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Why Music Matters

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Why Music Matters is a campaign that started to remind digital consumers of the value in music which is so readily available at the click of a button.

Ever since the age of digital downloading the availability and accessibility of music has been like never before. The cause aims to remind listeners of the work that goes into the production process. The result is to convince consumers to download music in an ethical way, one which supports the artists and all involved.  

A Trustmark has been created to differentiate legal music services from illegal ones, following the global statistic that 19 out of every 20 tracks downloaded are done so illegally. This mark states the site as legal and copyright holders as paid for their work. This Trustmark is used for signed or unsigned artists and for the downloading or streaming of tracks.

A series of short videos have been made by various artists showing how music has the ability to make a difference to society. Paloma Faith’s clip reminds us of the political influence of Nina Simone, a short video on Louis Armstrong tells the story of how his music gave the world songs full of hope. In a two minute cartoon Iron Maiden become advocates of free speech.

Artists have been questioning for years the value that we, as consumers place on something that we have almost unlimited access to. The Guardian points out how some believe that because music is more available than ever before, like water from a tap, it has become disposable.

Do we value music differently when we download it for free?

Surely we value music on personal enjoyment instead of price.

The vast amount of choice we now have in the digital age and opportunities for unsigned artists to gather a following without the nod of approval and binding contract from an exec company means that the music industry is more democratic than ever before. Rather than valuing music less, when we come across something we really appreciate does this not make us value it more?

The famous lawsuit between the rock band Metallica and digital downloading site Napster in 2000 brought to light issues with free downloads. The band filed a lawsuit against the song-swapping service for offering songs without paying royalties to the artists. The drummer of the band, Lars Ulrich stated that “in essence it’s about control...controlling what you own” fans retaliated stating; “F*** you, Lars. It’s our music too!”

Do fans have a right to control the music they made profitable in the first place? Without them artists would never achieve commercial success. But surely the creative minds that made the music exist in the first place, whether it is theperformers, songwriters or musicians deserve to be paid for their work. The campaign rightly points out that when music is downloaded for free, the investment cycle is broken, and that has an adverse impact on investment in emerging talent. No payment for downloads means less money to make new tracks.

Helienne Lindvall from The Guardian explains how some "experts" have been saying that the music industry should make up the loss of revenue from recorded music by making money from merchandising, branding and synchs (advertising, games etc). Can you imagine telling Chris Martin that he now has to make his money by signing an advertising deal with Just For Men?

It is a general belief that pop stars and record companies are rich therefore making the odd free download seemingly irrelevant in the bigger picture. While the big corporate companies are without a doubt highly profitable, record deals tend to pay the artist much less favourably. Hence why advertising and branding are rife. Cheryl Cole and L’Oreal, The Saturdays and Impulse, N’Dubz and their Channel 4 reality deal. These pop stars are rich through making themselves into brands rather than being paid as performers. Who are we actually paying? The songwriters, performers and musicians or Simon Cowell’s fat back pocket?

The website states ‘The Music Matters campaign unites artists, audiences and all those who work in and around music to remind listeners of its enduring value. Music Matters highlights the profound value of music and educates consumers on how to identify and obtain music from legitimate sources.’

Dually crediting contributors for their work is a sound cause and the campaign should succeed in making consumers consider the labour that goes into the production process. However; targeting the illegal downloader as the reason for artists being unfairly remunerated for their work is only half the problem. The idea that the vast availability of music has led to a devaluing of its worth is not a simple concept. Value placed depends on the listener’s emotional relationship with music in general and their own prevailing interests.

Will you think twice before downloading that free track?

 

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