21-year old intern Emily White at NPR’s All Songs Considered is getting beaten up on the interwebs — and deservedly so I guess. As my headline says, she has only bought 15 CDs in her lifetime, but has somehow ended up with 11,000 songs in her iTunes library.
From her blog post a few days ago, I Never Owned Any Music To Begin With:
But the truth is, I’ve never supported physical music as a consumer. As monumental a role as musicians and albums have played in my life, I’ve never invested money in them aside from concert tickets and t-shirts.
But I didn’t illegally download (most) of my songs. A few are, admittedly, from a stint in the 5th grade with the file-sharing program Kazaa. Some are from my family. I’ve swapped hundreds of mix CDs with friends. My senior prom date took my iPod home once and returned it to me with 15 gigs of Big Star, The Velvet Underground and Yo La Tengo (I owe him one).
During my first semester at college, my music library more then tripled. I spent hours sitting on the floor of my college radio station, ripping music onto my laptop. The walls were lined with hundreds of albums sent by promo companies and labels to our station over the years.
So she didn’t “illegally download” most of her music, but she pretty obviously broke all sorts of copyright laws with all that sharing and ripping.
She concludes with this bit of inanity:
But I honestly don’t think my peers and I will ever pay for albums. I do think we will pay for convenience.
What I want is one massive Spotify-like catalog of music that will sync to my phone and various home entertainment devices. With this new universal database, everyone would have convenient access to everything that has ever been recorded and performance royalties would be distributed based on play counts (hopefully with more money going back to the artist than the present model). All I require is the ability to listen to what I want, when I want and how I want it. Is that too much to ask?
So music is so meaningful to her, but she won’t cough up $5 to $15 for a CD or digital download?
And music is so meaningful to her, but the key criterion in her spending is convenience?
Does she support Kickstarter or PledgeMusic campaigns that might literally be coming at a make or break moment for an up and coming band?
Yes, Emily, you are asking too much.
But you just might get it. In some sort of reverse-1984 world, we might actually end up with that “new universal database” where “everyone would have convenient access to everything that has ever been recorded.”
And then what? How would talented young artists ever get their music heard by enough listeners to fund a modest tour?
I love listening to new music on Bandcamp, Soundcloud, and other websites. I watch and listen to videos on YouTube. I post embeds from various sites to this blog and to Facebook. But it’s pretty obvious that the bands have put the music out there for those purposes.
But I still buy albums — either CDs or digital downloads — regularly. It’s easy: how much more convenience do the Emily Whites of the world think they are entitled to?
Click here for David Lowery’s compelling but long-winded open letter to Emily White.