Saturday, 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas Music Industry

It's been a while since I last posted (work has been intense!), but I thought I'd get a festive post in before the new year. As the year ends there have been many things related to music and the copyright industry for people to get their teeth into: the MegaUpload video controversy; the safe harbours provision debate for Grooveshark; the ongoing arguments around SOPA and the threat to Domain Name Servers accused of hosting content protected by copyright...

On top of this though, there are some positive steps being taken by the music industry to give internet users what they want when they want it (competing with piracy?). I found myself becoming a fully paid up subscriber to Spotify Premium this year (£9.99 per month) and am now enjoying it on my Macbook, iPhone and Tivo box. I'm also waiting for Apple's iTunes Match (£21.99 annually) to filter the first 25,000 tracks in my library before seeing if I can add the other 15,000. Then there's Google Music, but I guess I'll wait and see what the UK provision is like before committing myself to another digital service.

That I've paid for these services may not be a surprise to anyone who read my series of posts in which I tracked my expenditure on music products and services for a year. However, I have found myself being a little conflicted about the value of these services - £10 per month is the same price you can pay for a seedbox and VPN package by which you can download, store and access all manner of torrented materials.

Guilty relief?

Nevertheless, I've come to think of these subscriptions as a form of mild guilt-relief for any form of consumption that might be viewed by others as not strictly legal. I'm not sure I get the full £9.99 per month use out of my Spotify subscription as there are many artists that I love that are missing from the service. Similarly in the filmic consumption space, my £14.99 per month subscription to CineWorld's Unlimited Card hasn't been great value for money when I go less than twice per month as they don't usually get the more obscure weekly releases. I also pay for Virgin Media's most expensive TV package (£24.50 per month) despite never watching any live TV.

I've found myself spending more money this month on second-hand vinyl albums including the spinning wheel version of Led Zeppelin's III album (£25!) than I have on digital services. I guess I should feel guilty in this consumption too, as none of that cash will find it's way back to the struggling artists - at least this is the rhetoric of the games industry about resales. However, I don't. I shall never feel guilty about purchasing tangible objects, even if they are old Rolling Stones, Velvet Underground or Crosby, Stills and Nash records (I feel older than I am!).

In the brave digital future physical music might be dead but at least, for now, I can hang it on my wall.

Merry Christmas music industry!