Author Archives: obarrett

Music Consumption

The argument is, should music be free?

The simple answer is largely, no. I personally use Spotify, a streaming website/app. Every time I sit in the car, every time I clean my house, and a lot of the times when I walk into restaurants/stores/etc. without even knowing. I pay $5 a month with my student discount. Many artists have talked about how unfairly the platform pays the artist per play of the song. I can understand that but the world has become so much larger and so much smaller at the same time with the advances in technology.

A person can consume music on a worldwide scale instantaneously. I do not think I go even a single day without hearing a new song. The average price of an album is roughly $15 and buying a single song through places like ITunes is approximately $1.58. So for the same price as I pay for Spotify, I could have 3 news songs a month.

It is a game changer. The same way Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, and other streaming websites are about to make cable a relic, Spotify is doing the same for music. Going to a store, buying the album, downloading it onto your computer and dispersing it to your desired device just isn’t practical anymore. Even if you were to buy it online, you are exposed to so many albums and artists, it can be hard to decide. So, the masses turn to options like Spotify.

Artists without a doubt need to be paid for their work. It’s hard to feel guilty I am 100k in student loan debt that bigger name stars are making a couple thousand less a year when they get so much for live performances, appearances, and whatever else. However, for a struggling musician trying to get their music out there, I can sympathize with the need to be paid for just the song because there is not much else in the way of earning.

Especially when Spotify’s CEO is worth over 2 billion.

The Moral Issue

Humans are opportunistic, right?


So, it is necessary for us to have things like patents, copyrights and trademarks to prevent theft. If you create something, you should be recognized and paid for it. This is how it has worked for a very long time.

Thinking back to a previous class discussing GNU Linux, this type of open source, free, unregulated system could really shake the status quo.

My father is a professional computer nerd. I don’t know exactly what he does because it is very foreign to me but he talks about how much he loves Linux.

If Linux is the great, easy to use, intuitive, and smooth operating system, then it flips the idea of copyrights and etc. on its head. Imagine the progress we could see in so many different areas if everyone could build on it. If something is too similar to something created before then it will be shot down in a court of law as not being original enough. And the original will not progress as quickly.

The moral issue of copyright is: what if the first made sucks? What if 100 more hands could build on the original make the original great by comparison? But copyright is holding it back?

Hip-hop and the 808

Hip-hop as genre is young. Many think hip-hop is an all encompassing umbrella which things like rap, ska, funk, etc. fall under. It is a very specific genre. When searching for hip-hop the earliest publication I could find was from 1984, it was titled African Music Sweeps London (AFRICAN MUSIC SWEEPS LONDON. (1984, 10). The Reggae & African Beat, 3, 27-28. Retrieved from

Hip-hop owes its origin to the Roland TR-808 drum. Hitting the market in the 80’s the drum was ultimately a failure in the market; however, its low cost made an otherwise expensive instrument attainable for lower-income households.

If you take a look at the Ngram for hip-hop and the Ngram for the 808 drum you can see the graphs rise almost in unison. The sound of the 808 drum has not died out of hip hop popularity even almost 30 years later.


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An Unpopular Opinion

I don’t believe culture can appropriated as easily as people say.

If you played music, would you begrudge anyone who loved what you played the opportunity to re-imagine it as best they could because they didn’t look like you? Imitation is the truest form of flattery. So, while I believe in giving credit where credit is due, I do not personally think liking something and adapting into your own culture is tantamount to stealing. Miller said, “Listeners construct individual and collective musical worlds out of sounds that they make themselves and sounds that they do not (pg. 17, Segregating Sound). If is is enjoyable to any given individual, but foreign are you allowed only to enjoy it from afar.

I come from multiple ethnic and racial backgrounds. So I got a proverbial free pass on “white people stuff” and “black people stuff.” I was allowed to be both and neither. Depending on the situation and what was convenient to whoever else was involved. So perhaps I have a distorted image of how the world is supposed to work.

But I say if it is beautiful, then may it never die.

Great pieces of music, fabric pattern, art, dance, or whatever it may be should be able to be born and born again anew in the world as many times by as many different people as it can.

Sound should never be segregated. Just as people should never have been. I believe we should learn and grow from each other.

Realism is Ideal

I had a strong southern Baptist upbringing. I attended a Christian school from grade 1 through grade 5 and I always had questions. But it was the devil in me, or so they said and my questions remain unanswered.

There cannot be one ideal because bliss is unique to the individual. Surely a serial killer and I could not have the same idea of happiness. While that may be a drastic comparison, you read this and I would not have the same idea of perfect either.

It is interesting what the internet has done for knowledge and religion and inner peace. We are inundated with photos from celebrities and the rich that show us the life we think we want to live. Depression is at an all time high because with one click we can see everything they have that we do not. So we act on assumptions, and as Carr said, “more information can mean less knowledge (pg. 214, The Shallows). The Internet leads a lot of people with less discerning research ability to believe many things that are not true, or half truths, or truths that are not easy to understand without an experts guidance so they are misunderstood and warped in the minds of an average Joe or Jolene.

The other phenomena this depth of contrasting information provides is a false sense of ideals. Kim Kardashian has the ideal backside, Ariana Grande the best face, this person has the best car, etc. Coverage decides the ideal. The more people see one picture and talk about it or share it, the more others start believing in the catchiest caption as fact. So we collectively decide an ideal without even knowing it.

But realism is the way to go, or everyone is only progressing towards one thing.