Friday, August 3, 2012

[EDITORIAL] #stopdumpingmusic

I know, I'm probably an ice age late on getting to this topic, but I feel like I need to share for those who aren't informed. If you follow a bunch of Korean hip hop artists on Twitter, I'm sure that for the past few weeks, you've seen a bunch of tweets with the hashtag #stopdumpingmusic mixed with a bunch of Korean, and just by looking at the hashtag itself you guys probably understand the gist of what the campaign is aiming for. But let me inform you on how severe the issue is and what it entails. Unlike the United States where iTunes is the main source for online music downloads, Korea on the other hand has a bunch of music sites that cater the public. To list a few, the big name sites are Cyworld (Music), Bugs, MelOn, Olleh, and Soribada.

It's great that you can get your music on various online music sites, but here's where the problem comes in. Unline iTunes where the standard cost of one song alone is $0.99, the estimated cost of one song on average in Korea is roughly $0.52, nearly half the cost of what iTunes has it for. Here's an example to showcase the severity of this issue. Let's say you purchase mini album on iTunes (roughly 4-5 songs in a mini album). You'd pay about $4-$5 for 4-5 songs. Now, let's apply that to Korea's case and for 4-5 songs, you'd be paying $2.50-$3. You think this is bad? Let me get to the best part of all this. In order to attract more customers, online music sites have special "package" deals where if you pay a certain amount, you can purchase more songs. So for 4,000won (roughly $3.50 USD), you can buy a total of 20 songs. Do the math and you're basically paying $0.17 for each song. And from the average of $0.52 per song in Korea, the actual artists or producers who have copyright over the song gain a small percentage from that $0.52. To top the cherry on this whole ordeal is that Korea also has what's called an 'infinite streaming' service. This may be popularly known to KPOP fans when they 'stream' for their idols, raising the song on the charts for real time and daily. In the world of KPOP, this is considered good but in the world of underground and indie artists, this is bad. I'm not sure how else to put it other than adding 'very' to the bad because it's that bad. Through the 'infinite streaming' service, customers can buy certain package deals that last them 10 days, 30 days, or a few months varying by price and what this system is, is that you can stream the songs on a host player from what the online music site provides without downloading the song. You can listen to it however many times you want and you can listen to other songs for an infinite amount of time up until the expiration date of your coupon. And in the world of infinite streaming, copyrights don't exist meaning that artists don't earn any money from it. All they earn is their name moving up the charts by a couple of levels and that's it.

To put everything I said into perspective, what would you think people would choose between the two options of either downloading a song or an infinite streaming package? Obviously the latter since it'll cost them less money to listen to the songs they want an infinite amount of times. This is why the system is so messed up, and this is why the campaign is happening. People who genuinely don't care about the music choose the latter without thinking how much time, effort, and investment (financially as well) goes into making these songs in which the artists gain nothing from.

Reality hit me hard when I began to read all of the #stopdumpingmusic tweets on my timeline and one that really had an impact was a tweet from Lil Boi from Geeks when he said,
"I didn't start doing this for money, but..everyone probably knows that the song Officially Missing You has earned a hit of over a couple hundred thousand downloads but the actual money I receive from copyrights is the same as the lowest minimum wage paid for a part-time job. To know that I may have to live the rest of my life like this makes the value of music decrease for me."
For the past few weeks, the campaign went viral with extreme cases being that people legitimately protested on the streets to more casual shows of support through hosting shows, like Save the Music which is coming up on August 5th.

(Save the Music, campaign Cypher video by artists Vasco, Huckleberry P, Suda, Jerry.K, Analog Sonyeon, Lupi, JJK, and DJ Kaadiq - produced by Kimparkchella)

Right now, there's nothing to do but continue to raise awareness as it seems the people from the higher end have no thoughts on raising the price for the songs so spread the word. If you have an account from any of those sites and are able to purchase songs, it's not wrong of you to purchase from the sites. However, if they put up songs on iTunes or have albums for purchases, I recommend purchasing through the methods I mentioned just now since the artists earn a little more from their copyrights. Don't tweet the hashtag and do nothing about it. Take action. #stopdumpingmusic

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