Re "Piracy May Keep the Beat From Going On," Commentary, Sept. 25: A message to Diane Warren concerning the downloading of music: The dike has sprung millions of leaks and it will soon collapse. Stop telling people to put their fingers in the holes. Technology has unlocked the doors to the record store, and those doors are never going to be locked again. It's up to the music business to invent a music distribution process that will become the new standard.
You can't bar a door that isn't there, so stop blaming the very consumer you've been gouging for so long for taking advantage of your uncreative shortsightedness. Learn to use technology for your own benefit and stop whining about what can't be undone. Inventive, creative thinking will unearth a gold mine for writers, artists, producers, publishers and record companies. This gold mine has never before been tapped, but it will soon enrich the music business because of the ease of availability of product for the average consumer, who has rarely stepped foot in a record store and never will. Welcome to the new world. Be part of the solution.
Amen! Warren's commentary took the resulting loss to the personal level to reveal that digital piracy is not victimless--and it is a crime. I can't believe the number of otherwise honest friends who speak about software they use and add proudly that "I never paid for any of it," like that was totally OK. I have heard all the arguments: Music is too expensive, record companies make enough, how do I know I will like it, I only wanted one song, etc. They all boil down to a rationalization for stealing. Try the same arguments for stealing a box of crackers and see if it passes your personal "smell test."
With poetic justice, the same technology that enabled the music industry to multiply its profits--CDs cost less to produce but consumers were/are charged more--came 'round to bite it right on the rear. No one dreamed that the Internet would come along and make digital data such an unstoppably shareable resource. Oops!
The margins necessary to sustain the music industry (as it is today) require producing extremely profitable "hits" on a regular basis, so we are blessed with 'N Sync, Britney Spears and all of the other wonderfully talented "artists" who fill the airwaves. Now there is fear that the machinery churning out this dreck is going to grind to a halt because of online sharing? Doubtful. But if that is the case, so be it. Warren herself describes what she does as "craft." This approach to songwriting is painfully obvious to anyone who bothers to listen to most of today's mass-produced music. No doubt, what Warren does takes talent, drive, inspiration and intelligence; my question is whether there should even be such a thing as a "professional" songwriter. I'm curious: What kind of music gets created without the promise of a paycheck?
The book publishing industry survived the invention of the free public library, and the film industry survived the invention of television and home VCRs. The recording industry won't survive file sharing because music fans are fed up with paying the record companies up to $18.98 for a CD that costs them around a dollar to manufacture.