Does our generation even know what we’re doing to the record industry?

I read an article from Rolling Stone recently (found here: http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/15137581/the_record_industrys_decline/2) that makes me even more aware if how our generation seems to have lost a sense of right or wrong in terms of artistic copyright theft. We all understand it’s wrong to steal a sweater from a department store but due to years of conditioning from Napster, the Napster copy-offs, and now Youtube, we don’t seem to feel the same way about stealing a song, TV episode or movie. If we want a song, TV show, or movie we don’t ask “how much does it cost? can i find it at a reasonable price?” but rather “how quickly can i download it?”, “is it on youtube yet?”, “why not?”

I’m not sure what it is that has separated us from our moral radar in this particular sector of consumption but I think it’s among our most important. I would really hate to see an inability for those in the arts (musicians, scriptwriters, and filmmakers) to be able to commercially succeed when their material is being diluted by the Internet and not being properly acquired. Do we just assume that recording artists are so rich that they won’t know the difference? Maybe, it’s that we’ve always felt that concerts is where musicians make most of their money anyway. I think with youtube showing us live concerts, that gets diluted as well. I care more about that than whether everyone who comes out of the GAP with a new sweater has paid for it. And that’s what’s being affected. If we truly respect the artists who we’re flocking to on you tube and whose songs or TV episodes we’re downloading, I would hope that we would respect them enough to support their endeavours commercially. I am not saying I have never downloaded anything ever, but I do make it a point to buy a CD here or there.

I also understand Youtube’s potential to promote certain causes and artists although I believe it’s shaky ground. If you post an entire episode of a TV show than that’s crossing the line, because you take away any incentive for someone to go to itunes and buy the episode for $1.99.

I think there’s a lot of emphasis on how the record executives should deal with this crisis, but there’s very little emphasis on how we as consumers take responsibility for ourselves, as if that’s just a moot point.

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3 Responses

  1. Sigh.

    It’s hard for me to know where to begin because you seem to have willingly swallowed a whole ton of propaganda.

    Getting credible industry information from Rolling Stone is like going to whitehouse.gov to get unbiased political information. I don’t really buy it. I’ll read Rolling Stone when I want to read some good ads or hear about the next big heart throb. I hear Zac Efron is cute. By the way, what was his last album? High School the Musical? Awesome.

    Second, it seems that you’ve taken those “anti downloading” commercials at the beginning of DVDs to heart with your sweater analogy. I hate that argument. It doesn’t work. When someone steals something like a sweater or a purse or whatever, you’re physically taking an object from a specific person. When someone downloads a song, they’re acquiring a copy of a sound file. No one physically loses their copy of a song or movie. Downloading might be illegal, but it’s certainly not the same thing as ripping off a sweater or a car. Give me a break.

    And since when is television suffering? I don’t remember reading a Rolling Stone article about the crumbling television empire. So, someone downloads an episode of The Office; how is this affecting Linkin Park’s record sales?

    I’m not saying all of this to defend my downloading, because I simply don’t download anything. Period. I support people who do download music though because I hate the music industry. And if they’re sales suck and they’re suffering, too bad. Artists will make do without em. Sure, it might be harder to get known without major record deals, but that just means the artists who actually give a shit about the music will continue making music regardless. And all the terrible artists will fade away. We could do with fewer Nickelbacks.

    To conclude, ponder this: the Rolling Stone article mentioned layoffs from Warner Music and plummeting stock. The article goes on to discuss struggling music sales and declining profits. How many of those record company CEOs do you think are willing to adjust their mega salaries to allow fewer lay offs? Hmmm. The bottom line is profit, not art. Always has been. That will not change without a collapse and a rebirth of your beloved industry. The end.

  2. Those are a number of good points you make that I agree with you on some of them.

    I think that just because something isn’t as good doesn’t mean it’s not of value. Our country’s economy is heavily based on service-based and information industries, so the integrity of their work has to be preserved.

    You make good points about whether the CEO is suffering economically in equal measure as much as his workers are, but that’s symptomatic across the board. You also make a good point about independent music thriving.

    I was also referring to the downfall of TV and movies which are next.

  3. You are right that our economy is “heavily based on service-based and information industries.” However, I think you go wrong when you say that “integrity of their work has to be preserved.” If you’re referring to the musicians and artists themselves, I don’t see how downloading some Bright Eyes or Radiohead songs is going to affect the integrity of their work. If the band has integrity, it will shine through in their music. If the industry collapses, it’s the industry puppets that are screwed. But it’s OK, because they probably sucked to begin with. If you say the “integrity” of the music industry needs to be preserved, well, one needs integrity to preserve it. As my friend Ashleigh stated in her above post, I don’t think screwing many brilliant artists out of well deserved money shows integrity.
    And I think I could argue that most independent artists could get along just fine without a major record deal thanks to the advent of sites like Myspace and Purevolume. People can market themselves, sell their own music, and many artists can record their own music in their homes. They’d get 100% of the profits and none of the contract BS.
    And I’d like to see some evidence that television and movies are in a downward spiral as well. I’ve yet to hear this make as big of a splash as music downloading.

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