Sometimes, people claim that I’m lying. I don’t like that. At least, not when I’m actually not lying – just like anyone else, I do – occationally – lie. When it comes to the issue of piracy, I very seldom lie. Most people who get into any kind of discussion with me will at one point or another understand that I think that file sharing is OK, regardless of the legal issue. I have heaps and heaps of software and other stuff that’s been pirated. I usually defend my heavy download habits by claiming that I actually go out of my way to purchase the things I find good enough for repeated use, whenever I have the cash. This is where the accusations begin. It’s just a bad excuse, people say. You’re just a hypocrite who likes to get things for free.
Most of the time, I just end the conversation there. If they’re not willing to anser to the actual argument rather than accusing me of lying, then the discussion won’t be very interesting.
You see, I’m not lying. I do buy the things I like. Most of my illegaly downloaded stuff (I won’t be calling it “pirated” anytime soon) just sits there, on lots and lots of burned DVD’s. Movies I only watched once, TV-series that just weren’t that good, games which I got tired of after half an hour of play. I own in excess of 100 original games. Granted, most of them were bought used, since I tend to like older games (my favourite game of all time? UFO: Enemy Unknown) – but they are all legal.
So, how does all this tie in to Johnny Hollow? I discovered the website and its wonderful music sometime back in ’03 or something like that, and was instantly turned on to the darkly suggestive electronic/industrial noise. It was a major influence on my writing at the time and still inspires me to this day. I have been looking for some way to purchase this music here in Sweden since then.
So, the other day I was surfing around at random, and I thought of Johnny Hollow. Having once more tried to find the debut album on various torrent websites, I begain looking at different ways of purchasing the mp3’s or at least the physical disc. I checked Napster, Itunes, buy.com, amazon, and a handful of others. Sure enough, the mp3’s were there – but sadly, not abailable to customers outside the US. The one swedish webstore that hade the album had only its crude, physical manifestation and it sold for about 33 dollars (269 swedish crowns) plus shipping – and that’s just not gonna happen.
Having exhausted all other options, I resigned to one last google search – and I stumbled upon CD baby. I had not heard anything about CD baby before, but they had the physical disc for 12.97$ and the mp3’s for 9.99$ and only took 4.96$ to ship the disc from the US to sweden. Incredible. Apparently, CD baby are a kind of small site, with mostly independent artists etc. They got great prices, and from what I can tell great service. The mp3’s were instantly made available to me, as a big zip-file download. Not as good as Magnatune, who offer FLAC’s etc, but an unlimited number of downloads, high quality and no DRM still makes CD baby something I can get behind. I bought both the CD and the MP3’s, and still paid less than CDON’s idiot-high price.
Had I actually been someone who just wanted things to be as cheap as possible, I wouldn’t have bought both the CD and the MP3’s, now would I? No. I’d just have gotten the mp3’s and been done with it. But when something speaks to me, when I know it’ll last and that I will enjoy it for a long time, and especially when I know that a large portion of the money I spend go to the actual artist (in the case of CD baby, about 91%, apparently), I am more than willing to spend the gold if I have it. Wouldn’t dream of purchasing anything by, say, Metallica – they’re richer than God by now, they don’t need my money; and they haven’t produced anything I’ve enjoyed since Justice for All. Just to make a comparison.
Since i got my current job, which pays me enough to make it possible for me to actually spend some money on culture (games, music, TV shows), I’ve bought around 20 computer and console games, 5-10 comic book albums, 10 books, 10 roleplaying games, a bunch of mp3’s, and in excess of 20 movies. And I’ve only really been debt-free enough to make larger purchases and still put some money away each month for 2-3 months now.
So fuck you, all of you who call me a liar when I’m not. Fuck you, if you can’t even respect my argument enough to not resort to name-calling. And fuck you, if you think I’m just a parasite. I am a culture consumer, and a culture producer. What did you produce, culturally, in the last month?