Saturday, April 17, 2004


I've done it. My kids have done it. My wife has done it. Heck, my Pastor has done it.

We've all downloaded music off the Internet without paying for it. I've rationalized it all sorts of ways: most of the music I've downloaded I actually own on CD, I work in radio so technically licensing fees have been paid by my company for music use, it's not stealing when recording companies have ripped off consumers for so long by charging excessive amounts for CDs - yeah, I don't really buy those arguments either.

I'm sure many of you have found a way to justify the practice. I'm neither condemning nor condoning it.

I stopped downloading music some time ago, not really because of all the threats of lawsuits, and not really because I felt convicted about it. I stopped because I was tired of dealing with all the spyware that gets implanted on your computer if you use song swapping software.

This news story is out today...I edited portions:

- Universal Music Group will raise the suggested retail price of its CDs by $1 to improve profit margins for merchants after many balked at the company's push to slash prices, a source familiar with the plan said Friday. The move could leave consumers paying about $11 for a popular CD.

Universal's new suggested retail price will be $13.98, but most retailers typically charge less than that amount.

Its move comes just three months after the company cut wholesale prices and reduced its suggested retail price from $18.98 to $12.98.

Universal expected merchants would pass the discounts on to consumers, thereby stimulating sales that had been down for three years industrywide.

UMG had given retailers until Jan. 1 to sell off existing inventories before making that pricing scheme official, but many were slow or never adopted the changes, the source said.

Universal's competition also did not follow suit with lowered prices

This story is also in the papers today:

Christian teens are stealing Jesus music.

They're doing it through Internet downloads and CD burnings at nearly the same rate as secular music is being pirated by non-Christians, according to a new study done for the Gospel Music Association.

The findings were a jolt to many in the evangelical music industry, who expected churchgoing teens to be mindful of the Commandment, "Thou shalt not steal."

"I'm surprised and disappointed that the behavior isn't that ardently different between Christians and non-Christians," said John Styll, president of the Gospel Music Association, the leading trade group for evangelical music.

But not everybody thinks the pirating is a bad thing. After all, some church leaders say, isn't getting the Gospel out more important than getting paid? How can it be wrong if it saves souls?

"That's convoluted logic," said Barry Landis, president of Word Records, a major Christian label. "You would never steal Bibles to give them away. You shouldn't steal Christian music to give away either."

I don't have any great insight into this debate. It does seem somewhat amazing that in an area which really is black and white, so many of us are able see...and hear gray. I also find it ironic that the people making the music and the people illegally downloading the music are really guilty of the same thing: greed.