Firstly, I don’t believe that music itself carries any inherent monetary value; nor do I believe that being a particularly gifted song-writer entitles someone to a pay-cheque any more than being Saudi Arabia’s greatest ice-sculptor does. Media’s value is dictated explicitly and exclusively by the market in which it exists; and furthermore, by the confines of the technology available within that market to convey the media; and the reality is that up until the advent of illegal downloading, the record industry had a stronghold on the music market by insisting that media (ie, an album or a song) is not separate from the technology - vinyl record, compact disc, cassette, etc - it comes packaged as, which made it near impossible to enjoy the media without owning the technology, as well. But since the advent of illegal downloading, the fact has become clear: media on its own is not a product. You can’t own an infinitely duplicable, intangible media document. You can only own the technology required to access it, and unfortunately for the record industry, their technology is obsolete.
Illegal Downloading. Downloading songs for free off the internet is only illegal because the big record labels got a bill passed to make it so. There is nothing morally objectionable about listening to some songs, regardless of how you came about them. Bands and labels will guilt you until they’re blue in the face about taking food out of their childrens’ mouths, etc, by illegally downloading their tunes, but given that it’s not 1996 anymore, every musician and record label is well aware and inherently accepting of the risks involved in recording and releasing music. EVERYONE CAN GET IT FOR FREE. YOU KNOW THAT BEFORE YOU START. PLEASE CLICK THE BOX IF YOU ACCEPT THESE TERMS. Don’t gimme this morality shit; you signed up buddy, now evolve or perish, but please please please don’t fucking complain. Music consumers aren’t robbing you - you are handing over your goods as soon as you make them public.
When considering all of this, it’s important to understand the major distinction between a song-writer, and a song-writer whochooses to pursue a career as a recording artist in the business of packaging and marketing their media. Where does this sense entitlement to earn a living off writing some songs come from? You know what I’m fucking great at? Matching my ball caps with my sneakers. Every time, if I have to. But so-fucking-what? Until a market exists for that particular skill, it’s not gonna earn me so much as a smack in the dick, let alone a thriving career. And even if there was a market for that skill, it would have to be pretty fucking big and untapped before it seemed like a fiscally responsible business venture to attempt to document my skill, transfer it to some kind of technology and market it as a product in hopes of selling it for profit.
The days of cashing cheques off selling songs as products are past us and the only thing to do is invent new ways to get the money out of music consumers pockets and into ours. Or, resign our music aspirations to the hobbies section of our lives and accept the hit.