Without Them

I was listening to music on Spotify when an ad for Spotify itself came on.  The ad mentions how “piracy is so old-fashioned” and that “every track on Spotify makes money for the artist because after all, without them there would be no music for us to enjoy“.

It’s that last part – the “after all, without them there would be no music for us to enjoy” part that resonated with me most.  This simple radio advert is actually pretty profound and is a perfect note to end 2012 on – a year where “you didn’t build that” and “fair share” were tossed around as if the creators of businesses were somehow not quite fully entitled to the fruits of their ideas and labor.

Apparently Spotify believes (and I agree) that the right thing to do to honor the creators of the music is to make sure the creators are paid and not stolen from – because they are in fact the brains behind the music.

The ad’s “Without them” concept can be applied to any business, any product, and the job creators behind those businesses.  “Without them” there is nothing. “Without them” people have no products or services.  “Without them people” have no jobs or ability to sustain their families.

My point here is that millions of people enjoy music thanks to those that create music.  Likewise, millions of people enjoy employment and lifestyles thanks to people who create jobs.  Is there really any difference between a musical artist who creates a song for sale or a businessman who creates pizza? (or any product/service)?  Each has a skill. Each has a product.  Each put effort and training into making that product for sale and… “without them” there is nothing but unfinished ideas and raw materials.

In the classic book Atlas Shrugged, the industrialists, the men and women of thought, vanish from the face of the Earth, going on their own strike of sorts and leaving everything behind including the keys to the car for anyone to pick up where they left off and run things.  Nobody does.  Nobody can.  Nobody remaining behind has the know-how or fortitude to do what the industrialists (i.e. job creators) did.

There is a line in Atlas Shrugged that go like this:

“Whether it’s a symphony or a coal mine, all work is an act of creating and comes from the same source: from an inviolate capacity to see through one’s own eyes–which means: the capacity to perform a rational identification–which means: the capacity to see, to connect and to make what had not been seen, connected and made before.”

-Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, Part 3, Ch. 2

Imagine this.  How would it be if in the name of social and economic musical justice Spotify took a percentage of all the money Bruce Springsteen makes when his songs are played on Spotify and just gave it to an artist whose music was not chosen by the consumers in the free market to be played.  We could say that he “didn’t really write that” without the world providing to him the influence to come up with such musical ideas.   Would Bruce be cool with that?  I doubt it.

Company Founders, men and women of vision and production, should be celebrated, encouraged, and thanked, not threatened or villainized.  Like the Spotify ad says – “after all, without them there would be no music to listen to.”  The same goes for job creators.

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