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A pirate's life for me
Posted April 17, 2009

I’m having an identity crisis. Am I the villain or am I part of a movement that has yet to be fully realized?

Although I will not openly admit that I download music illegally from online sources, I will say that I’m not always kind to the laws of record labels and the FBI’s anti piracy policies.

But the truth is as most college kids will tell you, record labels don’t give us much reason to oblige to these laws. The bottom line is the music industry is in big trouble and more signs of its imminent fall seem to appear more and more as the year continues.

This brings me to my question of self identity; am I the villain taking money from starving artists or am I pushing the disconnected record labels to finally change their ways to accommodate the new generation of music?

The latest controversy forwarded by record labels concerns iTunes and other online music distributors. The price of popular singles was increased from $.99 to $1.29.

It is easy to see what record executives are trying to do with this price hike; more people are buying singles rather than buying full albums, so if they raise the price of those popular singles than they make more money.

Unfortunately, this tactic failed as sales for the days following the price change show a dramatic decrease. Rather than embracing the downloading market, record labels just gave the middle finger to the few people who actually bought music from iTunes by forcing them to pay more.

This price hike in iTunes songs just further proves that labels are seriously out of tune with the rapidly changing music scene.

Labels are clinging desperately the tired methods of pre-Napster days.

Although labels seem to be digging their own graves, several bands found success with online distribution. Unsigned acts like You, Me, and Everyone We Know and PlayRadioPlay! gained audiences through MySpace without the help of a label. Several bands use these methods of free music or cheap online distribution to gain new fans.

It seems that all a band really needs in this generation to make money is a booking agent or a promotion company.

New artists have taken advantage of the Internet as a way to make music easier and cheaper to buy. Amazon.com typically has sales on albums, lowering the price of full album downloads to as little as $1.99. Prices like these give listeners a reason to legally download music.

As a music lover and a poor college student, music pirating is a blessing, but as with all good things pirating comes at a price. It seems that my identity crisis will not be resolved anytime soon.

With tough times taking their toll on my wallet, my resources for buying albums is slowly diminishing.

I love music. I play music in a local band and understand the value of making an album and selling it.

I understand how a small band can be disappointed when their material that they worked so hard on appears on the Internet without their knowledge.

Although I go to shows and buy merchandise from some of my favorite bands, my pirating addiction is still hurting the music scene more than I might know.

Michael Escañuelas, a sophomore English major, is editorial cartoonist for the Campus Times. He can be reached by e-mail at michael.escanuelas@laverne.edu.