|Back when you could tell who the real pirates were by their uniforms
I went to Target the other day to buy some new balls for my dogs. As I walked out of the store, a thought occurred to me. I’d just paid five bucks for two small pieces of round rubber that my dogs would more than likely kill by the end of the week. Granted, they did have smiley faces on them, and they were “high bounce” ones, which they love, but still.
That same five dollars could have bought me lunch at one of the many fast-food places in the shopping centre.
It could have bought me two chocolates from the charity box at work, with the added bonus of going to a good cause.
That lazy five bucks could also have bought me five books for my kindle, with a couple of cents change.
Why am I telling you this? Because everything has a value, and value is in the eye of the buyer.
When I want to buy something, I research it. I price-check and compare. If I don’t think it’s worth whatever the asking price is, I don’t buy it. Simple as that really.
Why is digital content any different?
It seems no matter who you talk to, they’ve either downloaded content illegally, or know someone who has. Most times, they often don’t see what the problem is. They might feel a bit “naughty” about it, but that’s it.
Arguments range from “the musicians are rich enough as it is, they’re not missing any money”, to “I wouldn’t have bought it anyway”. Or “I’ve discovered lots of bands/authors by downloading pirated versions of their work, and downloaded the rest of their stuff legally.”
These are excuses. They’re borne from having very little or no connection with the people they hurt. Let’s forget about mega-famous artists like Pink, or Madonna, or Bon Jovi. Let’s also forget about big-name authors like Stephen King, Stephanie Myer and JK Rowling. And let’s forget about Hollywood, Brad Pitt and Steven Spielberg.
Let’s forget about all those famous names for a moment, and think about people like me. Writers whose sole ambition is to publish books for people to read and enjoy. Writers, artists and musicians who work hard for years, even decades, to make enough money to quit their day jobs and work on their passions full-time.
(FYI – only a very minute percentage get to do that)
How would they ever be able to contemplate that if people like you don’t see enough value in their hard work to pay 99c for an e-book, $1.69 for a song, or $10 for a movie?
Look, I buy books from the bargain table all the time. I’ve also downloaded a number of free books on the kindle from authors I wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. I get the “value to entertainment ratio”, because on top of being a writer, I’m also a consumer.
The thing is, when you download a pirated version, you take the power away from the creator of that music, book or movie to offer it for free in the first place. It’s rare these days for those of us starting out to not offer something for free. It’s a great marketing ploy. But it’s within our own control to do it.
It’s also well within our rights as artists to expect something in return for our efforts.
You know me. You know what this writing gig means to me. You know how hard I work to make this my full time career. Would you have me working for nothing? Would you have me effectively waste all those years, slogging away at a keyboard, trying to learn my craft in order to produce something I think someone might want to read and enjoy?
Do you value me, and my work, so little that you would choose pirated over paying me a small amount of money in appreciation for my efforts at entertaining you?
All those big names I mentioned earlier? They all started in complete obscurity, working hard until they got that one role, produced that one song, or wrote that one book, that broke them away from the millions of others they were competing against. The money, fame and accolades are fair pay for all their struggles to get to where they are.
There’s no such thing as an over night sensation, but it’s what most of us are working our arses off to achieve.
And those little yellow bouncy balls? They’re still going strong – for now – and they’re giving me, and my dogs, a lot more value than a cheeseburger or a couple of chocolates would have.
Photo by ~Sincere Stock~