That's right. Today I sent Benoît Pioulard
US$12 via paypal for his album Précis
, which I downloaded a few days ago. It's really good, and from the sounds of it the guy is pretty broke. This makes me feel good about myself, the way giving up a seat on the subway to an old lady does (which incidentally I also did today).
Okay this isn't the "first" cd I ever bought. I ordered two Wintersleep
albums from their label last year. And when I was 16 I bought a Prodigy
album. I also may or may not have purchased a Future Sound Of London
disc at the time. Or maybe I got them off a friend. Not sure.
In any case, I can easily count all of the CD's I've ever purchased on one hand. So how does someone with 13,846 tracks played in their last.fm profile never buy CD's? Through rampant and blatant piracy of course.
Now, you might ask, "Matt, don't you feel bad about being such a filthy immoral pirate?" ... and my answer would have to be "No." I'll tell you why. You see between 2000 to 2004, I had a nasty, nasty vinyl habit. I easily spent a few hundred dollars a month on records. That's thousands and thousands of dollars over four years -- probably more than the average person spends on CD's in a lifetime. I feel that I've put in my dues. I contributed a fair bit of my income back to the music industry -- the independent, vinyl-producing record industry no less.
But just in case that's not enough, here are some more reasons behind why I (mostly) refuse to buy music:
1. I really don't like CD's. You have to buy shelves for them, just so they can sit there and collect dust. I also don't get people's insistance on having music embodied in these physical objects, like some kind of religious idols. Anyway I have a big enough problem trying to figure out what to do with the crates of vinyl in my bedroom. I hate those things and would gladly digitize them and throw them away if I had the time.
2. I would happily pay for music online, a la iTunes. Unfortunately, i) I can't find a lot of what I like on iTunes and other similar services, ii) DRM stuff won't play on my MP3 player, iii) I don't want to jump through hoops when I transfer music between my home and my office, iv) the middle man doesnt deserve my money, v) sometimes I just want to share something with someone because it's truly awesome and they should hear it... and once again the DRM bullshit gets in the way. v) etc., etc. etc.
So there it is. My argument (rambling and incoherent as it may be) against the music industry as is.
What I think should happen, is you should be able to just buy MP3's -- yes plain old MP3s -- or better yet OGGs or FLACs directly from an artists website. Fuck record labels. Who needs them. Set it up and see what happens. Yeah, the days of getting filthy rich off music would most certainly be over. But this is a good thing
. No more 50 Cent
, no more U2
, no more ass-booger music propped up by the wallets of the mindless, drivelling masses.
I am fairly confident that a decent musician could continue to make a decent living like this. Hell, some might do quite well -- especially the ones capable of a good live performance. Perhaps there would be a lot more commissioned work done, with artists supported by wealthy benefactors -- given money for no other reason than in recognition of the intrinsic value of what they're doing -- the way things used to be.