The Christian Science Monitor examines the habits and attitudes of a downloading teen:
- The RIAA has set itself a herculean task: If Whitney and her friends are any guide, the industry has failed utterly to convince this generation of teens of the merits of its case.
What has emerged through numerous interviews in person and over the phone is the voice of a new generation that says the industry is out of touch and needs to get with the times – stop charging so much for CDs, move its business online where millions of consumers already are, and stop trying to make criminals out of people who love its product.
“I have a lot of respect for artists, and I love music,” says Whitney, a polite, fresh-faced young woman who possesses the unusual ability to talk easily with adults. She adds that she believes musicians should make a profit for their work.
….Whitney, for one, says she can’t imagine giving up file swapping. A dancer and drama student, Whitney says she has downloaded about 20 songs a week for the past few years. She learned her techniques from friends, and began by using a service called audiogalaxy. She switched to KaZaA because it has so many tunes. Her onboard jukebox now sports 1,192 songs.
The teen’s tastes run the gamut from hip-hop to blues. Some of her favorite groups include Coldplay, the Strokes, and Radiohead (she is not, she says, a country music fan). She got started downloading in eighth grade because she wanted to listen just to the songs she liked. “I don’t think it’s fair to have to pay $20 just to listen to the one or two songs I like,” she says.
Music labels, at least partly in response to this favorite justification of downloaders, have reinstituted the CD single and have discounted the price of many CDs to as low as $8.99. Some artists, such as Metallica and John Mayer, are also offering bonus tracks online to folks who purchase their new CDs. And the band Guster had a surprise for anyone who downloaded its album on KaZaA: The vocals had been replaced by someone meowing along to the music.
When Whitney first began downloading, she never thought about what the music industry would think of her actions. After all, Whitney says, everyone was doing it. And more important, she says, it never stopped her from buying a CD. “I do buy a lot of CDs,” she says. “I never download a whole album that I don’t already own. It’s just really convenient to be able to make a whole mix on a CD out of a bunch of different artists with only your favorite songs.”
Besides, she says, she is extremely loyal to the musicians she likes. “The artists that I really like that I download, I buy the CD.” She owns more than 200 CDs and says she buys new ones all the time. This is true for her friends as well, she says.
….Once the lawsuits go ahead, more parents may find themselves taking a sterner approach. The minimum damages the court can assess is $750 per song; the maximum $150,000. Multiply that by 1,192, and well, you get the idea.
Whitney says the pirate paradigm gives an unfair picture of her and her crew. “We aren’t trying to wiggle out of paying for what we like,” she says. But “it’s hard to imagine not being able to [download music] since I’ve gotten so used to it.”