Friday, October 5, 2007
Paying The Fiddler
I was just reflecting the other day in the Metro how my rule of thumb when buying music is to never pay more than 10¢ per song, which generally limits me to those four CD, hundred song compilations that you find in the supermarket here for about 10 euros. Usually it's a generic, The 100 Greatest Salsa Hits-type number (although as I recall, David Bowie's greatest hits came in under-budget as well), and truth be told, I've never really been disappointed. There's almost always a solid amount of familiar classics, with a bunch of b-side surprises to keep things interesting.
And yet, despite this red line when it comes to price per song of recorded music, I'm perfectly willing to toss a Euro or two into the basket of a subway musician for the pleasure of listening to about 40 seconds worth of live music. (Especially this gypsy guitarist who I pass nearly every day here, whose playing is among the most soulfully emotive I've ever heard.)
Be all that as it may, I'd certainly never pay $9,250 per song, as Jammie Thomas was just ordered to do by a federal jury for engaging in illegal file-sharing. That amounts to $220,000 in total, all in order to set an example of what can happen if you try to dance without paying the fiddler. Thomas, who according to her lawyer lives paycheck to paycheck, faces the possibility of seeing her meager earnings garnished by the recording industry for the rest of her life.
This, of course, is akin to getting sentenced to life in prison for stealing a horse in 1912 (ie. the dawn of the automotive era). Because long before Thomas is through paying, the idea of actually buying recorded music will be obsolete.