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Are we seeing the end of Music Ownership?

In Music on October 6, 2009 by jimmyleec

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DRM is killing musicHas anyone heard the story of that guy Todd who lived above a restaurant? Well basically, the Chef from the restaurant notices Todd standing on his balcony every day enjoying the sweet smell of the Chef’s food. The Chef decides to sue him for not paying for it, and in court the judge sues Todd for a calculated £3.55. Before the Chef receives his winnings, the judge holds the money in both his palms, and asks the Chef to listen. The judge shakes the cash, making a lovely jingle noise, and asks the Chef if he likes that sound. The Chef replies “Yes it’s great!” at which the judge replies “Under your principles, that’ll be £3.55 please” and he hands the money back to the Todd.

That story came to mind as I detached myself from the idea of owning music which has been present in the music industry since the technology to capture music became available. What I mean by this is when you go and buy a CD or download a track, you’re not paying to listen to it, you’re paying to own it. Listening to music is free, but still we spend money on CD’s and downloads, but why do we demand owning our music?

If you look at the days of vinyl, people bought records so they could listen to it whenever they wanted instead of waiting for it to come on the radio, or actually go see them live. There was no alternatives in them days, you couldn’t choose what to listen to, and when, if you didn’t own it. Nowadays, we are still buying music even though we’ve got free access to pretty much any song legally. Most people say they buy CD’s because it’s a physical thing that you can touch, and it’s yours, as opposed to downloading. Those who download music either do it so they can burn it onto CD, or have it on their hard drive and listen to it whenever they want. The thing is, most of these people don’t know that there are alternatives to paying to own music.

So how do we listen to music for free? Well most of you would say “Download it” either through “Limewire, torrents, or file hosting”, but you are missing the point. Downloading music is owning music, whether you are doing it legally or illegally. So let’s look at what doesn’t cost, or isn’t illegal.

Listening to the radio is free because the radio company pay for the rights. Listening to it at a bar is legal because they payed for the music. Let’s go deeper and say you wish to choose what music to listen to at any given time. Some people would immediately hit YouTube.com  into their browser. That’s also legal, however those who upload without permission could face copyright issues. We’re getting closer to the mark, that’s exactly what I’m talking about, listening to any music whenever you want. But nowadays we’ve got used to having our music ordered by albums, playlists, in iTunes or Windows Media Player. If only there was an interface which let you have access to all the music you want, but also to have them ordered by playlists, and artist/album name etc.

Well while reading this, you may have been shouting “Spotify” at the screen. If you have then there’s no point cluing you in, you already know. But for those who don’t, there’s this wonderful app called Spotify that does basically everything I’ve explained above. It’s one of the best music streaming software I’ve come across, bumping LastFM down to number 2.

Now there’s still many flaws in this concept, but I think as technology get’s better, we will see the end of music ownership eventually. Artists will have to get their money elsewhere, for instance, concerts, gigs and merchandise, and hopefully we’ll see the end of the disease that is the RIAA, and the end of crappy corporate-pushed music.

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