Your Obedient Serpent (athelind) wrote,
Your Obedient Serpent
athelind

The Spirit of Radio

I just read a BoingBoing article entitled "Heavy illegal downloaders buy more music", and felt compelled to respond. I'm copypasting my response here.

The particular passage that prompted my participation was in the final paragraph, where someone defending file sharing is quoted as saying:

"The people who file-share are the ones who are interested in music," said Mark Mulligan of Forrester Research. "They use file-sharing as a discovery mechanism. We have a generation of young people who don't have any concept of music as a paid-for commodity," he continued. "You need to have it at a price point you won't notice."


Even Mr. Mulligan doesn't quite get it, when he says things like "We have a generation of young people who don't have any concept of music as a paid-for commodity". It still presents the Net Generation as somehow lacking, somehow qualitatively different in their ethos than those who came before.

My generation and my father's generation didn't think of music as a "paid-for commodity", either. All you needed was a radio. If you had a good-quality stereo with a tape deck, and a station with a reliable request line, poof! It was yours. The Net improved the quality, reliability, selection and simplicity of the process, but that's it.

And who went to that kind of trouble in the Eight-Track era?

People who really loved music, and also bought a lot of it.

Free music and free downloads, like free radio, are primarily "discovery tools", and always have been. They're the best advertising any musician could ask for.

When Napster first arrived on the scene in the '90s, I said, "this is the 21st century version of radio." When the record companies freaked out about it, and about MP3.com, it wasn't because of their products getting distributed for free, no matter what they said. It was because independent bands without big label contracts were getting just as much exposure as the indentured servants that the labels had put so much marketing machinery behind. People were getting music that wasn't being vetted by the Priests of the Temple of Syrinx.

That's the big threat to the music industry, and all this talk about "piracy" is just smoke and mirrors.

Tags: copywrong, music, pontification
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