In a series of student blog posts a couple weeks ago, the resounding consensus was that streaming music should be free for the consumer because, well, it’s convenient for the consumer.
As a rebuttal, here is a blog post that outlines the range of costs borne by a photographer that are wrapped up in the process of making a single photograph ($6,612 by his reckoning): http://petapixel.com/2012/01/10/this-photograph-is-not-free/ The author also dispels with the weak argument of being paid in “exposure” or “visibility,” which doesn’t pay the bills and would be considered an unacceptable or even insulting form of payment in any other non-artistic field. Similar hidden costs exist in the fields of music, painting, dance, film, poetry, or literature.
As consumers, we’re willing to absorb lots of indirect costs in the goods we consume: staffing to stock shelves in a store (salaries, taxes, and benefits for those employees, too), electricity to light the store, packaging costs, shipping costs, marketing and research costs to develop the product, executives’ salaries at the various companies involved in making a product available to us — all of these expenses are paid for by consumers when they purchase goods. However, these same background costs are not something we’re willing to pay for with art — it seems that our economic system doesn’t value a painting, a photograph, or a song (and the cost of artists’ supplies, education, or creative time) in the same way it does a box of cereal at the grocery store — hence we argue that music streamed directly to our electronic devices of choice should be free.
P.S., this isn’t a proper Online Class Discussion, just an interesting tidbit of information I came across that seemed germane to current topics of conversation elsewhere on the website. Food for thought!