Four Reasons to Think Twice About Intellectual Piracy
I'm always a little surprised at how quickly some of my peers are to "share" music with each other. It's easier than ever to burn a copy for a pal or download songs from someone else's iPod. I assume that many times this is happening innocently, and those involved don't understand they are doing something wrong. (I after all, was a mean mix taper back in my day.) What makes me the most disappointed is those who know better and do it anyway. After reading this letter from Taylor Swift to Apple about a similar issue, I offer four perspectives that I would hope make you think twice before you pirate another song.
1) Music is someone else's property A few months ago we were selling albums after a concert. One woman expressed her desire to buy an album, but said she didn't have enough money. Her other friend innocently turned to her and said, "That's ok! I'll buy it and put it on your iPod!" We smiled and sold the album and hugged them and off they went. I realize she didn't understand she was doing something wrong, especially because she said this in front of us. And for loss of words in the moment, we didn't say what we wanted to say, which is this: Music (along with literature, discoveries, inventions, symbols, designs, recipes, fonts, photography, and other media and artistic works) is in a category known as "intellectual property." You can often experience it without holding anything tangible in your hands. And because of modern technology, it is easily shared, copied, plagiarized, downloaded, and reproduced by the average 13 year old. Would you ever dream of going into Kinkos and copying off an entire book for your friend? Copying music is the same thing-- it is stealing.
2) Music is expensive to make Music is art, but it is also skill. It is thousands of hours of time rehearsing, writing, and recording. It is music lessons. It is sound equipment that breaks and has to be replaced. It is gas and food and clothing. It is marketing and promoting. It is hiring studio engineers, producers, arrangers, sound guys, and other musicians. We make music because we love it, but if we gave it away for free we wouldn't be able to make more. Making and performing high quality music costs quite a bit of money, and which leads me to my next point:
3) Most musicians are not rich Quite the opposite, actually. It amuses me that many people assume I am rolling in the dough because I record music. (I would love to see my husband's reaction if someone suggested this to his face.) Making music is expensive, especially for three moms who have a combined 14 children, and who don't have the time or capability to go on a 6 month live tour to see some noteworthy profits. Thankfully, we have a wonderful record label who foots the bill for album production, but because their investments have to be recouped, the people on the cover of a label project are often the last people to get paid. And in our case, we split it three ways. Independent, label artist, or anything in between, most artists lose money. But even if an artist IS rich it doesn't make it justifiable to steal from them.
4) Music is more affordable than ever to purchase Songs on iTunes are now are a little more or less than $1. ONE DOLLAR. That's a pretty good deal. If you can't buy a whole album, buy a song or two. If you can't afford to buy even one song, then save until you can. But stealing the song benefits no one. It hurts the artist you love and dings your character in the process. I understand the need to be frugal, but let's make sure frugality doesn't override honor. And let's make sure excuses (art should be free, big cooperations are crooked, musicians don't get their fair share anyway, I'm poor) don't override integrity. Let's be honest in our dealings with our fellow musicians, bloggers, designers, photographers, authors, and artists.
As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, we are encouraged to search after anything in this world that is lovely, virtuous, of good report, or praiseworthy. With so much filth to sift through, it is a blessing when we find any type of media that is clean and inspiring.
So seek after these things...
But don't steal them.