In the wake of the collective Internet freakout over SOPA and PIPA, and the ongoing conversation about whether services like Spotify can create an artist-sustainable model for online music consumption, a new voice of sanity has surfaced in the commentary wilderness. David Lowery has done time in the bands Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven; as an economics lecturer at the University of Georgia; as a board of advisors member at Groupon, and bears a long list of nerd bona fides. He has firsthand experience in nearly every aspect of the debate on how tech culture is changing the music industry.
But what makes his writing for the blog The Trichordist so compelling is his unflinching devotion to artists and their livelihoods -- a bedrock principle that often pits him against the titans of today's culture-consumption technology. His polemical but non-wonky, numbers-don't-lie essays are worth spending an afternoon with. But two recent posts have caught fire for their contrarian bomb-chucking at the conventional wisdom about tech and the moral vacuum that leaves artists as the third wheel in the new music economy.
One, which ran Monday, is a responseto an essay by an intern at NPR'sAll Songs Considered program. In it, the author admits she has led a "music-centric" life for all her Millennial existence (culminating with a coveted internship at one of the most influential music-journalism outlets in the country), but has paid for only maybe 15 albums in her life. She posted it as a rejoinder to an article about the dwindling need to own physical or even digital records, but many commenters were dispirited that she didn't see this lifetime of free music consumption as, well, wrong in any way -- especially as such a professed fan of music.