I’m not outraged that Apple has bumped the price of its music downloads a cool 30 percent, a move followed a day later by Amazon and then by Wal-Mart. I’m not sure why they don’t raise the price 50 percent, or 100 percent, or 1,000. The music industry is on the ropes, after all, and it needs every extra freaking dime you people can spare. Screw Darfur; let’s step up for Sony and EMI.
All these music retailers have taken pains to point out that not all songs will cost more. Some will cost as little 64 cents — really great songs by Yoko Ono (above) and assorted American Idol alumni who did not make it to the top 10 in season three. It’s quite a bargain. Just think: Under this new pricing structure, you can have 100 tunes nobody wants for the low price of $64. Pennies, really — 6,400 of them.
I’m for anything that helps this beleaguered industry survive. I’m for anything that will put food on the table for Madonna and Britney Spears and, to a lesser extent, Kanye West. These people have to eat too, and occasionally adopt Africans, and a 30 percent raise is certainly not too much to ask of you, the consumer, in these economic times. Same for the suits at Warner: think it’s easy having no talent and being forced to feed on the lifeblood of those who do? Think again. I think we should all show some genuine compassion — and fork over the extra 30 percent without grousing.
I know, this isn’t going to go down well with a lot of people. A lot of them might turn to sites like Soundsbox.com, which offers a comprehensive catalog of completely DRM-free music for about 14 cents a track. Some of these people, who shall remain nameless, having been buying music that way for years. Some of these people roll their eyes and smirk when they see other people buying iTunes gift cards, which are now worth about 30 percent less than they used to be. Some of these people rationalize their behavior by noting that nearly everything they buy this way is something they’ve already bought numerous times in now obsolete formats: LPs and cassette tapes and CDs. I mean, how many damned times must I — that is, these people — buy the Beatles’ White Album or Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours?
Forget that last part. Buying music through our Russian friends is stealing from the American music industry. And if there’s any stealing to be done, far better that the industry steal from you, rather than the other way around.