These Grammy-winners don't want you to pay for their album. They want you to pay for someone else's.

From pop stars to indie rock, some of the biggest names in music are speaking out in support of the creative working class.

On July 17, 2015, Wilco unexpectedly released a brand-new album as a free download on their website.

The album is called "Star Wars" and it features a cat on the cover, which is pretty much the most Internet thing ever.

But the Grammy-Award-winning rock band isn't just giving their album away for free. Oh no. They're encouraging fans to spend their money on lesser-known artists instead.


A few days after the album's release, they explained their actions in a blog post:

They're hardly the first band to experiment with different models for sharing their music on the Internet.

But Wilco is one of the first high profile acts to do so for the explicit purpose of stimulating the creative economy.

I'm sure you've heard it all before that the Internet is ruining the music industry. Hell, musicians have been fighting the same battle since the advent of the phonograph. But music fans don't want hear to the same complaints over and over again, ad nauseam. They just want to listen to the music.

What Wilco is doing is something different. They're encouraging fans to spend their money elsewhere — to enjoy music for free, if they want to, while also contributing to the continued creation of new music by working-class musicians. It's like a trickle-down stimulus package for rock 'n' roll. And that's pretty cool.

Wilco may have used the Internet to stick it to the man back in 2001, but now they're just one of several big-name bands using their power to stand up for the little guy.

Taylor Swift also stood up to the streaming music industry recently, speaking out against Apple Music and Spotify.

OK, so her approach is mostly going to benefit her own profits, but that's not a bad thing. In the case of Spotify, Swift pulled her entire catalog to protest their low, low royalty rates. And she had a few choice words to say when Apple Music refused to pay for the music streamed during a user's free trial period.

Both Wilco and Swift used their positions to champion the rights of working-class musicians, each in their own respective way.

Neither way is necessarily better or more "right" than the other. (The last thing I'm trying to do here is start a feud between Wilco and Taylor Swift; my wife and I already have that battle every time we get into the car.) Both just want to make sure that someone is getting paid for their music.

Yes, Taylor Swift is a pop music powerhouse. But it doesn't matter that she doesn't need the money — she believes artists deserve to be paid what they're worth, on every level. (To be fair, Wilco did previously manage to get Warner Bros. Records to pay them twice for the same album.)

T-Swift and Wilco are just the latest in a long, long line of musicians who have raged against their own machine.

In 2007, Radiohead famously released "In Rainbows" as a pay-what-you-want album and have been very outspoken against Spotify. Fugazi was famously stubborn about keeping prices low for albums and concert tickets alike. Bands like The Backyard Committee (full disclosure: I sometimes perform with them) and the aptly-named Bomb the Music Industry! have democratized their music through free album downloads as well as open musician rosters. Chance the Rapper has made major waves with his self-released mixtapes and has used that success to turn the spotlight onto the other members of his multimedia supporting group, the Social Experiment.

And that's just a few examples from my own music library.


GIF from TayTay's "Shake It Off" music video.

What matters most, though, is that we find ways to support artists of every kind — after all, they make the stuff that makes our lives worth living.

What can you do about it? If you can afford it, put your money where your mouth is, and support artists at all different levels of success.

Every now and then, try to drop $10 on an artist who deserves it. (Wilco's aforementioned "suggested music" list really runs the gamut, from metal to chamber-pop to J-Pop and beyond. I personally downloaded the new record from Speedy Ortiz.)

And when possible, support musicians directly, or through Bandcamp or Kickstarter, instead of bigger companies like Spotify, iTunes, or Amazon.

If you believe in the importance of a strong middle class, it only makes sense that you support the creative working class. Art shouldn't be a privilege produced and enjoyed by an exclusive elite. It's a necessity that nourishes and improves the quality of our lives, and we need to nourish it in return so that the cycle can continue.

Wilco GIF from "The David Letterman Show."

Heroes
Vélosophy

Single-use coffee pods might make a good cup of joe, but they're detrimental to the environment.

"Coffee pods are one of the best examples of unnecessary single-use plastics that are polluting our planet," John Hocevar, the campaign director of Greenpeace USA, an environmental nonprofit organization, told USA Today. "Many end up getting incinerated, dumping poison into our air, water and our soil."

Currently, 29,000 single-use coffee pods are thrown away each minute. You have to ask yourself, is it worth filling up the landfills to satisfy your caffeine habit? While the aluminum capsules are recyclable, it's not as easy as tossing them in the bin. Instead, you typically have to take them a designated collection point created by the brand.

But Nespresso has taken it one step further by using its recycled pods to make a bicycle, illustrating the potential for repurposing the often thrown out by-product of its coffee.

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Planet

There are songs that tug at your heartstrings and videos that tap into your soft side. And then there are combos of the two that get you so far up in your feelings, you're not sure if you'll ever be able to climb back out.

For the millions of parents out there—especially the ones watching their babies grow up and move away from home—Michael Bublé's video for his song "Forever Now" is definitely the latter. I'm not even a Michael Bublé fan, but as a parent whose first baby just turned 19, the lyric video showing the years passing in a child's bedroom with a song about kids growing up is almost too much to take.

Wrecked, I tell you. Full-on ugly crying, with the puffy eyes and the snotty nose and everything.

I mean, just check out part of the lyrics and imagine your child's bedroom all packed into boxes:

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Family
Photo by Gregory Hayes on Unsplash

"Can I buy you a drink?" is a loaded question.

It could be an innocent request from someone who's interested in having a cordial conversation. Other times, saying "yes" means you may have to fend off someone who feels entitled to spend the rest of the night with you.

In the worst-case scenario, someone is trying to take advantage of you or has a roofie in their pocket.

Feminist blogger Jennifer Dziura found a fool-proof way to stay safe while understanding someone's intentions: ask for a non-alcoholic beverage or food. If they're sincerely interested in spending some time getting to know you, they won't mind buying something booze-free.

RELATED: States are starting to require mental health classes for all students. It's about dang time.

But if it's their intention to lower your defenses, they'll throw a mild tantrum after you refuse the booze. Her thoughts on the "Can I buy you a drink?" conundrum made their way to Tumblr.

via AshleysCo / Tumblr


via AshleysCo / Tumblr

The posts caught the attention of a bartender who knows there are lot of men out there whose sole intention is to get somone drunk to take advantage.

"Most of the time, when someone you don't know is buying you a drink, they're NOT doing it out of a sense of cordiality," the bartender wrote. "They're buying you a drink for the sole purpose of making you let your guard down."

So they shared a few tips on how to be safe and social when someone asks to buy you a drink.

From the other side of the bar, I see this crap all the time. Seriously. I work at a high-density bar, and let me tell you, I have anywhere from 10-20 guys every night come up and tell me to, "serve her a stronger drink, I'm trying to get lucky tonight, know what I mean?" usually accompanied with a wink and a gesture at a girl who, in my experience, is going to go from mildly buzzed to definitively hammered if I keep serving her. Now, I like to think I'm a responsible bartender, so I usually tell guys like that to piss off, and, if I can, try to tell the girl's more sober friends that they need to keep an eye on her.
But everyone- just so you know, most of the time, when someone you don't know is buying you a drink, they're NOT doing it out of a sense of cordiality, they're buying you a drink for the sole purpose of making you let your guard down.

Tips for getting drinks-

1. ALWAYS GO TO THE BAR TO GET YOUR OWN DRINK, DO NOT LET STRANGERS CARRY YOUR DRINKS. This is an opportune time for dropping something into your cocktail, and you're none the wiser.

2.IF YOU ORDER SOMETHING NON-ALCOHOLIC, I promise you, the bartender doesn't give two shits that you're not drinking cocktails with your friends, and often, totally understands that you don't want to let your guard down around strangers. Usually, you can just tell the bartender that you'd like something light, and that's a big clue to us that you're uncomfortable with whomever you're standing next to. Again, we see this all the time.

3. If you're in a position to where you feel uncomfortable not ordering alcohol:
Here's a list of light liquors, and mixers that won't get you drunk, and will still look like an actual cocktail:

X-rated + sprite = easy to drink, sweet, and 12% alcoholic content. Not strong at all, usually runs $6-$8, depending on your state.
Amaretto + sour= sweet, not strong, 26%.
Peach Schnapps+ ginger ale= tastes like mellow butterscotch, 24%.
Melon liquor (Midori, in most bars) + soda water = not overly sweet, 21%
Coffee liquor (Kahlua) +soda = not super sweet, 20%.
Hope this helps someone out!

RELATED: Permit denied for 'straight pride' parade in California

If you do accept a drink from someone at a bar and you want to talk, there's no need to feel obligated to spend the rest of the night with them.

Jaqueline Whitmore, founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach, says to be polite you only have to "Engage in some friendly chit-chat, but you are not obligated to do more than that."

If someone asks to buy you a drink and you don't want it, Whitmore has a great tip. "Say thank you, but you are trying to cut back, have to drive or you don't accept drinks from strangers," Whitmore says.

What if they've already sent the drink over? "Give the drink to the bartender and tell him or her to enjoy it," Whitmore says.

Have fun. Stay safe, and make sure to bring a great wing-man or wing-woman with you.

Well Being

There are reasonable arguments to be had on all sides of America's debates about guns.

Then there are NRA lobbyists.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, Florida National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer spoke to state economists last week to explain why a proposed assault weapons ban would devastate gun manufacturers in the state. The proposed amendment, which is being led by the aunt of a student killed in the Parkland school shooting, would ban the future sale of assault rifles in Florida and mandate that current owners either register their guns with the state or give them up.

The back and forth between those proposing and opposing the amendment appears to be a pretty typical gun legislation debate. Only this time, the NRA lobbyist pulled out one of the most bizarre arguments I've seen yet.

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Democracy