Do you want people to enjoy your work, or build a shrine to it?

So, I'm back home, and I'm going to try to get gradually back into the swing of things. Emotional issues aside (because those are so very easy to ignore), as a practical matter my brother's death puts quite a bit of responsibility on me, so let's just say I don't expect to be brilliantly focused. And I may just need to switch projects for a while--like I said before, Trials is kind of a rough book with a lot of loss in it, and it may just be too much right now. I really, really, really do not want to produce my very own version of Accordion Crimes.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago Dialectrix, who is an Australian hip-hop artist who I happen to like a lot (listen here), posted this rant about how people should not buy his music digitally, because then you'll listen to the songs out of order and ignore his beautiful cover art and won't be able to display it on your shelves so that all your friends can see it.

And wow, the whole thing is both totally misguided and coming from a place I can totally understand. The minute you finish a major project, be it an album or a novel, you feel really entitled to some serious love! You don't want to think about, say, giving it away for free (a strategy, I should note, that has been working just fine this past month despite receiving zero attention from me), or people ripping your songs out from their careful order and mixing them up with a bunch of other music like they were some kind of radio DJ or something!

"I see the convenience in newer technologies," writes Dialectrix, but he's kidding himself. What he doesn't see is that if the technology isn't convenient, I won't use it. At this point, if the music is not on my iPod (which I can plug into both my home and car stereo), I simply don't listen to it. And that actually predated my getting the iPod--I increasingly was not bothering to buy CDs or to listen to the ones I bought because it was kind of a pain. (Just like I was increasingly not buying paper books, come to think of it--it's the clutter factor.)

The way things are now, I listen to Dialectrix all the time--in fact, I listen to him even more than I really want to because my iPod has fallen in love and plays his music every other song. (Easy there, iPod--he's a married father. And I think he may be a little prejudiced against your kind.) If I did what Dialectrix wanted, I would never actually consume the media he produces, which seems rather counterproductive

And of course, Dialectrix is risking pushback from fans who feel insulted and put upon by these sorts of demands. At least Dialectrix is still making his work available digitally (unlike Stephen King who seems to be actively wooing pirates). Nonetheless, it's easy to get pirated digital media for free, and I think the last thing you want to do is tell the people who do pay for your digital media that you don't appreciate it.