When I was a kid, I had to save up my money to buy records.
Yeah, records. Vinyl. The real deal. I had the option to buy cassette tapes, but my preference was always to buy the vinyl, then make a cassette off of it, so that if anything happened to the cassette (the tape used to get twisted and tangled sometimes), I could just make a new one.
Even then I was a hoarder, wasn’t I? But I digress.
I had to save up my money. The first record I ever bought? AC/DC’s Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap. I shit you not. I was in second grade. And I thought I was pretty badass, buying a record with the song “Big Balls” on it. (My mum set a pretty good example for the liberal parenting example I now follow, I have to say.)
I had to save up my money. I couldn’t go online and download torrents. I couldn’t go online and burn stuff off of YouTube. I couldn’t get, for free, right this instant, what it had taken artists months of time and thousands of dollars to make.
I had to save up my money. The second record I ever bought was the soundtrack to Annie. Yeah, even then I had eclectic taste in music. Plus, once I’d gotten over wanting to be just like my big sister Ange (no…maybe I never really got over that), and wanting to be a badass who could play “Big Balls”, “Tomorrow” really probably appealed more to my 7 year-old self.
I had to save up my money. It was a lesson I never learned very well. I’m still working on it. Other than those two records, the most major purchases I ever remember making as a kid were Big League Chew and the most enormous jaw breaker I’d ever seen at the candy shop in Granville Market.
I had to save up my money. If I wanted entertainment, I had to buy it. I couldn’t steal it off the Internet. To this day, I buy every song in my iTunes library. My kids know that in my house, torrents and YouTube burners are not an option. There are weeks we eat tuna and pasta for lunch and dinner, in some combination, every day, because I can’t afford to buy anything else. But we buy our music.
I am teaching them that they have to save their money. Beyond that, I have a profound respect for the artists who put their blood, sweat, and tears into their projects. I know that, with the way the music industry works these days, the artists see less and less of each sale. In my opinion, that’s even more reason to buy and not steal the music. Every penny counts that much more.
I am teaching my kids to save their money. I know lots of people who say they’ll buy stuff from the little guy, but they’ll download stuff from the really successful artists who “don’t need my dollar.” I don’t buy it, not for a second. Where do you draw that line? And why is it that just because they are successful, they are somehow undeserving of their income? I can tell you without a doubt, public perception of what musicians – even successful ones – make, and the timeframe within which they earn it, is generally markedly skewed from reality. So I won’t contribute to that. They deserve their paycheck for a really hard job (yes it is!) just as much as anyone else does.
So I teach my kids to save their money. I save my own money. And we all have a firm understanding that stealing is not ok. That’s a pretty basic principle, right? And stealing is stealing, whether it’s lip gloss from the drugstore, music or movies from the Internet, or the contents of the bank vault. It’s all stealing. In my world, that’s a moral area I don’t want to get mired in, so I steer clear of all of it.
And I cannot, in good conscience, call myself a musician and participate in the stealing of creative properties. I just can’t. Guess it’s that old question: just because you can, does it mean you should? So I save up my money. And I feel good about paying for what other people feel entitled to take for free.
Just found this and thought it was so fitting, I had I add it to this post!
Where do you weigh in on the whole issue? It’s a big one, and probably only going to get bigger as time goes on. Do you pay or your music and movies? All the time? Sometimes? Never? Why does it feel like the right choice for you?