This summer, I journeyed with friends to two musical festivals, Rothbury Music Festival in Rothbury, Mich., and Camp Bisco 7 in Mariaville, N.Y. On these adventures, I experienced over 25 alternative rock, jam band, electronic and disc-jockey concerts in a little over two weeks. To continue the auditory festivities, I turn to a common practice considered by some the bane of the music industry, by others, a savior: downloading free music.

The young have always tried to subvert the capitalist-driven world of the establishment. In 1969, the Woodstock Festival made a statement, described by Time magazine: “The children of plenty have voiced an intention to live by a different ethical standard than their parents accepted. . Personal freedom in the midst of squalor is more liberating than social conformity with the trappings of wealth.” Roughly 40 years later, with new monumental change in Obama’s horizon, the young are starting a revolution, whether politically, environmentally or in how we listen to music.

That urge for change, for constant pleasure, has carried over to today. This past summer season has seen dozens of profitable music festivals, including a striking 40,000 music enthusiasts in attendance for the inaugural Rothbury Music Festival.

The advent of the Internet, and consequentially, music-downloading software, has merely provided another issue on which the forces of authority and freedom intersect.

Today, my generation is the first to ever even imagine not paying for a recorded song. This may seem absurd to older generations, but once one tastes the fruits of free music, the ease of a few free clicks, it is all but impossible to return to the inconvenient world of buying music. With all the great beats created at music festivals and concerts, we are extremely fortunate that we can return home and maintain our musical impulses thanks to modern innovations.

The Internet has provided us with so much accessibility and communication that its effects have seeped into every arena of our lives. During this information age, everything appears to be faster, easier, and in the case of music, cheaper. Despite the illegality of downloading free music, the mentality remains, “I have gotten it free before; I probably won’t get caught; why wouldn’t I?” The love for personal freedom strikes again.

The record industry has been through its fair share of lawsuits and settlements to put an end to the likes of Napster, Kazaa and LimeWire. However, the tide is turning in favor of the youth. YouTube has countless videos, music videos and concerts, which essentially provide a free global jukebox. Apple’s podcasts, too, offer free subscriptions to certain bands’ live performances.

The band Radiohead, free from any record label, understood the new trend by offering their most recent album, “In Rainbows,” to download online for however much the listener felt appropriate. Testing the system, I entered $0.00 and still received the music in full.

Their marketing strategy was hugely successful, apparently making $10 million. As it should be. First, the donation system always seems effective; for those bands I deem my favorites, I will gladly pay the relatively cheap sum to support the band, as I did with Sound Tribe Sector 9’s newest album, “Peaceblaster.” Hearing STS9 at Rothbury inspired me to keep purchasing. Second, because of Radiohead’s adaptation to modern music-consuming mentalities, they have entered the iPods of numerous people who would normally not have experienced their music. Is this not the point of music? To spread and share the art, the lyrics, the sounds to as many ears as you can?

The business-minded may scream foul, that the record companies are losing money. Unfortunately for them, the times are a-changin’ and new strategies must arise. For Radiohead, they have expanded their fan base, gambling that their investment will succeed, as new listeners will support them in the future. A different business model for different, Internet-infused times.

But it is about more than just the music. The collective identity found at these festivals is unmatched. Seeing a band and experiencing their creation alongside partying masses of fans creates a community like no other. It is this “gathering of the vibes” that the Internet community disseminates. Once again, our new favorite “television,” YouTube, comes in handy as its message boards create a group conversation concerning videos of shows.

The record industry has already had its time in the sun and made its millions. Desperately holding onto its monopoly rather than sharing the sounds with the community, these executives and old-school musicians are futilely resisting the natural evolution of the music industry as it adjusts to the digital age. The corporate greediness must give way to the communal, sharing atmosphere found at music festivals and facilitated by the Internet, which fundamentally rests on the concept of communal resources and information (e.g. Wikipedia). It is in this all-for-one and one-for-all environment that music thrives.

Lawrence Lessig understands this; see his book “Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity.” The title is self-explanatory. However, “Big Media” is not the only force that can use technology. The youth movement has used and will continue to use technology, not to control, but to unleash musical creativity.

The Internet not only replicates the actual audio-value of festivals, but it also perpetuates the tight and meaningful community found at concerts. Therefore, based on how enjoyable the festivals are and the happy vibes they emit, the sharing should not be stopped.

Dean Lieberman is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service. He can be reached at RAVING ABOUT MY GENERATION will appear every other Tuesday.

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