Do Your Fans Really Pay for Your Music?

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Illegal Downloading. Free Music. File Sharing. Whatever you call it– the debate rages.

Emily White, an intern at NPR’s All Songs Considered who’s only purchased 15 albums in her life– despite the fact that she has 11,000 songs in her iTunes library, recently wrote a blog post called “I Never Owned Any Music to Begin With” where she probably speaks for many Millennials:

As I’ve grown up, I’ve come to realize the gravity of what file-sharing means to the musicians I love. I can’t support them with concert tickets and t-shirts alone. But I honestly don’t think my peers and I will ever pay for albums. I do think we will pay for convenience.

David Lowery (of Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven) responds in his “Letter to Emily White at NPR All Songs Considered“:

I’m sorry, but what is inconvenient about iTunes and, say, iTunes match (that let’s you stream all your music to all your devices) aside from having to pay? Same with Pandora premium, MOG and a host of other legitimate services. I can’t imagine any other legal music service that is gonna be simpler than these to use. Isn’t convenience already here!?

Emily’s piece offers a glimpse into the mindset of a younger music fan who is wrestling with the implications of the free-music trend. David’s response is thorough and passionate.

Should we be thankful or angry that fans are obtaining our music for free?

I put my first album out during the heyday of CD sales. I put my second album out the same year iTunes launched. I’ve put out 4 albums since, and I slowly witnessed what was, to me, a strange phenomenon: as the music improved (at least to my ears), sales declined– and not just physical sales.

Maybe I didn’t do as much to promote each subsequent release. Or maybe the buzz was diminishing. Or maybe, just maybe– I’m simply another musician who’s been affected by the free-music trend. (Or all 3!)

More people than I could’ve ever imagined 10 years ago have come up to me and said, “I love the new album”– and then went on to admit they burned it from a friend or downloaded it from some torrent site. Yes, I’m flattered. Yes, I want you to have my music. Yes, I would rather you have my music than NOT have it– even if it means you don’t pay me. But, lest I mince words– I also want you to PAY me.

And for every big-named boo-hooer (Metallica!), there are countless artists like me who are losing hundreds or thousands of dollars per release. That’s not enough to buy a tropical island, but it certainly could mean the difference between making your next record or not, supporting your next tour or not, making more T-Shirts… or not.

For a sad number of talented musicians, “or not” has become the common answer.

How do you feel about the free-music trend?

Let us know– are your fans paying for your music? If so, how do you encourage them to do so? If not, why not? How do you feel about the cultural and technological changes around the distribution and consumption of music? Feel free to comment in the section below.

Support independent artists by buying their music at shows, in stores, and on CD Baby.

[Robber image from Shutterstock.]

P.S. Here’s a couple interesting follow-ups to this discussion:

Steal This Album: What Happens If No One Pays for Music

Hey Dude from Cracker, I’m Sorry– I Stole Music Like These Damned Kids When I Was a Kid

Is Stealing Music Really the Problem?

DIY Musician

In this article

Join the Conversation

  • Jordan Lee

    I like Chris was among the first to be featured on iTunes back in it's debut in 2003. At first I was stunned by the quick and steady sales, not of the whole cd but by the popularity of my insturmental version of cover song Amazing Grace. By 2005 sales had dropped off and I found myself competing with my own debut album due to my signing with Orchard Records who by now had also released my original cd to iTunes. After a while I decided to release new songs and styles…but with very little success. By 2007 sales came back after I began re-releasing some of my original songs from old albums with new covers. Every single album I produced with an instrument on the cover instead of a band photo sold well. And although that goes against the grain of what everyone else was doing, at least for me it made a major difference in sales. I now have over 50 albums out with most bearing band images. But the ones selling the best continue to be those album covers with guitar or just words (Check out the success of 'NOW That's What I Call Music' – an exanple of a words only album that generates millions.

  • I’m not a professional musician (much like Peter Schaffer’s interpretation of Salieri in Amadeus, I can recognize great artists while not being more than a mediocrity myself), but I felt compelled to comment and thank you for posting both Emily White’s post on NPR and David Lowrey’s open letter to Emily and NPR. While I was aware of how much piracy was hurting the artists I loved, I had no idea that they were being hurt to that extent. Like many others, I thought that “The Man” was doing the bulk of the screwing over of the artists. It’s one heck of a reality check to discover that it’s the fans themselves that are most guilty of hurting the artists they admire most.

    Many people seem to see artists as something other than human beings just like them. Artists are thinking, feeling, human beings who eat, sleep, love, and pay their bills each month just like the rest of us. And for some of the lesser-known artists, revenue from album sales can be the difference between paying the bills on time or ending up on the street if they don’t have some backup method of earning money.

    While I felt that SOPA and PIPA were badly written and left too broad an interpretation to be effective, I know that there has to be a way to protect artists without punishing their fans.

    And as always, I will encourage my friends, family, and followers to buy a song (if not the whole album) if they love it. And if they buy the album, I’ll encourage them to get the hard copy (if it is available), just because the album art and liner notes from my favorite artists is something that I don’t think that they should ever miss.

  • Michael Dolan

    Like it or not, the new technology has destroyed the old business model- NO AMOUNT of laws, fines, censorship, or DRM will bring it back. While I’m normally happy to argue the finer points of law and morality, it’s really besides the point here. There will never again in our lifetimes be a situation where it is easier to purchase a CD than download the songs from it, and doing so is now the naturally learned process for hundreds of thousands of people.

    The challenge for us as artists, is to find a new way to support ourselves within this new reality. True- iTunes et al will continue to generate money (This is one of the reasons I love CD Baby) as long as it provides easy, immediate access to music at a low price- But this isn’t enough. There are live shows, merchandise, and film licensing, which have worked for decades and will likely continue to do so. Sites like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and Rockethub are looking like the biggest opportunity for you to finance your next project before you start. There are tie-in, endorsement, and partnership deals- not just with major corporations, but with your local pizza place, microbrewery, and music store. There are premium packagings that can’t be freely copied- book and CD sets, collectibles, and handcrafted boxed sets. There are pay-per-view streaming events and website subscriptions for premium content. Mixing consoles with USB interfaces and fast, short-run and print-on-demand services like Kunaki make it easy to release your own official bootlegs (Enjoy the show? Have tonight’s performance delivered to your doorstep by next week!)- and buying them is easier than hunting down a torrent of a particular show.

    I would wager that with the opportunities now available to us, it is more possible than ever to truly earn a living as a musician, provided one is willing to take advantage of every available tool. Crying foul over illegal downloading- regardless of law or ethics- makes as much sense as expecting factories to throw out their robots and rehire the workers they replaced.

    • mu sick

      show us some numbers. how much are you making from shows, merch, licensing, pay streaming, and your handcrafted box sets? because factually, most bands lose money (or at best, break even touring); film licensing (not so easy) doesn’t pay much upfront (if anything now) and perf. royalties take years to show up; handcrafted boxes cannot be sold for so much that they pay for the materials and time and shipping invested; pay per streams from the 10 people willing to pay aint much, and so on — however, prove me wrong, i would love to be.

      it’s fascinating that the main players behind freemium (things like creative commons) are google, mozilla, and other tech co.s (see the pdf from the Lowery article) who sell you hardware or internet access. and as lowery’s argument says, we are being asked to change our morals for the tech co.

      and if more people are informed and see that illegal d’loading is killing music, maybe they will start paying more.

      and the argument for “times have changed” is bulsh*t. people have always stolen, now they can just do it on a larger scale because they can.

      if google didn’t allow pirate sites to show up in searches, or sell/allow adwords on those sites; if ISPs were charged royalties, etc… these are all things that could benefit artists who create the content that fills the gadgets, drives internet use, and so on.

      i always find it amazing that the people who say to artists change your business model/buck up/ never ever say anything about the corporations who benefit most from free content.

      • Michael Dolan

        The reason people never say anything about those corporations is because the people who are smart enough to find a working business model benefit from them as much as they benefit from us. Why don’t you complain about the $50 filing fee and $4/disc that CD Baby charges? Why aren’t you getting paid for Google AdWords on your OWN site?

        We recorded our album for next to nothing. Today, $3500 will get you a better recording system than anything Elvis or Hendrix ever saw in their lifetimes. If you already have a computer, you can record an album for less than $100. Maybe we should spend some time crying over the producers and engineers who are loosing their jobs over THAT technology? Print your CDs on demand from Kunaki for $1 each instead of dropping $2k at a time.

        Amanda Palmer raised over a million dollars from her Kickstarter project. I personally know several people who have raised between $3k and $20 to finish their own projects. Hell, I know people who have had enough regular preorders to pay for the recording.

        A friend’s band played an event last summer and sold $6,000 worth of CDs- why? Because they’re in a niche market where they’re appreciated, instead of playing to a bunch of drunks who are more interested in the ball game on the TV behind the bar. Play benefit shows for “free” and claim a huge tax deduction while having the organizers remind people that you’re donating your performance and only getting paid by CD sales- We do this and sell 5-15 CDs each time we play to a room with 100 people.

        Myself, and the spouses of two band members have our own businesses, and several of us teach classes at the events we vend and play at. We use the classes, music, and businesses to reinforce and cross-promote each other- often being paid to be there and/or having our vending fees waived because of it.

        I know at least 3 acts who tour full-time, and make money doing it- Maybe not getting rich, but at the end of the day, they’ve banked as much or more than they would have working a 9-5 and paying rent.

        There are plenty of people making a solid living making art. If you want to make a living at it, you either need to understand how to run a business or hire somebody who does. Running a business means finding a market, serving that market, using the resources available to you, controlling costs, and building customer loyalty- not bitching and whining that your product is no longer marketable and expecting the world to change for your benefit. If you can’t do that, then you need to go work for somebody who does, and treat your art as a hobby.

        • Scoob

          Everything you say about making money in new ways I completely agree with…BUT none of those great things make it ok for someone steal my artwork and then share it with the entire world to be stolen again. Just because as an artist I have new outlets for my creativity does not mean that I should be ok with one of the main revenue streams drying up due to illegal activity. This theft should be punished by the appropriate authorities. It is theft, it is copyright infringement, it is wrong. Period. You can’t sugar coat this for me. I want to scream when people want to buy a record and balk at the price of $1 per song. How many hours of writing, editing, recording, mixing, etc. have gone into that song that a purchaser can then listen to the song FOREVER?…is $1 measly dollar too much to pay for that privilege?! The theft continues because it is easy and no one gets punished and “everyone does it”. Until that changes, it will sadly continue.

        • Joe


    • Right on Michael, your points are well taken.

  • JenniferGrassman

    There’s a BIG difference between a DJ / music journalist saving music they’ve received for review / promotion to their computer / iPod, and the average Joe seeking out music and intentionally stealing it. When I send a CD to a journalist or DJ, I expect them to listen to and enjoy the CD, or download the tracks I’ve sent them to their computer / iPod. That’s not stealing. I’m giving them a free sample of my music in exchange (hopefully) for their free services of promoting my music. It’s an in-kind swap. A symbiotic relationship. There’s nothing illegal about it.

    • Kate

      The sad thing is that many so called DJs and amateur reviewers rip & share albums they got for free with their friends once they have a job done because they don’t need it anymore and also they won’t sell this CD if the band is little known. Fans should pay for music, musicians should pay for services (like reviews) and a lot of people would be satisfied their skills & work pays off.

      • dan

        People should pay for music. I takes a lot of work

    • notsosure

      she copied choice tracks from the entire radio station’s library, i believe, which were not sent to her directly. often those come with a “not for general distribution/resale” understanding (sometimes stickered or stamped as such.) when i was a music journalist, i never would have let someone borrow a thousand cds to copy. also, given her attitude, it’s likely that she shared those on sites and/or with friends who shared them, who shared them who shared them….

      really though, i think it’s the sheer number of tracks she illegally copied vs. what she’s ever paid for that irks.

    • MusicalSorin

      That’s Fair Use principle, Jennifer.

      The “meat” of the issue here is Piracy, where you have 100, 1000, or more people get it without paying for it !
      And, you gett NOTHING of a “symbiotic” relationship from it, aka: quid-pro-quo.

  • Negus Esh

    This post hits home!
    Imagine us aspiring Independant Artists caught in this predicament!!
    He cross fire….a flushed industry of Commercial Control struggling to stand vs Unsigneed Talents trying to make a life for themselves but even down to School Education restrictsts Artistic Developments, so it’s no wonder society has grown in this direction….the care for Music has almost gone!!

  • I see what you're saying, the whole "it's just the way things are" point. BUT… it's within the copyright holders' rights to say in what format their music is made available, in what outlets, and for what price. No matter what the trend is, when you break the copyright holders' "preferences" (which is a light term)– you're breaking the law. Granted, laws are made to serve the community, and not the other way around. The law could be changed if society agreed (and lobbied for the change) that all music should be free. Maybe that day is coming. Until then, I think that artists should control how the music is distributed, and WHEN, and under what conditions, certain songs or albums become available for free.

    • Ok, yeah, you’re right. It should be totally up to the artist to decide how they want their copyrighted material to be distributed/made available.

      I guess I’m also talking about freemium and feels like free ideas as well as just plain old free music.

      I just feel that anyone that refuses to use services like Spotify or insist that digital be priced the same as physical is missing an opportunity. The problem is that digital music now exists and the best thing about it is that it costs almost nothing to replicate and distribute an infinite number of times.

      The change from physical to digital was not the same as tape/vinyl to CD. People don’t seem to understand that.

      The best thing about physical media is that you could force people to pay for it. So artists did. But we’re now in a world where digital media exists and I think artists should understand and learn how to best use that to their advantage. Charging lots of money and complaining when people don’t buy is just slamming your head against a brick wall.

      • mu sick

        while it costs almost nothing to replicate and duplicate, it can take months/years to produce. it also takes and enormous amount of time to promote (building and maintainingg myspace/facebook/twitter/google+/bandcamp/youtube following, etc)

        not many people are charging lots of money. most are charging less than a dollar. and the people who aren’t ‘complaining’ probably don’t have enough music or a career to even have people illegal downloading.

        • I don’t have a music career at the moment (working on it), but there are tons of sites out there sharing my bands’ albums. This one in particular bumped up one of my bands Facebook likes by nearly 100 in a few days and we got about 10 to 15 LP and CD sales from it. ( The people that visit that site are obsessed music fans and show it when they find something they like.

          Making music is not like working a job where you have a contract that says “We pay you for working X hours a week or £10 per item you produce”. It can take enormous amounts of time and money to produce money but we’re doing it in a world that pays less and less for music. Whether we think they should or not. I think we should work out how to use that to our advantage rather than fight it. Because it’s a losing battle.

      • Dudley Saunders

        I think you’re all missing the most important part of his letter: that the “Free” music isn’t free at all, but supported by all the Google Ads/Corporate Ads that are plastered all over the “free download” sites. The sites aren’t doing it because it’s fun to give away my music, but because it draws clicks to their site so they can get paid by mainstream advertisers. It’s those advertisers, and not the pirate sites or the kids, that are the problem and need to be addressed. Change the marketplace and you’ll change the customer issues.

  • I’ve read both and they’re fascinating. I totally understand Emily’s side, even though I run a label and play in three bands that are all selling music.

    I disagree with a lot of where David’s coming from as well. Emily’s standpoint is the harsh reality for the old school and you can’t just guilt trip people into buying music. That’s not how human beings work. Whether it’s right or wrong is irrelevant. It’s just the way it is.

    This is the reality: People used to buy music because they had to. People no longer have to buy music so they don’t.

    MOST PEOPLE do (or did not) not buy music as a favour to the artist, to support the artist. The music people enjoy is an expression of their personality. If they can enjoy that expression of their personality without paying for a record then that is what they are going to do.

  • I wouldn't argue with that. The recording costs may be the same, but the production costs are waaaay different now. So artists certainly shouldn't expect to still charge $15.99 for an album download.

    • AesopFableMonster

      But it’s not the Artist setting the price for their album. If they are affiliated with a label or go through an intermediary like CD Baby or TuneCore, the artist is not setting the price for their album in mainstream stores like iTunes. The only way the independent artist can control the cost is by having their own website. I’m pretty sure that the majority of Independent Artists are not setting their album prices at $15.99+. That is something the majors are doing.

      I’m a recording artist and an Independent Label owner. It takes a lot of work and dedication to make and promote records, shows, social integration and the like. If I as an artist decided to give my music away for free, then so be it; however, if I am selling my music, then it is only fair that you pay for the music I and my fellow Artists took the time and effort to create.

      If Emily and her fellow young cohorts don’t wish to pay for music, then it is only fair that the cost of anything that gives you access to multimedia be increased and that revenue be shared among the Artists, Labels, and Publishers, et al. I’m sure she wouldn’t mind paying an extra $50 for her smartphone, $100-$200 for her computer and similar devices, or an extra $10 per month for internet access.

      I surely hope that as an intern she doesn’t complain about any work she feels is beneath her, because, as ‘free’ labor, who is she to place value on herself?

      • Emily has a privileged position as an intern for NPR, and I feel sure she expects it to lead eventually to some type of paid position with the media.

        Perhaps she should consider what it would be like to intern without pay forever, because this is what she seems to expect of musicians.

      • Musix

        Wow Aesop… you stated something that makes sense… which is to increase the cost for access to the devices that deliver the music to the end users like Emily!!! People who don’t want to spend .99 of a USD to buy music that inspires them to live a better and happier life are just plain CHEAP. It’s not about Emily having a lack of respect for the musicians that produce her kind of music, but more about our financial system which makes it too easy and too convenient for these end users to be CHEAP!

      • “I’m a recording artist and an Independent Label owner. It takes a lot of work and dedication to make and promote records, shows, social integration and the like. If I as an artist decided to give my music away for free, then so be it; however, if I am selling my music, then it is only fair that you pay for the music I and my fellow Artists took the time and effort to create.

        If Emily and her fellow young cohorts don’t wish to pay for music, then it is only fair that the cost of anything that gives you access to multimedia be increased and that revenue be shared among the Artists, Labels, and Publishers, et al. I’m sure she wouldn’t mind paying an extra $50 for her smartphone, $100-$200 for her computer and similar devices, or an extra $10 per month for internet access.”

        These are important points. I’m in a similar position to yourself, I’m in 3 bands and run a label, trying to at least break even at the moment.

        Somebody recently said people have never paid for the music, they’ve only ever paid for the medium, the CD, the LP etc. It’s a little contrived but it’s an interesting thought.

        However, I really do think the change from physical to digital is very different from physical to physical and it needs to be thought of differently by us, the musicians and labels. An illegal download of an album is not someone stealing a CD from you. You do not have 1 fewer unit to sell. You have one more person that has heard your music. Work out what that means and use it to your advantage. Get them on a mailing list/feels like free/freemium services.

        As for the second paragraph I’ve quoted then yes I agree with you. But I don’t think that’s going to happen without us all getting on board and proving people will pay for it if the catalogue and convenience is there. No the royalties aren’t great for us small fry but we needed the majors to cut their ruthless deals for the service to exist in the first place.

  • mu sick

    “Freeloader killed the recording star”. All the explanations for illegal-downloading are simply justifications for stealing:

    “I buy the concert ticket” (No, you haven’t gone to 1000 concerts in the last year.)
    “I buy the t-shirt” (music doesn’t exist to sell clothing, and you haven’t bought 11,000 t-shirts).
    “The music I like you can’t get on iTunes” (wrong. just wrong.)
    “I’ve never bought music” (Well, you’ve probably never paid rent yet either, but at some point you’ll have to move out of your parent’s basement),
    “But I love the band and blogged and twittered about it” (so more people can d’load w/o paying)
    “Metallic has made too much money already” (but that indie band hasn’t) and
    “I can’t afford it” (but you can afford your $50/month phone bill, your $500 iphone, your $5 latte).
    “Radiohead released their album for free”. (It was such a success, they haven’t done it again.)

    The promotional hustle went from a couple hours a day in 2002 to five or six hours a day or more by 2008 (post on Facebook the tweet to hype the podcast to hype the blog that features the youtube channel that hosts the band’s video to promote the song… that people will d’load for free) This wile sales flatlined, then dropped dramatically… though Youtube and streams on sites (and illegal downloads) kept going up. While it’s not all related to illegal downloading & nearly-free streaming (bad economy? entertainment dollar stretched too thin with too much music, and things like apps?), most of it seems to be.

    So: many musicans have stopped producing music (or at least releasing it to the public) because they can’t afford it. Truth. See your indie bands disappear… see Justin Biebers get bigger.

    I hope the intern above, when she applies for a paying job, hears this response:
    “But you’ve never been paid for the work you’re doing. Why should you ever be paid?”

    • Christopher Bingham

      Except you miss the point that more music is being released than ever before. 75,000 cd length releases in 2010 in the us. Up from 35,000 in 2004. Lowery counts a 25 percent loss from 2008 (115,000) to 2009 (75,000) conveniently ignoring the entire catalogs of several world wide labels releasing all their titles as new.

      Simple competition, the change from a full cd market to a singles market, and the actual value of the files being nothing – ALL happening in the middle of a major recession, where people aren’t buying ANYTHING.

      Yep, it’s a lot tougher to make a living for artists of any kind of distributed information – and the people who had labels and airplay are not making the killing they were making being able to decide who got heard and paid.

      The only difference between a mix tape from the 80s and a playlist fro now is that you can share it with 10,000 of your closest friends. And the flip side? How many times should we BUY our collections? I’m on the third format change – I’m not buying another library so I can listen in the car on mp3s.

      I’ve been in the business for 30 years. More people are hearing my stuff than ever before. PLEASE give me 100,000 people excited about my music enough to have it in their players. If I can’t turn that into a working fanbase, I’m not doing my job.

      • buy by

        christopher, your music is worthless.

        that is what people who have heard your music are telling you (if they have it but haven’t bought it.)

        “more music being released than ever before” is like saying all those internet posted fan-fiction stories are “novels”. yes, explosive growth in releases, but the vast majority are by artists at the amateur stage. when i say many musicians have stopped producing music, i’m talking about the ones who put in their 10,000 hours and (writing, playing, touring) and overtime have seen their income shrinking despite free downlloads/streams increasing.

        “the only difference is that you can share it with 10,000 friends”: that. is. precisely. the. point. (um, try with a 100,000,000 strangers.)

        and as for rebuying the format — so what? you probably buy a new computer, or phone, every 4 years because you have to.

        • Christopher Bingham

          Actually, what people are literally telling me is that my music helped them get through cancer treatments, or a year in the desert when they were hungry for something from home – and those people are buying. The rest of the people are just like us when heard a tune on the radio – they either like it enough to support the music or they don’t. It’s just that instead of hearing maybe 100 of the same songs repeated over a week, they’re hearing 500 different ones.

          I’m one of those that put in the 10,000 hrs – and yet somehow, a kid with almost mo training or experience comes up with a three chord ditty that the world loves and buys. I wish the world owed me a living for the time I put in , but it doesn’t work like that.

    • phil common

      rt on brother

    • Thank you, mu sick, and my sentiments exactly; I couldn’t have said it better.

  • Christopher Hunter

    and this, though not so much with music:

    Having much of my music available both for free and for pay has shown me that most people take the path of least resistance; I’m just thankful for everyone who listens. I know that having songs available as pay-only does not work for me right now, and I recognize it may not ever work at all.

    History shows that music is a hard living for many and is NOT a living for most. Can you think of a single profession where a person is guaranteed to earn a living from it?

    • $13413300

      Uh . . . mortician?

    • Robert

      How about Doctors,Dentists,Lawyers,Plumbers,Carpenters,Bus drivers, etc. They all make a living by providing something for money. Do you think a Dentist would do your teeth for nothing after spending 7 years in school? I’ve spent 40 years writing songs and polishing my craft. I feel I can ask for compensation for my hard work!

  • Knux Kitsune

    I’ve always released my music for free. Some people like it, some don’t. Normally, the ones who don’t like it say they don’t like it, and the ones that do just listen to it. I don’t make music to make money! I support local bands by going to concerts. I go to several concerts a year, and I think the experience is much more than what you could possibly get with a CD. Shoot, I don’t even have much music on my computer these days, with YouTube, GrooveShark, and Pandora providing me with free yummy streaming music. I think the music album is just an archaic part of how the music industry used to work. It doesn’t work anymore. Try this: Make a website, make all your songs streamable and downloadable for free and leave a message saying that if you like what you hear, feel free to donate, with a Paypal button. Also, list venues and tours that you will be playing at. If someone sees that someone who makes music that they enjoy listening to is going to be performing in person near them, they will go see that person.

    • CHRIS

      thats all commendable but who will pay the:

      cleaning lady at the studio,
      the guy who works in a component factory, he makes parts for mixing desks.
      The mastering engineer,
      The sound engineer
      The guy who wrote the score for the string parts.
      The artist who designed the cover,
      The plugger
      The lyricist

      this doesnt just affect musicians, there are tons of people who are affected, people who cant play for their dinner.

  • An interesting follow-up to this debate:

  • Read my take on this ugly phenomenon, some title "file sharing". I call it out and out STEALING!

  • Kate

    The old truth is when you charge for your work, they respect you. If you give it away, they think it has a little value so they can disrespect you. It's about musicians but also free services offered by bloggers. A lot of people is afraid to charge for their hard work because they think they will loose interest or offend somebody! What kind of valuable interest comes from fans or musicians disrespecting your this hard work? We don't need such people around. We need people who respect us, pay us and receives high quality job done well. When a band wants to profit, they need to invest into something. The same thing about publishers. They need to invest into domains, servers, web designing etc. to have platforms where they can publish their reviews, interviews etc. with these bands whom they charged to provide additional services next. Ad sales won't do for everybody. That's why Kickstarter or similar crowd-funding platforms may be the future, the new business model even though it's quite about begging for money, to me. If a band wins some money, they can pay for all sorts of promotional services and focus on making music instead of wasting time for self-promotion and guessing what to do and how. There are all sorts of specialists who should do their jobs right and should get paid for. There are big dependencies in the music industry.
    This hype about 'give aways' was pushed by people who refused to pay for music, the pirates. It sounds cool to them to prioritize 'free'. There's nothing for free in this world. There are all sorts of mandatory bills and fees to pay and hard work to respect.

  • AesopFableMonster

    My comment either did not get approved-I felt I made a valid point-or there is something else going on.

    • Hey A, I just haven't approved comments in about 24 hours. Going through them all now.

  • Erik Lundgren

    My name is Erik Lundgren, I'm one of those musicians that have spent a fortune out of my own pocket. Renting studios, buying gear, struggling to get a record deal, or at least that used to be the dream growing up. But since the industry has become what it is today and the mindset of the population is what it is I have given up the illusion of selling my albums for money. I used to sell them to 10 bucks a piece and still lose money on my releases, I had not made a name of myself and I had a very small fan-base. So I decided to give out everything for free, since everyone was downloading everything anyway I chose to sort of give up the whole "buy my new album" thing. I just made a website and put it up for download. Got myself a youtube channel and started making some buzz about myself as an non profit musician. And to be honest I have had much more success in getting more fans this way. The downside is that I don't make any money out of it but at least people are listening. And I'm hoping that will increase my chances of getting heard by the right people one day. Or maybe create a demand of a larger tour, who knows. Or just be appreciated by people who no longer will pay for music. I mean for me it's important to be heard, to have listeners. For people to pay attention to what I have to say and to share my "art" with.

    Today I can honestly say that I have a much larger fan-base, and I even get fan-mails from time to time, and that itself drives me to keep producing more albums. Yes, it's a shame people won't pay for music anymore but thank god for Internet. Without Internet small time musicians would have died out a long time ago. And if I keep going I might just get lucky and get big enough one day, who knows right?

    Of course I'd prefer it if people would at least buy one of my CD:s for a few cents or just something, but I can't change the mind of the world, so we'll have to do what we can to get heard anyway. And to be honest, I'd rather have a million fans and make no money than 1000 paying fans.

    • What I don't get, is how the "new" generation of music-lovers expect the artists to produce more music for them, without getting paid?

      I, as fewer and fewer, still buy a lot of cd's, and will continue to do so, both to support the artists I love, and not at least,- to have a physical product in my hands, that doesn't disappear on my next harddrive-crash or a downfall of some obscure website I once bought it from.

      And to Erik Lundgren,- I hope you atleast have the option to donate via Paypal on your website,- you might get surprised that SOME people actually do that!

      Good luck further on with your dream. 🙂

    • Michael Phillips

      What is the point in gaining fans and NOT making money? Are you in business or not? No one has ever made money by throwing it away! Your business model will make you a pauper.

    • Guitar God!

      Stupid!!! Stupid!! Stupid!!!

      Your mentallity is soo stupid, Erik.

      I’d rather have X number of paying fans. That’s why they are fans. They pay because they appreciate what you do. That 1000 people will stick with you if they are truly fans. The masses will always come and then go. And then what have you accomplished? Nothing.

      This mentallity is sooo pervasive in so many aspects of entertainment. Mediocre talents so desperate for any recognition that even if they kill what they love soo much just to get their 15 seconds of acknowledgement (fame if you dare use the word), they will do it.

      If you want to be seen by millions of people and have it mean absolutely nothing then go on American Idol or Americas Got Talent. Or go make youtube videos making a fool of yourself!!!

  • News Flash: If you’re an artist, it’s YOUR job to figure out to make it work financially and otherwise. It’s like anything else, you make as much money as you make it your business to earn.

    Wasting your time pissing and whining over the ‘outrage of the day’ in the blogger echo-chamber isn’t going to change that.

    Do the work or go get a job working for someone else.

    • huh?

      whaaaat? most people here are working extraordinarily hard to make the music and get it heard, only to find people stealing it. what’s wrong with doing things like posting occasionally to help educate the masses to the horrible consequences of illegal downloading.

      it’s like saying to the slave wager earner in thailand “too bad that’s the way it is” when they are perhaps bring to worldwide attention bad business practices, or organizing a union, or whaterver

  • I wrote an article in English in an Italian rock forum about that also covered the issue of free downloads. Among other things …some bands also play along with the concept of providing their music for free, which messes things up for everyone else as well. The article had 2000 hits:

  • Logically

    Does it have a barcode?
    You got one for free where not permitted?
    You stole it.

  • trmrs

    As a member of a band which operates in the more obscure scenes of the music industry I feel the need for myself to release my music for free to world (or more on a pay what you want basis). Because our music will never compete or be in any way popular (the best we can accomplish is becoming a cult band in some way) I want to share it to the world for free. So the first thing we do is rip the master, export the artwork to high res jpg and put it all in a nice zip and offer it to the world.

    I myself could not care less about sales, i rather see that our amount of listeners and followers go up on and facebook than making a few euros. I earn my money with my daily job and music is my creative outlet. So eveything we do is an accomplishment and forever a memory.

    If you want to make money with music, go for it, adapt all the possibilities the internet offers to broaden your fanbase, there is no easy way. Tour, sell merchandise and offer things for free , else people will find the artists that are offering things for free and you will miss out in the end.

  • Alan Doyle

    As far as I’m concerned, free music means free access to culture, and I think that’s as important to society as free education. Are we gonna start arguing that we should close down libraries in order to maximise the profits of authors and publishers? The reality is that the old business model is dead, consumers have decided that they’re not paying for music anymore and that’s their right. Maybe new ideas will emerge to make music profitable again, but we’re gonna have to face the fact that the industry is never gonna be a massive as it was in the past.

    • Scoob

      “consumers have decided that they’re not paying for music anymore and that’s their right.” They have the right to not pay for music, but they do not have the right to own music they did not pay for. If the laws on the books were enforced, people would change their behavior.

    • Prorockchick

      Get real…Libraries?? Horrible comparison. Libraries are funded by taxpayers and donors. Someone always pays for those books or they are donated. Not even the same playing field. One cannot argue that the industry has changed and thus must adapt to survive, but artists specifically musicians deseve to make a living from the fruit of their labors. Music is the most pervasive medium on the planet. You can’t go steal a piece of art off a wall, take a book out of Barnes & Noble without paying…people pay $40 just to go see a first run movie with their family!!
      I’m sick and tired of hearing that we should get used to it! Screw that, stealing is stealing. Whether it’s .99 cents or $1million!
      Get real!

    • Still starving

      “The reality is that the old business model is dead, consumers have decided that they’re not paying for music anymore and that’s their right.”

      The reality is that, presently, composition is still by law considered intellectual property in a large number of countries around the world thus deciding not to pay for music is the same as walking into a store and taking something without paying for it. But this also goes on the same as music theft as there aren’t enough teeth out there to stop it. What can you do? But remember this….you get what you pay for and if you’re not paying for it you can’t lament about the quality that will inevitably prevail. People seem to be able to convince themselves that most anything that serves them is right or ok. One of my main principles is that honesty and integrity are inversely proportional to self-interest or $. Everyone argues their point but one day it all comes out in the wash.

    • Jeff Green

      What a short-sighted bunch of shit. What culture is free? If there’s not tickets or sales, there’s advertisers or subsidies or patronage – otherwise we’d have no artists, only hobbyists. Education isn’t free either, btw – teachers get paid (if you don’t pay taxes, somebody does.) And libraries *buy* books – and though they’re lent out, they’re not often photocopied indefinitely. This whole “Free Culture” bullshit is an airy-fairy fantasy that allows people to steal or use the work of others without compensating them, while pretending they’re somehow above it all… as if liberating someone of their property or compensation somehow makes one a liberated person. It is NEVER the RIGHT of ANYONE to take something for free that is not being given away.

    • Education is not free. Teachers get paid. Taxes get collected. Wake up!

  • debo0072

    I believe the “Artist” releasing free music music is part of the blame. When you are always giving your music away, why would anyone pay for it later?

    • StevenCravisMusic

      To Damion: There are many artists, including myself, who intentionally give away a limited amount of music to give new potential fans an example of what they do. This is successful for me because more people join my list and I’m able to communicate to them in the future about new releases that I sell (at iTunes, CDbaby, Amazonmp3 etc.. ) I hope that, when new fans listen to my free music, they can understand that there is value in the music and my time and energy, and that they can see the value in music that I sell, and the value in supporting a musician.

    • Panfilo

      all the problem that we the artist or the small record label, is the <> world wide.. governments are ding nothing to stop, the free downloading… i had someone steeling my music, took the artist for a right, to me for right, and if i wanted to charge him, i had to pay the first $70 thousand dollars, to innitiate the charge, cause it was on anther territory..were are the money that we’ve paid for the copyrights protection, were are the universal protection, were are the governments world wide,,,,,take a look at the many sites are there …full of music..movies….you pay 15cents….to register, and you get all that you want, in the meant time , at 15cents.. he made millions of dollars….without spending a dime in creating music……..the copyrights department.. should deep look into this….even the government are loosing money in tax revenue…do they care……its a shame that we had to reach this of my artist,,,has 1000thusand fans playing the song,,in the internet radio…..not one cd or download has been sold……keep up the good work….

      p. di matteo

  • Dean Calin

    My group is about as obscure as they come: we are a costumed a capella group that only sings sea shanties or maritime-themed songs. Surprisingly, we get a lot of gigs and our music sells well at the live venues at which we perform. We also have enjoyed very good sales on CDBaby, iTunes and the cornucopia of electronic media vendors associated with CDBaby’s electronic promotions. We have also witnessed the fluctuation in the sales numbers: physical CD sales drop, electronic sales go up. Still, we do several things with our CDs to encourage people buying the physical package. First we create what we hope is compelling and humorous artwork. We also try to make the liner notes interesting or at least funny enough to read through. Lastly we always include a hidden track that we don’t release electronically. We also send out a lot of copies to national and local newspapers, magazines and music review sites to try to generate as much buzz as possible.

    Yes, it is “old fashioned,” but we really LIKE when people buy the physical CD. The “album” tells a story about the music and about us. We’re more than just “richly harmonic renditions of traditional maritime music” – we are friendly and funny people that really love sharing our unique musical niche with as many new friends as we can. Folks that download only one song, even when they pay for it, are only getting the narrowest slice of the Bounding Main pie – albeit a very tasty piece, we hope!

  • Michael Dolan

    Actually, I know at least three acts who are touring full time and banking more money than they would working a 9-5 and renting an apartment. They tour 9 months out of the year and rent a place for 3 while they record. My band serves a niche market where we're appreciated. Our CD is priced at $18 and we sell 5-15 every time we play to a room of 100 people. One band I know played one of the larger events in the US and sold $6k worth of CDs.

    Amanda Palmer raised over a million dollars from her Kickstarter campaign. I personally know at least 3 people who have raised from $3k to $20k on their own campaigns. $3k may not sound like a lot, but it's a laptop, software, and recording interface- or 4 months rent while you record.

    The reason people don't complain about Google and other tech companies are because a lot of us are getting more from them. Why aren't you complaining about the $50 and $4/disc that CDB charges? Why aren't you complaining about all the engineers and recording studios that the new DIY technology is putting out of business? Why aren't you complaining about Facebook making ad money from your band page? The reason I'm not complaining is because I'm getting more out of those things than I put in, and I seriously have to wonder about anyone who doesn't.

    I, and the wives of two of my bandmates, own businesses vending at the same events we play at (most of us also are published authors, teach classes or have other relevant skills for our market). We think holistically and leverage resources and skills. At some events hosted by registered nonprofits we've donated our performance, receiving comped admission and vending space for the whole group. The festival reminds people that we get paid from CD sales and we sell a couple dozen, making what we'd get paid for playing some crappy bar back home. Additionally, we not only reduce our vending expenses to zero, but claim a tax writeoff for several hundred dollars. Since you can claim a donation, but still be given travel expenses separately, we both make money and reduce our tax liability at zero net cost.

    As much as it bothers you, times HAVE changed. A one-time investment of $3k gets you more studio capability than anything Hendrix or Elvis ever saw in their lifetimes. Staples and FedEx Office put cheap, professional printing in every strip mall. CD Baby, iTunes, and UPS let you sell and ship product anywhere in the world. Google lets people find you, gives you a place to advertise, and translates your website into any language- not to mention paying you for ad space. Kunaki and other companies allow you to print CDs on demand with no minimums and no up-front costs. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other sites let you reach millions of potential customers. Kickstarter and Rocketboom let you cover your costs up front. These are all things that help you find a market, serve that market, leverage resources, cut costs, and earn customer loyalty. It's called running a BUSINESS.

    Making a living at something means going out and doing the WORK that turns passion into profit, not just doing the fun part and expecting the money to roll in on it's own. It means taking advantage of anything that might help you. Quite frankly, if someone can't find a way to make money from the amazing selection of free and dirt-cheap resources that just didn't exist 15 years ago, then they need to go get a day job to pay the rent and pursue music as just a hobby.

    • i’ll have a coke with that

      sounds to me tho that you make most of your money selling fries at concerts. nothing wrong with that, i hope you’re making a lot. nevertheless, it’s too bad that you aren’t making that money selling music.

      is your music being d’loaded on the torrent sites? if so, wouldn’t you appreciate and extra 10K a year? perhaps with education (or legislation) or easy services like iTunes, more people will change their pattern of behaviour… in the same way that legislation changed segregation, or child labor laws, etc.

      • Michael Dolan

        I make some of my money teaching classes, some of it from selling my craftwork, some from performing, and some from CD sales. In a few months, I’ll hopefully be making some from the book as well. I use each one to support and promote the others. I make stuff I enjoy making, and I go to festivals where I have a great time with my peers- That’s my only job, and I make enough to live on. After scraping by working for other people for the previous 20 years, it’s hard to see any kind of a down side.

        As far as being downloaded on torrent sites, I’m sure we are, since we expressly give permission on both the album cover and the website. The people who are going to buy music are going to buy it regardless of what it costs. The people who won’t spend money on it aren’t going to do so- if need be they’ll go without, but there’s nothing you can do to get money out of them. I’d rather have them telling their friends about us than passing us over.

    • Still Starving

      “As much as it bothers you, times HAVE changed. A one-time investment of $3k gets you more studio capability than anything Hendrix or Elvis ever saw in their lifetimes. Staples and FedEx Office put cheap, professional printing in every strip mall. CD Baby, iTunes, and UPS let you sell and ship product anywhere in the world. Google lets people find you, gives you a place to advertise, and translates your website into any language- not to mention paying you for ad space. Kunaki and other companies allow you to print CDs on demand with no minimums and no up-front costs”
      This is true and it is important to take advantage of these….but the reason it is important to take advantage is because if you don’t you won’t even be at the entry level of the worst dross ever produced. The problem is that now we have the biggest digital yellow pages ever known and every participant becomes just another grain of sand on the Sahara. The technology makes ‘it” possible but not necessarily likely. Each person posting usually cites from their own experience or ‘druthers but it doesn’t necessarily apply so easily to each and every artists product or performance medium.

  • Mfp0815

    That's all you need to know right here "Letter to Emily White":

    Musicians: STOP apologizing, STOP justifying, STOP explaining…START to fight and take back your rights already.

  • Steven Cravis

    This was a very interesting response (to a file sharing article) I got from (a fan from) Canada and this fan gladly gave me permission to share the response.

    "I agree with supporting artists (as I'm sure you know), however, I cannot bring myself to use iTunes. I do not agree with the business practices of Apple as a company, and I will not use anything that puts DRM onto my purchased music (iTunes has removed DRM from a lot of their files, but as a company, I still cannot support them, for a number of other reasons). So I choose to use CD Baby because A) it works in Canada, B) it is DRM free, and C) it remembers my list of purchases so I can re-download them if I lose my originals. 

    The only problem with CD Baby is not every artist that I wish to support is on there. This is the major flaw with the argument of "Just use iTunes." Well, it's not quite that simple. I listen to a lot of music that isn't available on iTunes or CD Baby, or many other sites at all for that matter. Generally I will buy a physical CD if there is one. For example: a band I recently started listening to is from Germany. I bought their CD and they shipped it all the way from Germany (to Canada) for me. I would not have been able to listen to their music otherwise. So the argument that it is all convenient now and downloading is not necessary is not exactly true. I still had to purchase their CD and wait 2-3 weeks for it to arrive. I don't exactly call that "convenient." I do it anyway to support the artists, but what if the band wasn't able to ship it to me?

    Amazon mp3 is also not available in Canada. So it's really frustrating when I want to buy an mp3 that is DRM free (I have 2 desktops, a laptop, an mp3 player, and a smartphone. If I were to try and get the DRM functioning on all of these devices I would never have time to actually listen to the music, hence DRM free please).

    Please keep in mind that some people download out of the sheer necessity that the music is not otherwise available to them. Not all online mp3 sites cater to all countries, and not every band will ship CDs internationally. THIS is the major problem. There is still a need for a unified and convenient method to purchase DRM free mp3s for ALL people of ANY country. Also, the idea that a "majority" of artists release their music independently is a flat out lie. Only a very small minority have had the capability and drive to release their music on their own. A very very large majority still release their music through record labels. 

    There are two sides to every story, I am merely hoping to illustrate the other side. I am hoping that this did not come off as rude or offensive in any way. If it did, I apologize.

    But my points above do not change the fact that I, personally, will still pay for music to support the artists, when and where I can."

    • can you please share your fan list!!! 🙂 fantastic response.

  • Robert

    Its a simple prossess…People create beautiful music or not it all costs money to produce and put it out there… If people like the music and want to have possesion of it they should be required to pay something for it. If they make efforts to aquire the music for free, they are theives, and should be treated as such…..

    • Christopher Bingham

      Yes, let’s put EVERYONE who ever made a mix tape of their favorite music in jail. Bloody thieves! That’d make them want to pay.

      • Not that difficult

        Christopher, Jeff: yes, it is theft and yes, it is not a big deal to patrol “the whole internet”, easier than patrol city streets… ask google.


      • Christopher that’s not the point. The point is when someone uploads peoples music. I love when people make a compilation and one of my songs is on it. It gets people interested. I do not like that I find my songs on free download sites. It is theft. Or just ask the artist if it is ok. Some will say yes some will say no respect it.

    • That simple, eh? Who is policing THE ENTIRE INTERNET? How are you going to PROVE that these people downloaded this music? What about people that owned the music in LP, Tape and then CD, when they download are they thieves? This is not a black and white issue.

  • Giving music away for free is the norm by it seems most artsists these days.. I have tried hard not to go down that route…I did and experiemnt though and gave my album away for free for a couple of weeks on a particular site in exchange for an email address.. I then sent out a newsletter and at the bottom as always people have the option to be removed… all the people who got the album for free asked to be removed…. not one person who has given me an email at shows or purchased my CD has ever asked to be removed… If all artists stop giving their music away for free I think people would soon realise the importance of music in their lives and would start to pay.. will this happen…of course not.. some artists are so desperate to become famous they will do anything..demeaning to the world of music or not…there are many artists out there who are famous…but penniless.. I have no idea what the future holds for artists these days… but I know great artists will continue to make music regardless of the system, because its a part of them.. a part of their soul… anyway the world is changing…and things like this will evenutally change too…greed is on the way out..peace to all my fellow troubadours…long may you run!!!

    • Ginhofer

      Very nicely put, Andrew. We do it because we have to. It’s too bad people don’t feel our work is of any value, but we will continue to put out music not hoping that someday things will change but because we must.

    • Lennbob

      Of course, the problem is that there are folks out there who will make music available for free even if the artist chooses not to.

      A friend of mine released his first album earlier this month. Within a couple days or so, there were *already* sites offering free downloads (and they show up on the first page of Google search results). That’s right, NOT EVEN ONE WEEK after the album’s release, some slimeball(s) had uploaded it to sites for sharing…

    • Yes, Andrew, you’ve made some good observations, including that people often do not value what is just “given” to them. Shame about those who asked to be removed from email list, after accepting your CD as a gift. Great that those who’ve bought your CD value it and their email connection to you. I wrote a detailed response to this question, but I don’t see it posted. I may try again.

      I don’t give away songs, but my Fleetwoods hits are being posted and available for free all over the internet, and we (the writers and artists) Fleetwoods get nothing for it. So for my first solo CD, Gretchen’s SWEET SIXTEEN (SUITE 16), I posted just 30 second sound clips and rewarded those who ordered (pre-release) a copy signed to them, personally, and free S & H, Priority Mail, immediately upon release. It worked fine – with many appreciative reviews (posted at – but the income stopped when someone copied my webpage, posted it and sold copies of my CD, with no remuneration to me. All this, despite it’s being a Billboard Critics’ Pick for 10 Best Albums of the Year. And I am out multi-thousands of dollars and 3-1/2 years of my life I spent to record and produce it (in the end, for someone else’s benefit and illegal profit). You may hear sound clips at

    • American Idol phenomenon has caused people to want to be famous vs. giving what they have to give. Their voice is expressed to get attention and acceptance. Voice is an expression of your personality. If you use it to get attention – it increases your ego. If you do the same thing, only with the intent to use your expression or your ego to let go of it, then it serves the highest good.

      There is a difference between self expression and ego expression, or the desire for fame…

      Musicians are in a foil today.
      Music is given away or downloaded for free.

      Musicians had a hard time making a living before, even more so now.

      With American Idol and it’s franchised equivalents around the world, the musicians want fame.
      These people are still operating on the old world model.

      I am suggesting a New World model which is actually based on the Ancient World Model…

      Small gatherings, of live music.

      Leaders would go to the ancient temples to be inspired and imbibe the high notes of conscious sound. IT would lead them into deep reflection. It would quiet their mind and birng them into deep concentration. There, they could ask any question, and get the answer.

      Leaders aren’t followers. SO they have to get the answers themselves.
      It is not enough to follow a proven system a, b, c… as the pioneers are bringing in somehting new.

      It requires a willingness to listen and receive and express authenticity in a vulnerable way.
      We think of leaders as strong – and that strength is in grand popular famous multi media extravaganzas which are judged by how large of a rating they score.

      As a pioneer in the field of Ancient Healing and Transformaitonal Music, in the new world there is a different order:

      Small is Big
      Intimacy is Valuable
      Authenticity Reigns
      Less is More
      Slow is the Fastest Route to Any Destination

      I can imagine small groups of people gathering in living rooms and small spaces to learn the power of consciously made music.

      Music can bring us to a higher state of awareness. The wo

  • not a mercenary

    i’ve always wondered: why are musicians grateful for people to just listen?

    shouldn’t the audience be grateful that you have worked hard and written a song worth listening to?

    and if they appreciate it, and that it has value in that they want to it listen more than once, why wouldn’t they pay the 99 cents?

    to me, having listeners unwilling to pay is meaningless. it’s like taking your music to a crowded intersection and blasting it over a megaphone. sure, people are going to hear the music, but it’s meaningless hearing.

    there have been many studies done on perceived value. to paraphrase one, it was show that when malaria netting was given away for free (in africa i think) it was used only by (something like) 15% of the people. so the charity realized that if they charge a nominal fee (still affordable to all) the malaira net adoption rate went up dramatically (40 or 50%). so: if people HAD to pay for it, they actually were invested in using it — or in the case of music, listening to it actively and consciously. so i’d argue that charging for music actually improves the experience.

  • Dennis

    I'm torn. As an owner of an indie label and a small publisher I know neither I nor my artists will make much money from downloads or CDs…the real payoff will have to be licensing or other artists covering songs. However, it irritates me that Emily White and her peers feel that paying to download music is an "inconvenience". Somehow I and others of my generation managed to amass huge music collections by actually having to leave the house and go to a record store. Poor Emily will never know the joy of walking out of a local store, Lp in hand, eager to get home and pour over the artwork while listening to the album-with a few others at the same time.

    • Fatty Vs Mo

      yeah sure Dennis but hey, u gotta move on dude…u and your mates may be missing the thrill of obsessive net trawling to discover a dozen UN-released albums by unknown producers in all different parts of the world who EMI or Rougtrade have never heard of or simply not interested in!!!! Swings And Roundabouts.

  • Newiberians

    Let's face it, recorded music has been a failing business model since the ability to duplicate product (of equal quality as the original) became available to the masses. In a free market, free will always trump not-free. To think otherwise is to just delay the obvious, them days is over, times have changed, welcome to the next millennium.

  • EBM

    To the Millennial that is to lazy to purchase music that was created by the artist I pose this simple question. How would you like it if you worked a full 40 hour work week and all your money went to someone else?

    I know Millennials feel entitled to so many things without having to work for them or without having to earn them. The world doesn't owe you and the measure of your success should be measured by the work you put forth as opposed to the work you put in to getting things for free without having to do the work. As the owner of a business, I do look forward to Millenials coming to me looking for a job. The good news is that I don't owe you anything and if you're not going to do the work you are going to get fired.

    Musicians have put in countless hours practicing and honing their craft outside of having to work a regular job to fund their passion and yet no one wants to take this in to consideration when they release an album.

    People have become fundamentally lazy and feel entitled to things that they have not earned. People are like a credit card commercial with slogans like "Play now…pay later, or "Get the respect you deserve". I have news for the lazy people who feel they are entitled to things without having to work for them. Respect is earned not given. You should have to have skin in the game so you have a vested interest in what you are participating in. You should have to work to earn things as opposed to be rats at a feeder bar seeking immediate gratification.

    I hope this offends someone, rallies others, and in the end is heard!

    • Prorockchick

      Hell Yeah!! You said it!! This is getting shared!!

    • People also seem to like to generalize and lump huge groups of people together while making sweeping statements about the motivations behind why they do or do not do things.

      Furthermore, if that is your question to the millenials, are you expecting them to answer why record labels have been raping musicians for the last 30 years giving them pennies on the dollar?

      It’s easy to classify them as thieves or lazy, it’s much more difficult to come up with an innovative solution to a real life problem that you can’t arrest your way out of. BTW if you don’t hire these millenials, then who is going to build back up Social Security for you? It’s likely that individuals of YOUR generation–that failed to adopt digital technologies in the first place–caused this entire problem.

      Most millenials I have spoken to want artist to get paid, but the failure of the music industry to adapt to the real world is as much the problem as anything else.

      • c’mon

        jeff: itunes. everything is available there. it is quick and cheap.

        the record labels, and indie musicians, have all adapted.

        it’s your millenial friends who are stuck living in the past.

      • sdr

        “It’s likely that individuals of YOUR generation–that failed to adopt digital technologies in the first place–caused this entire problem. ” Individuals of our generation INVENTED digital technologies. Oh, wait.. you thought the 15yr old downloading pirated movies and music invented this tech like, yesterday? Really?

    • Rob Thompson Vocal

      “How would you like it if you worked a full 40 hour work week and all your money went to someone else?”

      It kind of does whether you have a day job or you’re a musician. Just the former goes to government bureaucrats, and the latter entitled spoiled kids.

  • Johnkrisnessy

    I tend to think this is an inevitable cultural shift. We had gotten used to a model where artists benefited and some made damn good livings. Times change. Supply and demand are not constant things and we can't expect them to be. The phenomenon of so much free music is a part of the instant media age we live in now. It won't go back. I lament the fact that it has its adverse effects, but I feel it's a losing battle. I've gone so far as to resolve that making a living as a pop musician simply isn't realistic anymore for anybody. Old rules don't apply. The only way it can happen is exclusively by exploiting the "new" system. YouTube future, I succumb.

  • Kicklighter

    Those who want to give music away thats up to them, but many of us worked for years at playing and writing expecting some return on the time and money invested. I have to pay for medicine , food, lawyers etc. and just about everything else in this world so I expect to be paid for my efforts as well. There is a lot of spin about not paying for music but unless everyone in this world is prepared to give away their services or products any artist who expects to be paid has the right to get paid. Between the people that reprint my cds and sell them to those who just get it for free off of various sites its money that I worked for. I worked my entire life in music and finally got signed to a few labels and much of the money I worked for has evaporated to free sites and theft of my music in different forms.

    • My feelings are in synch with yours, my fellow artist/musician; and comrade.

  • As I always say, the artists have signed their own death warrants. By behaving in the way fake supporters expected them to, they have lowered their standards.

    The problem is not that people won't pay to download music, it's the fact that most indies do not know who their audiences are. They promote to pretty much everyone, hoping that people they have barely ever connected with will buy their stuff.

    I have been an indie for years, and have worked with indies for almost as long. Yes, it is frustrating when people do not treat us right. But what is even more frustrating is to see extremely talented people spend their time complaining about the industry, when they should use it wisely, to educate audiences on why support is important, and share their expertise to build a solid brand. Indies are entrepreneurs!

    Stop giving away your music, respect your work a little more, build relationships beyond sales messages with the right advocates for your brand, and most importantly, do your due diligence.

  • Denise

    Everytime someone comes up to me and says something like, "hey, I watched your concert on TV and recorded it and made copies for my family so they could see it to", I try to politely say that I do SELL copies of the DVD if they wanted to purchase one to share with someone. I also do this with music as well – and not just when someone is referring to one of my songs – whenever someone mentions burning many copies – I simply state that it is not their gift to give – that they wouldn't want to work for free in their jobs and this is one of the ways that songwriters earn money for their creations. If we all just educate when the opportunity presents itself – it can only help. Too many people are of the mind that the record label doesn't need the money – those days are gone – WE are our own record labels and we need the money…

  • thinking ahead

    I think musicians have to create new forms for music that eclipse the file-sharing era, which will starve us in its current mode. I don't think the fans or the contemporary generation are to blame for enjoying what is available. I just don't think that there was long range planning by the music industry when these technologies became available.

    I see some other downsides of the current trend –
    1.Songs are separated from the visual packaging that used to help bands/singers to establish an identity and a "brand" and establish a rap through the record sleeves/text/photos etc. Now you have to search those out on the web.
    2. It's now hard to have your music heard as a collection, a journey if you will, where the artist choreographed the order of the songs into a coherent whole. We are now basically back to the singles era and often in an anonymous, random setlist of thousands of tracks. How do we go from this to concert status?

  • Jamesreeno

    I think it is virtually impossible for an indie artist to generate sales.
    For example, a lot of people that want my music ar DJ's. And they typically want promotional copies. Anybody else who might want it can copy it or get it for free somewhere.
    Sad but true.


  • Chris, GREAT ARTICLE! This is a conversation we need to be having. On one hand it feels like we as indie musicians need to help our fans become 'aware' of what it means to take music for free, and on the other hand it seems almost inevitable that the next Gen music fans want music for free and don't understand the simple pay model that we need in place to survive. As I read (and respond) more questions than answers come to mind. Will more (free) fans mean more T-shirt sales? Concert sales? If they don't want to pay .99c or $9.99, why would they want to pay $10-15 for those other items? Anyway, maybe we need to ride the line — encourage our fans to pay for our music when they can (or what they can afford model) and also find ways to maximize the effects of having more fans (ala building a killer email list and doing our best to create long lasting relationships w/ them which will make them more inclined to support us monetarily in the future). Thanks again for the article!

  • Bdlabs Music

    People (particularly young people) are strapped for cash. Their extra money goes to big phone bills, booze, pills, loans and whatnot. Anywhere they can save money or get something for free they always will. And the opportunity to get music for free is ubiquitous for just about anyone. Emily actually has a conscience about it but most people frankly don't give a shit. I'm a musician and producer too and the only people I see who are ready to fork over money for music are fellow musicians because they empathize with the plight. It's sad but there is no going back now that the technology is everywhere. Savvy businessmen who create platforms like Pandora and Spotify will keep getting richer and artists lose out.

    • Young people are not stranded for cash. They have money, but they had rather spend it on stuff that is useless.

    • heathercubed

      Young people aren’t so much “strapped for cash” as they are just looking for anything for free, so make choices, like many, to get it for free if they can. They don’t care if the artist has to work 2 jobs to produce their own cd’s, they still want the music for nothing and most make no apologies for getting it that way. They feel entitled to getting whatever they want for little to no money spent or work done. You put it so well when you call it “their extra money” and how they prioritize. Many think nothing of a spending $200 on a booze weekend or a pair of shoes but $20., $15. for a cd or even .99 per song download and forget it, it’s not money well spent or convenient enough for them.
      I don’t agree totally in that there is no going back though. The technologoy is always changing and all musicians aren’t going to throw up their hands in defeat and stop making music. There will be a backlash and the technology then will be artist driven. It’s not a matter of if but of when.

    • Greg Owens

      Young people have cash, not credit cards. They can’t walk into a CD store in the mall anymore and buy music with cash. It must be obtained via a credit card on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, etc. When was the last time a teenager went to daddy and asked for his credit card to download some music to their iPod, versus just downloading it for free? Something to think about.

  • Nero

    It's clear that younger consumers and people that are tech savvy will not pay for music. I have 5 cds out on iTunes & CD Baby with solid reviews. Lots of fans on Jango and Face book, etc. Videos on youtube with lots of hits and likes…….a fairly lengthy career for someone who does not write commercial music. All that said, I will not be making another cd. I can't afford to. I get tons of hits at cd baby (I can see the my page) but few sales. Are people just checking out the music there and downloading it for free at limewire, etc? Of course they are. The Indie musician is dead I guess. Stealing music is like cheating on your homework or a test. In the long run, it only hurts you. Now good musicians and underground bands will simply go away, and all you have left is American Idol. Enjoy that new Clay Aiken CD!

  • Very interesting and hot topic. I've released 4 CDs over the last 15 years and here's what I've noticed:

    1 – The forth record sold about twice as many copies as the first.
    2 – The first record earned me about twice as much money as the forth.

    Based on these raw numbers, there is no way I can make a living and provide for my family the way things are now. Because of this, ultimately the art will suffer as I spend more time on having a 'regular' life earning a regular living and less time on being an artist.

    It's a race to the bottom. The music will get cheaper, but the quality of that music will get worse. The only way to break the cycle is to create something of value that people must pay you directly for. Live performance is one way. A higher quality product that you have control over is another. One possibility is to give away lower quality music for free, but offer a high quality version as a direct sale. Lower quality may be a crappy youtube video, or it could be a downlodable track of your best song with the band doing a voice over on top of it explaining why it's important to buy the real version.

    I'm inspired by this. I think my next record will only be offered as a direct CD sale, with some kind of lower quality version available free. Not sure what that will be yet, but it will be a worthy experiment.

  • 4sanachannel

    Like it or not people don't want to pay for music anymore. My band's last album we recorded ourselves and offered some cds and paid downloads but, pretty much gave it away to our friends, fans and families as a free download on our site. We also encouraged people to share it for free. The album we are working on now will only be offered as a free download. In my opinion this trend is going to bring better music to the forefront instead of huge label crapola. Now the little guy has a chance.

    • Yes, and we will end up with no indie being able to make a living at all! Good job for not understanding the meaning of being paid what you deserve.

  • El Pathos

    Unlimited access to free music has simply made it another commodity, like pork bellies and tomatoes.

  • Peter

    It's not free to make music. Not even close. Someone will pay this cost. The dialog needs to shift from "should fans pay?" to "who is going to pay?" Music lovers need to appreciate that it will cost someone something for them to enjoy that music.

  • scoob

    "Like it or not, the new technology has destroyed the old business model- NO AMOUNT of laws, fines, censorship, or DRM will bring it back." I completely disagree. If enough people were busted and fined tens of thousands of dollars for their illegal music collection, it would make people think twice about illegal downloading. If file sharing sites were shuttered and they were all hauled into court and faced years in prison and huge fines, things would change. The laws that exist are not being enforced. The real question is why? Who is benefiting from this? The large record companies are getting hit, but with their enormous connections and power, they can still be profitable. The smaller indie labels and artists are the ones getting crushed by this phenomena of illegal file sharing. This is probably why it is not a priority for law enforcement, the little guy doesn't matter to them.

    • You are joking right? First of all, the punishment would need to fit the crime, and the RIAA has already tried fining single mothers 250k to “set an example.”

      Furthermore, let’s ask Barbra Streisand if she got those pictures of her house off of the internet, or if the AACS encryption key for Blu Ray is off of Digg yet? Do you even understand the internet? This is NOT something you can possibly police. It’s that mindset that created the piracy problem in the first place. The old model is dead, rethink your business. I don’t have the answers but you can’t fine your way out of this.

      • Info

        of course you can police the internet. everything is tracked.

        however, it’s google, apple, high-speed dialup, etc. and other tech companies who sell ads, computers, or net access who benefit most from free content.

        they are also the ones who contribute the most to things like Creative Commons.

        So the citizen who argues that copyright is wrong and content must be free has been bamboozled by big corporations.

        as for fining the single mother — if that single mother was speeding on the highway, and got stopped by the police– should she be let go too? would you agree that it’s reasonable to make her pay any fine (say $3000)?

  • Most artists have NEVER made money from album sales; record and CD sales primarily have been a cash cow for labels. (since they have traditionally kept 90% of all album sales revenue, and even more nowadays)

    Regarding "piracy" — would you rather have 10,000 people take the leap and buy your album or 100,000 people "steal" it? The latter would make for a MUCH more promising touring/merch market! (which labels have realized, hence the modern day 360 deals)

    Hip-hop and electronic artists today give away nearly all of their music via free mixtapes (street albums) to convert as many new fans as possible. Then, they capitalize off their vastly expanded fanbase via sold-out tours and licensing.

    With the Interwebs today, it's easier than ever for artists to send their music and merch all around the world, thus opening up a bigger than ever market for MAKING MONEY!

    A bigger market, that is, if you're not already brainwashed into being a slave to the Old Guard of the music biz, and clinging to an archaic business model.

  • Guitar336

    Until the people who are doing this feel the pain themselves I'm not sure it will change but only get worse.
    If they would only think about it as having they're own business and someone using their services or products for FREE! Whenever and to whoever they want. That would put them out of business quick…….Well! what do they think is going on here

  • I have released 4 CD's over the years and I found the same trend. My debut CD certainly wasn't as good from a songwriting or a production standpoint, yet people from all over the world were buying my physical CD (thru CD Baby) and I was getting checks for approx. $1,500/quarter and people were paying $15 for it at gigs. My last two CD's, I saw mostly digital downloads of individual songs (one had 51,000 downloads on iTunes), but very few physical CD sales. And at gigs, people just ask for my website (and I see them download one or two songs later) rather than buy my entire CD for $10 at a gig! So, I actually have lost the desire to produce another CD with all the time and costs involved. And I almost want to warn fellow musicians that are all excited about recording their FIRST CD- So, the other alternative is record a You Tube and 50,000 people may see it but guess what— YOU DON"T GET ANY $$$.

  • Tarock Music

    All this debating is ridiculous, when EVERYONE knows exactly what it is . . . STEALING!!!!

    The thieves would be the first ones to squeal like little pigs if they worked a full week, then found out they weren't getting paid. But they think it's perfectly okay for recording artists and song writers to not get paid for their work.

    What a f%#&ed up set of values.

  • Doug Haywood

    If you steal from your friends, I’d hate to be your enemy. I hope someone steals your paycheck.

  • Rebeccannebanks

    the artist needs to be supported – when did a song or a poem not become worth monies? maybe we are evolving into a cashless society . . .

  • Isenbergmichael

    Technology is a double edged sword – it has allowed real and talented musicians without funds to create brilliant pieces of music through things like Garageband, but it also allows every Tom, Dick, Harry and their grandmother to release some meaningless bunch of nothing just because they can. And because of that, EVERYONE suffers from the never ending glut of releases that music fans have to wade through to find something worthwhile. And that’s not the only problem. The technology that allows this glut also allows the THEFT of any and ALL intellectual property in state of the art quality, whether it’s music, films, books – you name it. And while everyone weeps about what a genius Steve Jobs was, he was at the forefront of destroying the entire industry and countless thousands of jobs with it. Unfortunately, the end result is that those real and talented will soon see no point in being creative – we didn’t get into it to give it away. Even now, the industry has been reduced dramatically – far below what my generation would ever have accepted as mediocre. Now there are no Led Zeppelins, or Beatles, Stones, Queen – the mega stadium acts that my generation spawned. There’s simply nothing even remotely close to that anymore. You have to look to MY generation for acts like that – like McCartney, for a mega show of REAL musicians with history making music. And the sad fact is, acts like Paul’s will die off and NOTHING will be left except the drek of today. This isn’t just my opinion – I’ve been in this business for 50 years,and here in Hollywood the folks who KNOW agree with me. The touring industry is not even a SHADOW of what it once was. I know tour managers that handled the biggest acts ever known who are now struggling to find work. And even THAT isn’t all. The industry itself has created a lockout, and it’s own version of wealth redistribution, and DOES NOT deal with the best and brightest – only the mediocre and those who are easily molded and controlled and OWNED. Live Nation and Clear Channel control almost everything. No longer can the entrepreneur take their hard earned new record to a DJ and hope for airplay in hopes of attaining success at the grass roots level – now it’s ONLY who the industry let’s in. The public doesn’t get to choose from the best and the brightest – only what the industry allows them to see and hear. That’s EXACTLY why artists deal with outlets like CD Baby, iTunes or anything like them – it’s the ONLY HOPE of being heard – and even that’s a long shot. The bottom line though, is that people who steal music are causing the collapse as much as anyone is. And the collapse is nearly COMPLETE. Those born after the boomer generation have NO REAL CLUE WHATSOEVER of what was and how it became what it did, and WHY IT’S ALL DISAPPEARING. That’s why I wrote a book about it. The problem is, even with CD Baby’s new book deal, I can’t afford to self release it. If it sounds like I’ve given up though – think again. I don’t quit. Only death will stop this old man.

    • Varmint

      I’d be interested in reading that book of yours….. and paying for the privilege…..

  • Jack

    You mean people make money with music?

  • It’s a trend everywhere. At the end of a performance, after two or three on-stage promos of my CDs, the audience will come up to tell me how much they enjoyed the night. They don’t buy the CDs however. When people tell me how much they love my music, and were sorry they missed a performance, I say “Perhaps you’d like to buy an album.” I get a smile and a condescending look, as though I were asking for something ridiculous. I don’t know what the answer is. One thing I’ve become aware of through the various music sites I belong to is that there is an overwhelming amount of chaff out there, and it’s become very hard to find the wheat amongst it.

  • phil common

    As a musician and an internet everything person I know without a doubt that as long as people can easily, or even not-so-easily find your music for free, they will get it there. Even your friends. The only thing you can do is make sure your music is only available in ways that pay you. The days of the CD are over, they won’t be coming back. So, organizations like SESAC, BMI and ASCAP will pay you for any broadcast or even live performance of your music and SoundExchange will pay you for any internet streaming they identify as yours (and they catch a lot)… Sign-up

    When musicians typically release a record they make one of two mistakes. Either they put the whole thing online on a bunch of websites planning to get exposure or they put nothing online planning to sell cd-s at shows. The first plan is great for a lot of folks telling you you rock, but never seeing a penny. The second, is, well a zero. My suggestion is to take the time to create 30 and 60 second shorts of your songs, contact internet radio and podcast producers, create ‘drops’ promoting thier stations over your music, get revied, start a blog and only post your shorts or streams of your music. And make sure the album is available on CD Baby, Amazon, etc… Pandora will only accept your music if you are listed on Amazon in a specific way. But that is outside the scope of this article check it out here:

    Keep recording and playing out. Love it and hopefully the money will follow.

    phil common

  • Paying for music in 2012 is dinosaurs. You either evolve or find some other industry to try and earn a living. I’d love it if I could sell tens-of-thousands of records, but people simply aren’t willing to pay for music because there is no incentive for them to do so. Unless I create an incentive (special limited edition releases, bundle with other physical merch, signed copies, higher quality downloads, etc.).

    I may not be able to sell as many records as I could have 25-years-ago, but 25-years-ago I wouldn’t have been able to afford to record a great sounding album, release it independently, and distribute the music worldwide… without going through a massive record label… if I was lucky enough to get the attention of a massive record label.

    There are so many upsides to the internet age for a musician in terms of booking, touring, promoting, distribution, crowd sourcing, etc. It’s true that revenue from physical album sales is down [existent at all?], but I also guarantee that most independent musicians are getting 20x the promotional/distributive reach than they were getting two decades ago.

    You can either spend the next decade complaining that you’re not getting album sales, or figure out some way to go with the market flow and use the reality we live in to your advantage.

  • A lot of time and effort goes into the writing, recording and perforiming of each song. Each time someone steals a song–and let’s face it, that what it is–it lowers the value of everyone else’s music that much more. Think of it like real estate. Each house is valued based on what the other houses are worth. If people think the neighborhood the house is in is not very good, they won’t want to pay as much for it. If people think you’re music isn’t worth paying for, then ultimately it loses value, regardless of how much it cost for you to prepare it with studio time, marketing, pressing, etc.. Everyone’s time is valuable, including musicians.

  • Vocalal1

    This is such bs. . . when this young lady graduates to become a lawyer, or doctor, or producer, she will demand big bucks for her work. If anyone were to ask her to work for free in the future, she will give an incredulous look, turn on her expensive heels and walk away. Booo

  • Context is really important to the tech-savvy generation. In a recent interview with JD Eicher for Beyond the Labels Magazine, he put it best when he said, “Songs should have a value, especially when you think of the price of a cup of coffee, something that is temporary, and then you think of something that lasts forever, like an album.”

    One way to talk to people about how important music is in their life is to discuss their favorite experiences. Maybe it is going to a baseball game or the theater or perhaps just walking in the mall then meeting a friend for a drink. Every experience has its own soundtrack and each of those soundtracks involves music. What I like to do is set a scene for the person, really put them there – whenever they mention a song playing I figuratively take it away from them; in essence make the music stop. If we could somehow coordinate one day where the music actually stopped – where no music was played in public – I think people would start to value it’s affect on their lives. Aside from scent, it is the single-most memory-inducing process for our brain. It has value far exceeding the 99 cents musicians are asking for so they can eat and maybe even hire someone to tell people they are out there doing their thing.

    What the average person doesn’t even consider when it comes to entertainment is how much money it takes a musician to share their music with their audience. As much as everyone would like to believe that good music simply rises to the top on merit alone, we know it takes a ton of people working behind the scenes to get the public to notice. By putting those people into the minds of fans, musicians can help to show how paying 99 cents for a song can really employ someone just like them – a fan of music – as a publicist, marketing person, sound tech or graphic designer. When you put people behind the money, someone other than the musician, it puts the musician’s need for the money into a context they can relate to. If we pay for the music and the money goes to the celebrity so what but, if we pay for the music and that money helps feed my roommate, who wants nothing more out of life than to be a roadie, then that is where people buy into buying music.

    For me personally, while convenience is nice, quality is better and, for a true fan of music, I think this is where another legitimate argument to purchase can be made. The sound difference between digital media and vinyl is palpable which is why, in spite of the electronic age, vinyl and analog recording survive. How many bands struggle with getting their live sound to an album but never release bootleg songs or even just record all in the same room together. One of my personal favorite things to hear is sound traveling between speakers.

    Record a single with one or two of these different ideas in play and then educated your audience on why they need to buy the album rather than the digital version (because you won’t hear those nuances out of a laptop).

    I think what we as musicians forget to do is educate our audience. People who geek out on anything want to know as much as they can about the subject, that’s why stats are listed on the back of baseball cards. If we, as musicians and, as far as fans are concerned experts in our field, take the time to understand sound and the cost of doing business in music then we’ll know our audience and we’ll understand our sound and that will allow us to relate the details of how their 99 cents makes a difference in their experience in a way that is pertinent to them.

  • Paul Steward

    I’m a lucky person, most fans are older, more respectful, and have money to pay for music. It could also be that they don’t know how to download music for free. Most of my record sales are of physical CDs. But even my downloads are from older people.

    I fear the day when I have to sell music to people my age (born 1980-2000), they think it should be free and as a marketer I know that sometimes you just can’t change the mindset of the customer. But maybe you can teach the next generation to respect and pay for music. Or find a niche market that does (such as me).

    Maybe it’s the value of the music they are buying? Emily White did say she “bought less than 15 albums” in her life so far; so which albums were they? And most importantly, WHY did she buy them?


  • Cambrini

    I am a songwriter and fan of music.
    Re the lady with 11000 tunes in her folder.
    She probably would not pay for those songs if it was manditory
    Its a huge problem and the results of which probably won’t become apparent for a while .
    With movies , theatres are closing down .
    It’s not sharing , it’s stealing plain and simple .
    Sorry but that is my opinion .
    My other less obvious question is ” who needs 11000 songs in their library ?”

  • Orionedwin

    Hi there! If you have downloaded my music for free you are a thief who has just stolen somethng I have worked hard to create, and piad thousands of dollars to produce. Poor Emily? She should be in jail.

  • Like many of her generation, Emily had no respect for the intellectual property rights of others.

    I think people should just take her NPR broadcasts and re-broadcast them all over the world
    without any consideration. The same thing goes for whatever little else she can create on her

    Our indie pays all the studio, musician, backing vocals, mixing and mastering costs of our
    production, plus the costs of manufacture, marketing and promotion, including videos — all
    without recouping one cent against the artist, producer or copyright royalties — but she thinks
    she can and should broadcast and file share our stuff for free. She probably doesn’t even log
    the airplay, making it impossible for us to collect any performace rights licensing fees on our
    share of the publishing.

    I think Emily needs to work as hard at her job as we do at ours and not receive any salary for
    a year. Then she might re-think her opinion that music belongs to everyone for free. Hell,
    why don’t the studios, engineers, musicians, background vocalists, DiscMakers, website
    builders, and iTunes/ all give their work away, too. Then her position might make
    some sense.

    I’m sorry, but the lax enforcement of current copyright law doesn’t justify what amounts to theft.
    And what she does is stealing. It’s just sad that BMI, Harry Fox, the FCC and the Congress
    don’t shut her down.

    Roger Meltzer
    CEO and Director of A&R
    Capsicum Records, LLC
    “Roots on the bottom, and pop on the top”

  • TonyMac

    What about a going after the ones that make this out right ”THEFT” possible? Get all those that can prove to have lost money from Illegal Downloading and, take Microsoft etc, to court? Lighten Mr. Gates pockets a $Billion or so for selling the OS that makes this possible! Bet he would have a fix faster then a USB 3 down load.

  • Like Lowery, I would rather my fans have my music than not have it. However, it saddens me that when I make my music available for free download, people download it; yet when I make it available for sale only, not a single person is willing to pay for it. Yet they all come on my pages and tell me how much they love my music and want more of it. If all the people who say they love my music would BUY a few songs, I would at least break even on the cost of making the music, instead of spending hundreds or thousands of dollars to make songs and videos without making a single penny back. This trend means I have to work harder doing things other than music in order to have extra money to spend on making music, which exhausts and frustrates me so that I don’t end up making as much music. Meanwhile, everyone is like, “When are you gonna put out new music???” WHEN YOU START APPRECIATING IT ENOUGH TO PAY FOR IT!!!!!!

    As a consumer, if I am not sure I will like an entire album, I will try to preview it for free…. but if I like it, I will then buy it because I RESPECT the effort the artist put into it!! If I don’t like the music, I just never listen to it again.

    My fans have told me that I deserve to be making money from my music, yet they will only download it if it is free. Like most young people, although they understand IN THEORY the connection between paying for music and the artist continuing to put out new music, in practice, they just don’t care enough or have enough respect for the artists to pay for the music they listen to constantly. It makes me sad and angry. We artists deserve to get paid for what we do!!!

  • Mark Nelson

    My first album was released in 1980. On vinyl. It sold as well as could be expected for a folkie project on an indie label. Note the date; the Sony Walkman was invented in 1979. By the time of my third LP (yep, still vinyl) came out on a larger indie label, taping was endemic.

    That record, and every subsequent one, sold worse than the earlier one, in spite of more touring, better radio airplay, better reviews, yadda yadda.

    Why? At the sales table after a gig, I’d hear folks say, “I’ll buy this one and you can tape it.” Ugh.

    Now it’s the future (and where the heck is my gyrocopter?!) and stealing is both effortless and normal. So it goes.

    Where I used to make 1/2 my touring income, or better, from sales of recordings, now it’s maybe 1/5 or less.

    My point? Same as everyone else’s: an entire generation has grown up believing it is just fine to support mega corporations for their phones, pads, pods, earbuds, internet &, yes, latte; but music should be free. Cuz otherwise it wouldn’t be so EZ to steal.

    So, to Ms White & her ilk, I’d like to offer this little trade. You can go ahead and steal my music, cuz it’s really only digital bits and oh so convenient.

    In return, how about I make use of some of your digital bits? Like your social security number, visa card, bank routing number?

    Hey, no one is really harmed.

  • Michael Phillips

    I might be mistaken. But a few months ago, legislation to deal with illegal downloading and renegade sites (SOPA) was being considered. Why didn’t you SPEAK UP for your rights then? Why didn’t artists rally in support of the move? I understand that Sweden has passed draconian laws, and the incidence of piracy has decreased significantly. Instead of bemoaning the situation, LOBBY your congressman!

  • Paul

    This is an Essay I wrote about a “music sampler” being given away at a preschool auction.
    Stolen Bananas given away at pre school auction.

    It was reported today that two hundred boxes of stolen bananas were given away at a pre-school fundraiser. Every person who attended the fundraiser was given a free box of bananas as a thank you gift. It was only after close examination, that recipients of the gift realized that the bananas were stolen.

    This may seem like an isolated incident but preschools across the country are following the same trend. A spokesperson for the schools said that the bananas were not being sold but given away and that this is perfectly justifiable for this reason. “After all”, she said, “bananas belong to everybody and those banana companies make so much money that they won’t miss them. And besides they fell off the back of a truck and are untraceable. And, we are just pre-schools after all.”

    A spokesperson for the Banana Association of America (BAA) said “I can’t believe that people are ripping off Bananas just because thy are a humorous fruit. I don’t think it’s funny. I suppose people just don’t take Bananas seriously. Perhaps people just need to be educated that Bananas are just as valuable as meat and potatoes. Even if you don’t like Bananas they are someone’s property and should be respected in that way.”

    The irony of the case is that the money raised at the school function will go towards a greenhouse designed specifically to raise oranges so that the children will better understand the fruit growing process. When this was pointed out, a spokesperson for the schools said,
    “Well, comparing oranges to bananas, is like comparing apples to oranges isn’t it?

  • Normandie Wilson

    I understand what it means to discover new music by stealing it. I was in college when Napster and Audiogalaxy were in their heyday. I get it. But yeah, as an artist it’s like… ehhhhhh it’s tough when you’re paying for your stuff to be published and everything. I think Kickstarter and some of those sites are proving to be a new middle ground. I think the thing is that a lot of people don’t understand how much work/time/money it takes to create a new album and how much money it takes to do certain things. I don’t know, I don’t know what the answer is really. I think for me, the answer is stepping up my game as a musician. I’m still getting paid to play weddings and private events, and I’m working on making my live show better so that I can justify making at least 3, 4 figures per each show. If I have to give my recorded music away for free, then I will feel a lot better about the “promotional value” of my hard-earned music being given away if it earns me better, higher paying concerts. I’ve stopped playing for free though… I’ll tell you that. I demand guarantees and I don’t play shows where I don’t make money. If people want to hear me for free, they can steal my music. I don’t even know anymore. This whole week has been a disheartening one as an indie musician, that’s for sure… I think a lot of us are having the same questions and wondering the same things…

  • Wendy

    I put out an album in the year 2000 and paid for half of my recording costs in the first night from my CD sales at my release concert. I put out a new CD this year and CD sales at the release concert barely covered the cost of my first recording session for the entire album. It’s incredibly discouraging. Songwriters can’t afford to write and produce songs anymore. We need to work all day and have enough energy at night to be creative and write songs. Then we pay thousands for studio time to make an album so everybody can listen to our music for free. What’s with that? I don’t know any other industry that has a product that everybody wants but nobody pays for.

  • Bootlegging has been going on ever since sound recording devices have been available – way before most of us were even conceived. However, these days copyright infringement is running rampant.

    It is necessary to impose regulations on file sharing, illegal downloading and subscription music services to make sure that those who create and produce content receive proper compensation for their effors.

    Musicians have the right to make a living in return for their work and investments just as much as their distributors and social networks do. They also need to be protected by the same laws that protect major companies.

    Do gas stations, phone companies and pay-tv providers change their prices to satisfy customers who ask for lower prices? Would supermarket chains give out food for free? Is is free to advertise on television, major websites or commercial radio stations? I THINK NOT!!!

    If the decision of product prices are made by providers, not the consumers who they market to, it needs to be the same for music.

  • Fluffypitbull

    If Emily doesn’t think she should pay for music I don’t think she should get paid by her employer. If she can get our work for free I don’t see why somebody else shouldn’t get her work for free. I would then be very interested to find out where she could find and apartment, groceries etc. for free.
    Bottom line, indie artists rely on fan support and if the fans won’t support them they’ll disappear.

  • Very interesting article Chris and many interesting comments! This struck a chord with me so I have to chime in…

    A little background on myself for context. I’m a 25 year old independent rapper based in England. I’ve released 3 albums and an EP since 2006 and sold almost 10,000 CDs, 95% through real-life, hand to hand distribution in various cities. I’ve been a full-time musician since Oct 2011 when I left the corporate world to fully pursue my music career.

    My thoughts and experiences come from YEARS of being out there every week in different cities talking
    DIRECTLY with my fans and potential fans (FYI – most my fans are 14-25 – the ‘music pirate generation’ lol)

    TRUE FANS will and will always be happy to PAY for your music if you give them a good enough reason. So will their friends. These are the caveats.

    1/ Awesome music (obviously, but there’s much more to it…)

    2/ A level of personal access to you, the artist – online and in real-life. People like to be appreciated. I take this to the max by literally being both the artist and salesperson. Out of 18K+ Twitter/FB followers and I’d estimate 30-40% have met me in person.

    3/ (I don’t think anyone’s touched on this but it is crucial) YOU HAVE TO TRAIN YOUR FANS TO BUY YOUR MUSIC. Since I was 18 with my first CD, I’ve always SOLD my music so my fans do not expect or anticipate my music to be free. This isn’t a problem to them because they actually LIKE supporting me. I make it clear to them that I need them to and make it even clearer that I appreciate it and they’ll be part of the journey.

    That’s it. I’m not against giving away the odd single EP strategically but so many artists are missing the point by throwing out entire quality albums for free with no clear goal. To build a fan base of buyers, you have to ask them to buy. Do you want ‘listeners’ or actual fans who will support you? If you’re a professional artist, rather than a hobbyist, then you need the latter for your career’s survival.

    Thanks for listening! I hope that helps somebody out there 🙂


  • Lafeef1

    Ive been a singer/songwriter since the seventies. I’ve toured, sold thousands of albums, even been on MTV when they played music. The fact that these young kids think they deserve your new music for free sickens me. They don’t care about the months you toiled writing each song or the money out of your pocket to mix, master, produce, and market your latest work. They all feel it’s owed them.
    Well my last cd was last year and I won’t record another in the rock/metal genre. I am moving on to a more appreciative audience.
    Someday these kids will grow up and something they worked and paid for will be taken from them and then maybe they’ll figure it out… But it will be too late, all their rockstar heroes that they stole from will have moved on.

  • Willdrumforfood01

    I think Emily – and the author – bring up valid points. Lots of people do steal music. But the question is, is that really the problem? I happen to side with Jay Frank’s “Is stealing music really the problem” on this. Take a read…

  • Tomi K

    I get really irritated, not just as an artist, but as a fan, when people “rip” music from “free” downloading sites and the like. There is a lot of things that go into the making of a band, like pr, studio time, copyright, CDs, t-shirts, posters and the like, touring… None if this is free folks. We want you to enjoy our music, yes. Please enjoy my music, and tell a friend. But I’m not going to listen to a song a friend of mine showed me of a band I like and then have the next words out of my mouth be “can you burn me a copy?”

    It’s called iTunes. It’s easy convienient and a lot of the times much less expensive than buying a cd at the store. For me, as an artist, ripping my stuff off says you don’t care about me as an artist. I think it’s disrespectful. Support your local artists, please, buy paying for thier music! We don’t spend hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars recording our stuff just for people to “steal” our WORK like its no big deal.

  • Dale Turner

    I guess I *am* kind of bugged when a person comes up to me and tells me they’ve been listening to my album on Spotify… even though I’m the one who permitted it to be accessible on there. Of course, when I initially got it on Spotify, it was NOT available in the US…. I really hoped it’d help me gain some exposure in Europe/UK/etc. Now that it’s legal in the US and I hear of regular Spotify listeners (direct e-mail, facebook posts, etc.), as grateful as I am, I REALLY just wish they’d buy it–$9.99 (hard copy and/or MP3) is nothing for 42 minutes of musical madness they go out of their way to say they dig!

  • Smith

    I can only reiterate what mu sick and not a mercenary have said (and very well, in both cases); the former, in plainly stating that all excuses presented are just excuses for stealing; the latter, in questioning the refusal to fork over the grand sum of $0.99 for a song one likes. Before I became an artist myself, I can honestly say I never illegally downloaded music. I believed it to be a wrong thing to do then, as now. Stealing is stealing, whether you shoplift a $0.99 item in a store or illegally obtain it digitally; only the method differs. Ms. White, and evidently, much of the general population, seems to think illegal downloading only inconveniences some already-rich record company executive. She and a great many others need to know, definitively, that it ultimately hurts the artist most of all. How many wonderful artists of all genres have we effectively lost through such practices — lost, because it became financially unfeasible or impossible to continue devoting enormous time and effort (and some of their own money) to making music for which few were actually paying? And how can a “new business model” counter outright theft, and, frankly, why should one even have to be developed for that purpose? Again, more education is needed to indicate to people that a.) just because an artist releases a CD or two to the public does NOT mean that they are then automatically a millionaire, and b.) illegal downloading further cripples an ailing industry because too many people are making off with what is being produced with a minimum of revenue generated and recirculated back to the artists. The “old business model” worked for the longest time because people were, ahem, SPENDING MONEY on it to keep it supported. Does Ms. White realistically think it will magically support itself sufficiently to keep it going? I think that, in the end, she (and other like-minded people) really don’t care, and nor do they apparently care that they are basically criminals.

  • I’ll never forget about 10 years ago when a fan showed up for the season at my gig in the Sarasota area, walked by the bandstand as I was singing Devil May Care and whispered, “Your new CD is great! I burned it.” At that time I was unaware of this technical process. I’ve 6 CD’s on CDBABY…I think they are a great company, but although I sell a fair amount it’s still about enough to cover shipping costs. Couple that with all the CD’s one sends to FM stations as an independent artist, and the piracy of our music online…it’s a sad situation. Add to that companies that want to “promote” your music for thousands of dollars to radio stations that, of course, play the music as their product to fairly enough receive revenue from advertisers and patrons.

    The perception of even very intelligent people in other professions about a musicians life is rarely accurate: they simply are amazed when I tell them what top-notch musicians play a three hour gig for. There is also no conception of the costs to an independent artist for licensing, etc.

    But at least at a gig we get paid something if only tips. Online…I really think CDBABY should not have the categories for free downloads listed. I do not check those off. At least if CDBABY didn’t present the option or cater to those sites that would be a start.

  • Carpiesong

    Stealing is stealing. She admitted to it publicly. Arrest her and make her pay for every song she has.

  • Gregoryjwilson

    Perhaps if all of the artist, myself included, actually stopped recording music for them to steal (and make no mistake it is stealing) then they would be forced to come to a club to hear us (or not) and then we could get the cover charge. That might be more inconvenient for them. A line has to be drawn in the sand, but who wants to draw it?

  • Yankees_cowboys

    Hey I kinda think greed in the music buiz led to this .In the beginning cd’s on sale cost almost $20.00 for a single disc.i bought 1000’s of CDs for that price and many were sub par albums at best.I continue to buy in cd form but have an iPod realizing CDs days are numbered.Should have sold CDs at 9.99 years ago not wait til the end to boost sales

  • Foxxgregory

    @DENNIS: You got it, “the real payoff will have to be licensing”. (And royalties) ASCAP etc. properly tracking the radio and the internet. MAKE SURE YOUR SONGS ARE ENCODED WITH an ISRC. (And in the short run….. we’re all screwed. CD’s do make great coasters! I’ve been praying so hard my knees are sore. And there is a GLUT of music, too many posts like “hey check us out at …….
    But hey what the hell.

  • Rob

    iTunes is horribly implemented, that’s why I don’t want to pay them, but I’m willing to pay someone. As a kid though, they learned to get music by simply clicking a link. They don’t make the connection that’s stealing. However, going to Youtube and just listening is a lot easier.

    Even though it is absolutely wrong to steal from people, I think we as musicians simply have to adapt and make money from touring and merch sales. It’s not worth having a fascist government shut down Youtube, etc… in the name of copyright protection. They WILL ABUSE that power, and HAVE abused it. Ronpaul2008dotcom got shot down on Youtube, and there was A LOT of useful information on that channel.

    We have to get sites like Netflix where people are willing to pay. Spotify isn’t that great because the artist makes SQUAT. We as indie artists should band together and put together a quality site like Netflix where people are willing to pay, and we can get compensated too. Quite frankly, I’ve watched a lot of indie films on Netflix that are FAR SUPERIOR to the cookie cutter garbage in the main stream. I feel that way about indie artists too. There are so many good indie artists out there that no one ever hears about because of lack of exposure.

  • Yourhotmusic

    iTunes and the like have forced prices lower , yes more avenues but that does not always mean more sales , the influx of self promoted music to the market has made an oversupply ln bad written songs with low production qualities , this also has forced prices lower as more and more BAD songs hit the sites at 99c and lower . (not allowing for promo specials)
    Have your own web site , have control of prices and sales , have good written and recorded music . Know you market and marketing , add a bit of luck and you may
    Get some sales flowing – eventually !

  • Sleepy Hollow

    What the music industry needs to do is promote a system where you pay a monthly fee (like Netflix) and can listen to ANYTHING – tie it to a device. Kids who can’t be bothered with the inconvenience of paying for downloads will run out to the Apple store and wait in line for any new device, even if they have the old model and it works perfectly fine. They have no problem paying for fancy phone service and apps – find what the market will buy, and sell that. (Also, with this system, artists could be paid by who actually listens to their music – no more Metallica putting out a lame album, getting tons of sales and then people deciding the new album sucks and they never listen to it again – it might revolutionize the “charts”.)

    Of course, the trend towards putting out CDs with lame artwork, cheap cardboard cases, and no lyrics doesn’t help garner the remaining “hard copy” sales . . .

  • Ferenzmail-cdbaby

    We live in a world where abundance and wealth and money come from giving, sharing…

    This is why so many are poor and miserable unfortunately.
    i know it starts with me.
    be the changeyou want to see in the world

  • Celeste Lear

    99¢ a song is a serious DEAL people! A fan is NOT going to go broke going to iTunes or Amazon to buy an artist’s top 3 or 4 songs legally. You will still be able to afford to go to a band’s concert or buy a T-shirt. An album released by an indie artist or band still costs THOUSANDS of dollars to record, produce, mix, master and release.

    Keep in mind iTunes and all digital retailers take about 30% to 40% of artists sales and their distribution company takes another 8% to 10% – leaving the artist HALF! That means they have to sell twice as many songs/albums to even catch up – which is really hard to do if you don’t have a budget for a marketing team!

    It’s dismal out here and it seems like it’s getting worse now with companies like Spotify – instant gratification? For the consumer YES, for the artist – NO.

    Please make the morally correct decision and pay for your music – Feed a musician today!

  • Wow. I read through half of these comments and then had to stop as it was making me very depressed.

  • Jeraldwolf

    when I was Emily’s age, I couldn’t afford to buy albums so I would either borrow them or just listen to the radio…it would have been nice to have free music to download back then…isn’t listening to a free radio station getting the music for free? NOT if you’re the musician…musicians make a penny or 2 every time their song is played on the radio…that’s the trouble with free download sites, they don’t pay the artist a “penny-per-play” like radio staions and dowloaders get to keep the music (unlike music on the radio)…there’s nothing wrong with the way Emily thinks, but there is something wrong with download sites that don’t pay royalties per download…THAT’S THE PROBLEM!!! music has always (at least for the most part) been free to people under a certain age because they can’t afford to buy the entire CD…nothing new here…why don’t companies like BMI and ASCAP collect the royalties from these sites like they do from the radio stations…that’s what needs to change…artists can’t create without getiing paid for their creations…period.

  • Franklin

    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 the side of the fence and bemoan the lack of support one gets for all their hard work and a system that actually touts this fact as a feature of its existence. Or to coyly snicker about the prevailing trend of society that makes getting/taking items for free an acceptable fad. 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 it doesn’t feel like you’re taking advantage of someone’s labor when it’s easier to take than purchase). In reality we’re all “Da Man”, when through our actions we stick it to 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 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 our impunity we take that which under threat of punishment we would purchase.

  • The average music listener is exposed to more music today than ever before, and probably listens to more. Pour over any of the indie blogs, and you’ll see countless artists all promoting their new releases. The sad thing, however, is that I think the average music listener now sees pop music as disposable. It’s free, and therefore doesn’t have as much of a lasting artistic merit. I think, however, that there is no changing this. Musicians will have to find a new way of generating revenue. I don’t think it is concerts, either (unless your a major label band). I’ve gone in debt touring, with venues paying less and less to touring artists. It’s a difficult, but fascinating time, for musicians.

  • Jeff

    Forget making a profit, I just wish there was a way for bands like ours to break even on recording our albums! We usually end up spending close to $5K recording a new album but only seem to get hundreds of dollars in return. Our only solution is to save all our money from shows into a band fund, but that gets harder and harder to do the longer we stay together. Guys in the band are like, “I’ve been playing for free long enough, I want to start getting paid for my hard work!”.

    I’d be fine not recording anymore, but then fans complain that we “take forever” to make albums. We have to keep churning them out every 2 or 3 years or else people spread rumors that we’ve broken up. It’s very frustrating.

  • Undadirt


  • Brian Mitchell

    So I’ve been thinking about this the past few days after reading the articles. I think what I might end up doing personally is recording albums & putting up on Kickstarter for funds to release the music & if I don’t get the amount of money I want then I just will only have the music available to people who walk into my house. Other people hearing my music isn’t the center of my making music anyway & I’m happier with no one hearing it than losing more money.

  • King David

    I am a professional musician in band with a first release. We are terrified about free downloading because we depend on the capital from sales for our next release and touring. Eventually, if there isn’t any monetary gain by making music, no one will. Or they’ll just make it for themselves. And then all you’ll be able to get is back catalogs until everything becomes common place and boring.

  • Here is a great open letter to Emily written by “The Trichordist” which is a community blog for those interested in contributing to the advancement of an Ethical Internet, and the protection of Artists Rights in the Digital Age.
    A long but worthwhile read & great to pass on:

  • Hugo

    After 20 years in the music biz, here’s my take. People are generally not moral about anything when no one is looking. The anonymity the internet provides allows and encourages billions of people to become casual thieves. This is how google got to be google. Do you think the internet would be what it is today if free content was not a part of it? I fully expect recorded music to be a 100% black market in less than 5 years. There are some small countries that are already there. The only viable solutions I’ve heard of are a) make all music 100% accessible and tracked and impose a tax on internet service. b) require people to get some sort of internet license where they have be who they really are when connected. I don’t expect either of these to actually happen though. There is too much money at stake that relies on keeping piracy rolling along. I also would like to point out that Emily, if she wanted to, could easily go back and buy 90% of her library on iTunes or Amazon, if she actually wanted to support the musicians, and artists who clearly make her music-centric life complete. But she won’t, because she is the future, which is why, eventually, you are going to see a profound drop in the quality of music. I’ve spoken directly with several well-known current artists recently who have admitted that they are curtailing their new music output because their sales keeping shrinking so dramatically. They instead, will try and tour instead. There is a huge misunderstanding of artists. People think they are, or perhaps should, just be in it for the expression aspect of it. But when asked why they got into it, most very successful artists, that are honest, will tell you it was always for the fame and fortune. We all know the fortune aspect is pretty much gone, but fame is way down in music as well. Very few new artists can draw a crowd anymore. You are going to see a massive amount of music venues of all sizes closing in the next 5 years. The biggest ticket seller in music right now is Fleetwood Mac. Soon, most music listeners, even young people, will be listening to music from a time when people paid for the privilege to hear it, and when there was a real incentive to make it, and new innovative and important music will be, for the most part, gone. Here’s hoping I’m completely wrong.

  • Over the past 3 years more than 4 million people have downloaded my music free, while I struggle to feed my child and send her to a good school, clothed, while the Telcos made money off me for download-bandwidth and Apple and Samsmug sold iPhones and craptops et-al to play it on, etc – Now it seems I am being forced to return to what I was doing before; slave-to-capitalism-businessman – I feel like Gen-whatever-the-fuck is so spoiled they gonna completely fuck CULTURE! Can you imagine if all those who worked at M/Benz needed to take a second job??? Those cars would become Toyotas.

  • Cambrini

    One service that solves a lot of both side debates is song streaming services.
    My tech savy musician buddy subscribes to this and is completely happy.
    One fee and a vast library to chose from.

    Regarding cds and mp3 .
    The companies sunk themselves by charging too much for CDs in the first place.
    A 14 song collection off itunes costs a whack o doe .
    There is no manufacturing risk to the company and still they want to shake up your wallet.
    File sharers are theives , plain and simple .

  • Cesar

    I feel like Emily is getting more of a backlash than I think is really necessary. She is being honest and as much as I’d like to say “Shame on your generation!” hoping it will make a difference, to do so would be naive and unrealistic. What she is saying is a reality that needs to be considered and dealt with. I think trying to teach the younger generation that stealing music is unethical would be like trying to teach the CD generation of the 90s to stop buying CDs and go back to the Cassette. The reality is that music is taken for granted because it’s so easy to get without necessarily having to pay for it. It’s also a reality that the independent music community and some mainstream artists would not be where they are now if sharing music were not so simple. I personally think buying music (physically) is fun and I make an effort to support artists/bands that I really like, but I don’t make enough money to buy everything I listen to, especially knowing that I can get it for free with little effort. I think services like Spotify are definitely the future of music consumerism that people will eventually pay for as they become more and more convenient, but I think it will be up to artists to band together and rally to higher authorities to put fair payment distribution regulations in place. Otherwise I think the “wild west” atmosphere that is the modern music industry will persist and worsen and artists with so much potential will come and go very quickly. I hope things will change, but in the meantime I’m putting out my own music and I sure as hell can’t quit my 9 to 5.

  • Bob984

    Creative works that are sold are products. When that work is copied without permission or compensating the owner of the work, it is crime…… the same level as if you walked into a store and put a CD under your shirt and walked out.
    The problem is that copying and re-distributing media is too easy. We need to find a new technology which will allow artists to put out works that can’t be copied or sent. The tech minds are out there somewhere who can make this happen.
    Those who believe that they should be able to get all of their favorite music for free have obviously not slaved for hours in a studio to make it good, or practiced an instrument/voice for years.
    The problem is not limited to music….but all media….music, videos, movies, photos, books, artwork.

    A start would be to go and bust the person who has a website with someone’s album up who shares this with thousands of people……………… is time to send police to doorsteps of some of these, and the word will get out that like it or not….it’s a crime, and you could be doing time.

  • Rightup

    please go out and get my album .one circle by rightup .show some support for the hard work and love


    Wow the article by David Lowery hits it right on the head. Sadly this is a complicated dilemma as well and it is effecting me as we speak. I’d love to ask Emily a couple questions like, Emily ” Do you understand what it takes to write a hit song, let alone an entire record?” “Do you understand the money it takes to have a regular producer or mixer, let alone a Grammy winner produce and mix a world class record?” It is a massive investment my dear. “How would you like to invest 50K of your hard earned savings into doing what you loved, Into your business, a business you knew you were REALLY good at, only to find out everyone was giving away your invention/book/product…FOR FREE?” But you love to do it, It’s where you belong, you have faith and believe that this IS where you are suppose to be, so you keep going… until you are unable to because people out there are copying your inventions/books/products and giving them away for free and your being told that, that’s just too bad. Find another way to generate revenue and make your product an expensive calling card to your OTHER merchandise that you CAN sell? HUH?) “Do you have any Idea the energy, money, and time it takes to put this stuff together?”) At the end Emily you’d realize You couldn’t make a living doing what you love and are really good at…what you are meant to do. Instead you had to commercialize everything to find a way to make income to support making music, which inevitably could rob you of the time you had to make music and be creative and bring a beautiful message to people. I wish everyone who is sharing music for free would hear this and REALLY think about it. That’s you too Bob Lefsatz, I read your articles and although your making a great point your missing the real issue. Really missing it. The issue David Lowrey nailed.
    It’s hard for me to believe that Emily White’s generation, as big advocates as they are of so many socially helpful movements that they would be so willing to blatently rip off artists. Emily and folks like her should know that THAT IS who you are ripping off, the artists. I get your frustration with “the man”, trust me I get it but in this case the artist is losing darlin. Thank you David for this. I am so sorry about your friends that lost their lives. I get how discouraging it can be. Blessings to you my friend. I hope somehow Emily and so many like her hear this. Peace.

  • Bionicman

    Not paying for merchandise or a service of any kind, be it music or anything else is stealing – period. I’m 41 years old which means I witnessed the transition from vinyl/tapes, to CDs and then MP3s. I’m a graphic designer and power user when it comes to the web and all digital technologies. I use iTunes on my Mac, my iPhone and my Apple TV. I’ve been purchasing music my whole life and to be quite frank, there’s never been a cheaper or easier way to buy the music you want, when you want, than right NOW. For example, I was lying in bed one night recently and decided to look up an album on my iPhone. Within seconds I was downloading it and listening to it. All for less than 99¢ a song. I didn’t even have to leave my bedroom, let alone get dressed and drive over to the record store! How much more convenient and affordable can that be? Yet for many, it’s still not good enough – it has to be free – ie: “stolen”. People make products and/or offer services, and other people buy them, this is how our economic system works. Technology has opened the doors and allowed individuals to copy property without paying for it, but that doesn’t make it right. This new generation is lacking a basic fundamental moral compass. Taking something that you should be paying for without paying for it is stealing! You can try to make up all sorts of arguments as to why it’s “okay”, but we all know it’s not okay. How are artists supposed to survive, let alone make a living if we don’t pay them for the work they create? Think of the talent, the dedication, the time, the energy, the resources, and the commitment it takes for artists and bands to make music and actually get it recorded and distributed. There is real tangible “value” there. Value comes at a cost. It’s not free! We need to educate the masses so as to make them see that this is wrong and that paying for music is the right thing to do. The younger generation today doesn’t even see it as stealing because to them, music has always just been, well, “available”. This is what we are up against. But like many other social and cultural issues, it is possible to turn the tide by educating people. Music is art. And, like art, it needs to be appreciated, respected, and valued. Come on people, it’s time to start the “I Pay For Music” revolution!

  • Thefriesens Band

    I guess what it comes down to is whether your music is a job or a hobby-and by that yardstick, what is it worth to your listeners? For example: my band, the friesens, recently released our debut album for free-the reason being that for us it is still a hobby, like an ameteur artist entering a piece in an art competition-for us it is worth more to simply have people see the music. We have other ways of supporting ourselves. However, for many musicians it is a job. This I liken not as much to an artist as to a carpenter contractor. If you hire someone to renovate your house, you will pay them for it, and you will take into account things like hours worked and materials required and all that. And if you are a contractor you will expect to be paid. If you are not paid, you cannot survive. Somehow though, people have begun to see musicians as some magical creative people who only need the satisfaction of their own art. This is not true. They are providing a product, and I know a lot of indie musicians prefer to think about it as art, but in the end it is a product, and as such it should be paid for.

  • Naomi

    Most millenials I know, who want to justify free downloading of music (and tv, and movies), have the primary arguement of “But if I didn’t get it for free, I couldn’t have it”. So What??? Just because you want it doesn’t automatically mean you should get it. The rest of us grew up not getting everything we wanted, we had to save pocket money up for albums, or choose to use our hard-earned cash for music instead of other things. One good friend – a lawyer of all things – earns WAY more than I do in my day job, but still thinks she should only have to pay for music when she, arbitrarily, decides the artist is worth it.

    I would ask Emily, and do ask other millenials I speak to, how many hours a week they’re willing to work for me, for free. If their employers said “You work for free, and very occassionally, if our clients/customers feel like it, they’ll pay you for your work, but only if they want to – or can be bothered. In the mean time, you work for nothing, and infact, spend money you earn elsewhere for the pleasure of doing that work”. How much of their money are they willing to spend creating something for me, that I don’t have to pay for? They don’t want to pay for music because they don’t want to use their money (which is still precious to them, as it has been to generations of us) if they don’t have to. Instead, they’ll use my money….well – no.

    I don’t care if it’s my independently released album, made on an extremely tight budget, funded primarily by my day job, or if it’s U2’s album, on which they spend millions of dollars. They deserve to be paid for their work just as much as I do. Just because they’re rich, doesn’t give the consumer the right to decide whether they think U2 are worthy of being paid.

    My future albums will be funded by pre-purchases. It’s the only way I can get the money to make the album. Crowd funding is, perhaps, the only way forward. You like my previous work – pay up-front for future work.

  • I’m not torn at all. I want to be financially viable, and I want that for all other musicians, too. Unless we stand our ground and make it clear to our fans that free isn’t fair, we are essentially undermining ourselves and EVERYONE else who plays professionally. We can’t afford to undervalue ourselves–psychologically or fiscally.

  • Having already started the process of ending two illegal file sharing companies in the last couple of days, I like to think its helped prompt this: And living online most of the day due to Post Dramatic Stress Disorder caused through loss of home, child, belongings and almost career, couldn’t care less what another person’s opinion is: Your issue is, you too nice, and thats why you are where you are!

    Great Britain, don’t stand for idiots who nick things, so I might just come in your house and slap Emily White round your face!


  • DJ-M

    As a musician myself I really don’t find this an issue. People nowadays do download a lot but, and this has actually happened to me multiple times, they ask for links to the albums on iTunes and what not and buy them. This, however, is a rare treat I think since so many musicians today don’t really care about their fans rather than making music and having the biggest fanbase in town. I for one talk to my fans, daily, to make sure they’re enjoying the road as much as I am. I try to be in contact with them as much as I can on a personal matter; chat, meet-ups, online streaming etc. – And I think that is key to being able to sell your work, which the buyer already had – for free.

  • The Telenator

    One of the better articles (although quite brief) that I have read on this subject. I may sound quite harsh here, and I think the problem has been caused and mainly perpetrated by these ‘Millennials’, but I truly believe that a whole swarm of them should be arrested, fined heavily, and some of them jailed. Back when I worked for a time as a rep. for ASCAP, this is PRECISELY what we did with copyright infringers — and it was unfortunate for them to be fined the standard (at that time) $175,000 per song theft, but it sure got the point across and put an end to the vast majority of lawbreaking behavior. Okay, let’s apply it again, this time with people just like Emily, or even actually well-known Emily, to make an example of her illegal and uncaring actions, then you’ll see this abuse dry up overnight. THEN perhaps we can get back to talking about all those wonderful and more creative things concerning the music itself and the artists, and thereby put this ugly behavior by selfish, lazy people and this ugly chapter in music history behind us.

  • 1 Jimmy

    when the world has no new music because some people stole the hard work from a lot of career writers who experienced many a trial & error in there life to write there music there will be no new music in the future to get you through real life situation that the average man and woman will experience. Why? certainly not because writers are greedy ( writers are not money hungry ) but because writers sacrificed their lives and relationship for the story in music to be told for the world’s benefit yet writers can’t pay there light bill.Today I can’t pay my rent yet I’m still trying to finish the music I’m writing and it really hurts when people say oh man that shake your hot sauce song you wrote was awesome and I got it but they didn’t get it from me. So in the future enjoy your music factory productions and music with no heart after all thieves get what they pay for….

  • What’s really funny is the concept of a music CD today! It’s ALL about the mp3 now. Unknown bands struggle to be recognized only to be ripped-off by torrents etc. when they finally get a scrap of public attention. I make music for my own pleasure. I dont have to be owned by some rec co or put up with band arguments anymore. Check out Black Cat Blues by PENTULTIMA k?

  • Willis

    I’m constantly amazed at the folks who put a high value on what they do attach little or no value to the work of others and yes art is work. Making music, photography, painting, building instruments etc is how some of us make our living.

    Emily and her peers list a number of reasons to justify what they do. I’d like to know Emily, is shoplifting OK, how about walking into a house and stealing someone’s money? By stealing music, and that is what you are doing, you are stealing the artist’s money.

    It’s interesting that you like the music enough to download it, so that music has some value, it makes you happy or some other emotion that comes with listening to music. But that same music created by an artist has no other value to you? I say let the artists of those 11,000 songs decide whether or not you get paid from this day forward for what you do, after you do it.

  • Fatty Vs Mo

    Move on guys. Reality is a hard pill to swallow. What do we want: an old system which creates industries and elite rock stars who earn all the money and tie up all the production means and creative processes, or a decentralized open market where EVERYBODY is a DJ and anybody is easily capable of producing and releasing very average music!! Technology has meant the latter is the case at present and we are now having to deal with the scenario’s which this shift has presented to us. CD baby and other similar platforms have now become the EMI and Polydor’s of the mass consumption quantitative obsession of the digital age. As musicians we have hundreds of possible channels from which to focus our efforts into. The world is now on our door step, but what this means via the internet is that we ALL have an equal opportunity to either make good and or simply get lost in the quagmire. 30 years ago i released vinyl .. sold a few and gave a few away.. my ambition with ART back then as is today is to create communities and remain active in determining which path this planet is taking. My last CD on this site sold a few and i gave a few away!!! Those that feel bitter or ripped off with what they are doing need to re-frame their structure and get clever. Create a product or a vibe which people want to invest in, if people feel connected to something then you hold the strings how that connection is transferred or interacted with. There are millions of artists now due partially to access and availability of the required tools and also due to the globalization of communication and networking. Embrace the changes think outside the box and relish the opportunities that await you. But please stop the whining, coz it doesn’t get much better than this!!!!!

  • My music is on MOG. What is MOG paying ME to play my music for free to anyone?

  • kairologic

    Do you gripe about the economic situation? Do you wish it was better? Do you know what you put into it? How much you take out of it? Your influences upon the system, whether good or bad? Do you realize how much the entertainment industry has supported this country throughout the 20th century? Do you pirate songs and movies (and programs/apps)? If you give a damn, then stop it. Pirates in the movies may be funny and seem heroically prosperous in their romantic adventures, but they are are not idols and they are not doing any more good than the other bad guys. We all know petroleum and war are major contributors to our problems, but what kinds of things can we do about the situation, from home? You know what’s right. And besides, don’t you like those artists and producers? Supporting them is supporting the little guys, too, even if it seems you’re just stuffing the pockets of the already-rich. Knock it off, and see how you will lower your bills, raise your paycheck and bring about that change you wish to see in the world.

  • Chris J Prizm


  • Fredmango

    I’m just a music fan. I might be the exception: but I’ve never downloaded a CD illegally. Back in the days we would burn each other CDs but I have embraced the digital revolution and will buy downloads from my favorite artists, sometimes CDs at an event. I loved the idea of “iTunes” since the beginning. Maybe it’s because I’m a Gen-X and I bought hundreds of CDs and cassette tapes before Napster came along. True: I don’t buy that much music anymore. Maybe only a few CDs a year. That’s because I have less time to listen to music as I’m concentrating on my career and family. And also I have bought a substantial collection, so I have little need to expand it that much more.

  • J.K.Chris

    As a music producer I can say, that the music itself seems to be no longer a "merchandise" so to speak. It can exist and earn money in a context (of some services, like dedicated meetings for example), but not by itself. The problem is not only the fact, that folks seek for free downloads, but also – the market of music is full, overloaded. And even more – millions of cool covers and descriptions, only a few good pieces among them. Services like CDbaby earn on artists even if artists don't earn on their music. Services around music vs music itself. You can't stop the technology and expansion of "free thinking", but what is missing here – is some sort of supportive ideas, that will ballance what artists are not getting back in exchange for their work. So stop screaming start brainstorming what could help.

  • Ricky Grant

    The time has come when we are all realizing-How modernisation affects us all..The music industry & what it stands for today along with Technology, has made ev’rything to be easily manipulated the way it is..We don’t think anymore-our brains are not being excercised anymore in Life’s challenges.This is not 1914 levels…Ev’rything is(so called) READY DONE for us. So…..I am convinced that ev’rything one day will become a Prophetic revelation.Modern day system..As an Entertainer/Songwriter/Singer/Musician/Producer for over 4 decades-I’ve realised that the trend changes at certain intervals & it hurts the ones who solely depend on the music industry tremendously even more than one could imagine.WE GOTTA START USING OUR BRAINS AGAIN…..No matter what.

  • Shwmusic

    hey above all thanks for being a real person! It is interesting how it has become the norm to get free music from friends and people will think it many times that..hey, I probably should be paying for his but I won't since I don't have to. This is what happens when ethics in a culture become situational and not Faith based. If as a people we are a law unto ourselves with no consciousness of having to answer for our deeds to a higher law (God), and we have no inner moral compass based in a respect and fear of a just God who sees all, there is no where else this train track runs to. Our founding fathers said it succinctly, "If we ever take the Bible out of public education you will not be able to build enough prisons to house all the criminals". This is where the train track runs to, that we as a culture are on. The free music syndrome is merely another of the many symptoms of the obvious disease.

  • Guest

    You all missing the point here. You really honestly believe that one person would buy 11,000 songs?? Okey, there will allways be people with a huge record collection – but the majority – like my parents – wil only have 10 albums! If I didn't want to listen to the radio all day – i had only the choise of those 10 records!
    If i had to buy music – I would only have my 50 cd's! I wouldnt buy more because i couldnt get them for free. I used to record mtv's headbangersball on VHS – just to be able to watch next day! Now there is Youtube – thank god! The internet has thought me more about new music, styles and bands, then any recordsstore could ever do!

    Those that would buy your album will still buy it – you expect to have the benefits of worldwide recognition, promotion, aknowledgement, yet – you can't deal with the fact that not all those fans you get this way are going to pay for your album.

    The only difference with the past is – beside the real music collectors – there are now people who can listen to the music they want (instead of the radio) that where not able in the past.

  • I think it is dreadful how everybody enjoys streaming the output of my hard labour while honouring it with easy give-away FB-"like's", and then, reviewing my statistics (in this case, Bandcamp's statistics), having to find out that sales are ziltch, and will remain like that, no matter the promotion, the offered bonustracks, the rockbottom pricing or the syncing of pages and apps to spread notifications to an evergrowing body of "fans". I think Emily White has reduced us to providers of a consumer article that is so omnipresent and easy to get to, that for people like her and her generation it has lost great deal of its value…

  • Victoria Fuller

    It’s very difficult to make money with music anymore these days. It’s too bad. I’ve given up trying.

  • I think that principle should play a larger roll in more people's lives.Fairness is a principle that I feel is important to me and it makes me feel better about myself .If someone enjoys somebody's music,even if they pay for 1 or 2 of the songs and TAKE the rest ,it would still help. I'm certain that if more people could record CDs with a chance of getting something in return for their efforts,then this world would have much more great music to enjoy. Let's help the cause. If you can download 10 or 12 songs from someone's CD for 2 or 3 dollars, that's still a great deal. Edward Bradley, on CD Baby, I-tunes etc…

  • Nss379

    Frankly, I'm dissapointed in the way things are now. I'm loosing money with every new album I release, and each new one (album) has recieved more attention than the last! I feel like a sitting duck sometimes.

  • Noah

    I buy CDs. Always have. Always as long as they are making them. I’ve also downloaded several songs on Itunes, but it’s so much less enjoyable. I want something that I can hold in my hands and take with me. Not something abstract that is measured in megabytes. I’ve always thought that one of hugest reasons for people file sharing songs was bad musicians (and labels) who made bad albums with one really good single. Thus album sales good down because album quality goes down

  • James

    Simple math for me. If fans buy my next record, I’ll make more. If they don’t, I won’t. End of story.
    The same goes for concerts, clinics, t-shirts, etc…
    A strong sales funnel & promotional campaign will be in place. But the fans get to choose whether or not to hear more from me in the future.

  • Shame on Emily and others like her who understand the problem and continue to
    steal because they can. There have been precious few consequences.
    The word "copyright" means "the right to copy" The holder of the copyright is, by law, the
    only person (publisher, owner, etc) who can legally make a copy of a song.
    I'm for prosecution. Otherwise, intellectual property rights mean NOTHING.
    David Polansky

  • I have an unsigned band that for over 10 years made its living playing shows across the country and selling CDs directly to the fans. I was always amazed that when deciding which CD to purchase, people would say straight to my face “well, I already burned this one from my friend” or “you buy that one, I’ll buy this one, and we can burn them for each other”. They are speaking directly to the artist and not even realizing what they’re saying… that’s how normal it is for people to do this. On the other hand, I’ve had people come up to me and hand me money saying “my friend burned a CD for me and I wanted to make sure you got paid”. That was always nice, but I’m sure it’s not the norm.

  • William

    I’m a full time musician/music educator/performer, partly dependent upon sales of my CDs, videos, and books to make a living. My own 60 year old brother totally disagrees with the concept of recorded music as a product for which creators should be compensated. For example, he believes that if a string quartet records a version of a Mozart piece, they have no right to copyright and sell their recording, because, as he explains it, Mozart’s music is old and not subject to copyright. I should mention that my brother is a law school graduate. He knows the law, he just disagrees with it. All of his extensive recorded music collection is downloaded from free download web sites. Furthermore, he believes that musicians, composers, and performers are lazy, don’t have real jobs, nor do real work. Sibling rivalry perhaps? But as an upper middle class adult he spreads his view point far and wide to anyone who will listen. For myself, an artist who works his butt off to learn, create, and market his music, I find his viewpoint more than annoying. My own brother is a thief who should know better.

  • Ruth

    No sour grapes here really but I won't make any money by giving stuff away. Buying is not the mindset of casual music listener. Face it, anybody with a horde of "illegal" music isn't buying and that is a lot of folks. I don't see any money being made online, no matter how much advertising. Recouping recording costs is a real issue, which is why the recording industry originally grew the way it did, etc. Tom makes a good point about licensing for those that write their own material (should be every artist). As for finding ways to make my music pay off in any way, there is no substitute for small concerts and offering a CD while the mood and your talent hits the listener. That is your best chance.

  • I don't think you can fight the free music trend. I'm a huge music fan, but haven't bought that much music. The music I have bought is from artists that gave me something for free first. But piracy is illegal and dishonest, so I try not to be a thief out of conscience. As for my releases, if I charged for them, nobody would hear it. At this point, it's a gift to the world. I'm a long way from making a living off my recordings. I have to feed myself by other means anyway, so I may as well be reasonable.

  • I spent some time reading the comments on Chris Robley’s article and frankly I am alarmed. How is a musician supposed to cover the cost of production? Why should someone enjoy the fruit of our blood, sweat and tears for free? Whatever happened to “no such thing as a free lunch?”

    I released my first single on CD Baby and iTunes a month ago and I’m working on an upcoming LP. I’ve spent a ton of money and hoped to recapture at least my production cost so I can continue to make music. I wonder if that will ever happen. I’m thankful I have a day job I enjoy (teaching) but making some money off my music would be nice. Those of us who tour and do lots of live performance have a better chance at making money in other ways. – Also let’s sensitize our audience to this dilemma. Like some of you said, who would want to spend forty hours at a job to be told they are not getting paid?

  • Ryan McAvity

    if they can get it for free they will never pay … big houses hot models throwing money all over the place and draped in jewelry why give you my money when you put on that persona that you dont need it. infact you throw it in my face!!! when hip hop goes back to its roots the struggle “reality rap’ and speaking the truth then maby they will get that real support.

  • If they aren’t paying for your music, they certainly aren’t “fans”.

  • Big corporations advertise on the websites that give away your music. Other people are making money, just not artists. Wise up, people!

  • I think we should all embrace the cloud. And we should encourage the industry and Congress to do the same. By having intellectual content only available by using a cloud service where no download is possible, then piracy becomes a lot more difficult. And file sharing becomes a thing of the past.

    No more downloads, just the users “paid for” content in their portion of the cloud. Everyone who creates content (music, movies, pictures…) has a secure path to distribute their content. This model also needs to have a 21st century approach to paying the artists so that a percentage of the fees goes to the artist as their content becomes part of someones (the consumers) cloud content list.

    I would suggest that all artists refuse to supply content to any provider that still uses “last century” mp3 or CD models. I would also suggest that some independent cloud providers jump in, just to keep all the money from going to Google and iTunes/Apple. I think the record labels should get on board with this as well, and refuse to provide any major label music/content that is not protected in a “no download” cloud based environment.

    Movie companies, are you listening.

    Artists of the world unite. Get a hold of Congress, pressure Apple and Google. Record and movie companies get on board. Let’s get where everyone can not only provide some of the most amazing content yet, but everyone gets paid so we can continue doing what we love for the people who love it….

  • Mimi Burns

    Music is a part of who I am, which has nothing to do with money. When I allow myself to channel the frequency, it pours out of me and onto albums, without effort. Somehow, the money is always there for me to make the music. I grew up revering bands like, ‘The Dead’ because they knew how to build and keep an audience. They requested that people record the music and share it. It is a gift, (in my opinion) and should be held as such (for my band). The flame and fire grow from within and my fans sense and know that. Money pours in from the belief that it is available to do so. Much of the time my staff have two series of cd’s, a few which are burned from our home player and given to folks who cannot afford them, then the cd’s the merchandise folks sell. They also request free will donations much of time because I recognize that I am always cared for abundantly, which keeps the doors of opportunity wide open and ever increasing.
    Having said that, most of the music I own I have purchased, but I can afford to do so. I am grateful people enjoy our music.

  • David

    I wonder whether the RIAA will now sue this NPR intern, who has admitted to stealing all this music. They’re still pursuing previous cases with huge judgements against college students, etc.

  • Ant Boogie

    I do not think anyone should give their music away for free. Why would someone put so little value on what they've created? I don't see GM giving away Cadillacs for free. Is Apple giving away iPods? If they are I need to go get mine. So many artist have been conditioned to give their children, (music they've created), away it puzzles me. I try my best to keep my music off of sites that allow people to download my music for free. Pretty soon their will be no more music because if you think about the breakdown of it all the cost alone will be unbearable.
    A person has to buy the recording equipment to record his/her/their music.
    They have to pay for the manufacturing.
    They have to pay for promotional material.
    They have to pay for everthing involved with the recording, mixing and mastering of their music.
    So, if they are not selling the music then they are stuck in deep doo doo. They will not be able to afford to buy the equipment, pay for manufacturing, promotional material, etc. The business will implode. Mark my words the end of the music industry is on the horizon.

  • Popzarocka

    Good Luck Brother. It is great to be heard but I'd rather have the 1,000 paying fans.

  • Chris

    Here is an analogy!!!

    You work in a call centre, its not the best job in the world but paid well, at least until someone came up with a website where you can make a phone call to a call center and it wont cost you a dime.

    The company i work for passed the cost of the loss onto us employee’s.

    I used to earn over $1000 a month my last pay check was for $28.
    I am going to have to get a job stacking shelves in the local supper market!

  • Same deal with me. I recently released my debut CD — yes it’s on iTunes too and I have yet to know how much has sold there, but as I don’t earn my bread and butter from my music, the best that I could hope for was some critical aclaim for the music, and maybe to break evenas in terms of costs. Since I was self-produced with my own equipment, I can say that that’s probably where I am….didn’t make any, didn’t lose any, money. Back in the 1980’s, sure…I’d borrow my friends’ records and make cassettes of them. Partly because I didn’t have any money, but also because I could pick and choose the songs I liked. In many ways, that was similar to what’s going on today…except that at some point, SOMEBODY did buy the record, even if it wasn’t me. Nowadays, it might be that nobody every bought anything. I can’t blame people for doing it, but it is sad for musicians. Except for the few popular musicians who get a hit song…the rest will have to figure out ways outside of CDs and paid-downloads to earn a living.

  • Laurel Zucker

    Creating a CD is very costly. In classical music it is very important to have an engineer/producer who can be another pair of ears to assist, If you record at Skywalker or with other excellent facilities this is also expensive. . Recording sessions, editing, mixing and mastering truly costs a lot. Working with excellent musicians is also expensive. Add to the expense the time and hard work that goes into recording an excellent professional classical CD and you have an artistic acheivement that is worth a lot.
    If you are a professional musician and make your living doing only music, we expect to be paid for our time and effort. Doctors and police, firemen, garbage collectors are paid for their hard work and do not work for free. cdbaby does not work for free either. the creators of Spotify make mone yand every other site like you-tube and facebook the creators make money.These particular “free sites ” make their money from advertising.
    For some reason probably because music creates so much excitement and joy in listeners, there is an expectation to be able to receive professional musicians music for free. When you download music fror free the musicians or creators of this music are not making money off of “ads”.
    downloading CDS is not that expensive- around $9-$11 for an entire CD.
    Lets add one more piece to this issue. I hsve found in my years as a professional musician that most musicians do not enjoy the business aspect very much. It takes away from practiicing and performing.
    This is why most excellent classical musicians either join an orchestra or become music professors. Freelance musicians have an extremely challenging lifestyle. they rely on music contractors to hire them, managewrs to find them concerts etc… This is why so many independent musicians have been taken advantage of by business people. Cdbaby baby is an excellent organizationwhich I have found to be very respectful of recording artists.

    In todays world it is very important to become a business person even if you dislike doing the business duties. It is important to get to know all the organizations that pay you for your artistic gifts. And there are some fantastic organizations out there that are doing a fabulous job of being financially rrespectful of musicians and also being able to make good money for their businesses.

    If you support free music, next time you hear an amazing musician , try to look at their musical talents as the result of 10000s of hours of very hard work. To become a virtuoso on a classical instrument one must spend many hours daily and consistantly practicing. Yes its fun but it also takes self motivation.
    i want to thank all the people that continue to download and buy my CDS. Just know that musicians do not take you for granted- you bring us the satisfaction of knowing our hard work has paid off and that we are lucky enough to be making our livings doing what we love the most- sharing our music with you.
    Laurel Zucker
    flutist, composer and professor of music, owner of Cantilena Records and Cantilena Records Publishing.

  • Tomperrie

    The music industry is over. Thank god. It's for passion only now. That might sort the true artists from the greedy lawyers who also happen to play guitar.. I'm a self funded songwriter. I spent $20,000 on my last album. I made probably less than a thousand back. Music is seen as free. That is what the popular culture teaches young people. Art is not valued anymore. Thanks Apple. You wiped out an entire industry in about 10 years. Hope Steve Jobs made plenty of money!

    • Kiko Jones

      The music business will never die. Artists with the potential to be popular will find entities who will want in on their future success and fund their projects. As for Apple, iTunes sells tunes and the iPod enables you to make them mobile. I suggest you direct your ire and indignation to the websites who let people upload albums for millions to download illegally AND sell advertising on said site while not giving artists a red cent from that advertising.

  • Ethically speaking, I feel like free should be an optional price point, not a mandatory one. But the one thing Lowery seems to casually overlook is that iTunes doesn’t present a very good value proposition to the consumer. $16 AUS for an album is not on. Bandcamp is a much better model in my mind. That’s why I use it.

  • Mark

    My wife is a pianist…we have found that making a CD is becoming financially hard to justify. The costs arrangements, copyrights, recording and mastering are significant and out front while the returns on the investment trickle in! In this economy it’s hard enough getting gigs and on top of it people expect you to give away CD’s that may cost you several thousand dollars and maybe hundreds of hours to produce. I get a little upset when naive people acctually ask if we would give them a CD. I have wanted to say something like, “How ’bout we trade a CD for your lunch” but instead I have always given a polite answer.
    I always pay for music and would have it no other way but that means very little in a galaxy of music theft!
    Andrew says musicians will always make music…but I think the time of change is already here! I think there are many musicians who no longer record…or at least record considerably less than they otherwise would. How much good music will never be heard?

  • Keith

    the answer is 2track recording. If people want to pay 99cents they should get something that sounds like 99 cents.

  • Guido Meyer

    Guido Meyer

    Todays´s Music scene suck´s. I as a musician spent weeks and Months in the Studio to compose ,arrange and Produce Music and I don´t want to get rich from it but at least get a little payback from the people so called my “Fan´s”.Fans I do not need.
    Remember It coast´s money,too to produce an Album.
    But 99% of them steal my Music from Illegal downloadcenters.
    So the consequence is simply that I stopped producing music, only make it for my selfe but never publish anymore. Why should I?
    If more people will do like I did ,soon there is no one who makes music anymore.
    What do you wanna steal then???

  • mike b

    The "music industry", or what is left of it, has been on life-support for years, with much blame to go
    around but the largest reason being the advent of file-sharing. As a musician of 45 years, I have seen
    firsthand hundreds of hardworking and talented individuals forced out of business. A whole generation
    has grown up that unfortunately do not understand that those who write, perform, record & distribute
    music have to somehow be compensated for their work in order to stay in business. The music business
    has been destroyed, and the Film industry is next. It was said 20 years ago, that when music is free that
    no more meaningful music will be made. The truth is megastars like Gaga and Madonna will survive,
    but the "fringe" artists who have in the past been the lifeblood of the industry by introducing new music
    and trends are starving. I don't believe that a live concert from an artist that hasn't released any music in 20 years is worth 150 dollars or more, but live shows have become their sole source of income. Have
    you noticed that the VAST majority of live acts that are actually working are acts that used to sell
    records? Most of them are in their 60's, and I wonder who will replace them when they are gone.

  • Cam Villar

    I'm 51 (musician) and I mostly agree with the comments. I would like to add another observation.

    I have two children, 12 and 18. Neither one of them has ever exhibited a vested interest in any band or singer. Yes they have tunes on their mp3 players. But they don't follow a band, don't really care about any band or singer and never (to my knowledge) have. There is no relationship these days with the artist and the listener. When i was young i read Creem, Hit Parader, Rolling Stone and Circus. I devoured that stuff! I cut out pictures and taped them to my walls. I went to record stores and bought posters, I browsed for hours. Music and the bands I liked was a huge part of my life.

    Today, music is just another incidental part of young people's lives, and it is being rapidly replaced by video. My 12 year old spends his time looking at youtube, while I was drawing pictures and listening to albums at that age. The genie can't be put back in the bottle.

    I'm thankful that i grew up in the time when I did so i could experience music as a major force in culture.
    I am also resigned to the fact that most young people will never experience that. And not having experienced it, they won't miss it or care.

  • Larry

    The philosophy, by some, that it's okay to take something without paying for it, is nothing more than stealing. I understand some people are raised in an environment where this is the norm. We live in a time of corruption. Those we elect to represent us are bought and sold by corporate $ (ie. Citizen's United!). Those who have attained "power" this way want this philosophy. Something being widespread does not excuse such behavior, as it did not in slavery, women's voting rights, etc. A TRULY good person wants to EARN what he/she gets, not steal it! We need to vigorously enforce the idea that ALL OF US wish and DESERVE to be paid for our work, whatever field we are in (music, etc.) and that theft will not be tolerated and punished to the fullest extent of the law.

  • Loucabaza

    No more C.D.s from this artist. Why should I spend 7 or eight grand not to mention the 100 grand I spent on my studio and the years (60!) I have devoted to my music which is my only source of income. I catch myself worrying what will happen when I can no longer play live and it is not a very pretty picture as I feel that my world is gone. Why should I create anything anymore for other peoples pleasure ( financial pleasure I might add)? This trend has spread thru out the entire artistic world, not just musicartist of all kinds. When a civilization falls, the first domino is the Arts and we are seeing that now. Thanks a lot to all the computer companies and geeks that made it all possible/ To all artist (good and not so good) stop trying to share with the world for at least a year and maybe someone will finally come up with a solution to stop all this piracy and fake art. Only we the artist can protect ourselves from the classless onslaught we are living with. This goes out to Painters, sculptors, composers, novelist, poets, inventors, and many other artist I haven't mention. Stand up together and show the world how truly important we are to society. These are dangerous times and we need to help ourselves more than we have ever done. Lets get rid of all the cheap art and the means of doing it somehow
    Lou Cabaza
    professional musician and composer

    • Johnjackson188

      Lou you make a great point, too many younger people dont really respect the fine art of music . that was here just before computerization came and made music easy to compose. I mean I hear things in compositions from instruments that real instruments could never do. Which is fine if you want experimentation. But to the purist out there who are old school and know a little about how real instruments behave in the natural physical world well you know for a fact that many of these so called musicians no adays ,like everthing quick and easy with no real thought process or appreciation in terms of effort and just plain old hard work that goes in to creating coherent listenable music the correct way. Computers have spoild many young artist and listeners as well to think everything should be easy and or free and quick. Hence the complaint by so many people that todays music sucks.And yes I agree 100% about the time and money spent in creating this artform. I like you have devoted thousands of dollars into audio and studio equipment and countless years of my life to do what I love the most which is Music, and Ive even uploaded music to sites that sell like CD BABY and I-tunes and have not seen 1 red cent for all this work and effort and years and money. To give it all away well folks just think about this for a minute.
      Should FORD, HYUNDAI OR GM give away freely their newly released cars?,that engineers spent countles months trying to design?. Oh and by the way I love the flexability of computers but c'mon people lets find a way to let people in this bussines earn an honest living from their talents and not get robbed by parasites.We reallyneed the soft ware and hardware GIANTS to step up to the plate and find a legal technical way to eradicate piracy,um like NOW! j

  • Jeffrey Scott Lawrence

    Instruments, session cats, studio time, CD manufacturing all costs money. I just made a new CD and thank God for my day job. if it wasn’t for my coworkers, this Indy artist might not be able to buy food this week. Still when I tell some of them it’s $15 dollars, they look at me as if i had two heads. I don’t even attempt to explain to them that the few bucks I’m charging them pales in comparison to the thousands that I spent putting the work together. But I digress.
    We now live in the age of entitlement. Some young people think that everything should be handed to them, and don’t understand the meaning of hard work. Therefore, if they can get music for free, why pay for it. that’s just stupid. DUH!
    I’m from an era when we heard a song on the radio, we scraped up some money and ran to the record store. Yup , those days are gone. At this point I’m actually considering cutting down the amount of sites I post my music on. But like someone else here said. We’re artists. No matter what, we”ll continue to do what we do because it’s part of us.
    I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that I’ll die penniless but I’ll have an awesome catalog.

  • Steve

    I’m amazed by this sign of times…a very bad one, where people steal the artist work and think everything is fine with them! I think we have entered a danger zone where real artists will quit producing good music because they can’t afford it anymore….and this is a shame.
    apart from the fact that people should become aware that illegal downloads equals stealing, I guess that there’s a will from the men who have power on the nations of killing art and bring people into forgetting how special is enjoying music both in listening a cd or a live show…
    I hope the day will come when young digitalized people will become aware of this and change their attitude towards music.

  • Amandah

    I still recall the sting I felt one night on stage when two guests came up to purchase my CDs. They both wanted the same one, were both willing to pay, and as the second person pulled out his cash, the first said, (right in front of me), “Hey, why don’t you get a different CD and we can just swap and burn them both?” Ok, I know it’s done, but I have an idea: “Why don’t you wait till I’m not looking and just steal the CDs right off of the stage?” To me it’s not much different. I glared at the person who made the comment, said, “Really?” and he only slightly blushed. They bought two different CDs after all, and then dared to ask me when I was going to record a new one!

    That said, of course I am glad they liked my music so much that they even wanted to buy it in the first place, but I have not put out a CD since 2007, and I was putting them out fairly regularly before that, for 10 years. Since I pay royalties for the tunes I cover, it’s an extra sting because I pay these fees up front whether the discs sell or not. The writers are getting ripped off, too, when you think about it–I’d be making more discs and paying more royalties if every disc I sold only went to the buyer. I get that one of the prices of modern technology is the ability to steal tunes, but I wish there were a way to be more accountable OR to have another means of making the money for our work.

    As for Emily’s term “inconvenient” I wonder how inconvenient she’d find it if there were no more music being made to get for free OR for pay… Keep stealing and that’s where we are headed… As for Dennis’ comment below, I, too, loved to go flipping through LPs (or eventually CDs) at various record stores to find what looked like (or sounded like once some stores offered the ability to give a quick listen before you buy) a good recording. How much do we lose of ourselves just following other people’s “like”‘s???

  • Two things: Firstly, people attach NO value to digital goods.If you are in a business who’s primary product is digital, whether it be music, books, software, don’t expect people to pay for your content. To someone downloading an mp3, its just a file. Or a file folder. There are millions on their device already, so why pay for yours. And no, they don’t care how much work or money went into the creation of the item. Second: Only a small percentage of the people who know about you will become real fans. They are the ones who will actually come to gigs or buy an album. 90% of the people on your FB page will just lurk in the background, browse the content that you post but never really engage with you in any way. The only answer, it seems, is it build a following of loyal fans who are actually prepared to support you in some way. If you get enough of them, and your costs are low enough, you might just make some sort of profit. Disregard people like Emily White, who are not real fans of yours. People like her will never support you or your band. She’s not a fan of music, she is fan of tech. She will support Apple, Google and her ISP.

  • Hellen

    Sorry Ms. White, we can't pay you this week, or ever again. It's an inconvience to print your check.

  • Bb

    To all those like Emily White, you deserve to hear the soul-less crap corporate trash that's on the radio. You have no right to complain about no real music anymore.

  • 94479447

    the time has come for all artist to make a stand and somehow stop creating. when a civilization falls the first domino is the Artists. That is what is happening now. With a society so intelligent why can't some kind of device be invented to prevent piracy all together?(some kind of first generation electronic signal that will interrupt a copy) This is the worst time in my life as a composer and I have lost the desire to spend more time and money in my studio since it will all be financial outflow with no return at all. Having been sole a musician my entire life (60 years) I have decided to record my compositions for myself and not share or market anything until the industry returns because there is really no industry at this time/ I don't know if it will ever come back but I do hope and pray it will for the sake of this planet and our children. The arts are dying due to our intelligence!!
    Lou Cabaza
    San Antonio, Texas

  • I think we all have to find our balance with this issue…one size does not fit all. I have 27 albums available at my site that are all available for downloading free or with a donation. I got tired of holding out for 10 bucks. I’m getting older. I do acoustic folky singer-songwriter type stuff. I want to be heard while I’m still alive and the people who still like this kind of music are still alive. The money is secondary and only contributes about 30% of my total income, and most of that is from playing live. I’m not trying to be famous, I don’t want to be signed, I don’t want very much to do with the music industry. I just want to write songs and record music, make it as freely available to the world as I can, and see what freely comes back. I also play live anywhere that seems appropriate for my sound for whatever they pay, including nothing. The funny thing is, since I gave up on climbing and just considered myself “done” with the business, I’ve never had more success. Not crazy success mind you, or “make a living” success…but I’ve had some of the best gigs of my 30+ year career, I’ve made way more money in digital tips than I ever did when I was holding out for 10 bucks, I’ve gotten lots of great comments and support from people all around the world, I have a video with over 150,000 views, none of which is spectacular or anything but it’s all way better than what was happening before when I was focused on money and status and so bitter about it that I was constantly debating with myself whether I should even continue. I just do it to do it now. Is this approach for everyone? Of course not. We’re all at different places with regard to the money/love/ambition thing. On a personal level I recommend finding a position that feels really good and right to you, one that allows you to enjoy your life and music, whatever that position is. In the end, it won’t matter how much money you made or how many units you moved anyway. What will matter is what you loved and touched while you were here. ;~)

  • Cory

    I once remember a DOCTOR telling me how he illegally downloaded movies. Then, he paused and proceeded to feel like an ass as he remembered I was a filmmaker.

    People like Emily, like most americans, sadly operate on a mindset of entitlement and selfish narrow sightedness. They don't see (or want to see) beyond their own selfish and naive little desires. These people either are completely ignorant and don't understand that making a high quality album takes a lot of time, money, and talent OR they simply do not care and justify stealing it so they can sleep good at night (it reminds me of those people that say they are not racist, and then proceed to say something racist).

    It's people like this that need to get air dropped into the middle of Haiti, and then we'll see how much they care about having their ipods filled for free. Hey NPR, how about having some interns with a sense of respect and integrity.

  • Errol_parkes

    I’m an artist, songwriter, producer etc. Was about to activate my music company. Get artists to sing my songs and release first of all on the net. but your article made my mind up for me. If i cant recover my investment then whats the point?. I dont do gigs, so I spend thousand of dollars of hard earn cash to let the fans enjoy my music and songs. But they are not willing to give something back, is as bad as robbing a store. May be there should be a ruling, play only half a track on the digital stations. If fan want the full track, then they do a download. Maybe when this start happening I will release my best tracks. No you havent heard my best yet.

  • Dendee

    Every day I get stuff from TAXI trying to entice me to spend $300.00 to send them a song which they will probably reject for some reason. I recently contacted them and told them that songwriters do not have that kind of money to throw around. Even though the service they offer may be legitimate, it's still the same old pattern of trying to suck money out of artists. I told them that if I want to gamble, I'll go to vegas.

  • Someone who works for free commenting about why she doesn’t buy music — this is one of those moments where Rod Serling would walk up to the camera and start smoking a cigarette. You can’t make this stuff up!

    All jokes apart, though, I can attest to the fact that this stuff has negative consequences, from a different realm. My book, Unfinished Business: The Life & Times Of Danny Gatton, is far from a mega-seller — but, in keeping with the man’s cultlike stature, pops up periodically on these free download sites.

    I did some checking, and found that my book had been downloaded close to 1,000 times on one site — do the math on that one, using’s $12.49 current price! No, it’s not gonna buy me a condo in Beverly Hills, but I’d much have rather gotten the physical (green) results from those sales! I recently checked that site again, and found zero downloads…I don’t know if it’s because somebody busted them, or Danny came out of his urn to kick their ass (but I digress).

    While it’s true that the paradigm has changed, the artist/talent should have a voice in the matter. The creative industries (books, film and music) have done a piss poor job of educating the Emilys of the world.The Old Guard can coast on back catalogs, merch sales, reunion tours and reissues. Up-and-comers don’t have that option — unless they’re seen as hot and unmissable, right out of the box — but Emily and her peers seem to believe otherwise.

    Another critical issue to me is the industries’ response, or lack thereof, to this problem. In my case, I have to go after these sites personally, because my publisher has never responded to any of my emails on the subject. You can’t say “Boo!” to everybody, but at least they know that somebody is paying attention. But I’m not sure how long that gambit will work, since many of these sites are adding lengthy disclaimers that require you to prove you’ve been taken (as if that somehow makes their actions better — hell, they didn’t even ask!).

    Despite all the nonsense, I am working on another book — and I’ll probably do a CD, if only to have something to look back on, and stick on the mantelpiece — but my experiences have convinced me that something has to be done on a broader level, or we’ll be locked in a race to the bottom that benefits nobody, even though I wasn’t crazy about SOPA, either. (Aside to Mr. Lowery: I’ll write that “Investor Relations” page and let you know how that turns out.)

    Of course, that begs another question: how do the planet’s least tech-savvy people (i.e., the clowns in Washington who could screw up a two-car parade) go about regulating a medium that moves at lightning speed? The mind boggles.

  • Tom

    When my cd was first released, I was telling a lot of people it was out. At the place where I work, I told this one teenager about it and his reply kind of shocked me. He said he’d hunt it down and get it for free. I couldn’t believe what came out of his mouth! I just looked at him and said “pirate”! He doesn’t talk to me anymore. I’m sure that if anybody does like my music, most have pirated it. Which wrecked my dreams. Please think about what I just said. I have a contract that if I opt out. I gotta pay out. I loose. And you fuckers who only think of yourselves believeve you’re a head of the game. It’s going to come back on you someday. The industries hurt. The musician needlessly suffers. And you assholes are proud to have free music. God damn you!

  • This is a problem that’s not going away and will most probably only get worse. I don’t know if we are partly to blame because of the practice of free downloads etc. We must hope that online libraries like Spotify will encourage people not only to listen but to buy as music gets under their skin. If not, then the advertising revenue of these libraries will need to increase to give us any hope of reasonable payments through streaming.

    Spotify has only been available here in Switzerland since October. I don’t know if my reactions are typical, but I have already bought albums that I wouldn’t have otherwise as a result of listening to them on Spotify. That is why I made the comment above.

    I recently watched the film ‘Black Gold’ in which there is a marvellous comment, ‘If you have to buy it, it’s not worth having.’ Slight comfort perhaps for those losing revenue from their music, but of course it doesn’t solve the problem of how to make a living off one’s music !

    All the best with your music wherever you are….

  • Steven

    "as the music improved (at least to my ears), sales declined– and not just physical sales."

    Same here. And it left me scratching my head, because I think my latest CD is a 100 times better than my first one. I'm wondering if it's just the sheer number of bands out there. It seems everyone and his brother puts out a CD nowadays. When I was a teen, I loved going to the record store and buying albums in the $4.99 bin because I heard one song and kind of liked it. Now, when I'm surfing the 'Net (CDBaby, Spotify, Pandora, etc.) for new bands, if you don't knock my socks off in 60 seconds I keep on going and I'll probably ignore that artist forever.

  • Coy

    Yea this is becoming a bigger and bigger problem! The Emily White’s out there or as I like to call them the “give me generation” just do not understand the cost and time that goes into releasing even a single much less an LP ( album ). I tried this giving away an album and had over 15,000 downloaded albums all that was required was to subscribe to my news feed. Guess what only 126 who subscribed are still on my news feed subscribers list. I currently have an album on hold on CD baby because the theft of music is out of control on the internet. This is my job its how I make my living I work just as hard if not harder than a cop, fireman, doctor, lawyer, waitress, waiter, cpa, or any other profession you can think of. I have stopped production of my 4 CD and not released my 3rd. I refuse to work my rear off for someone to steal it. What I would like to know is are these music thieves going to work for free in what ever profession they are in, for me for free? If your music is good enough to steal its good enough to pay for.

  • Musix

    Musicians / Producers need corporate help in the way of a music union. One entity that would speak and support higher revenues through the devices which deliver and stream the music that the likes of Emily listen to. Right now as we stand, the revenue stream is too small if everyone on this blog agrees that music is under funded. One lawyer type could start a digital-musicians union. Now that would be SOMETHING to see!

  • Cmlittleboot

    Maybe kids don't feel like theie getting something for their money. CDS were great when they first came out because for the first time the music was crystal clear and you could skip to your favorite song instead oof fast forwarding a tape or moving your needle… MP3s are the cheapest form of audio but it's so easy to have your entire collection in the palm of your hand. The only real thing the kids have is a music device to look at. Make something they have to buy like a forty five and give the mp3 file away with it

  • Coy

    Nice concept however one flaw if it comes trough the sound card on your computer it can be stolen. You will never be able to stop a thief until you put them behind bars. It’s a sad fact. Entertainment (music, movies ) are stolen at a rate higher than any other crime yet less music and movie thieves are prosecuted than any other crime. DRM’S are the answer it just needs to get more advanced.

  • This is a great idle,and one all artsits should try to attain to.American Idol is nothing new,and the music world has always been 95% ego driven or more,and quality wise well Ray Davies(of The Kinks) said it when he said that making a single was only just above a commercial/advert.There were The Beatles,Dylan etc,but there was also Madonna and the other sort.I think true quality will always find its way in the end.CDs are still selling,they have gone down but not as significantly as people imagine.There are people that want quality and are willing to pay for it,just as many groups,actually more are making it each year.maybe not everyone can have as big a bite of the cherry as they would like.

  • Musix

    How many musicians have listened to music on the radio? Radio has inspired all music makers! Maybe we are paying for it in the end by having these problems with revenue of our own music?

  • Coy

    Well when we are all gone out of business because of their thieving behavior where will they get their entertainment then?

  • J.

    Excellent point Mr EBM NO BODY LIKES TO WORK FOR FREE. I have a good Idea,Why dont the software companies and harware companies as well as the Riaa employ a method as this. that to put downloaded music into your phone or I-pad or any other mobile device you have to have a key code for that artist and a key code for that song, if you downloaded it. It would really make it tuff for all these free downloaders to get free music.
    Every independent artist would have a keycode and everysong they create and release has a differrent code from differrent vendors. (Example) lets say that you bought your music from CD BABY AND YOU BOUGHT 1 SONG. That artist has a private but universally accepted code identifying him or her as the content creator. And to download that song you get a key code you must enter to upload it to your mobile device. if you paid for the song you can upload it to your device if you try to upload to another device with that same key code your device identifies it as an illegitamite key code and your device will not permit you to up load it.If you bought a song or album from I-tunes there key code for the artist is the same as any other download site, but every song key code is differrent and you wont be able to upload the song to another device from a differrent phone manufacturer.So this way people can freely share there files on any site but they wont be able to upload to there mobil devices, and hence people would be forced to carry there desk tops and laptops to listen to Freely downloaded MP3'S WHICH IS QUITE frustrating to the general public…….All it takes is some co-operation between Apple, Microsoft and the various harware phone companies As well as the RIAA. It can and should be done to cut down on piracy. My motto is this, most musicians that try to create music work very hard at it and should be able to get paid for the product they are trying to market and spend a great deal of time creating… It is after all the MUSIC INDUSTRY, which is a creative and yet very influental Art form in our society. Just my opinion. J.

    • Robertawrodriguez

      Nice idea but the objective of the digital music revolution is to ensure independent artists DON’T GET PAID.If they can’t make a living they will disapear and the public will be left with mindless dribble.They want the public to listen to mindless dribble ONLY.

    • DDP

      And how, pray tell, are people supposed to keep track of hundreds and hundreds of these key codes, which would each end up having to be 16 or more digits long (how many millions of songs are out there, each needing a unique number)? The hassle would simply prompt people to develop software to remove the codes from the track, making it freely downloadable again.

      In fact, this is pretty much how most DRM works, just without people having to enter codes themselves – and there's lots of utilities out there to remove DRM from tracks.

  • Egbert Sebastian

    Where is the LAW when it comes to theft. There is supposed to be a $250,000 fine and ten years in prison for this kind of theft. I say "lock them all up and show some muscle. Otherwise, we will all starve with our artisic endeavors. These KIDS(of all ages) need to be shown a lesson and reverse the chuckles. The music business is hard enough. The world needs to know the struggles and work, YES WORK, it takes to write, perform and produce the product that is being stolen. The public needs to understand the
    amount of time and MONEY we invest in our music. Would these theives allow us to steal THEIR life's work? Of course not. Most of them go to work and get PAID for the effort, and so should we.

    Egbert Sebastian

  • Dmtempleton

    I had this discussion with a much younger friend a few year's back. I explained that as a musician there is little incentive to create music if no one is willing to pay for it. He disagreed and felt that music, perhaps by its very God given nature should be free. Whether his theory that the musican being a vessel for the divine holds any water or not, I tried to argue that if I lived by my musical profits alone then I would be pan handling on the streets. I have an album on I-Tunes incorrectly tucked among the music of a different David Templeton who is a pianist and not a folk singer and I have not even bothered to move this because so few people will download and pay 99c for a tune even if they like it. (Perhaps I have an over inflated view of some of my songs but I see the situation as U-2, good songs about Irish idiocy, myself and Resistance Cabaret, likewise, with additional irony as I grew up during the Troubles and then The Script – good songs and young enough to have Bono's daughter in one of their videos.) I am old enough and irrelevant enough, I suppose, to admit to buying St. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band as a kid on vinyl for 1 pound 12 shillings and sixpence from the Radio and Electric shop in my home town of Ballymena in Northern Ireland. I had saved up the money for some time. Handing it over to the clerk in exchange for this "huge" album gives me goosebumps even today when I think about it. I took it home and looked at it on my kitchen table before having the nerve to strip off the plastic wrap and open the album – and then there was the music. I studied every word of the lyrics written inside and went to bed wondering how many holes there just might be in Blackburn Lancashire. In the end down loading music for free simply steals from ourselves.

  • Jesse

    People have always wanted to have everything for free. I've been playing, recording, selling for 40 years. I support my music with other sources of income as well as what comes in from performances, sales, etc. Economic survival is hard enough for musicians and we don't need music thieves, internet or otherwise. It takes an incredible amount of time and work to gig and record and market our music. If a person really likes an artists music, I suggest they ought to have the character and integrity to honor that artist with respect for their hard work and some cash so they keep doing it.
    Most people cannot play a tune. I can and I play every day and am happy that I can play almost anything I want. I've been told I should play for free. I do, for me and my friends but as a business I expect to reap profit when I go to work. I don't know if Emily can play music but live music is best. You cannot steal that from me and you can only hear it if you are near. . and by the way, I never have to give my music for free. I do it because that person who receives it has shown respect and a desire to enjoy the cd. But give it free on demand and you can go to ….

  • DaveM

    After reading this article and most of the comments on the first page, I would first say that many good points are raised here. However, it does no good to complain about it. There will always be those who can easily justify their actions, regardless of what generation they are a member of. I know plenty of people in my age range, 50's, who use the torrent services. I think there are also still plenty of listeners out there who will happily pay for music they like. I haven't read or heard anything recently that says anything about the top recording acts going broke. Obviously, someone is paying for their music. Your time would be better spent building a fan base that is large enough to overcome the number of those who don't pay. This may seem hard to do, it is! There are no other products out there, and your music is a product, that are immune to piracy. The answer……..WORK HARDER!

    Much love to all of my fellow travelers!

    • Kiko Jones

      The top recording acts have compensated for loss record sales revenue by jacking up their concert fees–have you seen how expensive concert tix are these days?–and some, according to Trent Reznor, even scalp their own tix. Also, t-shirts go for at $30+ a pop at shows…you catch my drift?

    • Robertawrodriguez

      Your nieve and totally off the mark.

  • wewillnotforget

    The genie is out of the bottle but I find it difficult to understand why the music industry with all its collective resources has not so far found a way to stop this activity. We know people want music, we also know that musicians and songwriters want to be rewarded for their creativity. Surely its not beyoud the industry to find a technical way of stopping this at source. Creating all music on a singular format and coding it so that copies can’t be made sort of thing.

  • Well, talking about it isn’t gonna change it. The number of professional musicians will probably keep falling ’til it gets close to zero. NO ONE CAN STOP PIRACY. FACT. No one can turn back technology with puny laws and things like that. Times (and mentalities) have changed. FOREVER.

    There are, however, more musicians releasing more music now than ever before. That’s a fact too. Amateur musicians are thriving. Creative Commons is growing steadily.
    I listen to music all the time but never buy it. NEVER. I grew up with record stores, and yes I badly miss that irreplaceable excitement. I still buy vinyl to support my fave artists but I don’t really listen to them.

    I love Camper Van Beethoven but that dude is just gonna have to get a day job.

    I’m sad that budgets just don’t exist for my band to go into fancy studios and records albums. We do it at home on pirated software like everyone else. I’m sure I could do better if could have booked Abbey Road and if I didn’t have to hold down a job but OVER A MILLION PEOPLE have listened to my creative commons tracks and lot’s more have pirated my stuff on bittorrent. I’ve got a full email box all the time from nice people. That’s pretty mindblowing.

    We’re an unknown band and we’ll never do a record as good as Camper Van Beethoven but if it means pushing that guy out to keep my place in the music world, i’ll do it. Of course I will! The overall quality of albums is falling but at least there’s space for me and I wouldn’t replace that for anything!

  • Fatoak

    This is why 90% of new music you hear sucks. If there is no reward to talented artists and writers, then they will stop making good music. New music will consist of drum loops and dancers.

    • J.

      Excellent and true point Fatoak, you are on the money,nothing more be said! In a lot of the dance music we are so tired of hearing now adays thats exactly what we are getting “Drum Loops and Eye candy”. Music that really cannot stand on its own without the 3/4 naked dance girls or the silly wacky off the wall slip edited videos with a million video shots one after the other that actully confuse your brain than letting you really concentrate on music.
      Most new music is a joke with a lot of copycat wanna be’s and very little imaginative creativity.

  • Johnjackson188

    Why dont the software companies and harware companies as well as the Riaa employ a method as this. that to put downloaded music into your phone or I-pad or any other mobile device you have to have a key code for that artist and a key code for that song, if you downloaded it. It would really make it tuff for all these free downloaders to get free music.
    Every independent artist would have a keycode and everysong they create and release has a differrent code from differrent vendors. (Example) lets say that you bought your music from CD BABY AND YOU BOUGHT 1 SONG. That artist has a private but universally accepted code identifying him or her as the content creator. And to download that song you get a key code you must enter to upload it to your mobile device. if you paid for the song you can upload it to your device if you try to upload to another device with that same key code your device identifies it as an illegitamite key code and your device will not permit you to up load it.If you bought a song or album from I-tunes there key code for the artist is the same as any other download site, but every song key code is differrent and you wont be able to upload the song to another device from a differrent phone manufacturer.So this way people can freely share there files on any site but they wont be able to upload to there mobil devices, and hence people would be forced to carry there desk tops and laptops to listen to Freely downloaded MP3'S WHICH IS QUITE frustrating to the general public…….All it takes is some co-operation between Apple, Microsoft and the various harware phone companies As well as the RIAA. It can and should be done to cut down on piracy. My motto is this, most musicians that try to create music work very hard at it and should be able to get paid for the product they are trying to market and spend a great deal of time creating… It is after all the MUSIC INDUSTRY, which is a creative and yet very influental Art form in our society. Just my opinion. J.

  • Ozaraode

    This mindset is not the only problem. For years.,record labels overcharged fans and robbed artists. Fan’s could purchase a 10 track CD that only had 3 good songs on sit-up and pay $20 for it. Fans are much savvier these days. One answer is. For produce’s who believe in an artist (mainly referring to Indie artists), Get paid when the record sales come in. This would Lead to folks putting out better music and allow an artist to even continue to create music.

  • Ingridfb

    I'm an artist from the 80's both a dancer/choreographer and a singer/songwriter. I focused on the music scene because I could make a good living at it. Never in my wildest of dreams did I ever think I'd stop writing music because I could make more money in the classical world of dance lol.
    I still get hundred's of hits/downloads and streams everyday and it is still not enough to make one month's mortgage. I'm thankful to earn a living at something I'm passionate about, but I do need to earn a living!

  • J….

    Yes fatty vs mo, you have a point,but in those days you coulndnt walk into a record store and jusF walk out the door with out paying, which is considered a crime even buy todays standards for any product. Is not music a product also? Free music downloading is the same thing, its considered a crime because technicaly its stealing from the creators. I dont know if you are a musician or what you like to do sir but what ever you do for a living im sure you want to get paid for it.

    • entropy

      While a physical record, complete with artwork and lyrics may be a product, a digital music file is an easily copied bit of data. Downloading music from the internet is no worse than using a cassette tape to record a radio broadcast. Nothing is lost, it is not theft. I am a musician and I do not consider my music to be a product, I consider it to be art. A concert is a performance worth selling tickets to, a physical album is a product because it has artwork, liner notes, lyrics, etc., a t-shirt is a product, so are stickers. Copying music in digital form is as much of a crime as taking a digital picture of a painting.

  • J.

    Hey mu this is a genius idea to charge ISP,S royalties that would really help ,and maybe even charge people like Itunes and all the other pay and download sites as well to host and sell music. Sort of like a liscense to sell digital Music and video files. And hey lets take it one step further everyone from phone and mp3 player manufacturers as well as software makers like Apple, Microsoft and LINUX have to pay it too just like clubs and radio staions, im pretty sure it wouldnt be long before a solution to cut piracy out will be technically found.

  • Ingridfb

    Their are so many topics you touched on that I agree with and have personally witnessed and have gone through. I find myself always referring to "old school" artist/Bands. I believe the major labels played a roled in the dumbing down of artists as well. I remember when labels stopped investing in the longevity of their acts. Being very short sited on the return of their investment. They went from grooming their stable of artists to signing an act that happened to have a popular single just long enough to cash in and moved on. We are no longer given an opportunity to really get to know any act's musical development and feel a relationship with these artist. We are not given an opportunity to grow with and fall in love with a Led Zep, Tina Turner, Whitney Houston or Michel Jackson etc. Now an artist comes from a reality TV show. Marketing and grooming with "on the job training" formula vocals, they all sound alike!
    By nature, I too am an optimist and never give up on things I'm passionate about. I can't wait to see how this industry is going to unite and take control of it's future. Music will always exist. Will it ever produce and support amazing artists again? I'm afraid the longer we wait the fewer of us will be around who really do know and understand HOW GOOD the "old school" acts really were and what it took to be one of those artist. Years of dedication and discipline to ones skills. Something else that has been lost to ready made software packages, The patience and time to develope your art.

  • Michael Phillips

    Doctors are supposed to be the healers of their fellow-man. Why don't you demand that they help the poor and helpless for FREE? The question being addressed is theft! Pure and simple! If you prefer to play to small audiences for spiritual or other reasons, that is your affair. I invest MY money in MY music and I want to be paid for it. Also, I would like to caution that flirting with poverty is not very smart. I know poverty. I've been there. It is not a CNN news clip for me. It is reality. There is nothing noble about poverty, just as there is nothing ignoble about wealth.
    Good luck with your small audience business model.

    • Musician – Filmmaker

      Well said.

  • Darixa01

    Though I appreciate the information about Kunaki, (didnt know about that one) I cannot concurr in thinking it is easier to make a living on music. Each few months a bar owner will cut your pay as much as you let them, and then hire a cheaper band eager to be on stage even for free beers…

  • Jim Lyttle Rogue Mal

    Nothing in life is free, so why should music be free, how are musicians to survive without getting paid for their art and talent?

  • Alex Boccia

    It comes down to one thing. If the artist chooses to give music away for free than that is their rightful choice. If an artist decides to charge for their music than that is their right. Or they could do the smart/common thing these days and do a combination of the two. Either way it is their property (or the record labels) to do with as they see fit. I don’t know why when it comes to music this perspective is hard to understand for many people, but if you apply this in any other context anyone would obviously understand that if you are asked to pay for it but proceed not to then it is stealing plain and simple and you should be held accountable. Metallica has every right to be a boo-hooer as you call it, and frankly I find it absolutely ridiculous that you should feel that way about them. They are a big a part of the reason some progress has been made towards improving the situation. A lot of people may say that Metallica pissed off a lot of fans in doing what they did, and maybe there was a less intense way for them to handle it, but in the end those “fans” who got pissed off weren’t trues fans to begin with, so sayonara to them. If they were true fans and got pissed off then they eventually respected their thoughts and got over it. This problem will never be completely resolved unless computers cease to exist. Though that is no reason to not try and continue to improve it. At the same time, or anytime soon for that matter, since this situation will likely not improve greatly, artists must find creative ways to gain new multiple streams of income.

    • Kiko Jones

      I think the problem is not that people don’t understand that artists should be compensated, it’s that free access is a teat they don’t want to be weaned off of and so, as Dave Lowery stated in his response to Emily White, they justify it by twisting “our morality and principles to fit the technological change–if a machine can do something, it ought to be done”, and ‘hey, it’s not my fault you can freely download’! Ugh.

  • Steve Sage

    Think of Leviathan. If a king (in the U.S.’s case, a democracy) weren’t implemented in society, life would be short, nasty, and brutish… Hence, selfishness is part of society. In music terms, instilling music sharing as completely illegal and JUSTLY punishable, selfish non appreciative music listening punks will be too scared to break the law. Sometimes, fear is the only way to make people follow the rules. If we didn’t have a police department, I couldn’t imagine how society would be. The music industry should also have a “police department” that is viewed just as important.

  • Jerry

    I’m with you, Dennis!! I remember those record store-dwelling days well. And while that may sound out of touch to a lot of whipper-snappers out there (no offense kiddies!!), anyone who feels inconvenienced by having to pay to download their favorite latest flavor really needs a reality check. True, historically, the real money has typically been made in live performances. But there are many of us who, while we may have enjoyed playing live at one time, may no longer have the vocal endurance to pull off a lengthy live set. Yet we still enjoy the creative process of making records – and people enjoy the music we make enough to download it for free. I’m all for voluntary free downloads with permission from the musician who made the music. But downloading from pirate sites and never paying a dime? This makes it rather difficult – in fact, economically impractical – to make a follow up album.

    • Iwolfe Music

      As a musician whom has put out one album that i have yet to see any return on. B/c of illegal down load i will not put another album out there for people to steal reasons are 1cannot afford to as I’m still paying for my first,2 I’m nearly homeless as a result. So in closing illegal downloading affects ann artist more than you thieves might care to know…

  • Jurassicjoe

    One solution to the problem is to treat the internet like the airwaves. If songs get played on the radio, radio stations pay royalties. Internet providers need to take responsibility for their medium and pay royalties to musicians, based on surveys and playlists. This needs to be legislated or it will always be undermined

  • Anthony Holloway

    We are not born thieves, nor are we born ethical. Monkey see monkey do.

    We were raised in a culture of lying, cheating and stealing promoted by the powers that be for so many generations now that it’s engrained into normalcy.

    Even the supreme court is so confused it thinks corporations are people.

    There would be a lot more high quality art, if artists were not made to feel as if the effort to create has no value but to support rampant corruption and theft.

    If lawmakers had the backbone to separate themselves from the money they make by lying, cheating and stealing, there could be a legitimate police force to protect the artist from the thieves.

  • Benedict

    I always think of it this way. If Emily (using her name only as an example so not being personal) were to go to work for a week and do a good job, i.e. her boss was happy to use what she delivered, but he didn’t pay her, how would she feel? I think Emily would be mighty annoyed, have a lot to say at Friday night drinks and ultimately cease to work for that boss.

    If I am right about that then how can Emily consider that stealing her output is wrong but stealing the output of others is right?

    What if musicians were to do what I think Emily would do if she wasn’t paid for her output? If musicians didn’t so crave the attention then they would ALL go on strike, leaving the world without music. This would be a dramatic turn of events indeed.

    Emily (again using the name as a representative example), if you like something enough to consume it (listening is a form of consumption) then please pay for the food you have taken in as it has enhanced your life so it is only appropriate that you in return give value to the producer of your pleasure and sustenance. To do otherwise with artists than you would with a farmer or phone company is a broken set of principles.

  • Fred

    It’s like everything with the “20-somethings.” Entitlement. Why should they pay for someone elses hard work and passion when they can get it for free. Our culture doesn’t put a very high price on art and we
    take it for granted. Consider how many hours it takes to learn how to play and write music, (copy & paste artist aside) and all the hours and expense in making a CD. The only $$$ in music anymore seems to be performance royalties. ASCAP and the like.

  • There are always going to be people who COPY music for free.. It goes back to reconding your favourite tunes from the radio onto cassette.

    But I have noticed a big trend that not even the big companies have picked up, and that is these MP3 converter sites.

    You record music and if you want to get it out there it has to have a VIDEO…. so you make a video and upload it to youtube… Everyones music video get uploaded to youtube.

    Now you go to a site and paste in the URL for the Video you want, and it converts it to MP3 and lets you download it… FREE.

    I have a video with 250,000 hits.. I have sold probably 20 downloads… hmmm…

    So with my last release I am experimenting with a concept that seems to be working… I know a lot of people have my new single and they can’t of ripped it from youtube…
    That’s the link if any of you want to try similar things… I’m just waiting for the big boys to catch on.

    And I am considering re uploading my past videos with the same idea for those in the future who will rip the ones with out it.

    Yes there are still people who buy music… and those who buy it and copy it for their friends… and you will always have those who will not pay.

    It’s always been a part of music… And always will be… the task is to make it harder to get it free… Or not worth being free.

    Like with my idea… you get to hear it and see it, but if you want the song with everyone knowing you did not pay for it… BUY IT.

    It’s working for me 🙂

  • Kfc333

    I ask, how many of the people out there who download music without paying for it would be willing to go to work in the morning, put in their 8 hours of work, and come home… day after day, and then not get paid? Your boss / company doesn’t feel like paying you… why? It’s his right. Or he just doesn’t feel like it. Or it’s too much of a problem. Don’t lie to yourselves or to anyone else. You’d be pissed and you wouldn’t tolerate it. Get the message here?????

  • Rene Labre

    It certainly is this…..confusing.And also this, the movement away from the electric age into the digital age.Physical CD’s were the last hurrah’s of the electric age..the old plug-ins do not work anymore.You can see by a lot of these blogs how terrifying this can be.To me too,I have an album done all the artwork and everything yet why should I release(spend a lot of bread on it) it to only have it be stolen?Everyone can publish out to the world now so that also means there is a lot of pure crap out there,I apologize,that was mean,sub-standard is better,as well as some very brilliant work that you would never catch on broadcast radio.. It is now a conversation.First find out who you are and what you do then define it.Drift it out there to find people that are looking for what you do.Many very fine indie artists are doing this and they are making money for real.Not millions mind you but good steady money.When someone hears your song and digs it you are meeting a need for them,we will pay money to have our needs renelabremusic

  • Emily and anyone like her would not last a day of my life. For privacy sake I will not elaborate on what one of those days is like or what they might have been like for the ten years I have been making music or how much this subject upsets and effects me. I will take the high road and simply say they can all suck it.


    I am an instructor for popular music at a university in Chicago. Some time ago I had a similar discussion with my pop arranging students after I noticed that all of them uploaded their self-produced songs on YouTube from start to finish for everyone to see without worrying about the fact that it is fairly simple to capture the music of a YouTube video and convert it to an mp3 for free. I suggested that they should play only maybe half of the song and use the other half of the video to win people over to purchase it legally. The reaction I got ranged from sheer disbelief to loud laughter. “Nobody pays for music any more, and if I can’t listen to a song all the way through on a YouTube video I won’t watch an other video on this channel ever again”, responded one student. An other student said that she couldn’t afford to pay for all the music she likes even if she wanted to so she finds her self forced to copy it or download it for free. I was shattered. That’s where we are today? Not even artists themselves are willing to pay for music from other artists anymore. I asked them “Are you listening to yourselves?”. I adviced them that if they seriously wanted to make a living from their music they should better set a good example for others and quit their pirating habits.

    Now they were really starting to warm up. They told me that it would be much more profittable to them to get 100 000 hits on YouTube, or if millions of fans have their music on their mobile devices and play it for their friends than trying to get a bug from a legal download. “That’s how you get famous, and once everybody knows you, the money will come one way or the other”, one of my less talented students enlightened me with eyes wide open.

    I have to say I had to pause for a minute and collect my thoughts. Have I grown so old that I can’t see what’s happening anymore. Are the days of celling music or anything for that matter over? Are we at the verge of a new epoch where everything is offered for free in order to catch the bigger fish.
    I had to change the subject because suddenly I felt I wasn’t competent enough to find the right answer. On my way home I started to wonder where they got these ideas from. Are we teaching this at school? Are there websites that teach kids this kind of stuff?
    As a sceptic I started to ask myself who would really profit from this kind of attitude. I’m a strong believer that the people in power (and corporations are also people as I recently learned from Mitt Romney) won’t let trends like this happen unless they find a way to profit from it. We know that YouTube profits greatly from artists that post their original songs for free. Once the video has reached a certain amount of viewings they even offer the owner a deal. A win-win situation. So what can possibly be wrong with this concept? My answer to this puzzling question is this: although there are examples of musicians that made it big by becoming a YouTube sensation in the past the chance to make it that way diminishes by the hour. Why? Because the amount of YouTube videos has increased exponentially since Google took over Youtube. An other reason is that the big record labels finally cut a deal with YouTube which made it profitable for them to post their artist’s music videos on YouTube. As a consequence, YouTube is now floated with top of the line music videos. Those professionally produced videos make most videos produced by independent artists look and sound cheep in comparison. Although those amateur type videos had their charm when YouTube first stared out they are considered cheep and unattractive today by most viewers.

    Let’s face it. The way artists can make money with their original music has changed to the better. The internet became a huge game changer to the advantage of independents. In addition to internet based music distribution services new revenue streams have been created that can make an artist rich over night without celling one cd. One of these new revenue sources is the licensing of digital downloads of original songs. There are a ton of those services out there now that help musicians cell licenses of their songs to be used in TV shows, advertisement, etc. Of course, YouTube also offers the option to make an uploaded video available for licensing.

    Bottom line: artist should use all of these revenue and marketing streams. However, the tendency to spread their music around for free is irresponsible at best and can bankrupt the music industry at worse. I strongly suggest that musicians have to find back to a responsible attitude towards their own and other artist’s music.

  • If the majority of fans feel that downloading tracks for free is ‘normal’ then bar hypnotising all of them we as artistes have no choice but to find another way to make money. A million essays extolling the plight of artistes won’t change the fact. We just have to put that God-given creativity to use and find other ways. In my experience if people like your songs, they will spend money. Make sure your songs are great, make sure you’re targeting the right market and think outside the box a little. If you can’t make it work then you don’t have the determination the be an artiste in this age.

  • into the black

    here’s the thing: i only started to make money when i stopped releasing new music to the world.

    my first move was to shift to releasing only digitally. so that saved me 3000 manufacturing/printing costs. that would get me into the profit zone faster. but with paying vocalists, and mixing/mastering, and enormous amounts of time on the ‘net hyping, i saw that the effort/return was diminishing. this despite getting wider attention (and even having a grammy-award winning singer cover one of my songs).

    so my next move was to stop releasing music altogether.

    now, with sales of previous songs (steady, but still 1/100th what would be made if the illegal downloaders bothered to pay) and with royalties, i’ve made a profit the last few years.

    so: if more of the illegal downloaders had actually purchased more, making the 60 hours a week of creating/promoting worthwhile, i would be continuing to release to the world more music.

    the music was always done with the purest intent (not about the cash) but the grounded understanding that i had to make money to make more music.

    and as people have noted, the genie is out of the bottle. people aren’t suddenly going to pay for music they can get for free. so i saw no realistic way to continue.

    so. no new music.

    the thing is… i stopped at the top of my game. i really knew what i was doing by my last release. and i had more music in me.

    into the black (in more ways than one)

  • Scott Wilcox

    I have 3 CDs produced. I have only sold about 1000 or so but While my fan base is relatively small I do quite a bit of marketing using facebook, blogs, and enewsletters. when I merket to my fanbase I always say how important it is that they purchase the CDs or downloads from me because its the only thing that allows me to continue recording music. I can’t say that it eliminates it completely but it does increase my sales and my fans feel mosre personally attached to me in the end. They feel they have a stake in my success or failure. I think a musician’s relationship with their fans can make a huge difference.

  • Diana S Winkler

    I’ve read almost all the comments posted on here. Some really great points.

    Firstoff, I had a preacher on Facebook invite me to come and sing at his revival services. He liked my music and was excited that I sang cover tunes of Keith Green. (Keith Green was a singer/evangelist back in the 70’s and 80’s. He died in a plane crash and left his wife and a couple children.) Anyway, this preacher asks me if I had all of Keith Green’s music. I told him that I had every song he wrote on CD, all the sheet music, and all his sermons. I bought all these over the span of 13 years. You know what this preacher wanted me to do? He wanted me to bring all my music the next time we met, so that he could put it on his ipod! When I told him that I couldn’t do that because it would be illegal, he muttered some dumb excuse about fair use for the ministry. Hogwash! I told him that Keith’s widow would sure benefit from him buying Keith’s music so she could raise her family, and continue with Keith’s music legacy! Well, I never heard from him ever again. Obviously, he went to find some other sucker to steal music from. I was disgusted by the whole thing. Ok, I’m done with that rant.

    In another thread, I was wondering how we musicians could come up with a technology that prevents our music from being bootlegged or copied without our permission. There has to be some super genius geek out there that has a solution to this problem.

    It used to be when you copied a VHS tape, it distorted the picture, so it was obvious that it was a bootleg. I noticed now that new DVD releases have Digital Copy along with their bluerays. You know why? Because the industry knows the DVD is going to get copied in order to put it on their phones or ipads, so they sold them the digital copy and made a few more extra bucks. There are still bootlegs going around with the DVD’s but at least the industry is figuring out a way to make a few extra bucks in the process.

    We can put men in space, but we can’t invent a way to protect intellectual property and art?? When I buy computer software, it makes me register the stuff, and keeps me from copying it and giving it to my friends for free. I’m sure there are people out there who can figure out a way to bypass all those kind of safeguards and protections, but I don’t think the masses have the knowledge or the know how to bypass such things. I would pay for a website or a service out there that’s available to keep my music, and someone else’s music from being stolen. Steve Jobs opened pandora’s box, so to speak. There has to be someone out there as smart or smarter than Jobs to come up with something. He would make many friends, but also some enemies.

    You all may think I’m crazy for thinking that this would be possible. Maybe it isn’t possible, but I can hope and dream. Meanwhile, I pay for downloads, CD’s, and DVD’s. I pay studio musicians, I pay my photographer and graphic designer. I work a fulltime job. My husband works overtime to pay for our music costs. We learn to do some things ourselves to bring down the costs. The quality may not be as high in the end because we don’t have the money for Nashville industry people to produce the album. But we still put out the music, practice, make connections with fans, and give them the best show we can.

  • John Andrew Eddy

    It should be entirely up to the artist whether any of their music is available free. No one else can make that decision ethically. Downloading music without paying is theft of someone else’s livlihood, pure and simple. Because the technology exists to do it doesn’t make it right. The same people who rationalize taking music for free would be totally outraged if there were an app that allowed me to take the fruit of their labors, whatever they may be, without paying. That music and other arts should be free is romantic twaddle as long as we are stuck in a capitalist system. There is no good reason why the labor of artists of any sort should not be compensated just as a plumber is.

  • Pat

    I guess Emily won’t mind if I steal her car. That would be more convenient for me than buying one. I don’t have any money because everybody steals my music. Of course, I do get a few cents from Spotify or Napster if 100 people listen.

  • Christine Santana

    I have paid for every song I have in my music library. Not just because as a songwriter I want to be paid for my work and creation but I find stealing anything from a song, to a pack of gum, to a car is wrong. If you desire to have something another has put money, time, energy, creativity into then you should pay to have it period. T
    Lets face it without the creator it wouldn’t exist…. Isn’t that worth the price of admission.
    I encourage fans to purchase my music by sending them buy links and stating just this.

  • Mad Musician

    The music industry is the same as it’s always been. Whether it’s Record Labels ripping off Musicians or the people who download your music for free, The Musicians are the Last to see Any Money!
    I’m a musician. I buy the music I like. That includes CD’s, downloads, and Vinyl because I like to support the people who make music. I know how hard it is to get anywhere in this industry. Should we Musicians forget about expecting to make any money from album sales? If all you who steal music from musicians because it’s “inconvenient” to pay for, Knew how much time, practice, money goes into making an album you would probably think twice. And if it’s not worth paying for to you, why would you want it?
    All it takes is a little Integrity to understand that if you are enjoying music that You didn’t create, The Musicians who created it Deserve Compensation!

  • Mark Baker

    I have no problem providing music free to fans and people that like my music. I keep all my tracks available for free and charge 1 dollar for the newest one. If people like my music and feel like paying for it thats fine with me I give them that option.

    Is it profitable? No. Would I like more money for my efforts? Sure but that is not why I have chosen to be an EDM artist. I chose to make music because really it keeps my mind at ease and passes the time enough to keep me sane. I keep an updated website that is updated once or twice a week, I keep all my tracks on it for people to listen to and a venue for them to download.

    I provide a lot of opportunities to make a few dollars such as T-shirts and again the option to buy. The way I see it is this whether people buy or not is quite irrelevant. Having listeners and growing out fan base is far more important to me. Frankly I think it is self centered to believe that what ever I create is so important that people must pay for it. The battle over Copyrighted music and file sharing is seemingly about big Hollywood and entertainment business getting themselves paid the artists often recieve the short end of the stick at any ways. If Musicians depended only on there fans and not the middle man there would certainly be less for artists to worry about with regards to “theft”. There are far more important things in this world to pay for and certainly not enough things to enjoy.

    Anyways if you like EDM and Electronica Dubstep sort of stuff feel free to visit:)

  • Identityrapper


  • Elliot Levine

    I have had a long resentment against record labels. In the 80’s and 90’s most required a lawyer in order for them to hear your material, and they would not listen to “unsolicited material”. There weren’t any attorneys in the NYC phone book that would represent smooth jazz. Along came and the internet boom. They went public and were worth 4 billion almost overnight. They also paid independent musicians a few cents for each download, even though downloads were free. I got a million downloads and paid my house off. I also embraced providing free downloads for most of my music, which led to it being used in a Karate movie, by a Swedish Ice Skater and on TBS. Twelve years later, this opportunity no longer exists. However, there is Youtube, where a viral video can lead to similar opportunities and revenue. In my case, being obscure has it’s advantages. I sell a lot of CD’s at gigs and a good amount of downloads because it’s hard to find me anywhere else.

  • Fred Gosbee

    It’s hard to say what file sharing has done to our bottom line. Our demographic is older and probably not engaging in downloading, illegal or otherwise. We have had the “loved your album-made copies for my friends” since cassette days. Harvey Reid had one of the most creative solutions during the cassette era, He offered “Pirate Kits” for his recordings. For $5 he would send you a blank cassette with a printed J-card. When you were done it looked just like the store-bought cassette only half the price and Harvey still got a little something out of it.

    Not even killer graphics seem to help with sales of physical CDs to millenials. They load the music into the iPod and throw out the physical stuff.

    Maybe what we need is a remote iPod eraser!

  • We are making some headway independently with product sales. What I've found is you really need to go that extra mile for your fans, reply to emails, build relationship, sign albums etc etc etc… We are experimenting with lots of different ideas at the moment but it's starting to go well. We are giving away 7 free songs as an incentive to sign on to the mailing list.
    If you want to check out the kind of thing we are doing you can here

    We are about to start a blog with tips for indie musicians so if you sign up for the free songs you will get notified when that is launched

    (know this sounds like a plug, not really meaning it like that!)

    esther x

  • Robert AW Rodriguez

    The major record companies are behind the digital music revolution.They claim to be the oppisite(that’s the proof)but it has been to their benefit.The major labels have been tryin’ to get rid of the independents since the beggining.Most people think it’s greed(for money)but the majors are not in the game for profit,their in the game as the propaganda arm of the conspiracy.The Tv and Film industry are the same.The fruits of this endeavor are being seen today.If no one buys the independant recordings they will be hardpressed to make more and will be forced to get a job sitting behind a computer,I’m sure many of you who read this think i’m an idiot or worse but what I say is true.The conspiracy want’s total control over ideas and content.They control the left and the right and even the radical.Big Brother 1984 has begun.

  • Robertawrodriguez

    These fuckers are policeing the content we post.Scumbag Cunts.

  • Paul Roy Nagle

    It's simple to understand; if you have to work at another job other than writing and recording music you don't have enough time to do both. So in order to make a living you have to let the song production go. Did you ever have a Doctor or Plumber come over to your house and bring his tools of the trade to have fun entertaining you with his work while you drank beer and ate potato dhips? Think about it; Song Writers and Entertainers have to survive too.

  • I think also, we have too much music right now. I don't think it's bad – I think it's good – but I do notice that there are a lot of musicians/bands these days who release maybe one or two albums, and then they get bored with not being successful and say "oh well I'm gonna go back to art school" or whatever it is that they were doing beforehand. It's just interesting. I've only been playing my own music professionally since 2007 but even since THEN there has been a huge difference. The scene keeps changing and evolving and I don't know what it's going to look like in six months, much less a couple years from now.


    With the introduction of streams, lastfm, grooveshark and so on, my mp3 sales dropped of a cliff. Now i get .083 cents a song. Oh well thats where its at, if you want to make a living, its got to be live. If Prince won't release anymore songs until people stop pirating music because he can't pay the bills…

  • Mark Baker

    The only ones really crying about there music being stolen are the labels.

  • Let’s face it: Times have changed. As long as the najority of people will have the chance to get something for free. they will. Of course this is bad for us indie artists. BUT: I rather stop complaining and try to adapt to this new situation, try to find new ways of getting people willing to pay for something out of my art. Luckily, I have a great day job as lawyer so I don’t have to worry about my money to make a living.

    Illegal downloading sucks. But complaining won’t change anything.

  • rickholdin

    I think the moralizing is silly; if people can get the music for free – especially in a bad economy – they are going to. I once heard the president of CBS (Howard Stringer) saying how people who were getting stuff for free were costing people in the communications fields jobs – wow, what a guilt trip! In a world where corporate ceos get immoral sums of money to (not) do their jobs, it's absurd to try to make people feel guilty about getting a 99 cent track for free when they can – like it or not they will – so let's deal with the new reality, it's not going away.

    But if you do feel guilty – buy my stuff at cdbaby!!

    • I'm moral

      wow. "moralizing is silly", and "absurd to make people feel guilty".

      how far would you take this? "it's crazy to think that in a riot, people be made to feel guilty about looting?" or perhaps "it's silly to moralize about the bankers getting huge bonuses after being bailed out as taxpayers".

  • Amedclinton

    We will pay the preacher for the bullshit he spews because he said god says so, we pay for the food we desire to eat, why not for the artistic manifestations of the soul of our favorite music, legends, artist, and icons. Just fuckin 99 cents at the most.

  • Garryisaacs

    I agree wholeheartedly with isenbergmichael. I have been making music for more than 50 years now and I have some of it out on cyberspace that may or may not be listened too.(I will never know). I understand I may have a few cents coming from the government agency that collects royalties or something but it takes me longer to fill out the paperwork than it is worth and longer than it takes me to create another song, so I haven't pursued it. Besides, I am too busy scraping together enough money from other labors to buy that PA system I need to entertain the people at an old folks home, for free of course.

    Its a noisy world and cyberspace has made it even noisier. I guess earplugs are in order before people learn to listen again. These poor young people who are so bombarded with all of the noise will probably never enjoy or appreciate the real soul moving experience of listening quietly to an artist's rendition, clinging to every word of the lyric of a real masterpiece or the harmonies and blending of unique arrangements of notes as they resonate into deep and heartfelt expression, penetrating the very soul of an appreciative audience. Too bad!

    Its not my ego or my expectation of fame and fortune that makes me do it but I have to confess that I don't do it as much as when I got paid and could afford to.

    I am discouraged for the disintegration of entertainment, both theater and song because performing arts have been too cheap and easy to access. I don't think it is the fame or money issues that bothers me as much as it is the loss of appreciation for things of real value, whether art, food, videogames or automobiles. Everything has become too easy to get and it seems that nobody cares anymore.

  • Anne Allen

    Just goes to show you that the laws are selectively enforced in any case. I don't have the RIAA in my corner either. And we will be the people who lose the most money (independents), since there won't be any "big dogs" going after free loaders and bootleggers. Suffice it to say your music could spread through out the world and you remain on the same page financially. I don't like it either but it's a chance you take. The only way to ensure that your music isn't bootlegged by unauthorized distributors is to never to release it. There's a guy on my job who has no problem selling bootlegged cd's and dvd's. I guess that's good tax free income if the RIAA and the MPIA aren't hauling you off to court. Will I report that bootlegger on my job? No since they aren't looking out for the "little people." Therefore I have no incentives to be a snitch for them, making enemies for myself that I can forget about ever supporting my music.

    Personally I'm better with the creative side of music making and am currently working on mastering my own songs. In this day and time I think that more money can be made from music production, live performances and touring. Relative to music. It could be that some people prefer to spend their money on tours and club gigs. Who knows? Just a thought. There's and old saying that goes like this: If it don't cost you something. It aint worth nothing. So I assume that if people are unwilling to offer some type of financial support regarding your music or music related gear. Monetarily speaking it's not worth anything to them except to listen to. I will be grateful for those who appreciate my music along with the handful of people who will love it enough to financially support it. I'll keep my day job for now and be darn sure I have other revenue streams to fall back on.

  • Jeromegodboo

    Thank you.Your words inspire hope in me.

  • change change

    for all those “things have changed/it’s the future move on” robots:

    the banking system also changed (less regulation) a decade or two ago. as a result of that we are in a worldwide recession, with billions and billions gone from the economy. who lost out — the big bankers who got bailed out, or the “common man”, who didn’t?

    those bankers were also fond (as were the dotcom companies) of saying “it’s a new economy, stupid, get with it”.

    well, now we know how well that worked out. so now there’s tighter restrictions & regulation on the banks, in order to bring things back in line.

    so: change can be changed, if it’s negative.

  • Randy A Motz

    Emily's perspective on music is just one of the consequences of a systemic problem in the U.S., and that is the "entitlement mentality." Emily's generation feels that they are entitled to receive as much stuff as possible for free, whether they deserve it or not, and they want it right NOW! The fact that someone puts their gifts, passion and hard-earned money into producing a product (music) is irrelevant. I would pose this question to Emily, and those like her. How would you react if you worked for your employer all week and when it came time to get paid, your boss said, "Oh, I don't feel I should have to pay you. I deserve to get what you have to offer for free. Besides, if I do pay you, you will just go out and spend it on some frivolous things I do not approve of."

  • Frenchy

    There is a wealth of good info to get on this post,don’t focus on the down side of it,if you start getting depressed take a break and come back.It is what it is and every artist needs to know.The entire nature of showbiz is that you have something they want.A unique onto yourself concept.Talent is not the ability to do a certain thing,it is the ability to make people want to SEE you do a certain have to have that or you don’t belong in the biz.Play for your own pleasure or family and friends.Please get out of this to leave some space for another serious may have talent doing something that a lot of people think you suck at,but you have an audience that follows you so what do you care?You have talent!Exploit it!That is not a bad word my friend.The other myth I need to eradicate here to encourage some people is that big downer that if you have to get a day job to pay the rent and further your artistic ambitions means that you are a failure,making your art a mere dabbling hobby.That is a very bad mindset.So many fantastic artists in all fields at one time waited upon tables to make sure the bills were paid.they made an honest living whilst honing their craft,when they got a break they were ready for it.As a seasoned musician from the old school we would play the clubs to pay the bills.When you have done this for many years you figure that the clubs would always be there and now they are not.Yet you have a home to come home to and when you flick a switch the light goes on.You can pay to book good studio time and hire a producer if you picked up some overtime may get up a couple of grand to get a great home studio,but are you a recording engineer?I use a couple of reel decks at home to get ideas together.And then go to record at my producers studio which is far beyond what Jimi ever knew.Yet what Jimi knew as a genius was MORE that enough.Lighten up your bottom line just a bit.if you see people with ideas you like contact them.Let them know you appreciate what they do,buy their music and enjoy are out what,a dollar?Do not do the creative commons thing,that lies much better for people that are writers but a bad move for a musical artist.It’s hard I know take the focus off of yourself and check out what other bands are doing.,inspire them,write them a kick ass review and you will have a friend for life.and then they may listen to you.Thanks for this blog,it is really good!

  • Kicklighter

    Hoping that someone will devise a method for keeping track of music sales and keeping track of any transaction for any song anywhere. There must be a system to register music and all transactions.

  • Every one of those professions are capable of being laid off or fired. So am I, and so are you, how hard we work has nothing to do with it, although it works a lot better than working poorly.

    Ask for compensation all you want, that doesn't mean it's going to be automatically given to you, no matter how much you think you've earned it.

  • Someone was caught file sharing music,and has been ordered by the court
    to pay 600,000 dollars in damages. A copyright isn't an opinion,it's governed
    by law. If you think you'll never be caught,when you file share,think again,
    technology is a 2 edge sword.

    Sometimes music is offered for free as a promotion,but it isn't a right!
    If you went into a jewlery store,and helped yourself to the merchandise,
    you would win a free ride to jail. If someone can afford to spend money
    on beer and cigarettes, .99 cents on a download,wont break the bank.

    Musicians go through a lot to transcend the ordinary world,to be able to
    offer their music, that comes from their souls. Real music lovers,support
    the music,if not,all that is left is silence.

  • Jim

    Emily also has never experienced full fidelity sound. Does she know how much better a CD or record sounds?

    Digital downloads are convenient, this is a fact. But they do not have the same quality of sound. She is missing a lot. It is sad that know one cares about the quality of sound now days.

  • David Lowery states in his article:
    "It’s not like the money goes into a giant bonfire in the middle of the woods while satanic priests conduct
    black masses and animal sacrifices."

    But, David, that's what rock and roll is all about! Perhaps if record companies did this young people would again be willing to pay for music.

  • forget thinking about music as a physical object. that "no removal of physical product so it's not theft" is a silly argument. and it's so last decade.

    instead, think of the song you've digitally downloaded not as a physical product but as a performance, (one that you can enjoy again and again.)

    or, if it helps, think of the musician as a waiter, who for a year (or three years, however long it took to record that album) has given you good service (written a song you like). now, tip him. pay the dollar.

    i also find it amazing that you, as someone who believes in art so much, will pay nothing for it (but thinks it's okay to drop $30 for a t-shirt.)

  • No one's forcing you to buy the new format. You are free to lug your 8-track player with you across the decades.

  • AesopFableMonster


  • Kristen

    I think a contributing factor to the “convenience” comment is quantity–as in, quantity of artists. Itunes is convenient. Downloading sites are certainly convenient. The inconvenience is not being able to afford all of the artists that are out there. To share a story from my youth: My mom used to give me $20 for two weeks of school lunches. She never knew this, but the same day she gave me that money, I went to the local shop and bought a new CD. Depending on the price I could get one to four cd’s every two weeks, and I starved at school. At that rate, I couldn’t keep my music collection growing fast enough to keep up with my peers. Their mix cd’s and ipods were always better than mine and I was the lame kid who never knew enough about music. My collection was only growing by 2-8 artists per month, while my best friend completely changed her ipod every single week! I couldn’t afford 30 new cd’s a week! That’s when I started downloading. And I beat them all and had the most music and knew everything about every artist I could find. Even better, I didn’t get the shakes in 4th period any more from skipping lunch.

    Please note: I am certainly not attempting to justify what I did in any shallow manner. I was 13 and 14 years old and didn’t care about downloading rules anymore than my parents warnings not to smoke or drink. And that is also part of the problem…. the highschool age group who used to buy a decent amount of the music… found another way to rebel. Instead of rebelling by purchasing music others would disapprove of, we stole it. At that age, it felt good to say f**k you, I’m not paying, as I choked on marlboro lights and stashed a warm wine cooler in the closet. Immature, yes, but we all had ipods to fill and reputations to maintain. That was over ten years ago… but my godsister who is now 15, confides in me that not much has changed as far as music, image for the listener, rebellion, and more albums you are socially required to collect than a 14/15 year old can pay for.

  • Ethel

    It takes a lot of time, sweat, tears and money to make good music. So why would people think we would want to pay them for them to listen. When one steals music, the contributor pays them to listen. How fair is that.

  • Ryan Spencer

    It is the wave of the future, I don't know what to say. The music industry has evolved, and only the musicians who evolve with it will be successful. Dwelling on the past and doing nothing to fit into the future will only allow a musician to sink deeper. Musicians who are doing cutting edge, never before seen marketing tactics are the ones who are becoming popular, they are the ones that are making the money.

    The new landscape is also breeding a new type of musician. The one that cares only about creating their music and playing it for their fans. The ones who are interacting the most with their fans online and in social media realms are very successful. Money is not the biggest motivator, and it is making greater musicians. I feel we will see more of this in the future.

    • J.

      Ryan, it is true that the Music Industry is evolving and that many of the newer types of musician like being on the social sites and if it works for them great. But you have to ask yourself, are they full time musicians or do the support themselves in other ways.
      Money or financial gain is never really the main motivator for the true artist and the person that loves to create. It isnt for me, but in order to be a full time musician your finances have to be comming from somewhere right? And yes cutting edge, never before seen marketing tactics by some artist are the ones who are becoming popular,but not all,i can bet that even these guys have a lot of the music they make being downloaded for free too. So
      are they like gigging live across continents?and selling tons of extras like t-shirts and hats,clothes perfumes etc, Is the music they make being placed in TV ADS or Block Buster films?.If not how are they surviving on bread and water homeless?Or do they work other jobs and music making is just for fun? I'll say it again, Money or financial gain is never really the main motivator for the true artist and the person that loves to create. It isnt for me, But if music is all I do, I want to get compensated for my efforts. Because unless your swimming in money and have all the free time in the world ,you have to find the time to earn a living and makeing music takes a lot of time and work for the serious artist. And finally YOU SAY "Money is not the biggest motivator" then why is it called THE MUSIC INDUSTRY ?

    • In this discussion, Ryan, I can see how a facet of your opinion, here, has merit and in many instances is part of the truth. Taken solely on it’s own, however, what you’re saying is nothing more than one of the ways you (and others like you) justify getting the music you “own” and share and listen to for FREE. Who is paying for it …. how do the creators survive to continue making it?

      The first music I “called my own” as a kid were 45s, and I’m sure part of the idea was that this was what a 12-yr-old could afford. For several more decades I bought or traded over time what became my music collection, along with the tapes friends and lovers made each other for dreaming, dancing, driving cross-country. But then, if you had even the closest of friends come out with a single or LP, you made sure they knew you honored them as musicians by PAYING for it. (You’d NEVER ask for a freebe.)

      For a while I did some free music downloading. I wanted to be net savvy, and, especially, hip! What I loved about that, though, was finding old and novelty songs that would have been locating otherwise. The first song I downloaded was “16 Tons” by Tennessee Ernie Ford.

      Then the precursors to iTunes, and iTunes, et al, came along, making so much sense. There aren’t usually more than three to five songs on most CDs I’m gonna want to listen to, unless it’s the work of a favorite artist. And as you know, one can listen to any song before making a decision to buy. I can’t think of a better, more accomidating deal — buying the music I like, song by song, instead of having to pay a lot more (or what for many is unaffordable) for the whole chunk, so much of which I don’t want. That’s an awfully fair compromise, Ryan, the way I see it, between the full price of a CD, and the artist(s) getting NOTHING for any of it from the person it was actually created for!

      Of course there are many talented musicians, writers and artists with original gifts to offer all around us …. but having grown up with these people, gone to school, lived or worked with many of them over the years, I can tell you that more and more musicians who decide to go for it, make the sacrifices involved, and are able to stay the course with integrity and their originality intact, tend to be people who ALSO happen to have “access to the means of support” needed to tend to their creative work without worrying about having a job.

      The social media means that now everyone can at least get their work out there. But the opportunity to become a professional, and “make it big,” with the time it takes to give it everything you’ve got ….. that’s near to impossible if you also have to work for a living and are over 30 ….. or aren’t of independant means. But maybe you prefer all your music made by rich, older folk!

  • J.

    Goood point entropy,so I guess its ok to digitally copy your credit card numbers and use them for the pleasure and enjoyment of another persons purchases with your hard earned money. Here I have to explain that I do believe in fair use and I understand that making a copy is not really stealing according to the beliefs of many, and I dont really have too much an issue with personal copies, but when every body is just making copies, please explain to me how a recording artist thats trying to recoupe some of the cost of the expenses associated with a recording project ever going to break even. I mean people (Music Artist) Dont just record music albums or CD'S as advertisments for concerts. If that were the case then movie makers would only create block buster movies as advertisments for a live broadway production of their movies.And it would be ok to just freely download the movie,and yet no one may attend the live performance, C'mon, Does it make any sense to you. Yes Its all art but its very time consuming and not always easy for the average joe thats not being paid to produce by large corporate major record labels. From what ive seen and experienced by many fellow music makers around me ,is that they all have day jobs and sacrifice a lot of time from other things they could do, to create their music. And not all do it to make a gazillion bucks, but because they love it.But as you may know for some of them ."time is money as they say. And if one is serious about making a succesfull living in the entertainment industry,you have to sell a product, and in this day its in digital form. Music and Movies ,software, etc,etc. If its not being paid for in some way it is being stolen. No matter what you say about just copying for enjoyment. And further anyone that posts music on any of the SELL sites like Itunes and CD Baby,etc,is not getting it posted free of charge. Those companies charge a fee to host your web page and your music too.Every one should get compensated for their labors period. Making music is time consuming and takes resources and time.All electronic musicians have to pay electric bills at the end of the month,because if you download electricity for free,for personal enjoyment chances are youll be charged with stealing services.
    Do you get the picture here sir.

  • J.

    I think that this piracy and free downloading BS can really be stopped, just think about it, Banks though they have been hacked, but not often have something called SSL ecryption software for transactions, and so do most websites that do transactions with credit cards. Its really good software thats not so easily hacked. Why cant this type of scheme be used for Audio and video files.Every song ever created could have a code thats encrypted into the file. and every sell site on line has a different encrypted code than every other for every paid download. Every one wanting to download the file into their personal players mp3 and other mobile players has to have the code. a different one for every customer.In other words you can only download mp3 files for your I-pads at Itunes they have a differrent code than lets say your t-mobil device so if you want to download mp3 files for it you have to go to t-mobil site and they have a different encrypted code than I tunes. So though you may have an mp3 file you couldnt download it into just any device. and if you download a song from a file sharing site fine, but if you dont have the encrypted code sold to you with the song from your specific hardware companies mp3 song selling site, you couldnt download it to your device. The concept is quite easy. Also all the hardware and software companies as well as the big entertainment content creators could get together and work on standards to make a system where every computer platform has a mandatory identifiable motherboard chip to verify What is the manufacturer of your device. If you have an ACER laptop you can only download mp3 files from sell sites that are affilliated with acer or directly from acer Because acers website can identify your device and so fourth. And yes a lot of people will say that this ties them up to a propietary system or manufacturer, but really what it does is deter the free file sharers from sharing pirated movies and music files because they need to have an encrypted code to download it to their player or computer brand. Thats just my opinion.Hey Im not a computer geek and im sure some hacker will try to hack the codes but it would take them an incredible amount of time to find a universal code. Depending on the encryption levels. E.I . right now I can go to any mp3 music site and download a song on any platform of computer in Mp3 format. Shouldnt be this way if you have a mac you can only go to itunes or sellers with the itune code that work with mac devices only. if this happens the mp3 file will still be a universal format,but downloading it will be a propeitary download service.or it wont download into your device. I really believe that this may help……..In this way you can have as many copies as you want but you wont be able to share them. And software companies that make Ripping software can make it so that in order to get your ripping software to work it has to be registered and then you get your ripping code,so that if you rip a cd and make mp3 files every file has that code. If you try to upload it to your mobile device or another computer same make or not it reads it as a non loadable device code. Those files cannot be uploaded to any mobile device or another computer of any make or brand the files can be saved to a hard drive internal or external but not another device or computer ..its really not that hard to implement these suggestions.all it takes is a lot of cooperation amonst the big players….

  • Tallmo

    Those who defend illegal file sharing often argue that there is no evidence that copyright holders lose any money on it. But you often read about people who say that nowadays they never buy CDs, just download music for free. If these people had previously been so interested in music that they bought for, say, 60 or 70 dollars a month, that means of course that those who were supposed to share the proceeds of those sales (such as the artist, industry and retail stores) in such a case were deprived of precisely these 60 or 70 dollars. There is no need for scientific studies to understand that. The only question is how common this is. Are almost everybody who download illegally “newborn” music lovers who have never bought CDs in the past? If so, maybe the loss would be negligible. But I doubt it.

    Musicians are often advised to sell t-shirts or CDs with lavish books enclosed. But then, shouldn’t they need to protect themselves somehow against their T-shirts and books being plagiarized and pirated as well? The main objection, however, is that it must be deeply unsatisfactory for culturally active people to be forced to support themselves by doing something unrelated to his or her art. What other profession would accept that?

    I think, however, that much is getting better now with the legal services for downloading mp3 files. And certainly, copyright reform is needed on some points, such as regarding musical sampling – but also the right to quote in text must be defended. This right has been much eroded. If you compare to what it was a 100 or 200 years ago, when one could quote long passages from another author without asking for permission.

    I have written quite a lot about piracy, not the least from a historical point of view. Mostly in Swedish but here are a few in English:

    Karl-Erik Tallmo

  • Sophie

    Seems like a lot of preaching to the choir. Visit http://www.torrent and repost some comments there.

  • Stance

    not so sure. i talk to my daughter & her friends about this issue frequently, and 90% of them are only downloading things they've purchased.

    this is probably because they have been informed that it's wrong. they've also been informed that purchasing music actually helps the artists make more music, and pay bills.

    i'm a huge believer in simply informing people about how illegal downloading actually hurts music. simply tell your godsister that a teacher, a lawyer, a doctor don't work for free, etc. etc.

    yes, there are kids who will illegally download, but there are more who won't when they understand it's impact. people used to drop their litter on the street, on the highway… but as they became more informed about the impact, they changed, and you don't see that much anymore.

    as for 'image'… well, inform her then that if all her friends are downloading for free, the true rebel would be the one who takes a stance and supports the artist by buying.


  • Guest

    I am definitely split on this; On one hand I understand the music(CDs) supports the bands and helps generate revenue on the other I hate going to itunes and have to pay to listen to my favorite bands… Times have changed and although I fight tooth and nail not to give stuff away for our band, I also understand my own buying habits..(not that I believe in free music downloads) Truth is that if I really like a song, I just go buy the whole physical CD.. then it is mine and I can do with it what I want… The days of going to the record store are over, which is really sad, because there are many generations out there that will miss out of the opportunity to shop for the perfect vinyl…. On the other hand.. Indie labels are suppose to make money and continue How??? Because it is not from local gigs and merch….
    BTW I really hate the snooty author and her remarks.. How inconvenient for me that I wasted time reading it!

  • JOHN

    People like you sofie are a joke you shouldnt even be on this discussion page,you post a comment with a silly link to some nonsense casino style slot machine that has nothing to do with what is being talked about here, please get a real web page for selling you nonsense. Its people like you that know nothing about whats at stake here for the artist trying to promote and earn a living from their art form, please get a life.

  • J K H Forte

    When I was younger, buying music was never an option not only because I could get everything for free but because that is what everyone I knew was doing; No one actually buys music where I’m from (Barbados). The reason I think is because of how easy it is but also the fact that people here do not have easy access to services such as Itunes, Spotify, Pandora etc, so they would rather get it for free, but would go to any shows passing through (though few). Personally as I got older and started to learn more about the music business I understand how important it is to purchase an artists music. It is not just lyrics on a beat, but in fact how they make a living. I strongly believe that artists music should be bought even if they have a few giveaways here or there to entice the fans, the same way you can’t go get a therapist’s services for free, why should artists have to do it with theirs.

  • cable spence

    The NPR babe is just another, (among the many), who have no concern or conscience about the hi-jacking of the music from whom they steal. There is a whole generation of music pirates and poachers who have coped the same attitude. So don’t think for one minute that anything we say about their pilfering is going to make them change. It all starts at home where honesty, respect ,and appreciation for others property is taught. I haven’t seen much of that recently…. More and more concerts have employed security to prevent the recording and video of the performers. Security people simply take the devices out of the offender’s hands, reminding said offender of the the warning announced previously and printed on the ticket. If there is any resistance , a police officer is there with a warning, give it or out you go. The same with cameras. What has to be done is well advertised warnings and foot in the neck punishment if any thing can stop the present attitude. The longer we allow these looters to get away with their actions more difficult it becomes.

  • mPublius

    Disagree with some below. Digital music is both art and a product. Payment should be reasonable–and made.

  • gkahn

    The elephant in the room: How long until CDBABY goes out of business, because NO ONE owns CDs any more?

  • No time soon. Check out this infographic of our 2011 sales:

    And, believe it or not, CD sales are trending up from last year already. And, most importantly, CD Baby is not just a CD retailer. We handle physical distribution and order fulfillment of CDs and vinyl, yes, but also help artists with digital distribution, sync licensing, web hosting, download cards, and a bunch of other services.

  • Heathercubed

    Are you kidding? Most of the young people I know have credit cards. Unless the person have had a recent bankruptcy, banks will give credit cards to babies.

  • Pingback: A Question for Music Fans: If Music Isn’t Worth Your Money, Is It Worth Your Time? | DIY Musician()

  • Color me jaded and outside the ''landscape of the future'' but Ryan, your post, though a facet of it has some truth, taken alone it is nothing more than a JUSTIFICATION for the way you and too many of your cohorts see or don't see the unfairness in how you come by your private and shared collection of music.

    …… I think the option to pay a dollar each for the three to five songs you really like from an album (unless it's a favorite artist) after you've heard all the songs (for free) to make your decisions about what to choose, instead of having to buy the whole big chunk of it all for a LOT MORE $, is a pretty FAIR COMPROMISE between possibly not even being able to afford the music at all, and taking (aka STEALING) whatever you want without the CREATOR of the music getting a penny from the person the music was made for, YOU, in the first place!

    Social media has made it so that most artists and writers can get their work out there for free or at a reasonably low cost for many to see than ever possible before. But then, to become a professional musician over the age of 30, with the time one needs to devote to all it takes, WHILE earning a living in order to live being a musician …. is near to impossible. Unless ….. someone else is supporting you OR you are already, somehow, a person of means. And I gotta say, I notice more and more that a majority of the artists I meet — including musicians — if they're over 30 and haven't "hit it big" are either people of means, or don't manage to get many paying gigs, or much new, ongoing, creative work.

    If you just want to listen to music by rich, older folk, Ryan, I hope that keeps evolving for ya on the cutting edge of those future, never before seen marketing tactic realms. I mean, I don't know what else to say.

  • Guest123

    If the government paid us artist's for our work, I wouldn't have any problem with sharing, but the reality is, we need to make a living too.

  • Dvonjmes

    Technologies got us into this mess, we must invent, through technology, a way out.

  • Dave

    It seems that for big names, doubling the price of tickets is the way forward – Rush a few years back cost £35, this year, it's £75. Frankly, that's too much for me to pay to go to watch a band, especially when I've paid for their albums. What's more, it doesn't help small bands trying to break through, the bands that rarely come out in profit after a gig. It's a conundrum for sure, but I won't pay itunes for anyting as a) I loathe Apple as much as I loathe Microsoft and b) why would I pay full price for a lossy format?



  • josh rich

    I think it makes the music scene a bit more competitive. If we want viewers at our shows we have to have great music. My true fan will buy my album, and any one that doesn’t like me enough to buy might still pay for a ticket to my show after a free download. It’s a different day and age and we should look at P2P as promotion instead of stealing. I’m sure Emily has thousands of artist in her iPod and there’s no way she’s going to pay for all of their content.

  • Jukeboxrider

    It seems to be the trend with every new generation. For some reason they think the world owes them. The sad part is. Many of these people will one day be standing in front of a judge for stealing something larger than some song downloads. Like the old saying. You start with a candy bar and end with a band. I would ask them this. If I had one of you come to my studio and clean the floor. You would demand to be paid. So what gives you the right to steal from me. Jukeboxrider

  • wow

  • This is really crazy

  • Pingback: DIY Musician Podcast #119 Roundtable - Are Your Fans Stealing Your Music? » DIY Musician Podcast()

  • beck11

    Thank goodness for a rational artist!

  • Erik Lundgren

    Wow, time flew. Yeah I get what you are saying. But I’ve made somewhere around 30 albums as Erik Lundgren, tried selling the first 10, to friends and family, but only sold between 10-50 copies per album to strangers.

    Since I started giving it away for free I’ve gotten a few donations here and there and lots and lots of new fans. Most that probably would not pay for an album but they might come to a gig you know. I got a publisher today and things are going a lot better than it did before I started giving albums away for free. My last album costs money, and now I’ll wait to see what happens. And the thing is that to get a 1000 paying fans you need to be heard… right?

    Best way to be heard might be to share it for free. I want to press some vinyl so my “true fans” can get a physical copy and when you have a few fans in your backpack there are some cool options out there, kickstarter and what not.

    And I do agree that it’s wrong to just accept the situation and give in to the whole issue or problem that music today is not worth much to people. And it keeps getting worse with all the streaming and all the digital crap that goes on. I almost only listen to vinyl and would wish more would do so, but they don’t. So I offer them free digital albums, the option to donate, and soon the option to buy vinyl. I think you misunderstood me a little there. I’m not after fame, or a spotlight. I’d rather be left alone in an old cabin out in the woods, but it would be nice to have a few coins now and then. And to get there since I used to be an unknown I gave away albums just to be heard, sort of as a first step towards becoming an artist with fans and not just some noname that no one would spend x dollars on.

    Regarding American Idol… I want to be seen and loved for the music I make, on my terms, with the stuff I have to say. Not some commercial garbage. And posting a video of your own music on youtube might get you there if you’re really lucky. And why is posting a song from one of your live shows, or a music video or just a simple “sitting in my sofa and playing a new song” type of video so bad? Even lots world recognised artists do so, do you think they make fools out of themselves?

    I agree that there is lot’s of crap on the tube, lots of mediocre stuff, but there are also good stuff, even really bad recorded hand held old phone quality of insane good talent, then you can support that talent and become a fan and long for them to get some good gear and record a demo you can buy. So stop being a jerk and mellow down. We all started with nothing you know, and to think that you can record an cd or tape or vinyl and sell it to become a world star then you my friend must be some special talent. And have some CRAZY connection.