Why You Shouldn't Believe Everything You Read

and some free music

Now generally speaking I have respect for the Globe and Mail and its reportage on all things current, but a story appearing in the September 29 issue of the Globe, viewable here, truly has me questioning the journalistic integrity of this paper. True enough the reporter does state clearly the source of the facts and figures he parrots in his piece:

"The illegal downloading has cost retail music stores more than half a billion dollars in lost sales since 1999, a study by Pollara for the recording industry estimates.

But therein lies the problem. Where is the balance, where is an alternate view? Where is the fact checking? One should not just throw out a number the size of "half a billion" without any substantiation whatsoever. Let me ask this, is it that sales have dropped by half a billion dollars, or is it that as stated in the article:

"Canadians illegally download 14 music CDs or other files from the Internet for every file they take from the web legally, a new recording-industry poll suggests.

...and from this they have made the mathematical leap that because Canadians are downloading these 14 CDs per person, we are not buying them and therefore that is lost revenue. I would suggest that this "half a billion dollars" figure is really not accurate at all, it was chosen because of its largesse, its roundness, and because big numbers shock people. Just because people are downloading music, does not mean they would buy it if they could not download it. Maybe Canadians are illegally downloading 14 CDs worth of music annually because it is so lousy they would not pay a cent to have it, and instead because it is available freely they will give it a listen, let it clutter up a hard drive for a couple of months and then delete it like the trash that it is.

Maybe a better question would be, why does the music industry continue to churn out pap targeted at 9-13 year olds like there is no tomorrow? Why is there such a lack of talent and/or intelligence in so-called "popular" music? I cannot answer these questions, other than to say obviously it is because it sells today, it has sold in the past and the recording industry is banking on the fact that it will sell in the future. Trouble for them is, in the future that is shaping up now people are able to listen critically before they part with a few hard earned clams for some meaningless drivel with a catchy tune that will be played to death on commercial radio (don't get me started on commercial radio). By listen critically, of course I mean illegally download and if it is really good go out and purchase a copy. What would appear to be happening is, music listening is up, but music buying is stagnant. Stagnant like a pond covered in slime, dark and smelly, with leaches on the bottom waiting to suck your blood.

And like all good things that live in dark slimy places, you cannot expect a lot of high level logic from these lifeforms. Quotes such as:

"Not only does music file-swapping harm artists, but it also points to an erosion of respect for intellectual property that threatens Canada's economy and values at the core of our society," said Graham Henderson, president of the Canadian Recording Industry Association, which commissioned the polls.
Thank you Graham Henderson. Canadian values are being threatened, quick find a legislator - ban something! For a more balanced look at file sharing and its harm or non-harm to the Canadian music industry please check out FirstMonday.org.

On a happier note - free music. All one has to do to download a fair bit of free booty is register at Amazon.com and go to their music downloads page. There. Free AND legal.

Rock on downloaders.