Wednesday, April 16, 2014
*The Lana Del Rey song above is just 'cause I'm obsessing over it this week. Listen while you read, if you please.
I read this intensely long article on Pitchfork today that describes the evolution of streaming music. Apparently, back when telephones were the new and scary technology, one could pay to hear an opera over the lines, if they were like REAL rich, I'm assuming.
In America, artists have never been paid for airplays on the radio (we're the only country that this has always been the case). Plays on the radio are considered "promotional". So, the outrage about artists not getting paid very well for streaming web services, which is basically the new radio, is less of a blow perhaps? I don't know what I think about this because:
1) I'm too poor to not stream before I buy and I NEED music to live.
2) I'm pretty into the Swedish model of people having a right to things for free. Apparently you can camp in people's backyards in Sweden for free as long as you leave everything the way you found it. I feel I have a right to listen to any music I want, and a Swedish company called Spotify provides this for me.
3) I also think people should be able to make a living off of making music. The record industry model was born broken, and this has always been a struggle for musicians. Always. I twitch a bit every time I pay for an album because I know my money is barely going to the right place.
4) If I made music, I would provide it on a donation-basis on SoundCloud or BandCamp. Because the people I know are as broke as me and I am practical enough to be aware that people aren't going to buy something they can't first listen to...
It's a new time. You don't have to buy a CD with your fingers crossed anymore. This is a good thing. I respect artists pulling their music from streaming sites and taking a stand when they feel they're not getting adequately compensated for their art, buuuuuut not being in the streaming game means not being heard a lot of the time. David Byrne and Thom Yorke can get away with it, for sure, but not littler bands. If I made music, I'd never get heard without making my music free. And if I signed to a major label, I'd be giving them the control over my art. A free model would be the only way I could succeed. Maybe it's not fair. To be sure it's not fair, but I know what it is.
I also, here's a controversial opinion, think artists tend to overcharge for their art in general. I will never pay thousands of dollars for a painting. I will never pay $200 for a concert ticket. I'll never pay $500 for a pair of shoes or a purse. I believe in paying for quality, but not for prestige. You should totally be able to make a living doing your thing, but no one needs to be paid multiples of thousands of dollars per month for their living. Don't get me started on the way wages are "earned" in America.
I think a lot of things should be free. I think television and radio should be free. I understand it costs money to make art, but I want to give the money after I know I enjoy the art. I will TOTALLY buy the DVDs and the music files. I'll buy the shit out of the things I love. I will buy the merch and fund kickstarter-projects for people I respect. I believe I vote with my money, but I have VERY little money with which to vote.
Until the whole system is fixed (like people like me can make living wages with a bit of cush and corporate monsters no longer exist), I will continue to enjoy my Swedish websites filled with gorgeous-sounding music for free, buying only the albums that really bewitch me. To be fair, I am easily bewitched by music. I still spend hundreds of dollars on it every year...more than I can afford.