This week in tech: Should you pay for music?

Their have been many articles over the past few years addressing the subject “Should you pay for music.” This is only one of the many opinions on this complex matter.

Most of the articles I read did a lot of finger pointing. As if people who would prefer to get music for free are some how worse people than those who want to pay for it. I’m going to approach the subject from a difference stance. Why I don’t pay for music and why I think you shouldn’t either.

Streaming and Torrenting websites are rampant on the Internet. But in this article we are going to talk about streaming because as you may know torrenting, is illegal.

In 2013 Business Insider estimated that iTunes, a company owned by Apple, made over $2.1 billion annually for its sales in music and entertainment content.It was reported in 2014 that iTunes sales were predicted to drop 39 percent over the next five years. There are over 50 million people on Spotify but only 25% of them are paying for music. Pandora, in 2013, delivered around 1.5 billion hours of music each month to 70 million users while only three million users paid for the Pandora subscription.

Personally, I don’t mind. To me art is something that is meant to be shared. Who would put a price on their own art? Their own talent? Well, that is how the entertainment industry has worked for so long. Even some popular artists like Taylor Swift are notorious for pulling their music from streaming services.

“Music is art,” Swift wrote for a Rolling Stones interview, “and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for. It’s my opinion that music should not be free, and my prediction is that individual artists and their labels will someday decide what an album’s price point is. I hope they don’t underestimate themselves or undervalue their art.”

In this statement, Swift takes a stance I disagree with which is not everyone can make art. If art is “rare” then doesn’t it imply that it is unattainable to some? And that unattainableness is what makes it valuable? Doesn’t that defy the entire definition of art. Well, the definition of art is (more or less) subjective. But to me everyone is capable of making art.

There are some artists who agree. Radiohead, a popular indie band from the United Kingdom, has multiple times given their whole albums away for free on streaming websites.

My point is this, if you want to pay for an album then you should have the option to do so. But don’t persecute me for using websites that convert mp4s’ to mp3s’ and then storing those mp3s’ into my iPhone.

Elitists who complain about fans not being “true fans” unless they cough up money to support their artwork (in they way they think is most appropriate) I hate to tell you this but the traditional ways that fans support their artists are soon to be over. Streaming is taking over the music industry and soon artists won’t be able to rely on the revenue coming from their CDs, iTunes, Google Play (etc.).

Music sales are only one a the few sources of revenue artists collect. Among some of their other sources of revenue there includes: concert sells (private and public), public appearances, advertisements, merchandise,  Youtube views – which, yes, artists do make revenue off of – and more.

New artists may suffer on streaming sights. Just today Swift released a statement condemning iTunes for offering a three month free trail for its streaming services.

“This is about the young songwriter who just got his or her first cut and thought that the royalties from that would get them out of debt. This is about the producer who works tirelessly to innovate and create, just like the innovators and creators at Apple are pioneering in their field… but will not get paid for a quarter of a year’s worth of plays on his or her songs,” Swift said.

I don’t pay for music because I’m not going to spend money on an album that has two songs I love, only to find out that I hate the rest of them.

A really good video that I think expresses my views is a TED Talk where Amanda Palmer tackles the subject: Don’t Make People Pay For Music, Let Them. You can watch it by going to this link: TED Talk

Here is my words to all of the artists out there: Don’t start your career as an artist without any backup plan. Becoming a successful artist is a dream for a lot of people but we all can’t be Taylor Swift. So as aspirational as it may seem to drop everything you are doing and chase after your dreams of becoming an artist, without financial support, you shouldn’t do it.

Also Artists, don’t give away your music or talent for free if you don’t want to. No one is blaming you for wanting to make money from your hard work. But if financial gain is what your seeking then you probably shouldn’t put your content online.

What do you think? Do you agree? Do you disagree? Comment below and let me know!

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