Almost a year ago, on June 21, 2015, Taylor Swift published a letter to Apple. In the letter, she explained why she would initially keep her music from Apple's brand-new streaming service, Apple Music. Her letter, and her earlier decision to remove her music from Spotify, sparked criticism from hundreds of people. They only saw Taylor's comments that Spotify doesn't pay artists very much and Apple Music wouldn't be paying any artists, writers, or producers for the 3-month trial of Apple Music. They thought (and many still think this) that she is greedy and only cares about herself. In reality, though, as Taylor explained in both of her statements, she made this decision in support of the smaller artists who don't have sold-out world tours and millions of album sales. The lesser-known artists need every penny they can get, so they can't pull their music from a streaming service that screws them over.
All of this is to say that, while I wish Taylor would return to Spotify, I understand her reasons and I agree with her.
Music has value.
Creative writing has value.
Theatre has value.
Art of any type has value. As C.S. Lewis said, "It has no survival value. Rather, it is one of those things that give value to survival."
Online streaming services and online piracy hurt the art industries and ignore the value of an artist's piece. Many people even expect artists to donate their creations and time by saying, "You'll get good exposure!" Exposure is good and all, but an artist can't afford to do everything for free. There's the cost of materials to consider, for one thing. Secondly, one free piece "for exposure" will often lead to another and another, and that creates a perpetual cycle where artists never get paid.
As a writer, I love to share my prose and poetic pieces. I don't mind putting them on my Tumblr or my blog, where it's free for everyone to view. But, at the same time, I want creative writing to be my career, and we live in a world where one needs to be able to make a living. So, I can't share all my writing for free, especially my novels, which I put months of work into. Would you expect a surgeon to remove your appendix or a mechanic to fix your car for free?
Art of any type is a career option. After all, we're often told to find a field we love so going to work every day won't be a hardship. Yet, creative types are often discouraged from doing what they love full-time because they can't make a living doing it, which is all because many people don't think art has as much value.
Value is subjective, I know. But art saves lives--a creative outlet is often the reason a suicidal person chooses not to end his or her life. Art brings joy on gray days. Art is more important than many people seem to think. Creating and/or enjoying art can be the difference between surviving and thriving.
So next time you're about to read a pirated book online, consider the author you are hurting. Instead of pirating the book, see if your local public library has it. And if they don't, most libraries have a system where you can request books for them to order. The next time you find a song you love on Spotify, don't download it illegally. Buy it on iTunes the next time you have spending money or, if you really love the artist, buy their CD. We can't all make it to Broadway shows, but you can support your local community theater productions and sign petitions asking for legal recordings of Broadway musicals. Go to local art galleries; go to local art museums--many are free or have student discounts or free nights. Make sure to credit artists when you use their drawings and paintings for posts. Give art the value it deserves.