The RIAA, Arcade Fire, and How Music Will Get Better (but for now, we need panic)
- This is going to be a long post.
- I have a love for Arcade Fire; I would follow them off of a cliff.
- I have a general distaste for big-business, mostly because of the despicable cases that arise from time to time.
The RIAA is at it again. They recently filed 400 more lawsuits for “file-sharing,” this time mostly against students. In an attempt to strike fear in the hearts of students and coerce people into never trading music again, the RIAA once again shows its ugly teeth. Did I mention they also convinced the Copyright Royalty Board to up the fees for Internet Radio? Kiss your streams goodbye (especially Pandora and Last.fm). The RIAA is attempting to put pressure on all fronts possible. It’s almost as if they don’t want people to listen to their music.
Recently the RIAA has been doing what big-business does best: strong-arming people with less money, i.e. almost any given American.
Exclusively of the RIAA, Arcade Fire just released their new album “Neon Bible.” Currently it holds the #2 spot on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums, second to only the Greatest Hits of Notorious B.I.G. That means people are actually buying their album. I would say that’s probably because it’s one of the best albums of the year. Oh, did I mention Merge Records, Arcade Fire’s label, is not an RIAA shop? Do you mean to tell me that good music actually sells (granted, “Neon Bible” has one of the most popular music torrents right now as well)?
While the quality of Arcade Fire’s music is fundamentally disputable (as with all music), the band is definitely forging ahead and setting precedents for bands to come. The fact that they play exclusive shows for their former high school is pretty humble and remarkable.
The band used to be much more lax with a few of their singles on their fan-run sister site, Us Kids Know, but you can still find a few early releases sprinkled throughout the Net.
Advice for the Future, Don’t Worry
The RIAA guards its own music only to its own detriment. To my eyes, it seems like any company under the RIAA has found the “formula” for music. Almost any band under the RIAA could also be considered “crap.” (Try entering any of the Top 200 albums into RIAARadar. Disgusting.)
Most of the more adventurous (dare I say better) musical tastes in music are not under the RIAA’s umbrella. While this is not true across the board, I would argue it’s true for the most part. A few of my favorite bands: Arcade Fire, Swan Lake, Wolf Parade, and even Gnarls Barkley have avoided the RIAA. Mysteriously, similar bands (even one with a few of the same members) such as Sunset Rubdown are associated with the RIAA. Confusing, I know.
All in all, it appears that the RIAA, through its ridiculous lawsuits is simply securing its own demise. Taking to heart a Wired article from last July, pop music is dying/dead. So it’s just a matter of time before the RIAA disappears and once again music will be thought of as an art, not a process.
Advice for the Present, Panic
There are so many stones left to be turned over. Currently in the U.S., several things are reaching a second, more fruitful generation: the Web, hybrid cars, and lawsuits. The last being the most frightening.
You see, if your business is going down, you don’t actually have to successfully sue any one, you just threaten them. With the high prices of attorneys, many people (especially college students) can’t defend themselves against a large, multi-national corporation. It’s gotten to the point where the RIAA would like to facilitate the settlement with their site: P2PLawsuits. Now you can settle your p2p crimes outside court from the comfort of your home computer!
The whole issue surrounding the RIAA has become more than simply purchasing music vs. downloading music. Let’s face it: downloading music is illegal. But because of the (relatively) minor crimes of a few does not justify the unethical practices of strong-arming innocent and guilty parties alike.
I’ve never been so moved to rebel against any symbol of authority more than I have the RIAA. I can only hope that you feel the same way too. So support your bands that decide to not climb into bed with these criminals. Buy good music.
Here’s a toolkit to help you avoid the RIAA:
- RIAARadar: See if the bands you listen to are supported by the RIAA before buying their album(s).
- Support public radio NPR, KEXP, KXLU (holler), and Pandora come to mind.
- Keep up on your RIAA-related news(/transgressions). Digg is a good place, although it can be a little one-sided.
- Voice your opinion at other “college-related” blogs, particularly InsideHigherEd. They wrote an article on 3/15 defending the lawsuits against students. Some college blog.
Sorry about my anger, did I miss anything?