Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Being an ethical music fan

Links to David Lowery's letter to Emily White at NPR's All Songs Considered have been popping up everywhere I look lately and I finally got around to reading it this evening. It is the best article I've seen thus far about the ethical decisions that we face as music consumers in the digital age. I strongly urge you to read it if you care about these issues.
I mused on some of these dilemmas in my post about Spotify a while back.

Some particularly good points from Mr. Lowery's article:

On the perception that fairly compensating artists should be up to large corporations or governments:

"fairness for musicians is a problem that requires each of us to individually look at our own actions, values and choices and try to anticipate the consequences of our choices. I would suggest to you that, like so many other policies in our society, it is up to us individually to put pressure on our governments and private corporations to act ethically and fairly when it comes to artists rights. Not the other way around. We cannot wait for these entities to act in the myriad little transactions that make up an ethical life."

On the "you can't fight progress" idea:

"Rather than using our morality and principles to guide us through technological change, there are those asking us to change our morality and principles to fit the technological change–if a machine can do something, it ought to be done. Although it is the premise of every “machines gone wild” story since Jules Verne or Fritz Lang, this is exactly backwards."

And just really laying it out there for you.....

"The existential questions that your generation gets to answer are these:

Why do we value the network and hardware that delivers music but not the music itself?

Why are we willing to pay for computers, iPods, smartphones, data plans, and high speed internet access but not the music itself?

Why do we gladly give our money to some of the largest richest corporations in the world but not the companies and individuals who create and sell music?

This is a bit of hyperbole to emphasize the point. But it’s as if:

Networks: Giant mega corporations. Cool! have some money!

Hardware: Giant mega corporations. Cool! have some money!

Artists: 99.9 % lower middle class. Screw you, you greedy bastards!"

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