Posted by The Eastern Sea January 13th, 2010
Before I start getting hate emails for the title of this blog post,
please hear me out. I am not coming out against Internet music piracy
or throwing my support behind something like iTunes, I’m just working through some thoughts.
As I promised a month ago, I want to spend a lot of time on this blog
addressing issues inside the world of home record/digital music/new media
involvement in the music business, the things I feel, the things I’ve learned, etc.
And I think the discussion so far has led me to ponder what is the true Value of Music
and more importantly, what determines this value and how this value can be affected by outside forces.
First, here’s a song the band has been throwing around ideas with,
this is just a first verse, I did a version of it real quick in record while i was writing this blog post
but we’re going to be hitting this one hard over the next week.
It’s tentatively called Central Cemetery:
Hear what I have to say about the value of music after the jump…
Music can be valued in all sorts of ways. Maybe the most obvious way
is emotionally. When you hear a certain song that reminds you
of when you were a kidor brings up emotions from a lost love,
you may find yourself valuing that piece of music in an emotional way.
It is worth something to you, if only for its sentimental value.
For me, the get up kids, early-wave emo band from
Lawrence, Kansas provides a lot of sentimental value.
You may also value music in a monetary way,
as is demonstrated when you trade currency for
a disc with music on it at a store. In that symbolic gesture,
you are admitting that a piece of music is worth something
in monetary form.
Now, things get difficult when these two ways of valuing
a piece of music become entangled. For example,
maybe you find yourself seeing more emotional
value in something than you feel monetary value.
I love Metallica, for sure, but I’m not about to go buy Ride the Lightning on CD
Putting aside the presupposition that emotional value
eventually begets monetary value, this potential discrepancy in value
may put a very huge wrench in the system of trading money
for desired objects (such as music in this case).
We are all familiar with the guy/girl who is ALL ABOUT free (monetarily free) music,
they say, “Hey man! Music should be free because art is free expression and shouldnt be caged by money.”
But unfortunately, as is the problem with free love,
if something means enough to you it wont be free no matter what.
What about the musician who wants their music to be free (monetarily free)
they say, “My art should be given out to the people.”
This seems great but there are really only two reasons to make this claim:
1. You are eager to have your music (as an unknown performer)
consumed by anyone who can get their hands on it or
2. You are in a position (as a wealthy and successful performer like Yorke or Reznor)
to give away your music because no matter what people will be looking for it
and you will make your money.
But the bottom line is No one wants their art to be emotionally free.
When things are emotionally free they end up like:
This is all very interested to me because
its obvious that the same people who are concerned about music being free
are concerned because they see a rise in corporate involvement, consumer trending,
and the selling out of the “real” or the “alt.” (See Above)
Without fear of sounding too cynical, I will say this:
People will make money any way they can.
Whether they do it by selling things that are of
true equal emotional and monetary value (very rarely happens…)
or not is inconsequential.
The RIAA is still gonna bank off of something…
When people strive to take the monetary value off art,
(stuff that, in my opinion, has inherent emotional value)
they are risking both a rise in the monetary value
of stuff that has ZERO EMOTIONAL VALUE
(again see Kesha and 3oh3 above)
and potentially a lessening of the emotional value of
that which has no monetary value anymore.
In other words, in this scenario people may throw around meaningful art
as if it is worth nothing to anyone just because its worthless in monetary terms.
Valuable things sometimes all of a sudden become free.
(think about our American concept of rights and entitlements)
And oftentimes the people who had once made a livelyhood on those things
have to find other ways to make their money.
I think it is time that we start insisting that our emotional
value over the music and the art that we all love
becomes equal with the monetary value that
someone’s going to place on it no matter what we do.
In other words, I’d rather pay for things I love
than get suckered into paying for shit I hate.
We’re Americans, it seems like we’re gonna have to pay for something
but we have the option to be honest about
the emotional and monetary values of the things we love.