Written for WRI122. Node your homework. And your beliefs.

Listening to a Monster

"Hit songs on Top 40 are often repeated over 100 times per week. Is that all you want to hear?"
Korn, “Y’all want a single?

The music industry doesn’t care about you. What they care about is their money and how they get it. Whether they sue people, sue independent artists, sue their own artists, or just plain sell music, they must get their money. The Recording Industry Association of America, or RIAA is guilty of deliberately reducing the variety of music, price gouging, and they don’t care about their consumers. The RIAA should be boycotted.

The RIAA likes to keep face. It must, because if it looks ugly to the consumer, there won’t be any music purchased from them. They want no one to know that there are only about 4 new songs added to the radio playlists each week(Moss 8). They want no one to know that they use the “Sue ‘Em All” tactics on the consumers to defeat piracy. They want no one to know most of their artists only make about $4000 each year (Albini 9).

A heavy metal group called Korn has recently produced a video entitled “Y’all want a single?”. It contains plenty of swearing, but that’s not the real issue. The real issue is that it opens people’s eyes to the facts. Korn enters a record store and begins trashing it, while deploring the concept of singles. It makes plenty of statements, such as “"Music Monopoly?," followed by "One corporation owns the 5 major video channels in the U.S." and the question "Is that OK?"”(Moss 6). The RIAA wanted them to change the video. They didn’t (Moss 1). This video wasn’t aired on MTV, and it got them removed from the RIAA, as well as a new home in the independent markets.

The RIAA likes to claim that it produces 90% of the music legitimately sold in the American market. This is not true. The RIAA produces less than 10% of the music sold (legitimately or not) (Ziemann 9). Why this shameless cover up? The RIAA doesn’t want anyone to know that there’s other music out there besides its own. And what it does produce, is what’s greatly overplayed.

The RIAA likes to dismiss all independent artists as “illegitimate”. Why? Because the RIAA owns the market. That means they can make whatever rules they want. However, what the RIAA happens to be hiding is over 100,000 bands, many of who produce music for free download.

The RIAA likes the fact that tons of music is being hidden from you. “…musicians create, only to have the RIAA hide, manipulate, suppress, and lock down their creations” (Laznik 8). Independent artists are suppressed and hidden. Many controversial artists have been censored in this matter because something they said has gone against corporate America. What do you get out of this? Less music. What does the RIAA get out of this? More money.

The RIAA likes suing people who “steal” their music. They claim that this practice of file sharing, whether on the Internet or with peer-to-peer services like KaZaA, WinMX, and the long dead Napster, is stealing. This is despicable. Has any other industry mass-suedthousands of its consumers at once, merely because they enjoyed the product but didn’t pay for it? No. Now, if someone were to take a CD out of a record store without paying for it, that is stealing, because the store is now missing a tangible product. However, file sharing is not, because even if a file is “stolen”, the original owner still has it.

The RIAA has been quoted in a recent Ziemann article that “Record executives who spoke with MusicBiz say they don’t believe the public will turn against them and, if that happens, they don't care” (Ziemann 16). They don’t care. If the RIAA doesn’t care about the consumers, who will buy the RIAA’s music? Or will the RIAA only produce the music so that it will get “stolen” and they can sue people?

The RIAA likes the fact that they can overcharge you for a CD. That’s right. 20 bucks of your money, most of it going right to their headquarters. And this doesn’t happen once. It happens every time you buy major-label music. The Supreme Court knows they price gouge, and they forced the RIAA to pay back $143 million (Court 2). How much did they make? Billions. How much will you and everyone else who bought music from them see? $67 million. That’s divided up between everyone who ever bought music from them. You get $20 (Court 3). Servo5678 says that we each really only get $13.86! That's worse than before! That’s a free CD. And then they’ll keep screwing you over, because no one ever told them to stop.

So what’s an avid music fan to do? It’s time to stop buying from the RIAA. Period. No more music from them. You can tell if it was produced by them by merely checking the back of the case. Somewhere on the back will be a small logo, and the name and address of the label. Don’t buy anything that has the labels Sony Music, BMG, EMI, AOL Time Warner, or Vivendi Universal. These are the main corporations that comprise the RIAA. There’s plenty more than just those five, the rest are in Appendix A. It’s a long list, but it’s only a fraction of the available music out there. There’s also a long list of places to get free, good music, like archive.org/audio and iuma.com, which together have over 170,000 acts! The RIAA has only about 7,000. There are many more in Appendix B.

Boycott every brand name store, like Sam Goody, Virgin, Wal-Mart and Fred Meyer. Instead, look around for the smaller record companies. Some on-line research may be required to find one, though.

Don’t use iPod. The only way for the new iPods to work is by downloading official RIAA music encoded with a whole slew of copy protection “features”, such as technology that prevents the music from being copied to more than 3 devices. Anything that doesn’t have this protection is something the iPod won’t play. And while I’m at it, don’t buy from iTunes, either. This is the only place where music that works in the iPod can be downloaded. Many other MP3 players don’t have these restrictions, except for one restriction, which won’t let you copy audio files off the player. And this was only put in to stop the RIAA lawsuits. MP3 files can be easily turned into ZIP files with utilities like WinZip or Powerdesk, and they can be moved anywhere.

Or, if you don’t have an MP3 player, a Windows PC program called WinAmp also circumvents these listener-barring “features”. It can also burn your Indie tunes to CD.

Don’t listen to most FM Radio, as almost everything on it is created by the RIAA. However, some notable stations are NPR, of course, and KBOO, a local (Portland) indie-only station.

Don’t watch American Idol. The winner gets an impromptu record label to become the newest victim of the RIAA. American Idol is a shameless promotion tool of the RIAA.

Basically, don’t purchase or listen to anything made by the RIAA. Instead, go out and find some Indie music. Free, legal, independent music. And lots of it, too. Go find something you like.

If the RIAA makes no sales because all of its listeners switched over to Indie music, they’ll have no income except their lawsuits. And they can’t sue anyone just because no one buys their product. Thus, they’ll be gone.

Everyone should have the right to any music they want to hear, regardless of corporate interests. That includes you. Now go get some music!

“Is that OK?”
–Korn, “Y’all want a Single?”

Albini, Steve. The Problem with Music. 6 Feb 2004. http://www.negativland.com/albini.html
“Court finds record labels plotted to raise CD prices”. The Minnesota Daily 15 Oct 2002. 9 Mar 2004. http://www.mndaily.com/article.php?id=3590
“Distributed Labels of Reporting Companies”. 9 Mar 2004. http://www.riaa.com/about/members/default.asp
Laznik, Adam. New Evidence that the RIAA Is Evil. 7 Mar 2004. http://www.bladam.com/archives/0208031618.htm
Moss, Corey. Korn Tear Up A Record Store With Crowbars In New Video. 7 Mar 2004. http://www.vh1.com/news/articles/1485272 /20040223/korn.jhtml?headlines=true
Y’all Want a Single? Perf. Korn. 2004.
Ziemann, George. Music Terrorists: "We Don't Care" About Public. 16 Jan 2004. http://www.azoz.com/news2/dontcare.html

Appendix A: omitted to save space. Find it under "Distributed Labels of Reporting Companies."

Appendix B
Get Music Here.
There's more than this, but these are just the big ones.