Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Wed, Sep 10 2003

Is It Even Worth Sharing?

When I was a teen there was a juke box company near my home. When they'd bring the machines in for maintenance, they'd empty all the records (which were 45s) out of the machines and put in new ones. The discarded records went to a corner of the store where anyone could come in and buy four for a dollar. Once in awhile they had sales when you could buy six for one dollar. They never advertised the sale of the used records. It was just one of those things that was passed along to people by word of mouth.

I suppose, in a way, we were participating in something akin to the file-sharing of music that goes on today online. The original artists never saw a penny of that money we paid for their music. Neither did the record companies. We figured we were paying a great price for used items that would otherwise have been destroyed--and which, in most cases, still had a lot of playing time left to them.

The recent actions RIAA has taken against folks sharing music files online has raised questions. RIAA claims that music sales are down because of people downloading files instead of paying for CDs. That may be true. But sales are down in a lot of things right now, due to the current state of the economy. I have a feeling that the people who have money to pay for music aren't doing a lot of buying. I wonder if they're even doing any "file sharing" online. A lot of popular music today has very little appeal to many of us. Most of today's young artists are marketed, molded, conditioned and dressed to fit a particular image, and most of their music is engineered to sound very much alike. Baby-boomers such as myself were discovering music when the industry was on the cusp of an explosion. We had the many talented black artists moving into the mainstream with their blues and jazz, and we had Elvis Presley helping to bridge the gap between black and white artists. Then The Beatles and other bands came along and suddenly every kid with a dream got his friends together and formed a band of his own in hopes of making it big. Baby boomers are used to classical, jazz, pop, blues, country and more. We expect variety and range in our music, and the current industry just isn't giving us that. Why buy the same "sound" over and over?

I wonder how much of the price of a CD we pay now goes to the actual artist(s)? I see that Universal Music Group is lowering its wholesale prices by about three dollars. Who was getting that other three dollars up until now? I'll bet it wasn't the artists.

Big film studios used to put performers under exclusive contracts. They marketed the actors right along with the films, and though it was all very glitzy and polished and full of glamour on the surface, a few people managed to control a lot of other people. I'm wondering if the music industry is trying to go through that stage of development now.

One thing's certain. If this phase ends up with the same burst of creativity that came after the major studios lost their hold on actors, I'm willing to sit this cookie cutter music out, and save my bucks for later when there are better things to come.

posted at: 09:31 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry



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Stealin' copy is as bad as horse-thievin'
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