Brian Smith, Detroit Metro Times
Napster imbued the music world with some confounding ethics questions--does the artist really lose out more than they do with their studio contracts? Or do they gain exposure to crowds that normally wouldn't buy a CD anyway? The same can be asked of the more enduring and sentimental music fans' tradition of bootlegs, which Brian Smith discusses in the
Detroit Metro Times.
To Smith as a kid, "boots created another avenue for study of my heroes. They gave me the sheer joy of discovery that the stars of my pantheon were fallible--raw, even. It was like reading an early draft of a favorite author. My childhood icons proved to be human." But bootlegs became more complicated as Smith became an adult: "On one hand, bootlegs are necessary. I mean, how else can one find something like the Rockets which is out of print and hasn't been reissued on CD or vinyl? But as somebody who has survived on nothing but songwriter's royalties for a few years, I have empathy for anyone who gets robbed of royalties."