This article presents (in a roundabout way) two things I have been brewing over for a long time, in regards to file sharing.
The first one is this: why does the onus always seem to be on the creator of art to accept that their product should be free, rather than on the consumer to analyze the impact of their actions on the quality of art?
It has happened here on DM in the past, especially in heated comments threads under posts about Pirate Bay, where the question that tended to get asked the most was “why should an artist expect to get paid money for what they do?” (Unfortunately, since we switched over to the Disqus comment system last month, all our old comment threads have been wiped, but readers are more than welcome to keep the discourse going right here.)
Well, as an artist, the most immediate way to refute that question would be to ask “why should you expect to receive art for free?” But to take it further, here is another question that is never, ever asked, and to me taps into the root of the whole problem: “if you are not willing to pay for music, then why exactly do you collect music?”
Seriously, though. Why? Yes, music is lovely (I should know as I have dedicated my life to making, playing and writing about it) but then so is beer, and if I expected to get drunk every day without paying any money for the privilege, I would quickly get the reputation of being an unpopular scrounger. It’s basic economics, but it’s still a concept many fail to grasp, or would rather substitute with the victim-blaming that it’s the artist’s fault for expecting to get paid.
So, to put it more Marxist-friendly terms: “why does a person consume a form of art?”
I should make this clear at this point, I have been a very heavy collector and consumer of music myself in the past, my forte being rare disco and obscure deep house. So I get it! I get the buzz of obtaining new music (not to mention that, being a DJ, I need to have access to new music). But there came a point when I realized that NO, I couldn’t own every single disco record ever made—thank you, Daniel Wang—but also, why in the hell would I want to?!