I downloaded Nerina Pallot’s album, “Fires”, today and I love it. Now when I say I “downloaded it”, I don’t mean from iTunes or MSN Music or any other legitimate download site. I mean I got it from one of those evil sites that the record industry is trying to quash. This bought me to an oft-debated subject; is illegal downloading wrong? I mean, yeah, sure, it’s legally wrong but is it really wrong? My instinct is to say that rich, famous superstars don’t need the money and that they should be happy that people want to listen to their music. But then I realise that whilst Nerina Pallot is probably a few-fold richer than any of us, she isn’t a superstar. She’s a very gifted singer who has managed to climb the first few rungs of the showbiz ladder, which leads me to the question: shouldn’t we be supporting her and artists like her by actually buying the music? Maybe one day, she will walk into a restaurant and blow eleven thousand pounds on a bottle of wine or buy a twenty-five thousand diamond ring for a newborn baby or perform some other act of complete idiocy but for now, shouldn’t we support new artists by buying their music?
Well, in short, no. Seriously, that is my answer: no. To me, a real artist is a person who wants their art to be seen, heard, read or admired simply because they want to touch people. I understand that the majority of acts on MTV are there for the monetary benefits, not because they want to “touch” people (unless of course you mean literally in which case 50 Cent is doing just fine) but I can’t shake the feeling that something like music should be shared.
Prohibiting music sharing is like an author writing a book and then refusing to allow libraries to stock it because they do not want people to have free access to their book. I know there are two holes in that argument. Firstly one may argue that we cannot draw a parallel between a library lending books and illegal downloading; that the real parallel would be a library lending books and a library lending CDs which are both perfectly legal. The second argument would be with regards to ownership. Borrowing a book from a library doesn’t mean you have it on your shelf forever, it doesn’t mean it is yours personally to keep the same way a downloaded piece of music is. With regards to the first argument, a book lasts the average reader at least a week whereas a CD lasts roughly an hour. It is worth taking that trip to the library every time you want to read your favourite book but it is easier to have personal access to one hour’s worth of music. I understand the issue of ownership but as I said before, people should make music because they want as many people to benefit from it as possible, not because they want to line their pockets.
It seems that authors or painters or sculptors or any number of other types of artists are happy for as many people to read/see their work as possible whereas music artists want every single person who ever listens to their album to have paid for it. Maybe illegal downloading is stealing, but I truly believe in sharing music and other art. And to put my money where my mouth is, contact me and I’ll send you an electronic copy of my book, free of charge. I am happy for people to read my work just because it may touch a few people, it may make a few people laugh and it may make a few people cry. I don’t need a ton of money to make me feel happy about that.
Oh, and Nerina, if we ever cross paths, I owe you £7.99. Let’s try and keep it civil :)
Hi Kidses, I have been slapped on the wrist by my publishers. Apparently, "there is a difference between endorsing free distribution and giving one's own work away" so the electronic offer thing has been scrapped. And, oh, I'm also meant to say, "If you do have a copy, please do not distibute it any further" so... if you do have a copy, please do not distribute it any further (but we all know what my real stance is on that matter) but um, yeah, what I said.