Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Second (Short & Irritable) Open Letter to Emily White

This furor over Emily White’s little essay on the All SongsConsidered blog has really gotten under my skin. Like many, I read White’s blog entry and found nothing but a sadly familiar dodge. I moved on to David Lowery’s open letter to White and found it eloquent and comprehensive. But a day later I’m still annoyed with White. It's not so complicated, folks.

Here’s what I’d say to her (and art-snatchers generally), given the chance. But I should note that White has done us all a service by this public confession. Her flawed outlook is shared by millions. She's more a user than a pusher, and Lowery's piece does a good job of naming the pushers. But this particular user did call attention to herself, so here goes.

Dear Ms. White,

Unlike David Lowery, I do mean to shame and embarrass you. You're not a child or a moral simpleton. You know the digital cup from which you drink is not filled by fairies. You know that musicians fill it with their blood. You know that most of them are not rich, that many barely get by. Don’t steal from them. If you do, you’re no more a lover of music than a parasite is a lover of its host.

Consider how many of the songs in your great horde contain an implicit challenge to do what’s right—not because you’re forced to, like a captive animal, but because you choose to, like the bearer of a conscience. If those songs truly matter to you (other than the way bits of string and tinsel matter to magpies) stop rationalizing and take a stand. Pay for your drinks, like the rest of us. You may even find it improves the taste.


Robert V.S. Redick

1 comment:

Jon Burgess said...

Interesting post. And I can see why there's such fervor.

Yet at the same time isn't Emily talking as much about the move from physical to digital media?

Though I admit, if she is, her article kind of meanders on that point. It's fairly clear that she IS/HAS fileswapped quite a few songs for personal use, even just from those meant for a radio station.