Welcome to the world of digital music. In today’s world, we can go online to download software such as iTunes, Rhapsody, Napster, MSN, as well as a few others and buy music from these digital stores. You can buy a certain song, just about any song you like for about 99 cents. However, I do not support those ventures for the following reasons:
- When you pay around 99 cents for a certain song on one of those sites, the artist gets maybe 2-8 cents per song, if even that. It’s very likely that the artist doesn’t get but fractions of a penny for those purchases. Most of that money goes to the RIAA, which I will continue to try and never support.
- The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) says they represent the artist and tries to protect his or her rights, but in fact they are only looking out for number one and are actively taking the money away from the artist.
When you download a digital music file from stores online, you are downloading a compressed, inferior quality file than if you would had you bought the CD. But it’s only 99 cents you might say! Well, let’s say you bought the CD from the store for $15. The CD that you buy from the store is straight from the record company and the songs on the CD are uncompressed and in their original forms. The digital music that you download from the Internet is compressed, which means its of poorer quality. What this means is that random digital information from the song is deleted so that even though you’re hearing the song like it sounds on the CD, the quality of that song is nearly 60-80% less than what it is on the CD.
Let me make this comparison. You have a whole cake, and it costs $15. If you divide that cake into 15 pieces, you have the equivelent of the 99 cent download, right? Wrong. Take one of those pieces, cut about 40-80% of it off. Now you have the equivelent of a 99 cent download. It tastes the same, it smells the same, it looks the same, but it’s only a fraction of what you should be getting.
- So, assuming that a CD costs roughly the same as the album costs online, you should be purchasing a CD or song for about 40-80% less than you pay for a CD in the store. Yet, you’re not. Why? Because of convenience. But is convenience really worth that much of a premium? You don’t really get the complete, full version of the song and it’s for sale at a bloated price, nor does the artist really get any benefits from your purchase. You’re just making rich people richer.
- A lot of the music that you buy online has something called DRM (Digital Rights Management). This means that it’s protected from things such as pirating, copying, transferring to another computer, etc. I’m not sure what MSN does in terms of DRM, but it’s likely that it has some heavy protection so that you can’t really do much with this file once you download it. If you were to buy the CD instead, you could legally and illegally do with the songs what you want. You can make your own digital copy and have full control over it.
- Let’s assume you only want one song from a CD. Why buy the CD when you want only one song? Yeah, this puts a little more justification into downloading it from iTunes, but not too much more. I can possibly even find that soundtrack for free online at one of hundreds of sites. Then I could take the one song that I want and delete the rest. And it didn’t cost me a thing except time.
- For someone on a modem (unsurprisingly, there still are plenty) trying to download a file, what’s the chances that your modem connection gets interrupted and you lose the download? Would you have to go back to iTunes and pay 99 more cents to download the rest of the file or redownload it again? I’m not sure I’d want to take that risk.
So for these reasons, why would you bother paying 99 cents? I don’t think the convenience is worth the premium nor do I want to support companies which use a digital lock to prevent you from doing much with your files. You pay the price of honesty for the few that are dishonest out there. By dishonest, I’m not talking about someone downloading this song for free off of “illegal” sites. I’m talking about someone purchasing this music, copying/burning it to lots of CDs and pirating the music CDs to others for a few bucks per CD. That’s wrong. But downloading a copy of a song is just like, at least in my opinion, recording a song off the radio and listening to it. You shouldn’t be prosecuted for that kind of stuff. Which is exactly what the RIAA is doing by suing all of these thousands of people. It’s absurd.
I had an interesting conversation with the Music Supervisor Lisa at the end of work yesterday. I had just finished my work for the day and logged my activities by submitting an e-mail to the department co-workers who work there. In fact, there are only three girls who work in the department so I only send it to three people and include the intern e-mail as well.
After stating my completed tasks for the day, I usually make a little social commentary at the bottom of the e-mail relating to one of the day’s activities. This last time I typed “Why do rich music artists demand so much money for their music to be in movies? The exposure should be compensation enough.” That comment caught the eye of Lisa.
Right as I got up to put something away, Lisa paged my phone and asked me to pick up the receiver. She’s been super busy the past two weeks trying to get all the music found and cleared by the record labels for every scene of the movie which should have finalized with the music by Friday.
She found my comment humorous and explained that these artists don’t even really need the exposure because they’re already famous enough. Yeah, I agree with that. Remember the movie Forrest Gump? One of the main reasons that movie was so popular was because of its soundtrack, and most of those songs didn’t even need the extra exposure to be recognized.
I told her I realized that these artists were famous and that a movie would barely increase exposure. We’re talking about the chart hitting artists on the Billboard top 100 singles. I explained that I really didn’t agree with how artists can charge that much because I realize how the recording industry rips them off anyway. She responded with an interesting comment. The reason that artists really are able to get away by charging thousands upon thousands of dollars for their songs to be in movies is because people like the Recording Industry Association of America really don’t have as much control. Yes, they still get the money like they would anyway, but it’s a little different licensing than it would be to just use a song for an album.
If there’s one thing that I could do for this industry, specifically the music industry, it would be to bring reforms to the structure of business. I have in the past few years bought much less CDs than I would have. Why? Partly because I really don’t want to spend the money; I’m poor. But I also try to keep in mind that people such as the RIAA are in it for themselves. They aren’t really here for the artists sake. They’re in it for the buck. It’s always about the money and I don’t care what kind of statistics they try to show me or you. It’s all baloney because they’re losing money and they don’t like it.
I have bought a few CDs on a few special occasions like Christmas. I have my reasons. But now that I’m much more aware of where money goes, I’d rather give the artist money for his work than giving Sam Goody $18 for a CD. $18 for a CD is a complete rip-off. Even $10 for a CD is a rip-off. If I absolutely knew that $10 was going directly to the artist rather than some corporate pig who in turn gives about $.08 per song per CD to the artist, I’d be much less hesitant to buy CDs.
I really hope consumers are made aware quickly because changes need to be made now. Boycotts are a great way to start the wave.
I would like to pass on a certain link to anyone who is shopping or has shopped for Christmas presents already. I hope it wasn’t a CD. A CD is bad for many reasons:
- The RIAA gets all the money.
- The artist gets no money.
- It costs just a few more cents to buy the DVD equivelent.
It could go on and on. But rather than me sitting here typing all my reasons out, why don’t you just click on this link to a humorous website explaining the same exact thing I just stated. Because, hey, it’s time we all learned a little about how crappy the RIAA really is.
Oh yeah, you think you’re safe with the iTunes music store? Nope.
I was browsing the web tonight and came across an article from the San Francisco Gate, a sponsor of the SF Chronicle. Click here
Basically, it states that radio stations will eventually send digital signals to radios; not anytime soon most likely except for the well funded radio stations. An example of a current digital radio station is XM Satellite Radio. So let’s hypothetically speak here.
What if radios sent digital, CD-quality music to your radio. Many stations play the song in its entirety. And so you decide to record the songs from the radio and onto a tape (or your computer) to convert to an mp3. You basically did the exact same thing as downloading the mp3 except it was offered free from the radio.
So what’s my point? I like the mp3 revolution that has taken place. Consumers are starting to realize that they’ve been suckered for the past 10 years. They were buying extremely expensive CDs which the artist sees barely a buck from the CD, and less of this money is even profit until they break even from their insanely high production costs.
Has 5 years of school paid off for me? I couldn’t have stated myself very well here if I hadn’t learned something. :D