Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Do music fans really care if an act gets paid for their art?

Should artists get paid for music or should it be free ? That was one of the questions which came to mind after a week observing the ins and outs from a pair of blog posts. The conversation began with …

Fri, Jun 22, 2012, 09:04

   

Should artists get paid for music or should it be free ? That was one of the questions which came to mind after a week observing the ins and outs from a pair of blog posts.

The conversation began with Emily White. She’s an intern at NPR’s All Songs Considered show and wrote about how she had purchased just a handful of CDs in her life. The bulk of the 11,000 tracks in her iTunes came from mix-CDs and her college radio station’s library.

While the piece started out as some musing on the move from physical formats to digital, White did include lines like “I honestly don’t think my peers and I will ever pay for albums”.

Enter Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven frontman David Lowery. He wrote a lengthy retort to White on The TriChordist about what she had to say and his views on her opinions. As often happens on these occasions, both posts went viral.

When you’re gauging the reaction to White and Lowery, an interesting divide quickly emerges. Those on the artistic and business side favour Lowery’s arguments about how music has a cost, while many music fans wonder what all the fuss is about.

For many of the latter, music has become a free, always-on commodity and the business should simply react and adopt to these changes. Certain lines are usually trotted out to back this up – one of them is “we buy tickets for the gigs and spend money at the merch stand” – but those at the coalface know that’s not enough money coming in here to keep a band in business.

You’d hesitate to call it a generation gap as it crosses all ages, but a growing divide has emerged between the side who won’t pay and the side who think they should. So which side are you on?