Dear Blue Note, Sony, and EMI

After many years of annoyance, today I have finally decided to stop buying your CDs. This decision didn’t come lightly and I can assure you that I thought long and hard about it, but the decision is final. I will neither buy, promote nor talk about your CD releases anymore.

Let me explain.

I am a music collector. In the past 20 years, I have bought thousands of CDs. In fact, now that I reorganized my entire collection, sold some items and got rid of some doubles, my collection spans roughly 38 meters of CDs (yes, I’m too lazy to count them). Each and every one is legal and was paid for, more often than not also at a considerable price. And I’m not even going to mention the positively large LP collection and the thousands of digital files I was stupid enough to purchase from you. If we lined those up, we could probably double the meters.

Because I’m a member of the three largest jazz clubs in my area, I know that there is only a handful of collectors who even approach the number of CDs I have. And we’re talking more than 450,000 people here. And because I’m also a member of the three largest music forums on the Internet, I know that I’m not the only one with such a large collection (mine is actually comparatively small) unwilling to support your efforts anymore. There are many others. I’m just late to the game.

In the past I have actually defended your move to copy-protect virtually each and every CD you release in Germany, basically stating that copy protection did/does NOT harm the sonic qualities of your releases, despite what other people have said. I have an excellent stereo and so far, I have never noticed any sonic deficiencies with any copy-protected CDs I own.

What I object to is being treated like an asshole, criminal and idiot by you. There are other record labels, but because a large part of my collection is directly or indirectly connected to you or your subsidiaries, I have singled you out for a permanent boycott. There’s more than enough music out there. I simply don’t need yours.

Actually I think it is only fair that I attach to your companies and subsidiaries the labels that you’ve personally slapped onto my forehead: assholes, criminals and idiots.

Sue me, if you like.

I object to you installing illegal software on my PC, I object to you infringing on my privacy and other basic rights, and I certainly object to you insulting me continuously. Not only are you telling me that I’m not any better than the next crook down the road, you also have the nerve to insult my intelligence and to torture me with the most inane explanations, excuses and rhetorical cartwheels.

I can definitely understand your anger when it comes to illegal downloads, illegal copying and general piracy rampant in today’s society. I’m not even sure I agree with people who would say that you brought that about yourself, although some of the blame surely rests squarely on your shoulders.

But it’s not my goddamn fault, so spare me.

Let me briefly try to explain what really makes me mad, really pisses me off and on bad days really makes me fly into a blinding rage.

Firstly, you try your darn best to prevent me from listening to my music either on my expensive stereo or on my equally expensive PC (and I’ve also heard often enough that you make darn sure that nobody can listen to your releases in their cars anymore either … I’m glad I don’t have a car, believe you me). I certainly agree that if I buy a CD I own the rights to that CD only, but with the crap you have forced down my throat these past months and years, I’m not even sure I own the right to what I bought from you anymore. Why? Well, some of what I bought doesn’t play on my CD player (which cost an arm and a leg) and, of course, my PC often locks up when I just insert your CDs.

Hell, I know how to disable all the shite you try to protect your discs with. The problem is that I simply don’t feel like it anymore. I don’t feel like pressing “Shift” anymore whenever I put a CD in my drive, expecting the whole system to go down the chute the instant the CD starts spinning, I don’t feel like playing around with pencils or needles anymore trying to unlock one of your CDs in my drive, I don’t want to see my $2000 CD player stutter anymore and I’m certainly not going to risk ruining it with your inferior products anymore either.

There are standards. If you don’t follow them, you are consciously doing your best to damage your customers’ equipment or render it useless. I don’t care what it is – I’m not going to take it anymore.

Secondly, you buggers have absolutely no respect for your customers. You are constantly offending the customers shelving out incredible amounts of money to sustain your miserable lives and disgusting business policies. You think that you can get me to finance your failures of the past? Think again.

You’re not getting one single cent from me anymore.
Zilch.
Nada.
Nothing.

Thirdly, I object to you insisting that all the cash you reap from imbeciles like me is redistributed to the artists that you have a responsibility for. That’s bullsh*t, and you know it. You’re spending ever more money on the useless promotion of one-hit wonders, court cases against unsuspecting grandmothers, press campaigns defending your asinine anti-customer policies, image campaigns and criminal software.

It is nothing but a giant potlatch on a global scale.

Fourthly, I definitely object to you locking up valuable cultural achievements, keeping them in your mouldy vaults to let them wither away unheard. If you think that the world needs the crap you continuously force down our throats, think again. If you think that the world needs thirteen Norah Jones clones, Cincotti carbon copies or remix projects of perfectly good classic recordings, think again. I don’t need a yardstick to measure the amount of crap you release instead of finding valuable talent, forcing real artists into alternative business models or simply dropping them like hot iron. If you respect neither customer nor artist, it’s time to call it quits.

It might not hurt you right now, but I’m really looking forward to throwing nine or ten Euro-Pop CDs on your graves once you are dead and buried.

God, there’s more.
Lots of it.
But I just don’t feel like it anymore. It’s been an uneasy marriage these past years and I’m more than ready for a divorce.

You’ve lost a long-standing customer.
For good.

I know that my decision will not be noticed by you in the slightest. To put it into more popular terms, you couldn’t give a flying f*ck about me not buying your products. Cool with me. But know this: more and more people like me are abstaining from your products. The backbone of your income is creaking and breaking and it is my prediction that because of that very reason, you will simply disappear from the face of this earth before long.

And you know what I have to say about that?
Good riddance.
I’ve had it.

And a hearty “f*ck you too”.

Sincerely,
Volkher Hofmann

Posted by Volkher Hofmann

Volkher Hofmann (deus62) has been blogging on and off since the 1990s and deus62.com is all that is left. He loves music, literature, drumming and, most of all, real life. He thinks the open web is much more important than social networks, closed-in ecosystems and other severely commercialized online endeavors.

  1. Amen brother!  Seriously, nice job – very well written.

    I’m tired of being treated like a criminal.  The only ones not suffering those who either don’t buy their products or are acquiring them illegally… why do I have to suffer when I’m actually PAYING for you products?

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  2. hear hear!  well said.

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  3. I’m a huge music fan andI used to spend ~ USD$250 per month on new (or lost) CDs but haven’t for the last few years because 1) frankly there’s less and less new music worth listening too being released by the labels, 2) the costs of CDs became outrageous (a new release DVD movie is only slightly more and sometimes LESS!), 3) as I learn more about music “cost accounting” I find that the artists are getting almost none of it, and 4) now the labels wanna treat their customers like criminals rather than fix their broken business model. Since then I’ve only purchased music from artists at their live shows – primarily small independents in small clubs. Sometimes I can get a t-shirt & cd from them (plus signed) for the price of one major-release CD in a store.

    To add to this, I also no longer go to concerts where I can only get tickets via TicketMaster. Their “convenience” fees are outrageous and I simply won’t support them. As a result I missed seeing both Robert Plant and the Gypsy Kings in Atlanta last summer which makes me very sad… 🙁

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  4. I couldn’t have said it better myself!

    I am a Heavy Metal/Hard Rock collector and I used to blow about $75-100 USD per week an new and used CDs. I like to think that my collection is large but, in collector’s circles, it is relatively small.

    My purchases used to be made at various area independent stores but they have all but shut down under the pressure of big business and e-commerce. I find myself buying more online via a band’s website or thru independent labels. Prices are always better online than the big box stores anyway.

    I feel the same way you do toward any company that acts the way Sony, etc. operate. It is a poor business model to alienate, prosecute, and vandalize your primary target: the consumer.

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  5. @ Ben Scherrey: My collection has not reached the saturation point yet, so I am still buying releases and reissues by the major labels. I’m just going to avoid copy-protected CDs from now on – out of principle. It’s going to hurt, because some of those releases I’d really like to have.

    I have also always tried to support musicians by buying directly from them either from an online site or at live concerts. My budget is just not big enough to be able to do it as often as I would want to. And don’t get me started on prices for concert tickets (but thanks for inspiring a future post).

    Nice business model on your site, btw!

    @ Steve Angulo: The problem of disappearing independent stores is also one I notice over here. Some of the places I used to shop tons of stuff at caved in under the massive attack of the big chains. I have to admit though that my own hunt for cheaper purchases online is also contributing to the demise of the smaller businesses.

    Informative site you have there! I used to be a metal head myself (NWoBHM in the late 70s, beginning 80s) and your top releases for 2005 list two I’m very fond of – the new (“old”) Priest (which I still have to see live, as I went to every single concert in my area in the 70s/80s) and the surprisingly good Deep Purple CD. Keep up the good work! Bookmarked.

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  6. Some Random Guy22/01/2006 at 1:21 am

    Amen, brother.  I used to collect Jazz CDs (mostly 30s-50s stuff), and I am utterly sick of the crap that these music compaines are pulling.  I haven’t bought a CD from anything but independent artists in about a year and a half now, and don’t expect to buy a CD ever again from the vile record companies who treat their customers like criminals.

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  7. Copy protection is one of the reasons why I hardly buy a major release these days…one of the other is that there’s so much great music released independently out there you really don’t need the stuff majors release.

    Nevertheless, I bought two or three new releases by major labels in 2005. Verve/Universal to be exact. And that’s where I have to object to you. I haven’t seen a Universal release with copy protection in Germany yet. Maybe they only cripple their pop/rock CDs and not the jazz CDs?

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  8. Nothing more to say. I

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  9. How eloquent.  I agree with you.  I am even trying to stay away from Sony entertainment in general.  I make a point of watching for them to sponsor something, and then I write to the other sponsors who clumped in and tell them I won’t buy their products either…

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  10. Hear, hear. Well said. I wrote a similar ariticle Von Un-CDs, Rootkits und rechtelosen Musikhoerern.

    But it is written in German.

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  11. Great story. I stopped buying CD’s a few months ago. Have had trouble with copy protection. Here in Holland we pay tax for being able to copy a CD! And downloading in Holland/Europe is legal. The goverment should shut up these motherfuckers because adding copy protection is against the law.

    But I am like you. Their time is up. I am not paying for these CD’s anymore.

    I believe in Creative Commons licenses instead of those stinking ‘All rights reserved’ stuff. Because CC helps the artists and kills the middle men, those fuckers who are drivin’ big cars and buy expensive houses. I ignore them!

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  12. Amazing Volkher!  The big players in the music industry seem to think they’re indestructible.  But it’s people like you who have kept them going and it’s people like you who will hurt them the most when you chose not to support them any longer.

    I’ve been into punk rock, ska and reggae for many years now and have bought very few major label releases.  When I decided to stop buying anything released or distributed by a Major, my impact was no doubt, slim to none.  But you on the other hand – they’ll feel your blow.

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  13. My collection isn’t THAT huge. 😉

    But yes, I know that there are many like me (some of the comments here also clearly show that), so it has to be noticed at some point.

    I’m just afraid that the major labels will place the responsibility for the future losses directly related to this customer boycott on someone else’s shoulders once again.

    Still, it’s worth trying.

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  14. Well n’ right spoken!

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  15. I just want to reach one of the majors’ executives and ask him this simple question:

    “Name one CD release, where your anti-theft measures prevented it from being released on the Web. ONE.”

    Related: ”Sony, I download your music

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  16. I’ve stopped buying CDs.

    I started getting into jazz, then realised that even jazz CDs are corrupted by so-called ‘copy protection’.

    Screw ‘em. Buying music simply isn’t fun anymore. The whole industry stinks… it will collapse within 10 years, and it deserves to. Sure, it will hurt a few innocent artists and labels, but them’s the breaks.

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