Friday, November 7, 2014

The Freeloaders

I see that singer Taylor Swift has run afoul of her fans this week.  No, 10-year old girls have not suddenly developed a taste for sophisticated, non-repetitive songs about something other than breaking up with your boyfriend.  Instead, Swift has pulled her entire music catalog from the streaming service Spotify.  That means teenyboppers and Creepy Rob Lowe types can't add her songs to their playlist in the Spotify app anymore.  They are upset--and claim that Taylor Swift "owes it to her fans" to give them the opportunity to listen to her latest tracks.

Of course, if these people were actually Taylor Swift "fans", they would be willing to actually pay something to listen to that music.  Unlike ITunes, Spotify is free on the user end (you can pay a monthly fee to avoid have to hear commercials every other song--but most of that money goes to Spotify--not the artists).  Spotify pays artists who allow their songs to be used a whopping $0.0084 for hot new songs down to $0.006 per play for older, less-popular songs on the site.  And for Miss Swift and a growing number of other artists in all muscial genres, that isn't enough--especially when you consider that for many "fans" having those one or two songs in their playlist is a preferred alternative to buying what we old fogies like to call "a CD" or a digital download at ITunes.

I am a Spotify user myself--but I choose sit through the commercials--I'm not paying to avoid them.  And most of my playlist is music that I used to have on what us old fogies call "Cassette Tapes"--and never purchased again in a digital format.  There are plenty of artists that I enjoy who make NONE of their music available on Spotify--like The Beatles--and I am perfectly fine with that, because I see some value in having their music to listen to whenever I want.  And that is why I was willing to endure ridicule at the store and purchase the newly-remastered versions of all of their albums (You know they are on ITunes too, Sir)--rather than sit there and complain because "they aren't giving us what we want......for free".

The internet has created a generation of freeloaders who seem to think they have a "right" to have everything provided to them without having to pay for it.  It's why I see complaints about the "pay walls" put up on news sites like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.  If you really valued the information contained in the articles, you'd be willing to pony up the cash necessary to not only access them--but to also compensate the people who worked to gather that information and post it on the web, wouldn't you?

And the "everything free for me" attitude has permeated other areas as well--like health care.  The argument that it is a "right" and that there should be no out-of-pocket expenses--just the "greedy insurance companies" and Government paying for it--that got us the "Affordable" Care Act.  And now you have the "all higher education should be free" and the "student loan debt should be forgiven" pushes that will serve to devalue college degrees even further.

So if Taylor Swift songs, articles about the new discoveries in planetary development, birth control pills and a degree in French Literature are really that important to you, I suggest you put your money where you mouth is for them again.

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