Saturday, May 16, 2009

we're just watering weeds.


No matter how much file sharing is referred to as “piracy” or “stealing,” it never succeeded in making me feel like I was doing anything wrong. The argument is tiresome and irritating. It overlooks the enormous relevant difference which is stealing deprives ownership, file sharing doesn’t. It isn’t necessarily harmless, but it’s not the same.

I don’t purchase music very often these days for one very good reason; all of the music stores in my town have gone out of business. If I want to shop for CDs in Salinas I have to go to places like Target or Wal-Mart. I’m not going to patronize Wal-Mart for the same reason I don’t care if overpaid entertainers and their financiers lose revenue to file sharing. I don’t really like the idea of large fortunes accumulating around small groups of people.

Frankly I hope we get to a point when the role of the record company is deemed obsolete. Why be a bunch of losers who dream of making it big in the music industry when we can just drag the industry down to the rest of us by taking all of the profitability out of it? Get rid of the profit motives, it’s cheaper and easier than it has ever been to record and distribute music. Do it yourself, it certainly couldn't hurt the selection.

Now with that said, there is something that has come to bother me about file sharing:

I remember spending what sometimes ended up being hours browsing the shelves of Street Light Records. It took 45 minutes to get there, it was always hard to find parking and the people hanging out there were usually snooty, but it was rewarding. It was an occasion and I whatever I bought would entertain me for months. I would hold up 8 or 9 CDs and had to make a decision as to which 5 or 6 I would buy and which ones I would put back for another time. Now, there is no limit to the music I can acquire, only a matter of selection. I’ll always find something worth having as long as it's free. That tends to take the lasting enjoyment out of most albums for me. There are still unique albums that come along and hold my attention for months, but this happens less often when I can find dozens of albums I’d like to have in an hour or two.

I think I’m going to add a little ceremony to how I experience music with a long overdue trip to my favorite music store this weekend.