“Apple Music have a 3 month free trial in the UK anyway! My trial is over now, but I loved it. I'm using the old school free Spotify because I can't afford the £10 a month.”
Ok... let's dig into this.
It's always been relatively easy to make music, that's probably why all of the music you love has it's roots in impoverished communities. When you think of the blues, hip hop, or even rock music, you're talking about (for the most part) poor and working class people. You don't really think of the wealthy being the source of any real great music, but you can bang on a desk and rap over the top of it if you really need to get your music out.
100 years ago, music was every bit as common as it is now, people played music socially, sang, danced etc. It's just people didn't have the means to record themselves without record labels fronting the money for use of expensive recording equipment. Thankfully technology will always improve and become more affordable, and now it's easy for anyone to record themselves and sound better than ever.
The other thing I remember when I was younger was taking a 40 minute bus ride once every couple of weeks to a town where I could buy a CD from a shop for anywhere between £10 and £15 and that would be me for the next two weeks. From Offspring's Ixnay on the Hombre to Metallica's Master of Puppets my CD collection started to grow and it now sits at many thousands of albums, physical and digital. It was an exciting time when I sat on that bus ride home and looked at the liner notes of the album I was going to devote the next couple of weeks of my life to.
I do fully appreciate that everyone isn't like that though. You may not have the same obsession with music, or the £15 to spend on an album so regularly, but don't tell me you don't enjoy music. Everyone enjoys music. Yes, I'm a musician and my sister isn't, but that doesn't mean she's not every bit as passionate about N-Dubz (don't worry, I've disowned her) as I am about Danny Gatton. She loves music, and you do too. She doesn't pay for any of her music because she was brought up in a time where she didn't have to, the music could be stolen, so it was.
I don't want to beat on piracy though. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone and all that. I think that companies like Spotify have made piracy the more inconvenient solution to music anyway. I can listen to whatever I want at the click of a button and it's absolutely free for me... so why go looking for a torrent, hope that it's seeded, hope it's not corrupt or hiding viruses etc when I can eliminate the risk, save time AND put a bit of money in my favourite artist's pockets?
So back to our quote, “Apple Music have a 3 month free trial in the UK anyway! My trial is over now, but I loved it. I'm using the old school free Spotify because I can't afford the £10 a month.”.
I didn't want to question this, because you can't argue with stupid, you can't reason with greed. I didn't want to be dragged down to her level then beaten with experience, you can't use objectivity when you're fighting a barrage of bollocks. You and I know it's a ridiculous statement. I don't want to make this about the person who said this, because it's not about one person, it's about people. I don't know your financial circumstances, but allow me to make some assumptions, I'm willing to be corrected. Chances are you pay £30 or so for a phone a month? Got a TV Licence? Maybe Sky TV? How about Netflix? Perhaps you smoke? Maybe you like a drink? Perhaps £4 coffees are your vice? I spend way too
I'm not saying everyone needs to sign up to Apple music, I think streaming music services are awful and unethical in the revenue they generate for musicians, but I take umbrage to the idea of you not being able to afford £10 a month. Cut the shit. What you mean is, you don't need to, so you won't. Music has no value for you any more, why would it? It's free. Turn back the clock 20 years and the new Spice Girls album meant everything to you, it was a prized possession (don't lie) and it brought you great joy. You may have spent £10 a month on music back then, maybe you didn't, but if you're a person in work and you get enjoyment from music, you owe it to the medium you love to try and put some money back into it. It's a simple principal, if you get emotional fulfillment from music, or even just use it, you have to help keep it alive... and I'll explain why.
The thing is, I still buy music. I still take risks like I did when I was younger (I remember getting Edguy's Rocket Ride because I thought the cover was cool!). If I look through my iTunes recently added I can see in the last couple of months I've got John Browne's album, Andread Varady's album, Scar Symmetry's Holographic Universe, Jim Campilongo's Dream Dictionary, 3 Oz Noy albums, 3 Jerry Reed albums, Symphony X's new record, Scott Henderson's new album etc
I appreciate that that might be a lot, and yeah, some might even say it's overkill (easily averaging £30 a month) but when you remember that this is what I do for a living too, would I not be hypocritical if I wanted to make music and not buy it?
I know how that might sound to you. What if I didn't like it? Why not sample it first etc? The reason is simple, it was £7. Now to me £7 isn't a lot of money, it's not loose change, but when I'm in the pub I'll buy a round of drinks for 3 people and I won't get change out of a ten pound note. If I take my girlfriend out for dinner I'll drop £50 minimum. I'll spend £5 getting a taxi home from the pub etc. If the absolute worst case scenario happens and I absolutely hate the album, I've lost £7.... but John has made some money and that makes me feel good. Again, I don't know John, but I know me and I know that for me, that £7 made selling an album or whatever is what keeps me going. It puts food on the table and a roof over my head.
Thankfully I did enjoy lots of bits of the album and even stole a few cool chordal ideas as you can see below, so it was worth the punt!
For anyone interested, you can check out my album here if that's not for you I'm sure if you dig deep you'll be able to find someone who makes music that you enjoy. If you can't afford £10 a month, consider skipping a coffee this week and throwing them some cash, because it does makes a difference. Yes, there's more music than ever out there, and you'll have to sift through lot of shit to find something you love, but you might find your new favorite band and help keep them in the business, and remember, if you're trying to build a career in this industry but you don't pay into it, you need to ask yourself... how are you going to manage if everyone treats your music the way you treat theirs?
I'm one step away from saying, "Help me Obi Wan Kenobi.... you're my only hope."