Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Coms 210 Assignment #4: Opinion Writing

Lars Was Right...

    Would you steal coffee from Starbucks? Would you take a child that wasn’t yours? Now, would you download a song from the internet for free? Ever since Metallica  went after Napster in the early 2000’s, the topic of downloading music illegally has been continuously debated. Most people in favor of illegally downloading music tend to argue that record companies are greedy, and the artists don’t get that money much from album sales. However, I find that most people who attempt to get involved with this argument do not understand the whole picture. Illegal downloading is more complex than just the record label and artist getting paid. Also, there are other areas associated with the music industry that are affected by illegal downloading. At the end of the day, illegal downloading is slowly draining a system that is responsible for the music we hear today.
    As I stated before, when people argue over illegal downloading they really seem to have a narrow view of the music industry. The music industry is a large and complex entity that offers many jobs, and contains multiple players in the process of making an album. Their are the people who manufacture the CDs, the artists who design the album art work, the people who send out the albums for promotion and of course, the recording people who are the ones responsible for how the album sounds. Most bands tend to hire producers and sound engineers when they are making an album, and that can cost a huge chunk of money. Guns N’ Roses’ debut release, “Appetite for Destruction” cost $370,000 to make, and majority of the cost was payed by their record label Geffen. Most bands have to pay back their record companies through album sells because the production cost is covered by the label. The best way to think of it is that a record company is like a bank, and the artist is accepting a loan from the label with the intention to pay back the record company for the cost. 
    Another reason why downloading illegally is a problem for the music industry, is that most promoters and artists rely on album sales to set up shows. Album sells historically have allowed for bands and concert promoters to locate where the best cities for a concert to be held. If Deep Purple album’s did not sell well in Japan, they probably wouldn’t have traveled to play in Tokyo back in the early seventies. The argument can be made that nowadays Facebook gives bands a good idea where most of their fans are located. Still, there is a difference between a Facebook like and an album purchase. The Facebook like is free while album sale cost money. Most people who purchase albums really support and enjoy the artist they bought where a Facebook like can be for social purposes.
    One argument in favor of illegal downloading that has always angered me is that people use the justification that the artists make enough money from touring and merchandise. Again, that statement is very ignorant to the entire system and does not apply to all musicians. I am sure Katie Perry is worth millions and an illegal download does not affect her much, but the same does not go for an artist like Paul Speckmann, singer/bassist from the Death Metal band Master. Mr. Speckmann has been consistently putting out albums since the eighties and his career revolves around making music and touring. 
    Lastly, as Lars once brought up during an interview, the fact that musicians didn’t have the option to say whether or not people could download their music illegally was a major problem. Musicians are the ones responsible for creating the music, so they are the ones who should have the final say. If a musician is okay with people downloading their albums than it is okay because they gave permission. Now, if a musician says no, I think people should respect that decision and suck it up by paying the one dollar fee on iTunes. This is America, where under the Constitution, intellectual property is protected by law. If an artist never gave permission to share their song on Napster they shall be protected and given fair compensation.
    I really do believe the problem when people debate over illegally downloading music is that they do not look at the entire picture. It is not just black and white, and their are many areas that people need to consider. I believe artists should have the right to decide if their music can be downloaded for free. They are the one who created the music to begin with, and in my opinion, own that right for life. Lars may say some ridiculous comments that make me shake my head, but when it comes to illegally downloading I agree with him one-percent.

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