I admit it – when it comes to music, I’m really a simpleton. True music buffs probably would call me “part of the problem” or something equally bad. I may hear a song on the radio, or perhaps in a commercial or in movie credits and go “oh, I like that one” which causes all the musically sophisticated people to roll their eyes in unison and/or do a facepalm and proceed to explain to me how popular music is total crap, or how that particular band sold out years ago and respectable people shun it now. It can be quite embarrassing sometimes and thus I rarely admit to liking certain songs until I’m sure that I’m not committing some unforgivable social faux pas. I usually hide my true nature as a musically inept, unsophisticated, (even barbaric) freak of nature around people I don’t know very well.
I guess due to some fatal flaw in my brain I don’t seem to be capable of picking a very narrow genre of music to worship and shun just about everything else. I mean, I’m like this with technology too – I might be opinionated, but not religious about my software. I use vim, emacs, eclipse and visual studio – whichever seems to be the best tool for a job at a given time. That’s how I view music too – I sample from different genres and usually find something easy on the ears in each one. Apparently this is a shameful habit which is frowned upon by civilized people. Apparently if you know what music someone listens too, you can make all sorts of judgments about their personality. Personally, I’d never judge people on something like their taste in music or, I don’t know, the browser they use, but I digress.
Because of this strange quirk in my musical sense, I get hopelessly perplexed every time someone asks me what music do I listen to. I honestly do not know what to say. You’d think I’d have a stock answer for this by now, but I don’t. So usually before I try to change the subject I just blurt out something like “oh, you know… I like just about everything” which sounds silly and contrived every single time. Seriously, there is just no one genre that I could pick as my favorite. This is even worse when people start talking about their favorite bands, albums, songs and artists. It’s horrible cause I don’t have any. I tend to like 2-3 particular songs per artist on average. I never really liked the ideas of albums because to me they were always a mix of 80% filler stuff that I did not care for and 20% of total win. I know that many people think differently but again – I’m a freak of nature here.
Also, I tend to identify music using the mnemonic device called “the song that goes like this” where I start humming the tune or try to sing the words (badly) and then get embarrassed and stop. Most “civilized” folks will then tell me the artist, the album, the name of the track, the year it was released the record company and etc. I usually don’t make a point to remember all of that cause it’s in the mp3 tags – right? I mean, I can look it up next time it comes up – right.
As you can imagine talking about music makes me uncomfortable, because I tend to just enjoy it rather than study and/or worship it. So whenever this conversation happens I try to steer it towards the more familiar grounds. Like, where do you get your music. Cause that opens up a whole new list of topics I actually can talk about at length like filesharing, best torrent sites, evils of DRM and etc. That’s the stuff I know and care for.
For example, I couldn’t care less who sings that song that goes “dam dam di dam”, or whether it is classified as pop, rock, hip-hop or r&b. What I really care about is whether or not it is locked up by DRM. After all that is what really affects my ability to enjoy the music. All that other stuff is just meta-info that I can look up later. Sadly, most people think the opposite. They don’t really care about DRM because:
- It is an acronym, and acronyms are scary things that only nerds understand
- It doesn’t affect them personally, because they don’t know their music has it
- Besides, if it helps the artists to get paid, then it can’t be bad
Time and time again I tried to explain to people why DRM is bad, but I realize now that I have been going about it the wrong way. There are really two ways to approach the subject:
- Theoretical way: using reason, logic and particular examples
- Practical: by telling people about a personal experience so that they can emphasize
Little did I know that logic and reason is the domain of the stuck up elites, and academic eggheads. Normal people hate logic because it confuses them. Worse, when you talk to them in a logical way, and ask them to use reason and common sense they feel offended. They go “who the hell does this guy think he is, telling us to be all logical and stuff”. This pisses people off and they stop listening. So I could talk till I’m blue in the face how DRM is cryptologically unsound, and draw diagrams with Bob, Alice and Eve (where Alice==Eve). I could talk about how DRM is offensive and implies we customers are all criminals. But all of that just aggravates the issue and does not impart any understanding on the civilized folks who like to buy their music at iTunez.
It seems that it is much more effective to appeal to these people on an emphatic emotional level and tell them a story of how you lost your music collection due to DRM.
comic © xkcd
Unfortunately (or fortunately for me) I was smart enough to avoid DRM all my life so I have no personal horror stories to share. Sad but true. Do you have any stories I could use? If you do, please share them below. I’d totally appreciate it, as it would help me to put a personal spin on these stories.
Common argument I get from DRM apologists is naturally the “Apple wouldn’t do me that way” argument. The reasoning here is that since Apple is not going anywhere anytime soon your music is safe. At any time you can go and de-authorize your old devices and authorize new ones. Likelihood of Apple going out of business, even in the shitty economy we have now is almost infinitesimal. And it’s not like they could just switch of iTunes since it is one of their biggest sources of income.
I agree – they are not going anywhere, and they are not going to just switch of iTunes. It doesn’t mean they are not going to fuck you over one day once iTunes ceases to be profitable. It may happen – someone will one day come up with a better service, snatch their market share and then all iTunes users will get stuck with collections forever bound to 5 old machines they no longer use. After all, this is precisely what Microsoft, Yahoo and Wallmart have done recently. All were huge corporations with tons of money and assets. No one expected them to go out of business. But at some point their DRM offering stopped being profitable (or perhaps it never was but they got tired of dumping money into it) and they pulled the plug.
When your music collection becomes obsolete it won’t be because some catastrophic bankruptcy, hostile takeover of the century, a nuclear war breaking out or asteroid hitting the earth. It will be because some CEO making an executive decision to phase it out to save money, improve the bottom line of the company or simply to make you re-buy all your songs from their new service. Sad thing is that I’m probably preaching to the choir here. Normal people who buy DRM’d music don’t read my blog because… Well, because they don’t read as a rule. No, I’m serious.
Do this experiment – go up to people you know and ask them if they read any good books lately. More than a half the time you going to get an answer among the lines of “I don’t really have time to read books”. The rest of the people will either tell you about some silly self-help book, a pulpy romance/action novel paperback they picked up at Wallmart counter for $1.50 or the bible. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with reading the bible – it’s just, you know – nice to branch out sometimes and read other types of literature too.
I was sort of shocked when I started doing that. Over time I got used to the idea that majority of the population is only semi-literate and that for most people a page of text without any pictures is scary and boring. It is quite terrifying but then again when you watch the news and it sort of makes sense. You see the half coherent, illogical drivel and nonsense all around and then you remember that after all these are the very same people who don’t read, don’t learn and don’t want to know shit. And then you start to wonder what kind of music do these idiots on TV listen to – cause then you could like totally judge them harsher!