Questions in Musical Chaos: An Essay Page 2

November 12th, 2003
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I will admit that I have downloaded albums before. Of those three CD’s I bought the other day, two of them I downloaded the week previously and checked out. Even though this was illegal (although neither of these groups, >From Autumn to Ashes or Coheed & Cambria, are on the RIAA’s blacklists), I did it anyway. Why? There isn’t much difference between downloading an album to see if it is any good than renting a movie or downloading a demo of a video game. You get to try it out, but you don’t get the full deal (the CD’s the artwork, liner notes, lyrics, etc), until you pay for it. Staring at my CD collection, there are about 10 CD’s I currently listen to, then another 40-50 I keep because I may listen to them in the next year. About 20 more I have because of nostalgia, mainly because they remind me of times of my life. The other 200+ are albums from which I like one or two songs, or received as a gift. Will I ever listen to these? Probably not. Is it fair that I have so many albums that I don’t really want, just to make sure that the recording industry gets its cut? No. In the past two years, since downloading music has become insanely easy, every album I own, I really like and wouldn’t give away. During this time as well, I have bought fewer albums because I am more cautious with the increased prices of music.

Besides illegally downloading an album, there are other ways to sample an album before buying it. Unfortunately, these methods are far from perfect. For example, the general experience of listening to an album in a music store is a mission of aggravation. Take your average Tower Records for example. The “listening stations,” as they are called, are headphones sitting on hooks, usually down the aisle above the CD racks. The volume on the stations tends to be very low, with the volume dial usually broken. The headphones, if they work at all, give out one audio channel at best, and are not great quality. Besides this annoyance, listeners are standing directly in the way of people trying to look at CD’s for purchase due to the way the aisles and rows of CD’s are designed Other record stores have similar problems, Tower is not the only one at fault here. These experiences make the idea of checking out an album much simpler and less of a pain.

As stated earlier, music piracy is ruining the industry, just not in the way that the RIAA would have people think. Instead of people getting laid off or losing jobs, record labels seem more willing to give artists record contracts and tours, even if these artists lack any type of musical intensity, prowess, or fan base. In an industry that is talking about losing money from piracy, wouldn’t it make more sense to focus on artists that might sell, or be innovative, instead of cookie-cutter? The music industry doesn’t see it that way. Instead they follow the classic business model of “if it sells now then it’s probably a safe bet.” Yet again, the music listeners are the ones who suffer from this sort of mentality.

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By Fred Pilarczyk Posted in Features