Over the weekend, a young NPR Music intern named Emily White wrote a blog post about how she only paid for fifteen CDs in her 21-years of existence. Like a lot of us, the vast majority of her digital music library is illegally sourced, either from harddrive swaps or torrent downloads.
She unwittingly stepped into a big debate about the digital music and the future of the industry, with heated rhetoric thrown around left and right. Even David Lowery, songwriter for the bands Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven, weighed in. He's now a lecturer at the University of Georgia, teaching students about music business economics. He laments the fact that a new generation of music fans seems to be trumpeting the openness of everything without taking into account what illegal downloading does to smaller artists. Lowery argues that "fairness for musicians is a problem that requires each of us to individually look at our own actions, values and choices and try to anticipate the consequences of our choices."
NPR's Robin Hilton has now responded to the response, defending White's initial post but generally taking more of a mediator role. Change is still ongoing, he says, and the industry is going through some rapid growing pains to figure out how best to support all the people that make it up.
Whatever the case may be, it's obvious what the realities are. There are millions of people exactly like Emily White: well-meaning fans who can't support their favorite artists with concert tickets and t-shirt sales alone. Yet Lowery makes the point that we can't change our morality and principles to fit the technological change. It should be the other way around.
What are your thoughts on the matter? Feel free to comment below.