Guilt No More – Paying Musicians for Pirated Music

I closed out my Pay the Artists post with this little promise:

I’ll report-in later to expand on this topic with some ideas I have for “paying the artists”.

I don’t do these posts-in-series very well. We all know how the Making the Blog series went. My mind wanders, my ADD kung fu is too strong, the winds of change…

Well, let’s see if I can wrap this “pay the artists” discussion up promptly.

Let’s recap:

  1. I get most of my music from non-CD, non-iTunes sources.
  2. Currently, the main reason for this is that it is cheaper for me.
  3. Because I save money by shunning CDs, I can afford to see more concerts.
  4. The musicians I see in concert make more money (% wise) off these concert tickets than they would off a comparable expenditure on CDs.
  5. The musicians I like enough (and have an opportunity) to see in concert make more money from me as a customer.
  6. Artists who are good enough to peak my interest (to buy a CD), but aren’t good enough to motivate me to go to a concert don’t get any money from me.
  7. Artists who are good enough to peak my interest, but don’t tour near me don’t get any money from me.
  8. I feel good about giving more of my money to musicians.
  9. I feel good about giving less of my money to record companies.
  10. I feel bad about the poor guys on the end of (6) and (7) who might have gotten some money from me if I was more of a CD buyer and less of a concert-goer.

How do I (and others like me) reconcile that last item? That’s the point (or part of the point) of these ramblings. Here is a random list of suggestions. Most of this is not even possible for various reasons but fun to think about anyway.

  • Low-Tech Option: Every musician must have donate button on their website. Optionally, the musician can post what their current take is per song. Now take a calculator and add up all the money each musician would have made (n x $0.10) off your jolly-rogered music collection. Go to said musicians’ websites and donate appropriate amounts of money.
  • Post-Scan Option: Let’s build a web application which will scan my computer for music files. I can then select which n of those were obtained illegally. The app will calculate n x $0.10 and bill me the total. The company behind the app will be responsible for making sure the artists in question receive the proper portion of that money. In addition, artists can contact the company to report their actual earnings per song to be used in calculations. As an added feature (for Apple-bashers only), allow the users to calculate and pay all or part of the $0.55 the record labels would have gotten from iTunes-like services for each song.
  • Integrated Option: Let’s build a service to sit on top of Kazaa, BitTorrent, allofmp3, or whatever tools kiddies are using to yo-ho-ho music these days. This service will keep a running total ($0.10 per song) of what is due to each artist. Users can then logon to to total their bill and submit their payment. Moneys are distributed in the same way as in my second suggestion.

Possible names for these apps: “Pay the Artists” or “Guilt No More Payment Systems”. My conscience wants a service like the ones kiddingly postulated above. My busy life and need to write 1000 word essays keeps me from pursuing the manual option (keep telling yourself this). For now I will stick to my system of keeping a rough tally for my “concert fund” and continue to support musicians that way, while robbing them of a little profit up front in order to listen to their wonderful work.

For those interested enough to read this far, here is a link to a pretty interesting article about iTunes, musicians, and the music industry. <a class='body' href='
‘>iTunes: Facelift for a corrupt industry.