Student’s Blog Post About Her 11,000-Song Free Music Collection Spurs Controversy, 900+ Comments

An American University senior and National Public Radio intern recently “touched off a small firestorm in the music industry,” leaping into the ongoing economic, existential, and generational debate over online music consumption.

In a post for NPR’s music blog “All Songs Considered,” Emily White, general manager of American University’s student radio station WVAU, confessed that even while loving music she has hardly spent a cent to acquire her massive song and album collection.

“I am an avid music listener, concertgoer, and college radio DJ,” she wrote.  “My world is music-centric. I’ve only bought 15 CDs in my lifetime. Yet, my entire iTunes library exceeds 11,000 songs. I’ve never supported physical music as a consumer. As monumental a role as musicians and albums have played in my life, I’ve never invested money in them aside from concert tickets and T-shirts.”

White explained that digital natives recognize “the gravity of what file-sharing means to the musicians,” but they are simply too enamored with the ease through which they can acquire free music, instantly.

In her words, “I honestly don’t think my peers and I will ever pay for albums. I do think we will pay for convenience. . . . All I require is the ability to listen to what I want, when I want, and how I want it. Is that too much to ask?”

The post has gotten more than 900 comments so far, impassioned retorts on separate blogs, and outside media coverage including a New York Times recap.

Some are applauding White for her candor, agreeing that whether everyone likes it or not free music file-sharing and downloading is happening en masse among many music fans today. Others are expressing optimism that her dream of a more convenient pay-music service will soon be realized.

A majority of respondents though are branding her a criminal or musical Judas– professing to be a true music aficionado but refusing to support the artists who create it. As one commenter noted, “I am shocked by this blog post. Emily, you are stealing. Stealing is dishonest. And it is a crime. As a musician, a singer, and an actor who works hard for the money, reading this makes me sick. I am finding that your Gen Y culture simply thinks that entitlement, getting what you want, when you want it, is the norm.”

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One Response to “Student’s Blog Post About Her 11,000-Song Free Music Collection Spurs Controversy, 900+ Comments”
  1. gary says:

    Many people, especially younger music lovers, don’t consider illegal downloading to be theft because they have no tangible item.
    They will even brag to friends about how they got the latest album for free.
    We cannot stop free downloading sites like limewire etc. so we have to educate our audience.
    We must promote our music to fans in an intelligent way by informing them that making good music is a long process and if they want the artist to carry on making music they should pay for it. The implications are if they don’t pay the artist will go bust and wont be able to produce the music they love.
    This point is hard to put across to fans without looking desperate, here is a quote that a music friend uses when promoting his music.
    Quote from Eli
    “I kindly ask that people not put my music up online for free download. I love that you are enthusiastic about my music and I love even more that you are my fans, but this is my full time job – I spend my whole day making music. As I am a completely independent musician and have many expenses, if I don’t get paid for my work, I won’t be able to keep on making more music. Thank you and I appreciate you all! Eli

    Thanks Gary

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