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June 20, 2009

I (actually) bought the album!

Think back ten years. Heck, maybe 15 years.

Back then, if a new band had a hit single, people went to the record store and bought the CD. That's how I ended up with Tubthumper by Chumbawamba and Fush Yu Mang by Smash Mouth. I probably paid $17.99 each for those CDs. When I realized that both of those albums kind of stunk (except for the singles), I grumbled a bit. But what could I do?

When the Internet blew up, everything was turned upside down ...

Now, since you can illegally download albums for free, you don't have to buy the album. Buying the album has become a badge of honor -- almost a trendy way to say, "I support this band." That boggles my mind a bit.

Think about it -- in 10-odd years, we went from buying albums for almost $20 each without even batting an eye to only buying the album if we really like the group. This is especially prevalent in indie music circles. Music snobs used to brag about having the new album by some unheard of band. Now, they brag about buying the album to support some unheard of band.

But people do the same thing with mainstream acts. I've had people, in casual conversation, mention that they actually bought the new album by U2 or another huge group.

Sure, more people buy mp3s legally then they used to a few years ago. But a ton of people still rip music illegally. Bands -- especially upcoming bands -- have to make money touring and selling merchandise instead of selling albums. It's still hard for me to believe that in a few short years, we went from spending $20 to buy an album without batting an eye to making a thing of buying the album to support the band.

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:28 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Random stuff


It's interesting that many people illegally download music (and other entertainment) with little expectation of actually paying for it. A rather amoral and hypocritical stance given that they would be outraged if they discovered they were being unpaid doing a job that someone else is being paid more to do.

A lot of people these days won’t volunteer to work for a charity because their not getting paid, but will feel good about themselves on the occasions they buy something by the band or performer if it is know that the band or performer is contributing out of their profits.

The curious contradiction that has been discussed and complained about elsewhere is that they'll reward scalpers by paying for tickets at extraordinarily inflated prices** to see bands they are probably cheating out payment for their recordings.

* Interestingly domestic CD pricing, without adjustment for inflation, is generally cheaper then when they were first introduced in the mid Eighties.

** Which doesn’t benefit the band or performer.

I pay for all of my music. I still abide by the letter and intent of the law. Not everyone I know does.

I think it's a better final sentence to Sam's posting to say "It's still hard for me to believe that in a few short years, we went from spending $20 to buy an album without batting an eye to illegally obtaining music that we didn't pay for without batting an eye."

DMFS has realized that we do okay when we price our CDs at $5, which seems to be the breaking point where people feel like it's just easier to buy it than to download it.

Lately we've also been giving the CD away for free with the purchase of a t-shirt. That's nice because it gets people wearing our shirts, the music gets heard, and we still get some money.

Bands are just going to have to adjust. Things are the way they are and I don't see them changing anytime soon.

Pirate Bay all the WAY!!!

redman - may your next paycheck bounce

dude, that Smashmouth cd was a GREAT neo-ska album.

but yeah, the last album i paid for was quite a while ago. there are a few staples that i'll always buy, but if Kings of Leon think I'm going to buy their crappy cd's when I just wanted a single, they're sorely mistaken.

Allan, I don't know. But then, what do I know? I ain't the sharpest tool in the shed.

I haven't bought aphysical album in awhile(10yrs or so). I belong to an unlimited monthly music subscription service. So I can download the album and buy only the songs I want to keep(if I cancel the subscription, I lose all the songs I don't buy). It works pretty well for me.

awww, c'mon. you're at least a rusty spade.


It has nothing to do with how preceptive or intellectual are. Just comes down how informed you wish to be on something apparent is a rather low priority in your life. Your primary interest, evidently, lie elsewhere.

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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