Pro-choice in the digital music realm

Just because you own an iPod doesn’t mean you shop at iTunes, so the Beeb tells me. According to Jupiter Media, only an average of 20 tracks found on an iPod were bought from the iTunes music store. It makes me wonder about the poor sap who has only 20 music files on his iPod.

The whole debate about legal vs. illegal music downloading has frustrated me on all sides. On the one hand, I can’t stand the demonization by the record industry of listeners who use the tools at their disposal to become better consumers. Why are sales down so much? Because the Evil Sharing Networks let people be choosy about how they blow their cash. I mean c’mon — we’re not living in the Clintonian boom time now, are we?

The cavalier attitudes downloaders have developed about music aren’t any better. I’ve seen numerous posts on Ask MetaFilter from people lose their music files in a hard drive crash. Perhaps there is some intersection between these folks and the ones who take pride in how they stopped buying CDs.

I dunno, man — perhaps if you blew the cash to buy a CD, you would have a rather permanent back-up of your music files handy, right?

The record industry paints downloaders as criminals deserving of punishment. The downloaders paint the record industry as close-minded extremists out to impose their world view on everyone.

Sounds vaguely like the debate over abortion. The media loves images of people shouting at each other, when the mainstream is far more grey on the subject.

Normal people have fired up BitTorrent and Limewire. Normal people have bought their music from iTunes and eMusic as well. Normal people also still buy CDs. Hell, I’ve done all of these.

I guess I could consider myself pro-choice when it comes to music consumption — I want options.

If it’s true that most folks stuff their iPods with music they take from sources of their own choosing, perhaps this digital rights management thing is simply the wrong way to go. Alas, the record industry can’t see beyond it’s own sagging bottom line.