The beautiful simplicity of the video above, in which a Kindness song is broken down and demonstrated to a young boy, is effective because it explores the dynamic of young children being introduced to contemporary ‘adult’ culture. Videos working on this theme have been repeatedly popular over the past few years. Whether they are candidly reviewing Skrillex at a makeshift disco, harmonising their way through Ariel Pink tracks or simply waking up and having an instinctive bop to Waka Flocka Flame, there is clearly something we find endlessly fascinating about children interacting with music from outside the mainstream cultural frame, which would otherwise be unlikely to enter their sphere.
There’s been a bit of a furore recently over a blog post by Emily White, an intern at NPR All Songs Considered and GM of her college radio station, in which she acknowledges that while she has 11,000 songs in her music library, the vast majority have been obtained through borrowing from friends, mix CDs, ripping music from her college radio station, and – yes – even some from file sharing sites. She’s only ever paid for about 15 CDs in her life.
This isn’t particularly surprising; in the internet age, it is astonishingly easy to access music for free, and a huge number of people do – 95% of music downloads in 2008 were illegal. What has surprised many people is her unashamed tone:
“I honestly don’t think my peers and I will ever pay for albums. I do think we will pay for convenience… What I want is one massive Spotify-like catalog of music that will sync to my phone and various home entertainment devices… 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?”
There have been prominent articles condemning and defending this attitude. I don’t wish to get embroiled in a debate about the morality of her post. What I find interesting are the parallels we can draw with other moral behaviour and what this may say about human moral cognition.