I love music. I love listening to it, dancing to it, and sharing it.
However, gone are the days when I would save up my pocket money to spend on a CD. As you all well know, these days, we download.
Obviously, this has caused uproar within the recording industry. Now that it’s both cheaper and more convenient to just download music off a torrenting site, people aren’t paying for their music anymore. But is downloading a song for free really the same as stealing a CD from a shop?
Panic within the recording industry over loss of revenue has caused incidents such as this, where a 29 year old man was fined $675 000 for illegally downloading and sharing 30 tracks. That’s the equivalent of $22 500 a song.
This seems ridiculous.
To be fair, industry revenue has been falling throughout the 21st century (Bestinza et al. 2013, p. 5). However, while some of this may very well be attributed to illegal downloading, there are other flaws in the current business model of the recording system.
Sure, I liked that song on the radio. But I didn’t love it. I’m not willing to pay $1.69 for it on iTunes. But, if I can download it for free, maybe I’ll get the whole album, and listen to some new songs. Maybe I’ll really like it . Maybe I’ll even buy concert tickets or merchandise later on.
A lot of musicians these days have recognised pirating as a very effective form of promotion. Amanda Palmer is one of them (skip to halfway through the clip if you don’t want the back story):
Lots of up-and-coming bands have started releasing their music for free on line, hoping to pique curiosity and create a following for themselves.
So is it really reasonable to sue for suspected damages when, in reality, they may not have purchased the song anyway?
Particularly for young people with fairly low disposable income, paying $1.69 for every single track becomes very expensive very quickly, and encourages the purchase of only the best songs (at least in my experience).
Thankfully, there are other options for the music industry, rather than just suing random, everyday people.
Spotify, for instance, provides a subscription service. You pay about $11 a month for unlimited access to their vast music libraries. This is what I use. I like the extra features I get that I wouldn’t get if I just torrented, like top tracks, related artists and artist radio. It feels like iTunes, but I can try as much music as I want for a comparatively small amount compared to when I used iTunes.
But that’s just me. There are still problems with the service, such as the micro-payment system.
The point is, services like Spotify, that provide convenient and cheap options are the way of the future. Expectations of media access have changed dramatically during the rise of the internet.
It’s about time the music industry kept with the times.
Bustinza, O.F, Vendrell-Herrero, F, Parry, G & Myrthianos, V 2013,”Music business models and piracy”, Industrial Management & Data Systems, vol. 113, no. 1 pp. 4 – 22.