The “Value” of Music
Lately I've been thinking and talking to others about the value of music. It's a topic that comes up a lot in the discussion of free music downloads. Many in the business of selling music argue that the act of allowing music to be freely downloaded (e.g. Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails) reduces the value of music. By establishing a set price for music, music sellers are saying, "This is how much the music is worth." By their argument, allowing people to download music for free is saying, "This is worth nothing".
I've always thought "value" is like "beauty" … surely it is determined by the beholder or consumer. If I find a piece of music that enhances my mood in a manner that I find desirable, it has great value to me. If that same piece of music is offensive to you, and you would rather stick sharp objects in your ear than hear it again, it has no value to you. Value is subjective, as opposed to objective.
It's much easier (in my opinion) to find music that appeals to you these days. The vast "interweb" is awash with little corners of music that tickle your fancy. No longer do you have to rely on a marketing push from a handful of sources to learn about what's out there. You can go and find the music that is of value to you. Me thinks that it's the handful of sources that are freaking out about all this because what was once a large pot of gold being shared by a few is now being shared by many smaller sources. People are spending their money in places where the get the greatest value to them.
The fact is, the world is changing when it comes to making and selling music. Many parts of the old music distribution chain will not be necessary in the future. Some are already feeling he effects in a big, big way. I truly feel for the people (yes, they are people folks) running these parts of the chain. Many (but not all) are hugely passionate about music and have found a way to make a living doing what they love. I see nothing wrong with that at all. But, as the landscape changes they can dig in their heals and cry "foul" … or rekindle that passion, get excited about the possibilities and adapt for the future.
As an artist, that is what I have tried to do … adapt. As a listener, I'm excited about all that musical goodness just waiting for me to find it!
I guess music has no value to Michael.
For the record: I am happy for people to freely download and share Hungry Lucy's music, videos and podcasts. Doing so allows for word-of-mouth discovery as well as letting people know we respect them. In return, I think people will respect us and ultimately support our music by buying it (if it has value to them). I have seen this to be true time and time again. That said, I trust that people respect the decision of other artists who do not grant such permission. I think they will come around eventually … until that time … please don't steal.