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To all the commenters on NPR saying that they will stop listening and donating to NPR, that the intern who wrote this piece, Emily, should be jailed, that she is a common criminal—for Christ’s sake, the girl is undeserving of such pure hatred. She is a 21-year-old intern (who probably is freaking out right now, telling herself that her career is over). Her music collection is separate from All Songs Considered’s, which is probably built on free music sent directly from record companies in the first place. Emily was probably struggling to think of story ideas, pitching stuff to her boss, getting turned down, thinking bigger and better, trying to advance her career…somewhere. And so she thought this up. She probably thought that writing this article was no big deal—because she lives a life very much like mine. In all honesty, I only have two friends in my entire circle that actually go out and buy albums on a regular basis. She belongs to a culture where this is totally accepted. She just had the bravery (or the foolishness) to cop to what we all do behind closed doors.
I personally didn’t know how the majority of artists in the recording industry live until I actually was able to befriend a few fairly successful independent artists and saw how incredibly difficult it is for even Pitchfork staples to make a living wage off of their music. And for even smaller artists? My good friend Dan’s band recently made a startling $100 playing at a festival and spent at least that much in gas and food in getting there—maybe shocking to someone who thought that artists were making bank off of $60 ticket prices. For most artists, music is purely a labor of love. That has made me more sensitive to the circumstance of artists and though I certainly engage in sharing songs with my friends, it has made me more likely to buy songs and albums—especially independent artists whom I love. But I don’t think the image of impoverished rock stars is well-known at all, and how many oblivious listeners can actually go to their favorite artist’s tiny, shared apartment in the Outer Mission and understand their financial situation?
I think that a good lambasting is well-deserved. But I think it should be directed towards a generation rather than an individual. I will take my share of the blame for Emily. I think we all should. That’s why I reblogged David Lowery’s article, and why I’m committing to spending more money on independent music. Nice work, Emily— you accomplished exactly what an opinion piece should—illuminate the depth and breadth of a genuine issue and open up an enlightening dialogue. It’s certainly taught me a lot about music royalties and accountability.