(This is the Online column, written for The Southland Times)
The more the music industry bigwigs wring their collective hands and share their tales of hardship and woe, the less inclined I am to feel sympathetic. Or believe them.
If the industry bosses had their way, no one would be able to download music from the internet and I know that, for me, losing that ability would mean I’d spend much less of my hard-earned cash buying CDs.
Let me first say I agree that piracy — whether it involves music, movies, games, software or designer goods — is wrong. It’s nothing but theft and anyone who believes otherwise obviously has some seriously dodgy moral issues.
However, the industry bosses also need to look at how they do business in this connected world we now inhabit. The way we listen to music has changed a lot during the past few years. Our opportunities to enjoy music have evolved, becoming more portable and more mobile than ever.
Unfortunately, the industry moguls don’t seem to have a full understanding of how we listen, meaning the product they offer hasn’t really kept pace with our expectations.
There are some singers I already know and enjoy, and it goes without saying that I’ll buy anything they record (think Nick Cave and Tom Waits) but I will admit to downloading music from the internet.
When someone tells me there’s a new album out that I’ll probably enjoy, I’ll download, have a listen and then — if I like it — I’ll go buy it in the flesh.
When the lovely Perez Hilton offers up a sample of a new band that he’s recommending to his readers, I’ll download, have a listen and then — if I like it — I’ll go buy it in the flesh.
If I read a great review of an artist I’m not familiar with, I’ll download, have a listen and then _ if I like it _ I’ll go buy it in the flesh.
If I hear a snippet of something on the radio that I like the sound of, I’ll download, have a listen and then _ if I like it _ I’ll go buy it in the flesh.
The stuff I don’t like gets deleted.
I had become quite insular in my CD shopping for a few years, buying only releases from tried and true artists. Let’s face it, who wants to waste $30-plus on something that might turn out to be rubbish.
I now buy much more music so, as far as I can see, it’s a win-win: I get the music I like and the music industry gets more money out of me now than five years ago.
Radiohead let fans download In Rainbows last year for whatever price they felt inclined to pay and there’s been a wee flurry of activity for music-lovers again during the past week or so, with 2 million fans taking up Coldplay’s offer of a free track on its site and Nine Inch Nails making an entire album available.
Oh, and for what it’s worth, I love The Slip with all its darkness and edge and will be stumping up some cash to buy the actual CD because, like many music fans, I like to have the album artwork and all the other bits that come with a real, in-the-flesh CD.