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Commentary: Music industry is hitting a sour note

Branden del Rio, News Editor

Anybody who knows me personally knows that I take my music very seriously. I keep my collection of almost 2,600 songs on my iPod, which is constantly in my pocket or sitting right in front of me.

I also take pride in knowing that of those 2,600 songs I have acquired about 95 percent of them by legal means. I have either bought them on iTunes, bought tangible CDs as soon as they came out or ravaged my parents’ collection of Fleetwood Mac, the Jackson 5 and Journey.

Most people I know get their music for free. They have either had their friends burn CDs for them, used LimeWire or some other free music database or downloaded them off of Soundcloud.

However, a good portion of these people were cut off from free music when LimeWire was ordered to be shut down in October of 2010.

Now the free music pirates are beginning to panic. Their largest cargo of free music has gone under. The first few searches that pop up in Google when LimeWire is searched include, “LimeWire alternative,” “LimeWire replacement,” and “LimeWire shut down, now what?”

The debate about free music has been going on since the digital age came about. I am on the side that says music should be paid for. Often times an artist puts all that they have into making a full length album, even an eight-song EP.

Although, that is not to say I am on the side of the record industry. The industry needs to further adapt to the digital age.

Prices of singles and albums should be cheaper considering that music can be acquired for free. In addition, digital music retailers must also realize that selling albums for $9.99 is not the smartest idea considering that the buyer can easily drive over to Target and buy a tangible CD and get the additional artwork for the same price.

I especially have a bone to pick with my main music provider, iTunes. In April 2009 Apple thought it would be a smart idea to introduce a three-tier price system where they would sell songs for 69 cents, 99 cents and $1.29. This change was fueled by pure greed and the observation that many people were just buying singles off of iTunes.

But honestly, a $1.29 for a single just because it is popular? I would much rather buy a vinyl record out of a bargain bin for $2 and feel cool about doing so.

Radiohead had the right idea when they allowed fans to name the price they wanted to pay for their 2007 album “In Rainbows.” Although the album was still heavily pirated, those who actually respect musicians paid a fair price for the album, less than the retail price but they still paid.

Amazon also gets it right every once in a while. Currently Arcade Fire’s Grammy Award-winning album “The Suburbs” is available for $5 while on iTunes it is available for $7.99. However, all of Ke$ha’s singles sell for $1.29 on both music provider’s sites.

Every music retailer has its faults and flaws but they also have their benefits. Although Apple is greedy, their iTunes store is probably the easiest to use and navigate. But it is definitely the job of the record industry to evolve with the ever-changing means of acquiring music otherwise pirates will continue to pirate to no end because it is fast, east and cheap.

Branden del Rio, a sophomore journalism major, is news editor of the Campus Times. He can be reached by email at

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