As I am wont to do every day, I read Reddit today. Once again, there was a story on piracy talking about how the pirates were going to win because…something or other…whack-a-mole…smut ads on the pirate bay. My favorite argument advanced was “Nothing beats free.” It is kind of difficult to argue with that kind of nihilistic logic. Assuming it were truly free, that would be true. It is not true, however. These people are making a world that is quickly racing to the bottom. That’s the price you’re going to pay. Someone like Justin Bieber can easily make up for lost income from records sales with YouTube partnerships and other revenue streams. Realizing that there is a veritable legion of teenage girls possessing something somewhat resembling a brainwave that would vehemently protest, I still contend that Justin Bieber is not an artist. He is a repository for nascent sexual desire. (There is a reason all these teenage girl heartthrobs are “pretty”. Beebs is like the cutest little lesbian I have seen since Bedford Ave yesterday.”) In any event, Justin Bieber’s latest album sold 374,000 copies in its first week. Compare this to Eminem’s second album, which sold in excess of 1 million copies in its first week. This is true top to bottom. In a somewhat recent Pitchfork article, one of the founders of Merge Records stated that the artists most hurt by piracy are their smallest ones. She stated that artists that once sold 3,000 copies now sell fewer than 1,000, which makes it financially not viable for Merge to release those artists’ work. I, for one, would prefer that these artist have a chance of obtaining a wider audience. The reasons for this are entirely self-serving reasons. Artistically, it is my opinion that the small artist on Merge is more valuable that an army of disposable pop phenomena. (I feel these personages are, in fact, a social phenomenon set to music and not musicians.)
Another popular argument advanced was that music, because it can be reproduced infinitely, it has no inherent value. There so many false assumptions underlying this house of cards it is impossible to show where the foundation is cracked. Nevertheless, music, in our society, has the value the content creator assigns to it. You are not permitted to arbitrarily decide what the value of that music will be. Value is essentially an imaginary concept. It doesn’t necessarily inhere in any object. We have decided that the maker of an object gets to set the price for another to utilize it. I would like to see the society that works where everyone gets to arbitrarily decide what the value of items will be. What if your boss said, “You know, B-rad, I only feel like paying you three cents this week. I’d really like to support this food habit you seem to have, but I’m just a little put out this month”? I don’t think you’d like it a whole lot.
There are certainly other arguments, but they tend to be half-baked and sophomoric.
Sorry to be a downer. Stay sexy, my loves.