Why purchasing music legally ISN’T a rip-off

Today’s post is a little different to what I’d normally write here, but last week I heard something which inspired me.

During a lecture, my lecturer asked for a show of hands of everyone who had never illegally downloaded music.  As one of those people, I put my hand up, along with about three others in a group of around 100.  I then heard someone from my course mutter, “You’re being ripped off” under their breath.  I don’t know who that person was, and chances are they’ll never read my blog, but this post is dedicated to you, whoever you are.

I think taking part in illegally downloading music is a massive double standard.  I expect the vast majority of people who illegally download music would never dream of shoplifting, or stealing a car, or mugging someone for their wallet.  However, because music (and other forms of media, such as TV shows and films) can be stolen at the click of a button over the internet, I expect it doesn’t feel as if it’s really stealing.  But it is.

Whilst I don’t want to speak for everybody, since illegally downloading media became common practice it feels like consumers have developed a sense of entitlement which, quite frankly, shouldn’t exist.  Instead of saving up your pocket money to buy Fall Out Boy’s latest CD like I used to in my teenage years, as soon as an album is released fans want to have it in their iTunes RIGHT NOW, even if that means getting it by illegal means.  Fans seem to think that they deserve music for free, but that simply isn’t the case.

Artists spend literally months of their time putting albums together, and there are a lot of hidden costs that most audiences probably don’t even consider, such as:

  • Purchasing instruments, or if you’re a solo artist, hiring musicians;
  • Hours of writing and rehearsal time outside of the studio;
  • Hiring a studio to record the separate instrument and vocal tracks (this process could take weeks);
  • Hiring a producer to produce the album, or spending time producing the album yourself;
  • Paying record label and iTunes fees;
  • Designing and printing album artwork;
  • Hours of time spent promoting the album and social networking;
  • And probably a whole host of other steps which I am unaware of.

When you consider how much time and money goes into putting an album together, how could anyone think spending money on music is a rip-off?  More and more artists are struggling to live off their musical careers because sales are plummeting year after year.  Illegally downloading music would be the same, in my eyes, as taking an painter’s canvas down from the wall of a gallery and expecting to walk out with it for free.

When album and single sales flop, artists have no choice but to go on long tours, hoping to make up for money lost and pay their fees and resulting in months away from home and their loved ones.  As much as we all love going to live gigs, touring just to pay the rent can’t be fun for anyone involved.

Although I hate to admit it, the music industry is dying.  Even though I’m only one person, I will continue to legally purchase music because it gives me the satisfaction of knowing that I’m supporting my favourite artists – hopefully allowing them to go on to make more albums and go on more tours. I can listen to every song on my iPod guilt free, and I hope everyone reading this post can too.

Currently listening to: So Far AwayAvenged Sevenfold

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#tbt: 10 noughties albums you need in your life

I’m sure everybody reading this post remembers the noughties fondly – for me, it was when I first got interested in alternative music, and where my love of fashion started to develop.  The 2000s were truly an amazing time for rock and alternative music, with bands like Kings Of Leon, Pierce The Veil, My Chemical Romance and Arctic Monkeys forming during the decade.

For this throwback Thursday, I have decided to take on the momentous task of revisiting my favourite albums released from 2000 to 2009 – if you spot any albums in this list that you don’t already have in your album collection, consider making room for them, as they are absolutely amazing.

10: Wheatus – Wheatus

I have my Mum to thank for my love of this album – she was the person who first introduced me to Wheatus, and for that I am forever grateful.  I think everybody with common sense loves Teenage Dirtbag – whilst waiting for Green Day to take to the stage at Reading Festival in 2013, Teenage Dirtbag started playing and I swear, the entire crowd started singing along.  It was awesome.  As well as that, Hump’em And Dump’em and Love Is A Mutt From Hell are brilliant songs which still make me want to get up and dance.

9: Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge – My Chemical Romance

My Chem have this album to thank for their sudden popularity and fame, and it’s still well loved today – watch Kerrang! TV for any length of time, and chances are you’ll come across the video for I’m Not Okay (I Promise) or Helena soon enough.  Plus, The Ghost Of You is a really thought-proving song that still evokes some pretty strong emotions.

8: All Killer No Filler – Sum 41

Sum 41s debut album is a brilliant, feel-good album – Heart Attack and Summer are awesome album tracks, which are unfortunately overlooked due to the popularity of singles In Too Deep and Fat Lip.  All Killer No Filler was truly a sign of great things to come for the Canadian rock band.

7: Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not – Arctic Monkeys

Now, in my opinion the Arctic Monkeys have a little bit of a chequered past – Suck It And See, for instance, was an instantly forgettable album – however, their debut LP is truly brilliant.  I’ve lived in the Midlands for the past 9 years, so hearing Alex Turner’s Sheffield accent throughout the album is kind of comforting amongst all of the American artists on my iPod.  Plus, I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor still sounds just as good 8 years on, as do Fake Tales Of San Francisco, When The Sun Goes Down and Mardy Bum.

6: One X – Three Days Grace

Canadian rockers Three Days Grace are one of my favourite bands of all time.  Their second album, One X, is a polished yet still emotive album, inspired by lead singer Adam Gontiers stint in rehab due to an addiction to OxyContin.  Lead single Animal I Have Become reminds me of my pre-teen angst-filled years, and Never Too Late is just as poignant today as it was when the album was released in 2006.

5: Mezmerize/Hypnotize – System Of A Down

I know that technically these are two albums, however I simply couldn’t bring myself to separate them.  The slow-burning introduction to Mezmerize, Soldier Side (Intro) gets you tingling with anticipation at the amazing things to come, before B.Y.O.B. kicks you in the gut with its heavy riffs and punchy lyrics.  In my eyes, System Of A Down can do no wrong – that’s why they came top of the chart of my favourite 90s albums, which you can take a look at here.

4: Puzzle – Biffy Clyro

This album represented a turning point for Biffy Clyro, because it marks their emergence into mainstream popularity.  The opening track, Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies, is a real anthem, as are Who’s Got A Match? and The Conversation Is…  Machines is the beautifully emotive penultimate track, and the entire album as a whole turned out to be an indicator of the great success to come for Biffy Clyro.

3: In Your Honor – Foo Fighters

The Foo Fighters’ fifth double album covers a multitude of stories, emotions and memories for front man Dave Grohl – the most poignant of these is probably Friend Of A Friend, which was inspired by his former Nirvana band mate Kurt Cobain.  In Your Honor has songs for every mood, split between the heavier first disc and quieter more acoustic second disc, which is what makes it so perfect.

2: Minutes To Midnight – Linkin Park

Minutes To Midnight was a little bit of a change of direction for Linkin Park – they switched focus from more electronic elements and ended up creating a true rock ‘n’ roll experience.  Throughout the album there’s a great contrast of heavier tracks such as Given Up, and slower ballads like Leave Out All The Rest.

1: Avenged Sevenfold – Avenged Sevenfold

Avenged Sevenfold’s fourth LP, also known as the White Album due to its album cover, is truly brilliant, and a real summary of what makes the Californian band great.  If I was going to introduce somebody to Avenged Sevenfold for the first time, I’d tell them to listen to this album first, as it is definitely one of their best.  It’s difficult for me to quantify how much I adore this album – from Gunslinger to A Little Piece Of Heaven to Dear God, this album really does have it all.

So, that concludes my Top 10 noughties albums!  Do you agree with my line-up?  Let me know what you think on Twitter or in the comments below.

Currently listening to: SssnakepitEnter Shikari

#tbt: The first albums I ever bought

Today I want to step back into the past, rummage through my CD collection, and blow the dust off the first albums I ever bought with my own hard-earned pocket money.  These albums are truly brilliant, and the main reason I ended up getting into rock and alternative music, so you have them to thank that this blog exists.

Honestly, I cannot see myself ever getting rid of these albums.  Over the years I have thrown away numerous albums; whether they were an ill-informed purchase or they became age damaged over the years.  These ones, however, will never leave my ever-growing CD collection.

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Fall Out Boy – From Under The Cork Tree

This album is truly magical, and the singles Dance, Dance and Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down still evoke memories of school discos in the assembly hall.  Plus, Get Busy Living Or Get Busy Dying (Do Your Part To Save The Scene And Stop Going To Shows) is one of my favourite ever Fall Out Boy songs.

Panic! At The Disco – A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out

A lot of albums released in the early to mid 2000s aged pretty badly, but not this one.  Its lyrics form an interesting social commentary about mental illness and the sanctity of marriage, which are still relevant today.  This album is truly a cornerstone of the emo movement from the early noughties – all you have to do is watch the music videos for I Write Sins Not Tragedies for evidence of that.

Linkin Park – Minutes to Midnight

Minutes to Midnight was a turning point for Linkin Park, and a change of direction from their earlier albums Hybrid Theory and Meteora.  Their use of electronic elements reduced considerably, making the album all about the instruments, booming drums and guitar-shredding riffs.  This is probably one of Linkin Park’s heaviest albums – the 18 second long scream before the final chorus of Given Up makes that hard to deny.  Add that to the gritty lyrics of Bleed It Out and Hands Held High and you end up with a truly anthemic alternative rock album that still sounds fresh seven years on.

That’s all from me for now, but I want to know what the first album you ever bought was!  Let me know in the comments below, or send me a tweet.

Currently listening to: Fool’s GoldPure Love