Thou Shalt Not Steal

The music industry is, well, fucked. For lack of a better term.

I don’t know about anyone else, but as someone who needs music to get through the day, I find the clusterfuck and imminent collapse of the recording industry extremely frustrating.

I was perusing the Rolling Stone website this morning (as I always so when I sip my coffee before I start writing my daily stories for The Gazette) when I came across THIS.

For those of you too lazy to click, it says: “In the second file-sharing copyright-infringement trial against Jammie Thomas-Rasset, a Minnesota jury ruled that the 32-year-old mother of four owes $1.92 million to the four major labels after downloading and sharing 24 songs, Billboard.biz reports. The staggering ruling comes out to a cost of $80,000 per track illegally shared, a massive amount that the RIAA hopes will finally convince people to stop downloading music illegally.”

Now, I am not an advocate of downloading music illegally. I am probably the ONLY person left on this earth who still buys CDs, and downloads songs off of iTunes (P.S. when did the price of songs go up from $0.99 to $1.29??). While I don’t personally download music through illegal means, I can see why others do.

I fully understand that music is a necessity in many peoples’ lives. It’s a necessity in mine. I can also understand that a lot of people my age (and any one else living in our current economic toilet) don’t have a lot of money, and downloading music through illegal means saves them some cash.

To me, buying music is a lot like buying a textbook for a class. I need to buy it. It’s a necessary expense so I don’t mind, but other people don’t see it that way. I personally feel that buying music is a lot like buying hand crafted jewelry at an art festival. That jewelry is that craftsman’s livelihood. You wouldn’t just take it from him. Just because a musician is rolling in cash and royalties doesn’t mean they haven’t poured their heart and soul into their new album. You shouldn’t just take it. You should show them how much you appreciate their work by buying it.

Now, even though I feel this way I still think that the woman in the Rolling Stone story got the crappy end of a very crappy stick. While I think that file sharing and illegal downloading is wrong, I don’t agree with how it’s handled by the courts. If one woman is going to get charged $80,000 a song then everyone else who downloads them illegally should, too. It’s not fair to make one woman an example or scapegoat for everyone else.

I also don’t think that record labels should be targeting individual people, they should target the main source of the file sharing. Shut down the websites. If it’s on the internet for free people are going to flock. Stop it at its source.

This whole situation only points out my larger issue with the music industry as a whole. CDs are too expensive. I know that the prices had to get jacked up because of iTunes and file sharing, but I honestly think that if prices were lower, and the music industry began to crack down on illegal downloads at the source then more people would buy CDs or use iTunes. While iTunes isn’t the dream situation for the recording industry, hey, at least they’re charging and at least they just raised prices.

What the money-hungry music industry doesn’t understand is that if they want people to buy their product (especially in this economy) they need to make it affordable otherwise people are going to keep using free websites. If the record labels could swallow their pride and take a pay cut for, oh, 6-8 months I don’t see how they couldn’t end up making a profit on CDs again. It would also help if they packaged more CDs with special features that can’t be found any where else.

I am not going to stop buying music but record labels and the music industry really do need to grow a pair and buck up…before they end up like GM.

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