John continues:

I’m on an oldies binge with my new iPod. I convert entire CDs using iTunes, then shuffle the songs for random order playback while driving to private computer tutoring appointments. Many of the tracks “btB” (before the Beatles) have a “soundalike” aspect. Think of Chuck Berry, Beach Boys, or the Phil Spector tunes. I grew up with this music, and thanks to CD reissues I can hear more of it now than ever before. The same can be said for golden oldies from the big band era that preceded rockroll by a decade or two, and rhythm-and-blues music that is one of the main tributary branches in the river that flowed into rock music.

I’d be willing to pay a buck per track for the privilege of a forever license to enjoy each of the 681 songs currently in my active playlist, but it would bust my budget to have to spend that much all at once. I accept the inherent costs of digital or CD music distribution, but in a mature industry (which it should become in my lifetime) a fair use license of 25¢ is closer to the value I place on music from nearly fifty years ago.

Music is my life. It courses through me day and night, making my more recently acquired interests and skills mere accessories in a showdown. I can create and perform whenever I wish; yet I need nourishment and replenishment via readily accessible recordings. I am the perfect potential music customer, with sufficient time, money, and experience to buy recordings until I croak.

But I am reluctant to buy more retail music. All my recent purchases are from Apple’s iTunes Music Store, for all the appropriate reasons. If I never bought another CD I could get along just fine with my current collection PLUS free listening from the public library’s and friends’ archives PLUS occasional paid downloads.

As a part-time music instructor I need open access to an unlimited catalog of recordings, and Apple’s online store suffices, most of the time. The company’s landmark prototype digital rights scheme changed the music buying universe forever, and I applaud it. But in real numbers, Apple would need to sell in a day what they currently do in an entire year to make a substantial impact in the overall ratio of paid-to-unpaid music buying-versus-sharing.

Owen’s argument is well supported, and I thank readers who read through it. We welcome your comments below in our Article Discussion area, but not before Owen gets the last word on DRM.


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