Earlier this week, a simple request came into our Facebook page. Would we become a fan of “I Buy Music”? Being the music geeks we are, we got on the horn with Cory Brown, founder of Bay Area indie label Absolutely Kosher Records, who started this campaign.
First, the concept: I Buy Music celebrates the act of buying music and the positive effect that music sales have on the people who make it. According to ibuymusic.net, the number one way for music fans to support a more positive, artist-centric music community is to vote with their dollars. In addition to offering t-shirts and stickers with the I Buy Music logo, the website asks music fans to sign this pledge:
“I pledge to pay for the music I consume. I have a sense of the depth in which music enriches our lives, both in terms of my own life and as a society. I recognize that the people who create music and make it available to the public should have some say in how that music is presented and distributed. I understand that making this music takes time, effort and money and that those people have an inalienable right to earn a living wage from their efforts in proportion to the popularity of the music in question. I agree to be responsible for my own debt to the musicians whose music I own and the people who work hard to bring that music to me. As a point of pride, I support musicians. I BUY MUSIC.”
When speaking to Cory Brown about the inspiration for the project, he mentioned that he’d just finished reading the book Switch, which — in a nutshell — urges people to “find the bright spots and duplicate them” when trying to make positive change. After running an indie label for over 15 years, Cory recognized who his bright spots are in this day and age: people who actually purchase music. They are the folks who make it possible for him to continue to release music and compensate bands on his roster. I Buy Music is an effort to honor the music buyer.
Today, there are a host of ways, old and new, for musicians to make money making music (we’ve enumerated 29 of them). It’s easier than ever for enterprising musicians to avoid gatekeepers and middlemen in the industry and reach out to fans directly in a truly DIY fashion. But all of these new opportunities rest on the premise that people will actually pay for music in some form.
What we like about the I Buy Music campaign is the way it avoids chastising and finger-pointing to emphasize the facts that everyone can agree on: Selling music is a tried and true way for musicians to earn money by making art. When you buy music — on CD, LP or digitally — you support the artists who make them.
For the price of a cup of coffee, the campaign asserts, you could support a starving musician:
“If each person were to download one album a week, they’d have a very impressive collection of over 50 albums by the end of the year that they can keep forever, guilt free, knowing they’ve done their part to support the musicians in question. Many people spend more per week on coffee than they do on music. Brew at home and get a reusable thermos or travel mug and buy an album forever. $9.99 is less than a pizza pie! 3 or 4 beers at most! Waaay less than a 3-D movie!”
If you only follow to the Gagas and Beibers and Kanyes of the world, you may not see a community populated by artists in dire need of a financial boost. What we really like about the “I Buy Music” campaign is that it’s powered by voices from the indie community, where sales actually do make a world of difference.