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Glenn McDonald: Warnings & Promises

TWAS 503: (Warnings and Promises)

Glenn McDonald—previously a self-described “apologist” for not downloading unlicensed music—posts an articulate polemic on why he now “steals” music; and, more importantly, how the Music Industry has lost its franchise on expecting the loyalty that had previously prevented it.

He provides several specific examples where old-school business practices (and new-school ignorance) have made it difficult to be an honest fan and to support the artist as one would like.

Worth reading through and sharing with anyone you know with a band or a label.

In a single year, not too long ago, I bought 1000 CDs, and most of them were yours. I continue to pay still. I bought two CDs this week, and will almost certainly buy more than 100 over the course of this calendar year. I have paid for legal downloads, as well. I have stubbornly forgiven you your trespasses against everyone you nominally serve, and kept supporting the idea of music as a Big Business. I have never condoned your numeric monopolies and tasteless denominator-lowering, but I support the dream of musicians being able to simply make music for their living, rather than operating themselves as a business, and somewhere far back in history that was what Industry allowed.

But I have also now started stealing your music. I haven’t stolen much, but I’m sure you will agree that the moral issue is not merely one of quantity. I have been one of the last independent apologists for a moral kernel, elusive now to perhaps the point of imagination, in your corrupt and desperate retreat, but now even I have given up. I still buy, but now I also steal. You have forfeited your right to my loyalty.

[via: Kottke]

TOPICS: Off Topic
William D. Neumann's picture

Well, after reading that I...

Well, after reading that I have the same reaction I do every time I read yet another one of Steve Albini's whining screeds against the music industry. Yawn.

Seriously, am I supposed to care how this guy justifies his theft[1]? Oh, right... he's really writing this because he wants to show how much he cares for the music industry/musicians/world of music/what have you, and because he's trying to straighten them out. He's a good friend trying to perform an intervention before they really hurt themselves. Oh horsepuckey. If he really gave a damn, he could have taken that ~15,000$ he claims to have spent in a single year and started a little record lable, like Kranky or Racket. He could have led the way and treated his artists and customers fairly and properly. Or he could have started an outfit like CD Baby and done the same thing -- hell, he could have hit up the Albinis and Courtney Loves of the world for investments, because they're all so concerned about the state of the music industry that they'd gladly pony up their own dough to change things for the better, right? Right...? Bueller...?

But nah! It's easier to write an open letter to no one in particular to wash away your sins and convince yourself that you're doing the right thing... And this way you get the side benefit of keeping your cash to spend on more CDs. Yawn.

Also: Did anyone else find it odd that he brags about knowing about the Idlewild release date in Europe, talking about how the "world is all connected now, we are not beholden to you for information." But then in the very next paragraph he goes off on how he had to go to France to discover Kyo? I guess the world is only small when you want it to be, eh glenn? Too bad we're beholden to the record companies to tell us about all the different bands of the world. Oh, waitaminute...

[1] And I really don't want to get into the standard /. argument over the denotative nuances of the word theft and its applicability to unapproved music downloads. Its use here is close enough for government work...




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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