Free Music: The Social Norm

By Christopher Null, Staff Editor

Music can be defined as the art and science of combining vocal or instrumental sounds to produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion. The biggest change that has arisen in the last decade is how society is to share and gain access to the music of today and of the past.

An article titled Stealing Music: Is It Wrong Or Isn’t It? by Michael Arrington on the website TechCrunch argues that retrieving music from the internet without paying for it is completely okay. Michael Arrington claims that the people who see downloading music for free is wrong opposed to those who do it is a generational factor.  His last strong point he argues is that it is only a matter of time until the rest of the world comes to terms with music becoming a free product.

Firstly, the matter regarding free music downloads in China supported by Google is a true claim. According to an article posted on CNN’s website titled Google offers free music downloads in China’\ by Emily Chang, roughly 140 music labels have joined Google to let them use their songs to download in China. The deal is, Google lets its users download the songs in exchange for advertising their label which includes the “Big Four”- EMI Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, and Universal Music. But just like any deal, there will be holes and traps in the agreement. In the article, Chang claims that Google has only released 350,000 songs initially and foresees the number growing. But statements from first hand users say that the quality could be better and not all the songs they search for are always found. Sure it is free but you get what you paid for. And with that, the quality of the music is not a guarantee when it is free.

The main point brought up in Michael Arrington’s article is his argument that the older generations find downloading music as wrong whereas the newer generations just grew up with it. He uses time as his crutch when it comes to justifying downloading music for free. For people who grew up in the age when the internet was just coming about to the public, the idea of free electronic music wasn’t even a consideration since the MP3 was invented in the early 1990’s and didn’t even reach the internet until the mid-90’s. Free music showed up in the cyber world and for those who discovered it at a younger age knew nothing about businesses or legalities. And when it finally became apparent to the public what was happening, a certain mentality that justifies free music has already developed in the new public that grew up with the internet. Both sides of this issue bring evidence to support their case. On one side, you should pay for someone’s services. On the other, is a younger generation raised to believe in a true cyber-freedom. I suggest a middle ground. I suggest that a station be set up to act as a neutral party to all music labels and their primary goal is to look out for that artist’s best interests. But there is a plus side for those who see no problem to downloading free music. This station will grant each user up to a certain amount of songs they may download per month or year. Anyone could possibly make a record so long as they have the money or connections to do so. It isn’t like it was back in the day where you had to show real potential to make it in the business. So a great question that the music industry needs to answer is this: Why pay for music no one knows about when the quality doesn’t match the consumer’s need? If you want to look at music purely as a business, customer satisfaction would be number one. But if my proposed station would allow a sample of a new artist to be at the hands of the customer, this would allow the customer to better decide which artist receives funding and which ones do not.

I see music as more than a business but a lifestyle. Like most lifestyles, income helps support and maintains the population. I grew up with internet at hand which helped me expand my knowledge of music. In conclusion, I would say the business world has their hands too deep in the world of music. The life of music depends on the people who continue to listen to it. And if the real goal is not to make a buck but to keep it playing, eventually any means to keep it alive would be thought to be a kind act.

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