Artists, Music

Why we will always steal

If you’re attached to the blogosphere you have by now heard some of the myriad discussion going on because of an intern and a teacher. At issue is the legal vs ethical (sometimes called moral) and the socially acceptable process one uses to grow their music library, how you rationalize your advantage (aka access) and/or legitimize it. Not to mention the generational obfuscation made more apparent due to technological advances. It’s unfortunate that we’re having this discussion. Not because the subject matter is not important or valid, but because the remedy to this problem speaks to generational perceptions about morality. It’s easy to sit on one side of the fence and bemoan the lack of support one gets for all their hard work and against a system (like popular search engines) that makes finding and obtaining free stuff as easy as making mud pies. Or, to coyly snicker about the prevailing trend of society that makes getting/taking items for free an acceptable fad “everybody’s doing it”. Undoubtedly human nature is what it’s always been, often lacking the control mechanism to resist taking advantage of a nameless, faceless owner of products (especially when wearing the internet mask). Such was the case in London last year when during widespread rioting people that normally would not walk into a store and out with unpaid for items did so because for some, the prevailing mood and trend (however short-lived) made them willing to risk getting caught because so many were doing it, making it appear that the odds were in their favor to walk away unscathed.

In reality we’re all ” sticking it to Da [proverbial] Man”, when through our actions we carelessly regard others by design or default, the outcome is invariably the same. We’re inherently selfish and self-serving, and as social trends and mechanisms continue to obscure respect for the property of others through terms like “Freemium”, we’re not getting better neither is this seeming advantage to obtain all at “no or below cost” a greater expression of the freedom we claim to fight for in every war, but we are worse than those we call enemies if in impunity we take without purchase that which under threat of punishment we would be obliged to buy.


When Access Feels Like Ownership


by Franklin Purnell

Remember the days when you used to lug your record collection from place to place that over time could fill a small bedroom? The advent of cassettes and CDs, not to mention VHS’s and DVD’s that we kept on shelves before being transferred to boxes in the garage didn’t change things much either but you were proud of your collection and investment.

Come Mp3, downloads, hardware capable of storing thousands of tracks on a device the size of your finger, WiFi and whala!! Music streaming. No storage, no shelves to rearrange, no garage sale, no boxes to fit all that old music into while you relocate just the press of a button and all the tunes you’ve paid for access to at your fingertips, arranged in neat playlists to suit the mood of the day. The tunes of the past? No problem, somebody else took the time to upload all those old tracks onto a hard-drive maybe in someone’s garage that they’re calling a cloud. Hmm

So what’s the difference if you can access music 24/7 on multiple devices without the responsibility of actually owning it? Awesome huh? except our lives have become full of stuff we have access to but don’t actually own, it just feels like ownership. We just make endless payments to some company with a web address that we visit virtually or speak to someone sometimes in another country. We tell our friends that we own our cars, our homes, our furniture, vacation homes, until we miss a payment and then the real owner takes it back.

So what will total access to music without actual ownership look like? Well, stop making payments and your playlist info will be deleted, all the music you’ve savored over the years will disappear. Of course technology could make it possible to reconstitute what you’ve lost I’m sure. But just think of the implications, endless payments for access or streaming, how many albums over time will that amount to? The audiophile thinks nothing of the thousands spent on Records or CDs but the average purchaser that doesn’t necessarily consider these purchases as part of the house budget might differ. I like the idea of portability, building a song list of music that I like rather than having shelves full of CDs, records, or cassettes that often feature one or two songs out of ten or twelve that I listen to. Maybe over time the long tail of endless subscription payments may equal or exceed the amount of money spent on a personal CD/record collection. The ability to opt out of a subscription sounds good but leaves open the eventuality of having to rebuild a new song list from scratch. Sooo, about that download baby, now we’re talking storage again, yet this time my whole collection is in my living room, unseen, but heard through a device about the size of my hand.

Frankly, I prefer control over my purchases versus the concept access, unless its a gym or a club, let’s be real, access is just that, [access], not ownership. Additionally, I like the idea of not having to plug into a network just to enjoy music. In short, I want my privacy and real ownership. Making a playlist or just random listening that’s personal is a freedom I want to retain and not loose to a communal arrangement of access that only feels like ownership.