The Cult of The Amateur
As I read Keen’s book “The cult of the amateur” I found myself torn between agreement and disagreement with Keen’s arguments. Two chapters that especially interested me were the day the music died [side a] and the day the music died [side b]. In these chapters Keen discusses the impact that downloading music, both legally and illegally has on the music industry.
For a large part of the chapter the day the music died [side a], Keen talks about the “new” idea of getting music for free by means of downloading. On page 108 Keen says, “For 98 percent of today’s ‘consumers’ music is now freer that electricity or water.” This is a part I felt I was in disagreement with. I was not in disagreement with the idea that many people are getting music for free, because they are, but rather the idea that this is something new. When cassette tapes were the most common format for listening to music it was not uncommon to have a large collection of mix tapes, which are cassette tapes that contain unpaid for music recorded from either the radio or another cassette tape.
Getting music for free is not a new concept; the way in which it is done has changed with the invention of new technology and change in the format most commonly used for listening to music. In his argument however, Keen seems to make the argument that while there are similarities between mix tapes and mixed cds via downloading music, that downloading music is worse. Keen argues that downloading music allows you to mass produce and distribute more easily than other formats, but I don’t find that to be true. In my house I have a double cassette deck cassette player that my parents bought in the early 90s, they bought it for the purpose of recording from one cassette onto another so that they could share music with their friends. What they did was basically no different than downloading music, they borrowed a cassette from their friend that they enjoyed, recorded a copy for themselves, and then they made copies for other friends. The only difference was the format.
Throughout most of his arguments Keen appeared to be focusing on the technology, instead of focusing on the main problem. Stealing music is a problem, but it is not a new problem, the problem just continuously camouflages itself in new forms of technology when they are created.