Essentially music is an idea. It retains no mass nor is it a physical object yet it is distributed and sold as if it is a tangible object. With the growth of the Internet illegally acquiring free music has become easier and easier with virtually no risk of getting caught. Many argue that illegally downloading music isn’t immoral by relying on the excuse that everyone else does it. Slowly and steadily illegal downloading is becoming the norm, which begs the question, is illegally downloading music immoral/ stealing?
Many musicians would argue that they deserve to be paid for the art that they are investing so much of their time and emotions in. The most famous case of this was the 2000 Napster controversy. Officials had often overlooked the illegal music-sharing site until it was brought media attention by musicians who were angry about their music being distributed for free. Among these musicians was Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich. Lars was the sort of a figurehead in the movement to sue napster for each individual song that they had “stolen” from artists around the globe “Napster hijacked our music without asking. They never sought our permission. Our catalog of music simply became available as free downloads on the Napster system.” From the point of view of the artist it is very easy to see how illegally downloading music can be viewed as immoral.
It can be argued that when the artists feel like their fans they lose some of their motivation to create music are cheating them. However should money be the ultimate goal when creating art? Although file sharing is technically illegal isn’t the spread of music why these artists got into making music in the first place? Could it be possible that illegal downloading is purifying the music industry by bettering the artist’s intentions when making the music? After all how can a price be put on something that is transmitted over sound waves and also the amount of money being lost to these sites becomes irrelevant in the long run “I challenge record companies to show me evidence of a single penny they’ve lost due to Napster.”(Dave Rowntree)
As a general assumption people love rebellion. There is something embedded in each and every one of us that makes deviating from the social norm attractive. This seems to be true for teens especially. Groups such as Wavves, Death Grips Iceage, WU LYF, The Black lips, Justice, Times New Viking, and Tyler the Creator use profane and rebellious imagery in order to make their image more attractive and exciting to potential listeners. At some points this imagery is so over the top that it seems as if fans are no longer in it for the music but rather for the specific artist’s self image.
The best example of this is evident when examining popular musician Nathan William’s (Wavves) rise to popularity in the music world. What started out as a twenty something year old making music on garage band on a MacBook turned into super hyped underground sensation. However the music Williams was making was not extraordinarily breathtaking or original in any way. Rather the artist rose to fame based on what many believe to be his hip rebelliousness and ways of presenting himself.
As seen in the above promotional artwork for the musician the way in which the music is delivered is in a rebellious aesthetic. Many of the images seen (Upside down cross, drug references, pentagram etc.) appeal to the general attraction to rebellious ideologies that are prevalent in teenage culture. Many artists who are less focused on their aesthetic appeal and more focused on their actual music have become fed up with this new trend. This frustration is aptly portrayed in The Washington Post’s interview with Matt Whitehurst (Psycadelic Horsesh**t). Whitehurst sums up his frustration with bands like Wavves coasting off of their imagery to remain relevant by saying “in the last year due to a few figureheads talking a bunch of [expletive] on Terminal Boredom. And now it’s exploded into this thing there where Wavves is getting $30,000 to [expletive] crank out this [expletive] generic [expletive].”(Whitehurst) This example of the way that more talented musicians are being overlooked because of their image is the main problem with this new rebellion trend.
Although the rebellious aesthetic seems to be viewed as a negative thing it has also helped a lot of people find new music that they enjoy listening to by catching their eye and allowing them to discover something that they might not have otherwise discovered. I have been personally guilty of getting into musicians for this precise reason and ending up being really happy with what I had discovered.
After watching the electronic music group Justice’s music video for the song “Stress” I felt immediately drawn towards finding out more about this group.
Rather than the music the video’s violent and abrasive imagery is what initially made me take up an interest in the group and eventually become a fan of the group. I believe that this was no accident. I believe that this group made this video in order to grasp people’s attention therefore drawing in new fans. Although the video did receive a lot of negative response it did in the end grab the attention of a larger audience that wouldn’t have normally been acceptable.