Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor is no stranger to speaking his mind in a public forum. In an interview with Billboard recently, he said while he thinks music is devalued if it's free, he feels like paying for music is ultimately an era gone by in human history. Keep in mind he's speaking from an objective point of view regarding how he sees the music world moving, as well as a personal point of view with where he thinks things should be going.
“It’s something I spent a lot of time thinking about. I think that paying for music is a relic of an era gone by — and I’m saying that as somebody who hopes you pay for music. I’ve spent my life trying to make this thing that now everyone thinks should be free. U2, there [was] an incentive to get in front of as many eyes as possible. I can see what was appealing to them about that, and they’re getting paid for it. There’s the argument of, “Did that help further devalue music?” Yes, I think it did.
When you put your music on, or allow your music to be on, YouTube, which is free, is that [devaluing music]? There’s a whole generation of kids that listen to music on YouTube, and they’ll suffer through that ad if there is one. They’re not going to pay a dollar for that song — why would you? It’s a complex problem.”
I definitely agree with his notion that music being free to stream, or being as much as the price of something disposable like a cup of coffee, devalues the art form a little bit. On one hand, I see how streaming and non-ownership is disheartening to an artist given music is more of a commodity now than it is something valued and treasured in the physical and moral sense. On the other hand, I think sites like YouTube and Spotify need to exist… without those, wouldn't piracy skyrocket? Would you have heard of half the artists you listen to now?
What say you? Also, buy your damn music and show some love for your artists.