I’ve been having a Twitter debate with my friend @rrrregan about the value of music and why I think music consumers should be paying out of their own pockets for it. This isn’t a new argument, punters have for years been getting music for free and everyone in the music industry has been trying to stop them. Now, full disclosure, I don’t pay for all of the music I listen to. I work in the music industry and I get a lot of stuff for free, often as gifts, often pass arounds from radio friends. But the difference between me and @rrrregan is that I know I should be paying for everything.
The Value Of Music
So, @rrrregan, the first thing you need to understand is that music is valuable. Whether or not the industries that support it have f’d themselves in the A with failed business models is besides the point. Music and art in general form the foundations of culture. Culture gives us a language that helps us to explain and understand the world we live in. You can see art everywhere, from the phone you’re probably reading this on, to the shape of the bowl you eat your cereal out of in the morning. Artistic expression makes life worthwhile and without it I’m certain none of us would be very happy and maybe even significantly less evolved as a species. What I’m saying is, music matters and it’s worth more than the currency (money) we exchange for it. However we live in a world where value is rewarded proportionally with money and for a lot of reasons punters don’t seem to think music is actually worth that much anymore.
Why Punters Need To Pay For Music Directly
It isn’t enough that you listen to ads on Spotify, or skip the promos on YouTube. Yes, a record label has granted these companies a license to use the music and yes, some of that money makes it back to artists. But as a consumer, you aren’t being asked to part with your own money and so you just don’t value music the way you should. If you don’t value music, you’re never going to pay for it, you’re not going to respect music’s contribution to culture and ultimately artists are going to lose. You should have to part with something for music. You should have to give your money to musicians because that’s what music is worth. Yes, you can listen to YouTube streams all day but you aren’t allowed to sit there are say it’s enough and that artists are getting what they deserve. As I say, your time invested, practically is worth jack shit to a band. And no, not all of the onus is on the industry for having a bad models (which incidentally isn’t the artist’s fault), some of that responsibility falls on you.
The way the indsutry is heading at the moment, services like YouTube, Spotify, RDO and Deezer are meant to form part of a bigger picture. Consumers are now paying for music at several points – through subscription, streaming, download and sometimes physical purchase. This is a decent model not just because it provides several income streams for artists and copyright holders, but because slowly it is starting to change punters perceptions on value and ownership.
Motivation and Piracy
It’s worth noting that the only reason streaming services have licenses today is because people like yourself, and myself to a degree, were stealing music for a lot of years. There just isn’t any way to justify piracy and the music industry was crippled by it. After a decade of free downloads end users began to see access to music as a right, not as something they had to earn or pay for. Peoples attitudes towards ownership changed too (“If I don’t have a physical product (CD) then I don’t own it and I shouldn’t pay for it”) and so labels and copyright holders had to come up with something to help change attitudes and start earning back some of the income they had lost. Enter YouTube Licensing (which we actually had to fight for), Spotify etc. So the services you use now were inspired by piracy and in part, still encourage the attitudes that lead to piracy.
I guess after all of this I’m hoping that maybe you’re seeing the other side of the coin. I have a band about to release a record that will have a significant impact on Australian culture. It’s really amazing work and will be important to people because of what it says, how it sounds, how it makes them feel. I can tell you without flinching that this piece of art is going to be worth more than you’re having to sit through a YouTube ad, whether or not you’re able to do so and operate within the law.