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[Brain Food] “Buying Music” by Michael Waterloo

By Michael Waterloo

Technology has taken our society to bigger and better places for the most part. 10 years go, would we have envisioned cell phones going from the first ever camera phone to being able to talk to your phone and it answer? With the simplicity that was MySpace, could we have envisioned how big social media would become? While technology has done a lot of good and will continue to grow, there are also
some flaws with a more connected world. First, we have no social skills anymore.
There is no small talk while out with friends. It becomes texting. Going up to a girl and asking her on a date? Naw, why would you do that when you can just tweet her or “poke” her on Facebook. But the main flaw of technology that bothers me is with the music industry. With the evolution of Napster, Limewire, PirateBay and many, many more music sites, record sales are diminishing.

Without even exaggerating, I can count two of my friends (Derek and Marlee) who actually still buy music. I’m in this category and I will continue to support the artists. The key word in that sentence is support. A lot of people say that they support an artist and they really like their music, but when they drop their album, they’ll either download it early when it leaks, or just download it after it drops. How are you supporting them? Look, we know that artists get most of their money from shows, but to say someone is your favorite artist but then basically steal from them by not buying their music is hypocritical.

“You hear it, listen, buy it, steal it, I’m still gonna get my f***ing percentage” – Tyga

I was recently referenced to this line by a good friend of mine who loves music, but doesn’t buy it. Yes, Tyga and most artists will still get their percentage regardless of their sales because of their respective contracts. Say he signs a two-album deal and they don’t sale. What are the chances that the label is going to resign him? Making it major is what all musicians want, regardless of the genre of music. Focused on hip-hop though because it seems as if most of the downloading happens. It’s a shame that teenagers can spend money wishing Justin Beiber would be their boyfriend, but you can’t spend money on the latest Nas CD, a true rap legend. The sales are diminishing more than ever. iTunes has given our generation a chance
to still download music, but to do it legally and still show support. Frank Ocean’s debut CD “Channel Orange” is expected to sale 135k in its first week. Those sales are digital sales only. Those numbers exceeded the labels projections by almost double. 135k is a respectable number now, but 10-15 years ago, those numbers were a disappointment to somebody signed to a major label.

My favorite reference in a song to people not buying albums is from J. Cole’s “Autograph” off of his mixtape Friday Night Lights.

“Shout out to the bootleggers who supply my sh*t
The fans online trying to find my sh*t
And to the n***** listening but won’t buy my sh*t
And catch me in the street wanna ride my d*ck
Ya’ll n***** is the worst, see me like

“J.Cole homie, can you sign my burnt CD”
N**** please, an album ten dollars
You act like it’s ten g’s
This food for thought cost the same as two number three’s” – J. Cole

The last part tells the story the best. Album prices have dropped, especially on the first week. I buy mine at Best Buy for $9.99 the opening week and if I can’t get them then, I’ll get it on iTunes for around $12. I’m not rich by any means, but for the amount of money that we waste on fast food and other things that we don’t need,
we can actually buy music. Think about the amount of free music that artists give away with mixtapes. These aren’t your mom and pop’s mixtapes of the past where they do covers (for the most part). So many artists do mixtapes that are actually free albums if you think about it. They are original songs that are album quality that they give away for free. Rick Ross, Drake, Lil Wayne, B.o.B., J. Cole, Wale, the list goes on and on and on. When they finally decided to put together an album for a commercial release, we get greedy and decide we can’t buy it despite us getting 35 original songs in the past fiscal year from them. Do you know the amount of money an artist puts into mixtapes to give them away for free? If you don’t, ask the
artists who consistently put out free music in hopes of landing a major deal. Ask the Pittsburgh artists who put all of their time, money and passion into music for you to listen to. Acts like Jus Smith, Atmosphere, Phresh Larosa, Split the D and so on.

If you truly support a musician, buy their album and download their mixtapes. Mark my words, if this trend continues, the quality of music coming out and the major label releases will keep on thinning out. If you don’t, then well don’t say you support them. Because the fact of the matter is, you don’t.

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Brain FoodHip HopJus SmithMichael WaterlooMusicRap

brandonw • July 19, 2012

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