Downloading 2012 vs Support your local scene 1992
Support your local scene! I lived by this rule for years. The result? A complete collection of music I never listen to anymore and the realization that supporting stuff for the sake of supporting is just as stupid as downloading all your music, printing the booklets and calling it a collection. Don’t get me wrong. I do not blame you for downloading music. When I grew up I had this huge collection of cassette tapes. I always loved music and I doubt that I will ever lose that feeling. Somehow, over the years, a lot of things surrounding this big love have turned sour. I am a thief, and one of the reasons the music industry isn’t what it used to be. At least that’s what I’ve been told.
I bought tons of records for years and years but I also copied and downloaded stuff. Just to check things out. If it was an album that I would listen to on a daily basis I would buy it, when I had the time and money for it. That is one of the privileges of the consumer. You decide the time and the place of your purchase. This was never any different. Back in the days I would catch a train, go to Den Bosch and visit Elpee. There I would listen to stuff at the counter. If I liked it I would buy it. Otherwise not. I also would visit the local Library to get music. For a few bucks I would rent albums and tape them. I had a lot of fun these days and discovered far more stuff than I would have if I had to get it from friends and family. When it came to friends we had this system of buying a record, taping it at home and give it to the friend who wanted the same record but bought another record we all wanted. My lust for music was most of the times far greater than my sources could offer. Enter the internet.
You know what always struck me as one of the weirdest arguments ever? Internet ruined hardcore. What? How? Why? Where? Even in the beginning of my electronic surfing career I discovered more music and great stories than I did before. Of course, if you were a rabid letter writer or tape trader and believed that everything had to be fun and frolics this new way of communicating was a a curse. Most people discovered that the interwebs was less time consuming and less costly than sending stuff all over the world by snailmail (oh, how I hate this term). But you can actually do the same thing nowadays but that’s a whole different discussion. I have to agree the bullshit factor went up. On the other hand that was the thing I enjoyed hugely and still do. Music became more accessible and a little bit too much for some people.
I know I open up a can of screaming worms and I know this subject has been discussed so many times that beating a dead horse with a ten foot stick has more use. But it keeps me thinking. Metal wouldn’t be metal without tapetrading. Nowadays I know it was theft and a criminal act. Lars Ulrich told us this over and over (which was weird since Metallica offered specific places where bootleggers could record their concerts when they were ‘underground’). But back in the days this was a noble act to keep the underground alive. Until there was money to be made. In all my innocence I always believed that concerts were gatherings of like minded spirits that loved music but I learned that they were promo tours and were meant to sell more albums. This was something I learned at the very beginning of the debate about downloading.
Is downloading music wrong? I don’t think so.
Do I feel like a thief? Nope.
Is it a way for the consumer to strike back at an industry that has plagued you with absurd prices and other marketing tricks that forced you buy the same album over and over? Yep.
Is it a signal to the industry that you feel cheated that after you bought the limited, ultimate and special edition you actually could buy the tour edition for half the price but with more content? Hell yes!
Is downloading music damaging music at all? Nope.
Do you buy, or would you have bought every piece of music that you downloaded? Hell no.
Did we pay far to much for CD’s and records in general? In general we did, but we make the choice. So it depends on the specific album or price you payed.
Most of the predictions that bands and artists would stop making music was an empty threat. Still a lot of good albums come out every day. But there is an even bigger pile of shitty stuff raining down on musicfans everywhere. The pile of shit is so much bigger than the industry would ever agree to. You were expected to buy all that stuff without ever questioning their specific tastes. In the past I would sometimes buy an album that really sucked but I believed the reviews or stories about the band or artist. I won’t make that mistake anymore. Downloading saved me lots of money!
Wait a minute! Support your local scene? Is there no different side to this coin? HELL YEAH THERE IS!
There are a lot of good, decent and hardworking people that suffer the conseqences of the behaviour of bigger labels. While they copy their arguments that downloading stuff is theft when you don’t pay for the music they still have a pretty good point. I always admire these people for all their good work and persistance to go on trying to offer you music. And I say; support them in any way they can. If they release a shitty album don’t buy it. But if they offer you a great album just buy it. My thoughts on donloading always have been rather grey than black and white. While I can understand people that only download stuff I can also understand people that get pissed off because they sell only a 100 copies of an album while in the past they would sell a 1000 easily. It is frustrating for them and so I say support them as much as you can.
It’s easy to forget that bands and labels spend a lot of time making the music, the artwork and everything that has to do with their bands or projects. I have been in some bands and it has cost me far more than I earned from all my musical escapades. In my case it is a total lack of talent. Yes, I always considered it as an hobby. I am even honoured when you would download my stuff. I have a daily job and a hobby costs money. But those that have talent and live for music? Well, they should get what they earn. Wheter it is a so called mainstream or underground release who am I to decide that it is okay to download? The smaller the label, the more support they deserve. The same goes for bands. If you like a band and listen to them on a daily basis? Why not buy the album and support the band? Even better, support them directly by buying their stuff at concerts. That’s what I mostly do.
The point I am trying to make here? I love this debate. It keeps me busy and it has many sides that equally have a good argument. Besides that I see a lot of pretty neat releases that do offer you a lot for a pretty fair price nowadays. For years this was pretty absent and you had to pay more for less. But please think about it! I still believe in the support your local scene statement. Local became the whole world. Whenever I see a small label with hardworking and decent music fans that have more guts than me I am more willing to buy an album. When it’s a bigger label and I know that within six months I can buy the same package for half the price? The purchase can wait. That’s something that dissapoints me too since I always thought that I would go and buy every album I wanted to have when I would finally reach adulthood. While I buy less albums than I used to this is not because of downloading stuff. It has to do with having a family, the economic crisis and the fact that I have less time on my hands to listen to stuff.