As many of you know, Amanda and I try to eat organic and fair trade as much as possible. Not only is it healthier, but it also raises personal awareness for what is going into our bodies as well as ensuring that the farming practices are safe for the workers. Most importantly though, fair trade means that workers are adequately paid for what they do.
So what does this have to do with artists? In a similar way, one could say that artists should be paid fairly for what they do. Artists can be writers, poets, musicians, film makers, actors, software developers, etc. By thinking about artists in terms of “fair trade” it raises some interesting issues. Many would argue that music has gotten worse over the years and maybe an album shouldn’t be worth $10 or a song shouldn’t be worth 99 cents. What music is “worth” is something we all need to consider. Instead of then illegally downloading those songs or albums, maybe we should ask if we really need that song in our music collection in the first place. After all, if we are saying that we wouldn’t even pay 99 cents for a song, it can’t really be worth keeping, can it?
The same argument can be made for movies. Many people say they download movies illegally because DVDs and Blu-ray discs are too expensive. If we really feel that buying the movie is too much money, and we don’t even want to spend the money to rent it on iTunes, perhaps the movie really isn’t worth watching.
To put this another way, if we were to start limiting downloading music, movies, books and television shows to legal downloads, where the artists get paid, it is true that we may have to become more selective in what we chose to download. For some, being selective would be a necessity, if only for financial reasons alone. But think about how much more time might be available to do other things by downloading less. Plus, those artists that you do chose to support become that much more special and you know you are supporting the artist to continue producing content that you are willing to buy.
Am I the poster child for what I just wrote? Absolutely not. I feel that I am part way there in that I do my best to support the musicians that I listen to the most or that are my current favorites. I also try to support these artists by attending their shows when they play locally. But there are many songs that I listen to often enough that should have been worth a 99 cent investment at some point.
Here are some suggestions to ensure artists get paid:
- Music – Buy music direct from the artist whenever possible. Musicians make more money if you buy from their websites directly. iTunes is a great choice as well, especially from a convenience stand point. If one of your favorite musicians is in town, buy a ticket to the show to support them even further.
- Movies – No more illegal downloads. I don’t have time to watch that many movies so when I do, I will use Netflix or iTunes to legally watch them and support everyone involved in making the movie. A great side effect of this is that if we stop supporting all the bad movies coming out of Hollywood, maybe they will stop making them!
- Television – We don’t currently subscribe to cable and in general, we only watch one or two shows at any given time. The big issue with television shows is there are some shows that are not available on iTunes or aren’t available in Canada. For shows like this, there is often no choice but to obtain them by other means. But I will try to look for shows on Netflix and iTunes first.
- Software – The majority of software I buy now is on my iPad or iPhone so the only way of installing it, without hacking the device, is through the legal App Store. The Mac App Store is also making installing legal software extremely easy.
- Books – iBooks and Kindle versions of books are readily available. Between the two choices, you would be hard pressed not to find what you are looking for.