Back when Sean Fanning first wrote and developed Napster a lot of music fans found themselves facing the ethical dilemma of whether or not it was ok to “steal’ music.
Clearly we knew it was wrong, but Napster was so amazing that it made even the most ethical music fan’s stomach tighten. After all, not only had I already been forced to purchase certain Beatle albums in every format known to mankind, I also had a history of spending obscene amounts of money for import albums just to get my hands on a single rare B side or lost track. Hell, I purchased the import of The Who Sings My Generation just to get the 20 or so seconds of feedback in the song “The Kids are Alright” that the American label was too stupid to leave alone back in 1965.
Suddenly after years of being ripped off, every rare track was there right in front of me and for free! The mind boggled.
After Napster fell apart and iTunes became dominant, with their absurd partial albums (try to purchase a copy of the Bob Dylan song George Jackson it will cost you $199.99!), I decided if it’s on iTunes for 99 cents, I’ll buy it, if not I’m stealing it. Additionally, I decided to do my best to support small acts by going out of my way to purchase their albums on their web sites or after shows.
Now in a move apparently designed to make Lars Ulrich lose the rest of his hair, Radiohead is charging “It’s up to you” for a download of their new album, In Rainbows. Apparently, there is some transaction cost involved, but if you feel like paying a penny you can apparently buy it for a penny.
The cynical have to be saying, “It’s a plot. They have some ulterior financial motive,” but it doesn’t look that way. Apparently, in the most wonderfully naïve experiment since Apple nearly bankrupted the Beatles, Radiohead is putting the question “How much is our music worth to you to their fans?” Admittedly, it’s a blind purchase, but I hope people actually pay what they feel is fair. Respond to honest faith in kind. If you’re a die hard fan send them 12 bucks. If you thought Kid A was completely out of control, but your interested, send them 5? Who knows maybe somebody that was planning on stealing it cyrberspace will actually float those rich Rock stars a few of their hard earned bucks for their cajones alone?