The Null Device

Defending the value of music

Recording company bosses are livid after the BBC makes MP3s of Beethoven's symphonies available for downloading:
Managing director of the Naxos label, Anthony Anderson, said: "I think there is a question of whether a publicly funded broadcaster should be doing this and there is the obvious issue that it is devaluing the perceived value of music. You are also leading the public to think that it is fine to download and own these files for nothing."
Of course, the value of music that the label executives are so valiantly defending is not its use value (how much enjoyment it can bring) but its exchange value (how useful it is as a currency).

In today's dominant ideology of Reaganite-Thatcherite monetarism, where the key participants are corporations (beings incapable of actually experiencing the use value of art) and humans are merely the microorganisms in their guts, art is primarily currency; any subjective artistic or aesthetic value is secondary. Scarcity is essential to the value of a currency, and any loss of scarcity damages that value. Which is why copying is seen not as cultural cross-pollination but as equivalent to currency counterfeiting, making music available for free, even when legal, is considered unethical.

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