Monday, August 23, 2010

How to Support the Music -- and Musicians -- You Love

We talk often about what we can do to help the artists we support, whether it's a newly-signed one like Casey James or a more established, but still needing our help, Ed Kowalczyk (of Live).   It's actually simple.  The number one thing music fans can do to support the musicians they love is to BUY their records.

Illegal downloading of music is threatening to kill (if it hasn't already killed) the music industry.  I am posting here an article written by my daughter for her college Common App essay.  In it, she speaks against this scourge of the music industry and rails against her generation which, possibly inadvertently, is driving the nail into music's coffin.  
Not a single person I know would consider walking into Best Buy and shoplifting a CD. So why do my peers go online and illegally download music for free without giving it a second thought? And why do they look at me like I am crazy when I tell them this is stealing? They flock to sites where they download music without paying for it and seem oblivious to the fact that it is wrong. But it is not just wrong; it is killing the thing I love.  So much of my childhood memories are enveloped by music, from being entranced by the simple but powerful Green Day video for “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” to listening to the hypnotic song “Re-Arranged” by Limp Bizkit. I worry that the stealing of digital music is going to deprive future generations of new music that can have the same effect on them.

I am a strong proponent of downloading music legally, a position scarcely seen by most people my age. When I castigate people for burning CDs for friends or using peer-to-peer file-sharing programs, they act as if I am telling them not to breathe. Because a song is not a tangible object, there is no residue of guilt when it is downloaded for free. Those who do it call it “sharing,” not what it really is – stealing. By twisting these words, people can avoid responsibility and pretend that what they are doing is right. People say that they are simply sharing music and, as my generation learned from the Care Bears, “sharing is caring,” so they pretend that they are not acting dishonorably. They use euphemisms to brainwash themselves into thinking that, because they can call it something other than stealing, that makes it okay.

Some use the justification that songs cost too much, an absurd claim which would seem to excuse the stealing of anything seen as “too expensive.” I find it astonishing that the same people willing to dole out $3.50 for a Pinkberry cannot be bothered to spend a mere dollar to pay for a song they will listen to hundreds of times. They neglect the fact that artists may work for years perfecting their music, only to have their hard work slip away as someone clicks “download” on a file-sharing website. If they were real music fans, they would never dream of depriving artists because they are too stingy to pay.

Those who profess to love music have no idea what they are doing to the music business. So often my dad has lamented to me, “your generation is going to kill the music industry.” That is a scary thought for me. Music is such an important part of my life; I would feel empty if I ever had to go a day without listening to any. I become transfixed when I hear the crack in the voice of Brian Aubert of Silversun Pickups as he pours out his heartfelt lyrics. The dollar I pay to have one of his songs is a small fee for the feeling the song gives me. It pains me to see how short-sighted and blasé my generation is about the damage they are doing to the future of the music industry.

I could just keep my thoughts to myself and not get into arguments with my friends and fellow students, but that is not me. I have a very strong opinion when it comes to this issue and, much to the dismay of those around me who download illegally, I am not one to back down until I know what I have said has had an impact on them. It is not easy going against the tide, but usually what is right is what is harder to do. So I continue to make my opinion known and encourage everyone to do the right thing. I can proudly point to a few people I have converted to legal downloading. Of course, I also give out gift cards for music downloads. By adding iTunes money to my gifts for people, I feel it is a way I can gently guide them down the path of morality, a small step in my huge battle against illegally downloading music.
You go, girl!


  1. Great point! I hope this message gets out to everyone! As a photographer I'm floored at how many people think that just because they purchase a small 4x6 they think it's fine to scan & make 10 5x7's of it to give to family. As if they think they own the rights. They don't realize that I'm depending on the sales of each print to pay my bills. I guess people think that these artists are rich & they won't miss the money. It's a domino affect. SAD...

  2. Great article!
    Verrrry much enjoying seeing this type of writing featured here!

    Thank you...


  3. Excellent!! Writing must be in the genes in your family! This message needs to be said over and over and over again until everyone 'gets' it! Music is love and you just don't hurt the one you love. HEY -- sounds like good words for a song! :-)

  4. Very nicely said. It is too easy to get music today and when everyone's doing it there is no shame. Very sad situation.

    I personally just got an ipod and my first I-tunes purchase was all of Casey James Idol songs. (What a surprise, I know.)

    But I seriously feel bad about downloading all of his Keys Lounge songs and many of his Tour songs for free. God knows I listen to these songs more than the songs I've paid for. Not to mention all the photos I've saved and enjoy

    I know I want to put money in Casey's pocket and will buy his CD as a gift for everyone I know. That and attending his concerts is all I can do.

    Let's hope others respect their favourite musicians enough to do the same.

  5. How do CDs and DVDs borrowed from the library fit into the picture, I wonder?

  6. Great article and totally agree! Musicians need
    to make a living too! Sometimes a band or artist
    will put a sample up on their site for people to
    hear beforehand so they can make a decision as to if it is something they would like or not. Besides
    being a major Casey fan, my son is a musician, so
    I can really relate to this!

  7. I dont disagree with you Shari, for the most part, but if a person taped Casey James in Keys Lounge, and posted it, why is it wrong for others to download it free? Its not for sale anywhere, and actually promotes him as an artist. In fact, I believe the home videos of Casey James' Homecoming Visit gained him alot of fans who were able to see him sing and play full songs. Every one of his performances on Idol plus studio versions are posted on You Tube. Also, I have recently discovered two new artists who have web sites, and offer downloads of past albums and singles.
    Isnt the real issue, why isnt there a law against You Tube posting hit songs that can be downloaded free while they are being offered for sale?

  8. I'm not weighing in on the downloading of songs from Keys or the rest of Homecoming -- I'm not an expert in intellectual property law and don't profess to be. But it's a very easy call when it comes to songs that are for sale on CDs or digital downloads like iTunes. That's how artists get paid and how record companies decide whether to resign or promote an artist.

  9. I think iTunes should sell video songs as we are able to view them on U Tube so if we want to purchase them, we can. Trying to purchase what you want is difficult.

  10. @CJFan_Audrey (Twitter)August 23, 2010 at 10:58 PM

    Great article by your daughter :) All totally valid points. Very unusual for a young person to have these views! Very admirable - she has moxie! Is it true that artists make so much more money off the concerts than the record sales?

  11. @Burn This Thanks for responding but do you know why isnt there a law against You Tube posting hit songs that can be downloaded free while they are being offered for sale? Someone must be making money on those downloads somehow, like You Tube, or it would stop. Example, there are videos of many different musical artists with a serious amount of hits, like over four million, that would represent a serious loss of money to the individual music artist.

  12. I feel Casey fans will do the right thing and BUY his album. It's something we can do for Casey.

  13. Shari, I'm visiting this old post because I have a question, and I remembered that you care about this issue. How do you see the ethics of MySpace? I'm not sure how to think about this. I do not download music without paying for it; for that, the principle seems clear. But with MySpace, the artists themselves have made their songs available on the web. If I listen to them (I would not download them) on MySpace, I find an internal dialogue is taking place: if this stuff were not here, I would buy this music, so am I really obligated to do so? It seems overscrupulous to say I can't listen to it (or can listen to it x number of times). Yet I feel some unease.
    This is unusual for me. I can usually see ethical issues very clearly. So, I'm wondering how you think about this.