The best response to her words came from David Lowery, who teaches in the University of Georgia music business program and who's written songs for indie darling Cracker and for Camper Van Beethoven, who would have been an indie darling if we had been using the word "indie" when we were buying their albums. Lowery is detailed, patient and thorough but the best summation of what he says is to ask the young lady and the folks like her why they have no problem enriching the corporations that make the equipment on which they listen to or collect their music, like iPods and laptops but seem to feel no obligation to support the not-nearly-as-rich musicians who create it. He says that instead of using our morality and moral sense to guide us through the technological changes of modern life, we're conforming our morality to how technology has changed.
Lowery and Jason Morehead here unpack the issues so that I don't need to rehash them, and Drew McManus talked to a couple of radio stations and their attorneys about Ms. White's use of her college radio station's library to supplement her music collection. Although I've bookmarked the essay to send to anyone who ever suggests I contribute to an NPR funding drive. But Ms. White closes with this sentence:
All I require is the ability to listen to what I want, when I want and how I want it. Is that too much to ask?I really hope there's some irony lurking in there somewhere, especially in the word "require." Otherwise we have to conclude that being a senior at American University in Washington, D.C., is the same as being any three-year-old anywhere, and Ms. White's professors have only a year left to teach her that "All I want is whatever I want whenever I want it" is a path unlikely to lead to fulfillment. Otherwise the rest of life will have to offer that lesson, and it may not do so patiently.