Tuesday, November 4, 2008

If You Love Music, Set It Free

You might be an avid Kanye West fan, or perhaps Kenny Chesney. Maybe you can't get enough of Katy Perry or you're obsessed with Owl City. No matter the music preference, you can't deny the rising issue in the business: to share or not to share? While music is so available on the internet for free, it's also illegal to obtain and distribute it. It should be made legal, or at least there should be another method that lets musicians get their share while giving internet users a way to download music legally (Yes, I am aware of iTunes, but I still think more needs to be done.)

Record companies are kidding themselves if they think they can stop the entire internet community from downloading music. It's very easy to do, widely available, and not to mention free. You can even download the CD cover art to look nice and pretty on your iPod. Cd sales are hitting an all time low. The internet, with such social networking sites as MySpace, is a perfect canvas for musicians to self-promote. There is no progress left for the record companies, so why fight the inevitable future of music?

Musicians themselves, the whole reason the industry exists, are all for sharing music, or at least some modified version of it. Radiohead released their latest album, In Rainbows, in a way that allowed their fans to pay whatever they wanted to download the album from their site. They could pay any amount--they could even put nice, round zeros if they felt like it. While something I think only more well-known artists could pull off, it is a better direction than what the record label companies have been pulling. Thom Yorke, frontman of Radiohead, has so eloquently said, "I like the people at our record company, but the time is at hand when you have to ask why anyone needs one. And, yes, it probably would give us some perverse pleasure to say 'F___ you' to this decaying business model."

There are some concerns with the idea of letting music be shared on the internet. Some are worried about how sharing music would effect a musician's ability to make money. The fact is, not that much. Most musicians make money through concerts, not record sales. According to Alanis Morissette's manager, Scott Welch, "The top 10 percent of artists make money selling records. The rest go on tour." Not to mention most bands take fifty percent of the merchandise sold at concerts, which is a much bigger cut than what they get out of record sales if they're not in the top ten percent.

And honestly, the uprising of technology is probably going to be a great shift for musicians and fans alike. It will musicians a much firmer hold on the business aspect of their music, and it has endless advertisement opportunities. For the fans, they are exposed to much more and a greater variety of music, and can easily access the musicians to support them by buying their merchandise and concert tickets via the internet. This entire movement is probably one of the best to happen to musicians.

Now, to address the big dilemma--is this stealing? I guess that depends on how you look at it. A blog I recently read had a great quote about this. The author, who worked for a major record label, wrote, "But it wasn't okay - I mean, let's face it, no matter how you rationalized it, it was stealing, and because the technology existed to hotwire a car didn't make that okay, either." Still, stealing or simply "sharing", this is the way the industry is going. Even iTunes is not good enough to stop the sharing. The industry has to evolve, or fall to pieces.

Now, I'd like to share a lengthy quote from Sonic Youthe's Thurston Moore. I think it really encompasses what sharing music is all about--the love of music, and wanting to share it with the world. "Once again, we're being told that home taping (in the form of ripping and burning) is killing music. But it's not: It simply exists as a nod to the true love and ego involved in sharing music with friends and lovers. Trying to control music sharing - by shutting down P2P sites or MP3 blogs or BitTorrent or whatever other technology comes along - is like trying to control an affair of the heart. Nothing will stop it." This is part of the reason that record companies have failed and we have to accept sharing in one form or another--the record companies were greedy, and forgot what it meant to be truly in love with music. Instead of adapting with the consumers, they got angry and attacked, thus causing their very own down fall.

As a poor college student not able to afford whole CDs very often, I experience the need for this change in the music business. Unable to freely consume music due to restrictions by my university, my music library remains sadly unchanged. The music business needs to change so that I, along with everyone else, can love and share music the way it was meant to be loved and shared--freely.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Getting Informed About the Presidential Candidates


Obama: Believes in a woman's right to choose and supports expanding access to contraceptives, health services, and preventive services to reduce unintended pregnancies. Supports partial-birth abortion ban only if it includes an exception to protect the mother's health.

McCain: Against abortion rights except in cases of rape, incest, and to save the mother's life. he wants to overturn Roe Vs. Wade and wants to ban partial-birth abortion. Supports funding of embryonic stem cell research.


Obama: Voted against raising the national debt limit. Supports Bailout. Forclosure prevention fund. Raise minimum wage.

McCain: Supports free trade. Energy independence and tax cuts. Wants to reduce war costs. Wants to stop out-of-control spending. Supports Balanced Budget Amendment.

Civil Rights

Obama: Has been working with Latino leaders. Wants to strengthen legislation against hate crimes. Fight job discrimination. Supports affirmative action in colleges and government. Better enforce woman's equal pay with Equal Pay Act.

McCain: Supports Affirmative Action for specific programs.


Obama: Increase budget for education. Pay teachers based of performance. $4,000 college tuition for 100 hours of community service a year. Against vouchers. Improve funding for No Child Left behind.

McCain: Pay bonuses to teachers in the most troubled schools. Get funding to recruit top graduates as teachers. Merit pay and competancy testing for teachers. Supports vouchers. Wants children to be able to decide to switch public schools to better education.

Gay Marriage

Obama: Supports civil unions. believes gay marriage should be left up to the individual states. He also supports gay adoptions. Opposes issue 8.

McCain: He opposes gay marriage and gay adoption. He has been unclear on civil unions. Supports issue 8. think gay marriage should be left to the states to decide. Wants to leave Don't Ask Don't Tell as it is.

Gun Control

Obama: Supports having some restriction on guns. He believes the constitution gives individual Americans the right to bare arms, but that local governments can take steps to protect their citizens.

McCain: Generally opposes banning guns. Supports ban on certain types assault weapons.

Death Penalty

Obama: He supports capital punishment for only the most heinous murders. He supports a federal moratorium on capital punishment.

McCain: He supports capital punishment for federal crimes.

Social Security

Obama: Against privatizing social security. Wants wealthy to pay more on payroll tax.

McCain: Supports personal savings accounts and work incentives.


Obama: Drilling as a stop-gap measure, not a long term solution. Supports nuclear power. Invest in alternative energy resources. Does not support gas tax holiday. Global energy forum. Invest to advance biofuels and renewable energy.

McCain: Supports nuclear power, wants to increase number of plants. Gas tax cut for oil companies. Supports alternative energy sources and offshore drilling.

Health Care

Obama: Ban insurance companies for discriminating against the sick. Give evryone government heathcare like members of congress have. Supports universal healthcare. No need to mandate coverage, just let people afford it.

McCain: Large tax credit to families to help buy their health care. Says family should make health decisions, not government. Opposes mandated health care. Encourage competition among providers.


Obama: Invest in clean energy and green jobs. Create global energy forum.

McCain: Create Green jobs. Tougher regulations on emmission requirements.

Homeland Security

Obama: Go after Al Queada, but shrink pool of potential recruits. Colleges allow ROTC recruiters. No torture. Close Guantanamo and restore habeaus corpus. Register woman for draft, but not for combat. Improve veteran's mental health treatment.

McCain: Improve intelligence to get to Bin Laden. OK with surveillance of oversea communications. No restrictions for women in combat. Raise military pay to avoid draft. Hiding torture is wrong. Torture has never worked.


Obama: Believes that increasing the legal fees on immigrants in not helping. Thinks deporting 12 million immigrants is ridiculous. Believes immigration raids are ineffective. Supports granting llegal immigrants driver license. Wants to increase border security.

McCain: Deport 2 million immigrants that have commited crimes. Increase border security.


Obama: Has cut poverty in half in ten years. Wants to develop strategy to eliminate extreme global poverty.

McCain: Require 40 hours of work for welfare recipiants. More housing assistance. Use tax code to address homelessness and working conditions.


Obama: Wants to give tax cuts to middle class families. Wants to raise CEO taxes.

McCain: Double child tax exemption. Veto any tax increase.


Obama: Opposed to the war in Iraq. Wants to remove troops. Get soldiers equipment. Wants to engage in diplomacy with Iran.

McCain: Supports surge, bring home troops with honor.Keep military options open in Iran, does not support diplomacy.

Jesse, Gordon. "On The Issues." On The Issues. 2008. 2 Nov 2008 .

Seelye Q, Katherine. "On the Issues: Social Issues." The New York Times. 02 Nov 2008. 2 Nov 2008 .

"Candidates on the Issues." America. Gov. 2008. 2 Nov 2008 .

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Scattered Ideas

Sitting in my overly warm, box-like dorm room while listening to some Owl City for inspiration, I am attempting to come up with ideas for an upcoming paper on public discourse. I actually don't feel like I am having much trouble thinking of ideas. I am drawing from conversations I have recently had, movies I've seen, or books I am currently reading.

One idea is on the censorship of American television. Not too long ago, I was watching an episode of "The Weekly Rift". They had one discussion about some perfume or soap commercial that had a nude woman in it, where you did see her chest very briefly. This commercial was aired without a problem in other countries, but was absolutely not allowed in America. Is censoring these sorts of commercials really the right decision? Why, exactly, is it inappropriate if it is tasteful? There are plenty more questions that I feel I could greatly expand on with this topic.

Another idea stemmed from a conversation over dinner. A girl claimed a friend of her's had actually been accepted to be on the television show, "My Super Sweet Sixteen". Apparently, the contract to be on the show had some strict specifics. She girl would have to be a complete terror to her mother, the car her parents bought her and the theme of the party had to be a certain kind, etc. I am not sure if this is true or not, but it got me thinking about the "reality TV" that Americans are so addicted to. Reality clearly takes on a different definition in this context. Is it right to call it reality at all? How much influence on an individual does it have? Why are they so successful? Another subject I feel I have plenty of room to write on.

Another topic I find some interest in is mental illness, specifically those such as depression that increase risk of suicide. I think much is misunderstood about such conditions, which leads to it only furthering and causing a greater number of suicides. Why is this? Why does it seem as though society has a lack of understanding, or simply just averts their eyes from it? What needs to be done?

This, by the way, was sparked by two things. The first is a documentary a friend told me about called "The Bridge". The film crew of the documentary set up cameras around the Golden Gate Brudge, one of the most popular places for suicide, and catch nearly two dozen suicides on film. Friends, family members, and wittnesses are also interviewed. I have not seen it yet, but I am morbidly interested in watching it. The second is a book I picked up called, "Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide". The author presents many different aspects of suicide, and it is very informative, and yet the way it is written does not make it simply feel like some dull textbook. She sites personal stories and pieces of literature that are really provoking. Anyways, both really got me thinking about how suicide and its causes are handled, and I think it could make for an interesting paper.