          • the first flaw of these arguments is when people try to compare digital files to things that are tangible. Walk into a store with soup, they have 30 cans. Go online. Infinity symbol. No to mention, you don’t buy soup merch or soup tickets to see soup live. Argument doesn’t work.

          • AND to follow that up, if you could download soup, I would be 100% for people downloading soup for free, feed the world, make the world a better place. Sell advertisements on your soup downloading website. If the soup is being bootleg, you could look at the nominal price of making soup to download and do it through chairty, taxes, etc. life finds a way.

          • Thanks for the correction on “shortsighted”, Jordy…there were plenty of typos in my rushed post.

            Buut comparing what I said to a christian telling you that being gay is wrong is absolutely off base and ridiculous. Someone being against homosexuality and restricting the civil rights of gays is wrong because that’s their the oppressor’s opinion on another person’s life, and it affects people that they are not relating to. “Believing” that it is not immoral to steal has nothing to do with it…an artist makes art, they deliberately sell art, and you decide for yourself that you deserve it without paying. You’re more like the christian here, buddy. You’re deciding for yourself that it’s ok to take something from someone that they hoped to get money for.
            You have to be kidding.

          • quop – i used soup as an example because jody mentioned soup but im sorry if that confused you because soup is something that comes in a can and music gets downloaded.

            but they’re not that different. music still costs money to be recorded and distributed. the artist and the people they chose to help them get that music out there have spent time, money, energy, etc. doing so and they have determined a rpice for each song or album. you not paying for it simply because it’s obtainable on the internet makes no sense.

            feeding the world would be great. but it’s not your choice as to what the person that comes up with your magical downloadable soup has to do with said magical soup…if you want to feed the world, get off your ass and make up your own soup (music) and give it away…stop fucking with other people’s rights to make a living (or in some cases, simply recoup costs) off of their art that they worked for.

          • People get really hung up on the semantics of “theft” versus “piracy.” Theft: swiping a physical CD from the rack; thus, leaving the store short one CD. Piracy: taking an intangible good without paying for it, leaving no physical shortage of the product.

            If I sit down for a haircut and run out the door before I pay for it, is that any less moral than torrenting? I haven’t depleted the barber of any of his physical inventory.

          • danner – each individual haircut takes time. He can’t give one haircut and then apply it to 1 million people in the span of seconds therefore the analogy doenst hold water. Also, as I have said before, you are talking about things that have ONE source of revenue. Soup for eating. You buy it you eat it once. Haircut, you get it, your done. Bands tour. Bands sell merch. Bands liscense music for commericals and movies. There are many ways for a band to acquire revenue, it’s just that the market is changing and the idea of the physical song making money is going away. The songs are more so commericals, samples, for furthered fan base support. That means those big time musicians will be making arguably less money, but with people now gaining access to hundreds and thousands of new bands material with ease, more bands can find moderate success. Oh well, guess musicians will have be that without making billions and do it cause they love it. Wah.

          • qwop – Fair enough. The main issue is that people are arguing their way around not paying for something that they know they know cost musicians time and money. You can make all the points you want (and honestly not all of them are bad ideas) about the direction the music industry could move toward, but acting like it’s our position to tell musicians how to conduct their business seems ridiculously arrogant to me. “Hit the road more, boys, cuz I’m pirating your stuff anyway” is a pretty selfish attitude for anyone claims to care at all about the musicians they like.

        • quop – forget haircuts and soup, you’re still confused. a film is just like a song. it happens once, but it’s captured in a medium and then distributed. it can cost millions of dollars and people work very hard on it but you think that simply because it exists in a digital medium that can be copied, it now qualifies and valueless and able to be stolen without recourse. you’d have to be very stupid to think this makes sense.

          a painting is made once. it’s a unique, physical property. that is so different from a sing that was performed and recorded once, mastered and finalized once, but just so happens to be able to exist on something that is able to be copied.

          years back before the digital age, if you made copied of a song or a film, it degraded in quality…it didnt sound or look as good and the more you did it, the more it degraded. so eventually, it would blow if there was only one master of the song and the rest was a copy of a copy of a copy…get it so far? so then comes the digital age and WOW, we can make coopies of this same art form but now, the quality stays the same.

          the value of this artform has not changed simply because it can now be delivered on as different technology…the costs going into replicating them has (cassettes cost a lot to manufacture, CDs less, vinyl not so much) but there is still a demand from the artist for you to pay for this art.

          the bottom line is most of the artists, if not all of them, are not giving away their music…they are telling you you should pay. try rationalizing to each one of them why you are supporting them by stealing the shit they asked you to pay for.

      • sounds like a pretty good deal to me :\

  9. what about the time i spent doing music reviews/concert reviews/etc for an online magazine? PR contacts were throwing records at me. since i’ve quit that job, do i have to delete the music? should i pay for it, now that i’m not actively promoting/covering those bands?

    • yes. you have to throw away something that was given to you.

    • no, because it was given to you when you were providing that service of promoting their music; there is value in what they wanted you to do for them…like if they gave you a painting, it’s yours to keep. but if you want more paintings or songs from that artist and you are now not doing anything for them, then you should expect to pay because they expect to be able to charge you.

      it’s reeeeeally simple, people.

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  11. I think it’s important to note that without the ability to listen to music free via spotify, youtube, hype machine, pirating or whatever, many people (especially me) would never have discovered 90% of what they listen to now. This is undoubtedly a major factor in why the independent music community has been flourishing in the past decade. However I do agree that it’s important to buy the albums from the artists after you know you really enjoy it, if nothing else out of respect for the artist and the pride of calling yourself a true fan.

    With that being said, Lowery’s response was very well grounded and It’s pretty difficult to disagree with anything he had to say The problem is that we all know what were supposed to do, but when it comes down to it nobody really feels like doing anything, I’m just going to download that flac file and move on, maybe see the band in concert. Maybe I need to be punished…

    • The punishment will be when bands/artists can’t afford to tour, or make a record, etc. Or, the time span where that is a viable option to do so will be significantly shortened.

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        • I take it you have not filled up your gas tank in the past, oh….four years or so?

        • so i guess you’ve never heard of stereogum then

        • Being broke means more hours you have to spend working at your 2 shitty restaurant jobs or whatever it is you have to do to make rent, and then you get home and have maybe a few hours to spend even thinking about your music, which of course means much more than writing music– it means keeping up on scheduling practices with band members, constantly dealing with everyone’s moods/lifestyles, maybe finding another band to split rent on your practice space if it’s too expensive (which of course will mean even LESS time to play), booking shows (let alone a TOUR, which is a logistical nightmare of an undertaking) and a million other variables. It can begin to feel like even if you wrote the best song in the world it could very easily make no difference to your situation due to the sheer amount of non-music related obstacles you have to wade through to even get a band to give a halfway-decent sounding 20min set, and when you combine that with the fact that a lot of “fans” these days really just amount to nothing more than consumers with easy access to the music of a thousand people like you and who want the most entertainment for the least amount of effort, that shit can be fucking defeating.

          Phew, sorry for this rant but I just had to get that off my chest! I just want to make sure we keep the human side of the music in perspective in this conversation.

  12. He’s right about the fact that Spotify is not a fair system. That’s the shittiest thing about the music industry right now. Not piracy, but how financially fucked artists are, by their labels.

    There needs to be a system in place exactly like iTunes or like Spotify, except labels don’t get 95-99% of the profits. I would buy the shit out of that music.

    • It’s called Bandcamp. Also most itunes distribution deals are not that atrocious, even though they are not ideal.

      • Oooh, disagree. iTunes takes a ridiculous profit off of my music and there’s no incentive for them to promote me. Especially when I already use a digital aggregator that charges a monthly fee to distribute. iTunes is not good for smaller artists who can’t negotiate. Bandcamp is a beautiful alternative.

        • In the Nardwuar interview with Cults they ripped into Bandcamp. They wanted to give away their songs for free, but Bandcamp said that they were becoming too popular so they would have to charge for their songs or pay $75 for every 1000 downloads or something.

          Obviously Cults has no issues now that they are major label but Bandcamp doesn’t seem to be the end all answer for every band.

      • Only problem with Bandcamp as a typical consumer is that it is not as easy to use as iTunes or Spotify, however I do like the model that they have in place.

  13. Just like with every medium before it, there is a very clear flow of money from consumer of content to provider of content. The flow stops at ISPs. ISPs take the lion’s share of money from those who use that media to acquire content.

    The content providers do not regulate. The content providers make a cool fortune while the creators of content continue to chase their fans down for money.

    Consumers will never afford the best lawyers. Labels, collectives, unions, general music industry businesses can. But they use them on those who can’t fight back.

    The solution is in front of everyone but nobody wants to deal with it because it seems insurmountable. Instead, most industry businesses continue to leech off of the less fortunate.

    Lowery can make Mrs White feel bad all he likes. Just like everyone else, he’s going after tiny fish.

  14. Here’s my issue with the Lowery piece: I don’t recognize the type of downloader he’s describing. The person who buys “fair trade” coffee and american made clothing aren’t the type that download with reckless abandon and no regard for the artist. At least, not in my experience. It seems to me the typical digital music geek, that is concerned with fairness and support, downloads a lot, and then pays for the stuff they really love in legit downloads, pre-orders, concert tickets, and merch. I know a lot of us go the extra mile to support small artists. As weird as it is, there seems to be an emerging self-sustaining community of artists and consumers who will pay out of the social/ethical pressure to do so. It doesn’t work every time, but it has also worked in times when the old model wouldn’t. I don’t like the way Lowery paints a generation as hypocritical in the way they treat their beliefs and their music fandom.

    I’m also uncomfortable when he veers towards getting Google & AT&T involved in restricting their ad network and search results.

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      • I’d draw parallels to bankers and speculators who manipulate markets “because they can”, and not only get away with it but get reimbursed from the public treasuries. As DJ Freshie above says, the tiny fish are not the real issue.

      • The best piece I have read on this subject remans THIS ONE, written in the wake of the Oink takedown in 2007. A couple of the author’s more compelling points:

        “iPods have become synonymous with music – and if I filled my shiny new 160gb iPod up legally, buying each track online at the 99 cents price that the industry has determined, it would cost me about $32,226. How does that make sense? It’s the ugly truth the record industry wants to ignore as they struggle to find ways to get people to pay for music in a culture that has already embraced the idea of music being something you collect in large volumes, and trade freely with your friends.”

        “The point is that no matter how you feel about it on a moral level, it’s already happened. It’s too late now, and it’s not the fault of the pirates, it’s the result of technology. Someone invented the internet, someone invented MP3s, someone invented means of distributing MP3s, and all of that has changed the way a new generation thinks about music. I used to think like you, because at first, it really seemed like the wrong thing to do. Ultimately, taking something that someone created just because you can is wrong. But technology changes the marketplace – there was a time when calculators used to cost $100, now they cost ten cents. No one makes fortunes off of typewriters anymore, because computers made them obsolete … You’re right that a lot of people who steal music have the greedy, gimme-gimme mentality and don’t support most of the artists they download. But it doesn’t matter, because the technology continues to grow, and fighting against that growth has proven futile.”

        • those are terrible points, regardless of that article’s intent.

          the flimsiest point being ‘i’d have to spend $33 grand to fill up my iPod! that’s BS!’ point. so what? i’d have to spend the same amount of money to fill at the empty closets in my house with clothes.

          • No you wouldn’t. You have the option of going to a thrift store. I’ve stocked my entire closet on the amount that most people pay for a single suit. But there’s no option for buying cheap used music, is there? I remember seeing an article a few months back about a possible file-sharing site where users could sell music that they didn’t want anymore. It doesn’t make much sense, but then again, neither does paying $1 per song when most artists see less than $.10 of that.

      • The entitlement of consumers is not the problem, and in many countries including my own, downloading remains legal.

        A lot of very high-up music professionals still think downloading is akin to stealing, even though those stealing pay 60-100 dollars a month for access to the internet. It is far more akin to a large group of people paying a subscription fee to enter a farmer’s market and feeling entitled to take all the fruit they please. Or entering an amusement park and feeling entitled to ride on all the rides for free.

        The problem is that the rides are run independently and the fruit is sold by individual farmers who are paid zero dollars by the park/market.

        The park/market is also not regulated. They don’t care at all who takes fruit or who rides on rides. They are focused on running a market or park for chrissakes.


        Analogy of the Year

        • Mmm hmmm. BUT why is it that the farmers or the ride providers (artists) continue to join the market and parks?

          Because even though they may not be making as much money on each ride or fruit, they’re there because it gives them exposure to more people and is therefor, worth it for them. Artists don’t get forced into signing with labels and labels don’t get forced into selling the music at iTunes.

          Some artists don’t sign to labels and they distribute and market themselves…but that requires their own costs, time, resources, etc. Labels have more of those things to provide for them and a better reach, and better marketing abilities, etc. Some labels, especially major labels (and trust me, there are shitty indie label deals as well), sign artists to shitty deals…but that artist has a fucking mind of their own and it’s a choice as to whether they do that deal or not. If an artist wants to sell driect to consumers via their website, then they can…but they know that by being on iTunes, it comes with built-in exposure and convenience.

          I personally dislike iTunes and most things Apple makes because they are generally overpriced, inferior products that come with very restrictive user experiences and require proprietary hardware and software (for example, anyone that thinks an iPhone is a better, more capable product than today’s open source Android phones are either stupid or lying to themselves)…but that being said, Apple doesn’t hold a gun to anyone’s head. The Beatles held out from being on iTunes for a while because apple Corp didn’t like the vuts…but they’re there now. and they sold a shit ton there.

          • Radiohead made more money selling In Rainbows direct with a choose-your-own-price model than they did from their previous albums combined under a label. Not a great deal from that label, right? Well, they didn’t sell any albums since In Rainbows without a label and even now, In Rainbows is on iTines with a fixed price.

            there are advantages and disadvantages to relying on aonther company, service, etc, to get your art out there…it all depends on how much you need them and what you can do for each other. Apparantly, even Radiohead decided they need a label (XL Recordings).

        • Someone should make a coffee table book that is just a compilation of djfreshie analogies.

        • Amazing analogy.

  15. the real question is cracker or camper? who do you prefer

  16. While I’m proud personally that my entire collection, save for one or two songs, has been legally collected, I understand music “sharers”/”pirates” point. Trying to decide whether or not to plunk down that ten (or seven, or five) bucks on an album that you’ve heard only a track or two from is a difficult decision.

    There’s plenty of music out there that I’d add to my collection if it was “free”, but I don’t think it’s the right thing to do. I read the diatribe, and he’s got some interesting points, but I thought it was a bit creepy to insinuate that those who don’t pay for music were somehow responsible for those suicides.

    • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

    • By that logic it should be morally acceptable to steal books so that one can read it to decide whether to then buy a copy. Surely the use of reviews, recommendations and a sense of discovery is sufficient to make a decision to buy an album. The cost of music in relation to many other cultural experiences like going to a movie, paid entry to a gallery etc is actually pretty fair, and you get to listen to your purchase as often as you want.

      • That is morally acceptable. It’s called a library.

        If a label offered me the choice to borrow an album for three weeks and then buy it if I liked it, I would support that.

        • if a soup sompany offered me a choice to try their soup for three weeks and then buy it if i liked it, i would support that. but that’s idiotic because the soup company would probably go broke supplying that much free soup and needing the infrastructure to keep track of identities that tried the soup and are due for a charge or not.

          it’s not any different because this is an art product that lives in a medium that can be copied. it sucks that that is the case for music and film, but you’re clueless if you think that people making this product owe it to you for free before you have the choice to buy it. if they choose to do it, then so be it…we all like free stuff…but have some principle and recognize that you’re stealing.

        • most libraries are tax-funded instituations that get books donated or sold to them. it is a service provided ot you as a citizen because it was decided it should be a public service (after many years of libraries existing publicly)

          but guess what – you copying pages from a book and giving it to a friend is copyright infringement and illegal. you copying pages form the book and using them in your own work is illegal.

          since authors don’t do much selling merch and touring, i guess you’re ok with seeing them disappear because you don’t think you need to pay for that stuff they make for a living, right?

          speaking of books, you should try reading some about art history, copyright laws, business models, and the way life works.

      • You listen to songs over and over again, and often quickly. Comparing something that takes 4 minutes to something that takes a week to months is stupid.

  17. To make a comparison, Emily is suggesting Netflix and David is playing the part of Blockbuster Inc. If you continue to be stubborn and refuse to evolve with the changing environment of the consumption of media, you will end up broke. Come on David, lets get with the times and actually be creative. Figure out another option if you don’t like Emily’s suggestion but the reality is that every industry deals with stuff like this and has from the beginning of time.

    We could just as easily be downloading movies by the thousands (which some people do) but with options like Netflix/Amazon Prime/Hulu/Redbox, people are willing to pay for the media because of the convenience. Heck, people are even willing to pay for online gaming with Xbox even when Playstation allows online access for free?? The music industry can not stay the same because the world is not.

  18. This piece is pretty much impossible to take down from any angle. I particularly appreciate his empathy with the “entitled generation”. I will say that, personally, yes, I would love to support the creators of all the music I fall in love with regularly, but at the age of 15 with the only decent record store a half-hour drive away, finding the money to be able to do that is a bit difficult, and it’s the same with several people I know. I know that doesn’t justify piracy, but until I find a job, the only alternative would be to listen to less music, which I’m obviously not going to do. It’s a dilemma, but what are you gonna do.

    • Exactly. I live in a suburb and do not have many musically-minded friends nearby. Nowadays, I own a turntable and buy more music than anyone I know. But without the opportunity to hear a whole lot of albums and sift through the ones I didn’t connect with to find ones I really loved, I would never have connected with independent music at all. I just didn’t have the money.

  19. I’m curious to know if his breakdown of tour profit (or lackthereof) is accurate. I used to justify myself by attending a ton of shows. I figured I was supporting the artists I truly liked by coughing up $20-40 for concert tickets. Does anyone have insight on this? At this point, I have slowed down on the number of shows I attend ( I do like when I can buy directly from an artist or independent ticket seller) and buy more vinyl. However, I still download more than I buy.

    • I went from buying 3-4 CDs a week, to attending 2-3 shows a month and downloading everything, to downloading some, buying vinyl once a month and attending shows every 1-2 months. I prefer to buy albums at shows with the hopes artists make more buy selling albums at shows than in music stores.

  20. Did anybody else pop in cassette tapes into their boomboxes and compile mixtapes of songs played on the radio?

    • yes, i sure as hell did. i would also make mixes from CDs i owned. funny how it’s really hard to find a mechanism that allows you to take songs off the radio nowadays…unless you’re using a tape recorder from back then…

      then again, the radio kind of blows these days outside of select college radio stations

  21. Obligatory Metallica reference.

    I did it!!!

  22. “NOT A BIG DEAL!? You think downloading music for free is not a BIG DEAL? Put your coats on. I’m gonna show you something… and I don’t think you’re gonna like it.”


  23. I’m with the great Christopher Weingarten on this one:
    “My thought on the NPR/Lowery thing is the same as always: ‘Steal as much music as you can, buy as many physical records as you can afford’”

  24. i will admit i torrent every album i listen to. that being said i do support my favorite artists of the year each year… i buy approx 20-30 albums on vinyl every single year (usually my favorite albums of that year). its a nice way to go back year by year. on top of that i go and support tons of live acts that make their way up here to the Mitten. and often the above said vinyl is bought at their merch table…

    i have no remorse and feel i support the artists a great amount… feel free to destroy me

  25. My only big problem with the article is that Lowery had to go and make me feel guilty for using Spotify. I’ve been doing the $10/month premium deal for the last six months thinking it was a fairly guilt-free way of checking out new stuff. I guess some things are too good to be true. I still spend way too much money on physical albums though because I’m a vinyl geek. The inclusion of the free download voucher with a vinyl purchase is the smartest practice record companies have adopted in years.

  26. Artists! Be the river, not the rock.

  27. It’s about time you damn hippies got jobs anyway.

  28. It’s pretty simple. There is nothing wrong with listening to to shared/downloaded songs for free if you just want to check out an artist, but if you don’t pay for the stuff you like and want to keep, that’s stealing. It continues to amaze me how people are able to convince themselves that never paying for music is okay. At the same time, I do think some sites and artists could do more to entice people to pay for music by offering FLACs or WAVs instead of crappy mp3s.

  29. An overlooked aspect to the filesharing/piracy discussion is the fact that music is not just a “product” – it’s _culture_. People have always made music, and they always will. If the computer industry collapsed, there would be no more computers. But if the music industry disappeared tomorrow, and it became completely impossible to earn a cent off of music, you know what? People would still make music. They’d get together and sing, learn instruments, start neighborhood bands.

    Music, excellent music, existed long before the modern record industry.

    • You make the most valid point here gruff. Music is not something invented by the label, and the idea of putting songs on 13 song discs and selling them for profit is not the entirety of music. It can change, it should change. Music should be free to the masses, and I see NOTHING wrong with the idea that music, much like commericals, are made as advertisements for an artists live performances (which already cost an arm and a leg and sell out all the time) merch, and other uses in media, movies, etc. who is to say that musicians have to be billionaires if successful? The market has changed and it allows more bands to be successful via the Internet and it allows for less label control and less big money bands. I’m sure the lead singer of cracker had dollars signs in his eyes, but I guess if he is going to keep doing it it will have to be for the love of the music. If he doesn’t, someone who does love it will….

      • Right, but it actually costs money to make and record music. Artists should be able to be compensated for that. Gear costs money (amps, guitars, drums, repair), practice spaces cost money, recording studios cost money, engineers, etc. Even a modest home studio costs money. Not every band can be out on the road 100% of the time selling merch. And it still costs money to get out on the road, (van, ever increasing cost of gas, etc.). Not every band out there breaks even touring as it is.

        • There are cheaper alternatives for all of those. And you don’t have to tour to sell merch, the Internet can do that for you. Little bands can start little.dont need big recording studios. Music is becoming easier and easier to record with technology advances. I am good friends with an indie band from a medium sized city who built their own recording studio! Actually, I know a few who have done this with a Mac and some recording equipment. Indie bands don’t have to have big expensive recording processes, I’ve seen it first hand. When they get bigger, get songs on commericals, shows, etc to get money, can make money from touring and merch, they can afford more, and so on. Don’t need to make CDs either, just go digital. It’s all easier than you make it sound.

        • @scapegoat – Exactly. I’d honestly like to hear a decent argument against this.

          • Psst… Look up.

          • So you’re basically saying screw the musicians–budget down, make do with crappy broken gear, record in your closet on one cheap microphone, tour 11 months out of the year, become a T-shirt selling business instead of focusing on creating great music, because this is the new era and technology makes it OK. Hell, you’re entitled to free music because the genie is out of the bottle, pay Apple, pay AT&T, pay Comcast but screw the people who actually make the music. I’m not talking about U2 and Metallica, I mean the small band or artist who already has a day job to make ends meet and is on a small independent label or is self releasing music. Consider it patronage if you have to, but your money should be going to them. What you’re eventually gonna have is the culture you deserve–which by your statements seems to be a cheapened, unvalued, throw away music scene. Have fun.

          • Never said broken. Never said closet. You are taking a lot of strait answers I gave and just throwing negative adjectives on them to help your argument. Good technology is getting cheaper and cheaper. This is how we got into this mess in the first place. Also, I pay for Internet. All aspects. Email, web streaming on YouTube, the list goes on, downloading is just a piece of that pie. I go to live shows all the time and see great bands. Support them that way. Great music isn’t about money, it’s about artistry. I’d rather have 100 talented artists singing I their closets, then 10 label products singing in a studio.

    • it did. and do you know how legendary composers like mozart and beethoven made their living? they got paid by royalty and clergy to create music. much how painters have been sanctioned by people to create.

      so yes, people will always make music///but that doesn’t have much to do with why and how people make a living from it.

      • That people have always made music, sometimes for money, sometimes not, is relevant context and a point worth including in the larger discussion.

        Mozart et al. survived thanks to the patronage system. This form of supporting artists, thousands of years old, involved a wealthy lord or bishop paying all of an artist’s living costs in return for having works dedicated to him, and being able to commission works. Copyright didn’t exist in those days so that wasn’t an issue. This system produced some of the greatest works of music ever written.

        But consider other forms of music. At the time Mozart was working, the peasants in the villages outside of Vienna were making music too. They played Austrian foik music for their weddings and feasts, for free, probably using tunes that had been passed down for generations. Money never entered the picture.

        Or consider the later troubadours of Occitanian France, who often had real jobs and played music in their free time.

        Or village gamelan orchestras of Indonesia.

        Or take the blues. This is a very interesting example. The Delta blues were invented by desperately poor, oppressed people who were outcasts from the dominant white society and oftentimes even looked down upon by their own black culture. They certainly didn’t play the blues at weddings. Yet these ostracized men, living hand to mouth, learning their music directly from a teacher, usually not making a single cent for their efforts, essentially laid the foundation for modern pop music – and thus indirectly for the corporate recording industry that is now facing a mortal threat.

        I don’t have an ideological axe to grind here, I just want to widen the discussion beyond the confines of the modern Euro-American pop music recording industry and its concerns. I have sympathy for talented players who can’t put bread on the table with their tunes. But things are changing, radically, and everyone will have to adapt.

        And if it all goes away, I will buy a tin whistle and amuse myself with that.

  30. No but honestly, yeah:

    1) Whining about money makes you look bad. Calling out younger people makes you look bad. Adapt and stop being so sour.
    2) Bandcamp.
    3) No, never buying anything is not good, at all (I’m sure if you start pro-Ron Paul arguments with “so what if he’s a racist?” you probably are deluded enough to think artists don’t deserve your money, since you’re too busy avoiding reality to go to shows).
    4) Buuuuuut it’s kinda ridiculous to expect everyone to go broke on their voracious music habit (Spotify helps stop me from piracy, but it doesn’t help the artist much unless you buy, WHICH LEADS TO)
    5) Labels need to be occupied.

  31. Id say that about 40% of my entertainment budget goes towards music. I love it, and love supporting these artists. Also, I havent bought an album in years. Say what? Yep, if it wasn’t for music I could listen too off the Internet, spottily, friends sharing, and downloading, I probably wouldn’t know 80% of the bands I know today. And I end up going to see them live, pay 25 to 70 dollars a ticket to see them live, and often by a band shirt while there. Wearing one now. But I guess I’m an awful person. I should only know 10 big bands, just see them live, buy their albums, etc. the old way is dead mr. Cracker, times are changing, wait and see when the dust setles.

  32. I think I’m coming at this from a slightly different perspective since I was never into alternative methods of obtaining music when I was younger, but I was certainly into those methods when it came to movies. I think one thing people are overlooking is that piracy has made things better in some respects.

    Does anyone remember what it was like dealing with tape traders and video bootleggers? I grew up in a small, conservative town. If you wanted to see Cannibal Holocaust (and I wanted to SEE Cannibal Holocaust) you had one of only a few options: digging through the crates of some pedo-looking fucker at a flea market or finding your way onto mailing lists for tape traders who would dub copies and then sell it to you for a ridiculously high price (usually only found by sifting through the back pages of specialty magazines or by word of mouth). THAT was legitimate piracy, and some scary stuff at that. You never knew what you were getting. Because they were often dubbing off second or third generation copies of a master, you’d often get ripped off because the picture quality was unwatchable; and even worse, there were times when you ended up with entirely different movies, or god knows what other strange and depraved shit they were copying for people.

    That was the real wild west of piracy. This is just the industrial revolution.

    • Let me make a correction, the tape traders would only sell it to you if you didn’t have something to trade for. Most of the time it was a bunch of weirdos looking to trade for obscure horror films, porn, or professional wrestling. It’s funny, I don’t recall there ever being a big market for art films or dramas or comedies unless it was something like El Topo or Holy Mountain or maybe John Waters.

  33. At this point, well over a decade after File Sharing has been a common thing, it is insane that we are still debating whether it’s moral or immoral. There is no question: it is immoral to steal something that you should be paying for. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I wish this industry would stop treading water and face reality: people will steal music. Wrong though it may be, it is a fact. The music industry has been desperately floundering and trying to stop downloading and pirating, and it’s just a waste of time. A generation that has grown up with the ability to download music for free with very little effort will NEVER go back to the model that was in place before said downloading existed. The sooner we all just say “Okay, downloading is a thing, it may not be right but it is reality,” the sooner we can figure out how to readjust the model into something that works with the current situation. I have no idea what the new model of income will be, but I can 100% guarantee you that shutting down Pirate Bay is not going to be the final answer that will have us all running to Tower Records again! The music industry has only existed for 100 years, it came about because technology enabled people to commoditize music into a tangible product. And now, 100 years later, technology has made that model obsolete. All of our “Oh, I download ___ albums but then I buy ____ albums and then I go see ____ bands and buy their merch, am I a bad person?” arguments and David Lowery’s calculations about how much money we all owe to the bands we’ve stolen from are, frankly, totally irrelevant.

    • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

      • Worst assessment.

      • The guy was on tour last year. I’m not even the world’s biggest CVB or Cracker fan, but as a guy who’s been in the business for around 30 years, I think he’s earned the right to add his two cents.

      • That’s his point — corporations make money from free downloads — and artist don’t. I’m sure it’d be a different story if Time Warner, Google, and etc weren’t profiting massively from this

  34. Brilliant article by Lowery. He really puts a face on who really profits from this mess. Music has no value to most of the people out there who claim they love it so much. Unfortunately, we’ll all have to suffer with sh*t artists because of it.

  35. I’m 25 and have been downloading music illegally since I was 12. I buy albums out of support when I really love a band or they’re fairly small but usually it takes incentives like art work or limited editions to get me to pull the trigger and even that’s pretty rare. I do feel bad for the artists especially when I think about how people I admire like Victoria Legrand, Jeff Tweedy, Win Butler, Justin Vernon and Robin Pecknold deserve to be Led Zeppelin or NSYNC rich but I justify all the music I download mainly because I could never afford anything near the 100 albums from 2011 that I downloaded last year. I’m a college student with a shitty job and most of my money goes towards whiskey and (when I’m flush) musical instruments. The truth is I don’t have a lot of sympathy for artists who still make awesome amounts of money and even less for the record companies who haven’t figured out how to fix a broken system.I think of my generation as the first to grow up on illegally downloaded music but even before then the first piece of music I ever owned was a cassette of Paul’s Boutique by the Beastie Boys that I stole from Warehouse Music.

  36. Everyone deserves access to music in the same way that everyone deserves access to books. Although I do it a lot less now that I’m older, illegal downloading is sometimes the only option for younger people who are not old enough to hold a job but still have a passion for music. I now try to buy every album I like on vinyl and go to shows and whatnot, but if I didn’t download music when I was younger I would not be buying nearly as much as I do today. To discourage this kind of behavior would, in my opinion, hurt indie music.
    Also, fuck predatory record labels. All artists should own their own content and make the majority of the revenue from sales. The argument made above that artists “choose” to enter into these agreements would seem disingenuous to anyone who has spent any amount of time working in the music business. Art is a beautiful thing, business isn’t.

  37. What happened to the David Lowery of 2009 who said this?

    “Well, my bands have always made a living by touring. As much as people in bands bitch and moan, that hasn’t really changed. If you are a viable band, you should be able to make an OK living driving around in a van playing shows. If you sell a few CDs along the way, that’s just a nice bonus. Put it away for a rainy day. [...] With or without illegal downloading, the business would have ended up where it is today. And what’s wrong with where the business is today? There is more good music around. The barriers to getting your music out and heard are very low now. Sure, that means there’s a lot of crap out there, but there is also a lot of great stuff. The music business has never been more vital in my lifetime. And I don’t think it’s smaller, either. I think there are more participants on every level: artists, songwriters, labels, venues, magazines and websites. I bet just about the same amount of people are employed playing music. The ‘business’ is just not concentrated in a few monolithic corporations like it used to be. Get used to it, because the entire economy will eventually look like the music business today.”


  38. As a music director for a college radio station, I can say that the promoters that now routinely send digital copies of pretty much every new indie album to college radio stations (and who presumably have some relationship with the artists/labels they’re promoting) explicitly request that I distribute these digital copies of music freely among all of the DJs at the station. When they send physical copies as well (or as opposed to digital), they expect DJs to rip the CDs so that they can listen through them and decide what should be played over the air. Considering that free music legally sent from promoters and received by college radio stations is probably the only way that the average college-aged music fan can afford to keep up with the current indie music landscape without explicitly torrenting stuff, I don’t see what the issue with Emily White talking about getting music from her college radio station is.

    • The issue (as Lowery sees it, as far as I can tell) is not how she has obtained her music to date, exactly, but her admission that paying for music will likely NEVER be a realistic option for her. Frankly I call bullshit on White’s “I haven’t pirated since Kazaa” claim, but of course you’re right — based on what she’s admitted here, she’s not even crossed any ethical boundary — but the lines continue to blur beyond the confines of the radio station.

  39. I don’t think anyone has ever asked someone to become a musician, it’s a dream people follow, nobody is guaranteed to be rich or a success. Anyone making music from now on should understand that it’s not as lucrative anymore and should just focus on making good music that they can be proud of.

    • The funny thing is, this was my exact attitude toward JD Samson’s essay about being broke.

    • I think its a manner of time though. I can’t imagine Kid A or Talking Head’s Remain of Light being made if the musicians had to juggle it with full time jobs at their local diners.

  40. Wow only purchased 15 albums in her lifetime, and interns for NPR’s All Songs? That is beyond weak. What an embarrassment! I buy at least four albums per month, it’s the only moral and ethical way to truly listen to and appreciate music!

  41. I’m nominating this comment thread for Da Capo Best Music Writing 2012.

  42. JOE HOWSE!!!!!!!

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  44. he has all good points but it could have been said in 25% of the time

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  47. Its crazy to me how many people take personal offense to a musician who’s personally affected by these things. Why is it so offensive that an artist wants to get paid for the art he/she makes? No artist is asking to be rich — just to make a small humble living. It takes 100s, sometimes 1000s of hours to write a record — and just as long, or longer to record it. Why is it so wrong for someone who enriches our lives to get a little kick back for that enrichment? I tip my bar-tender a dollar when I buy a drink — is it that different to tip an artist a few bucks buy buying a CD or record you love? You don’t have to buy everything you hear or read about. But if you love Yo La Tengo, I think 20 bucks for a vinyl record, or 10 for a CD is pretty damn good investment. I bought my first CD when I was in 8th grade. It was Nirvana’s Nevermind and I still listen to it. Best investment of my life.

    (P.S. And I found his most provocative and compelling argument to be about the massive corporations that make money on our free downloads… The websites, the people who advertise on those sites, the internet provider you pay, the idevice you use, the sites you stream music on… It is kind of the antithesis of punk and indie when the corporations can profit from it but the truly independent can’t.)

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