Well I guess you must have had a change of heart
You don't treat me like you used to at the start
Those are lyrics from the first song on the album I just bought, Up Front & Down Low by Teddy Thompson. This is the first album I’ve bought through traditional channels for about ten years. That’s when I pretty much stopped buying music. I've bought a few dozen songs directly from independent musicians, but nothing from the recording industry.
Ten years ago the recording industry wasn’t yet extorting money from music fans, but it was already on the wrong side of things. Specifically, it was still pushing the physical distribution model for music (e.g. CDs) even though digital music was clearly the way forward. So I stopped buying CDs and started waiting for the opportunity to buy digital files instead. And amazingly enough, that opportunity took ten full years to arrive.
“What about iTunes?” you ask. Well, until very recently, you couldn’t buy digital files via iTunes. Because of what is known as "digital rights management" or DRM, iTunes really only sells a temporary license to listen to music under very specific circumstances. I’ve always found that unacceptable.
Before digital music arrived, I could take a CD I bought and give it to my friend to listen to. I can likewise take a car I bought and give it to my friend to drive, or — to use a metaphor you’ve likely heard before a movie — take a candy bar I bought and let my friend taste it. I can generally use my purchases wherever I want and however I want, because they’re mine. In this light, music files with DRM are not mine at all. How I use them is heavily regulated by whoever sold them. So I’ve never “bought” them.
Before I stopped buying music I bought probably an average of two CDs a month. So over ten years, that’s about 240 albums I haven’t bought. That may not be enough for the music industry to miss me, but it’s enough that I’ve missed the music industry. So I’m glad we’re having this reunion.
What reunion? The Amazon MP3 Store reunion. Now that I can finally buy music files and own them, I’m buying music again. I’m sure the music industry looks at this as regaining me as a consumer, but I look at it as regaining them as a vendor. I’ve been sitting around online waiting for them to sell me music for ten years and they just finally showed up with something to sell. So welcome back, music.