with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Janis Ian’s Stand for Free Music Downloading

Having grown up with the music of Janis Ian, I was delighted when my husband stumbled across an article written by her in May of 2002. The article called The Internet Debacle – An Alternative View tackles the long standing issue of the record companies vs music downloading and copying. I was ready for her to support the long held industry belief that file sharing and music downloading is horrible and should be illegal. Imagine my surprise when she not only swung the other way, but did so with a big stick.

She is not only in favor of it, in her fall out article reporting on the results of her original article, she shares the comments and opinions that came flooding through phone calls, emails, and letters from the entire industry as well as just average folks. Overall, the majority of folks who communicated with her were on her side, thanking her for taking a position. But the industry still wanted to smack her down.

In the end of the second article, she provides some statistics. I’d love to see these updated, giving a longer view of the issue:

Change in merchandise sales after article posting (previous sales averaged over one year): Up 25%
Change in merchandise sales after beginning free downloads: Up 300%

Just goes to show that you can attract more business with honey than with vinegar.

If you download music, or have an opinion about downloading music, you MUST read these two articles. They are clearly thought out, though a bit rambling, and well substantiated. And remember, she wrote this in 2002. Here we are in 2005. Things are only worse not better, but there is a slow growing trend to recognize that the Internet filled with music is not such a bad place.

As for us? Well, since we just spent five years in Israel where we couldn’t get access to the kind of music that we enjoyed, and buying things overseas and having it shipped to us was often met with 150-300% customs fees, we stopped buying music until the paid downloading services started arriving.

Now, our CD collection and paid digital music files are huge and money goes out every month for more music. Most of it generated by downloading music from the Internet to test drive it, and then liking it enough to spend the money to get it. We’re living proof of what Janis Ian wrote about several years ago.

Thank you, Janis Ian, for having the courage to speak the truth.

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