I like music I can hold in my hand. When Itunes started I bought a few .mp3s, and I have occasionally bought a few digital files of hip hop albums that I can’t find locally. But I tend not to buy digital if I can help it.
At the heart of it is simple: I don’t really trust digital files! I want a backup — which is silly in a high-speed capitalist world where the mantra is buy another one. (I also like the inserts, liner notes, and photos . . .)
I’m not a purist about sound or ownership. I believe there is a real value in sharing music and ideas. At the exact same time I also hold the role of artist as holy in our society. I think that artists should be given living wages, safe working conditions, and credit for their creative contributions. Not to mention respect and care.
Digital distribution puts many of those things at risk. The next articulation of digital distribution is cloud computing — where a corporation hosts your files, allowing users to download files to any number of computers. Both Apple and Amazon have cloud projects. The Apple version is interesting in that it seems to promise amnesty for previous illegal file sharing.
When Apple came around to the history-obsessed Chicago re-issue masters the Numero Group to invite them to make a contract with the new cloud file-sharing, they refused. The Numero pursue unpublished and under-appreciated music, find the real producers, pay them and then reissue some of the hottest lost tunes.
(I probably own twenty Numero record albums.)
Here is Rob Sevier, a Numero dude explaining their decision in the L.A. Times:
Sevier said he is sensitive to customers who want a back-up of the product, and noted those who buy the CD essentially have one. The iCloud will still require data management on the part of the user, as even those who pay $24.99 will have to download the song to their devices or computers. Apple has not yet unveiled any music streaming ambitions.
However, Numero’s statement contended that any income derived from the iCloud “will very likely not be enough.” An earlier Times story reported that the aggreements (sic) “call for Apple to share 70% of any revenue from iCloud’s music service with record labels, as well as 12% with music publishers holding the songwriting rights.”
“We represent a host of copyright holders,” Sevier said. “Some are just small families with only a handful of copyrights, and we’re their only life-line into this world. We have to take a more responsible view.”
Respect to Numero for drawing the line somewhere. As a company that tries to play the music creators and their families some actual money, they offer a healthy perspective.
And no diss to cloud users. I appreciate the convenience. I’m sure I’ll probably wind up with both a cloud account and a couple of thousand records.