Good: You're in an up-and-coming band. Bad: Hurricane Katrina comes along and destroys all your gear. Good: A charity, Music Rising, is set up to try to raise money. They're doing this by auctioning off iPods that music celebs like Gwen Stefani, Faith Hill, and The Britney have loaded with their favorite playlists. Sounds like a win for everyone involved, but it might be too good to be true.
Don't get me wrong, as a former musician and survivor of my own environmental catastrophes (no, not my messy bachelor pad), I understand the need for relief. I fully support what Music Rising is trying to do and I wish them the best of luck. You should definitely check out the current auctions--Mariah Carey's iPod was in the lead at the time of this writing.
But I can't stop thinking of the RIAA. It has long maintained that distributing playlists--on burned CDs, iPods, smoke signals, whatever--is a massive and egregious type of copyright infringement. Will Tonic, the group putting on the auction, have to pay royalties to the very artists who are donating the playlists and iPods?
We hope the RIAA lets this one slide, though that's not normally in its nature. This is a way to help those that it claims to represent, musicians.