Hey, Tumblr, long time no rant! This time the lucky recipient of my ire is one David Lowery, who recently wrote this post about ethical consumption of music on the internet as a response to this post about not paying for music by Emily White, an intern at NPR All Songs Considered, which is in turn a response to this post by Bob Boilen about entrusting all his music to the cloud. Obviously, one more blog response is just what this controversy needs, so even though I’m late to the party, here I am putting my hands on Mr. Lowery’s shoulders and seeing where this crazy conga line takes me.
I should say up front that I’m not going to give Mr. Lowery the full Joel Stein treatment, because unlike Mr. Stein, he does not seem to be an ignorant fool and/or troll, but rather just a guy who doesn’t realize that he’s having the wrong conversation. If I sound testy, it’s because I really hate when my generation (I’m using the word “my” loosely, by the way—just this afternoon I googled “What is a YOLO,” which I’m pretty sure automatically disqualifies me from membership in Generation Lazy or Generation Entitled, or whatever it is Generation Condescending is calling it these days) gets maligned as somehow morally deficient, when our only real crime is having been born just in time for the digital age to descend. Grown-ups like Mr. Lowery love invoking the issue of music sharing in order to take a moral high ground that doesn’t belong to them, tacitly giving themselves credit for resisting a temptation they never had to face when they were young and broke and foolish. As if their teenaged selves, when offered a perfect, perfectly free duplicate of the latest Beatles album by one of their friends, would have clutched at their pearls and gasped, “Goodness, no! Paul McCartney might go bankrupt and kill himself, and it would be all my fault! Absolutely keep that free music away from me!”