I know you’ve all heard someone preach about illegal downloading before, and believe me, I’ve wanted to give my thoughts on it for a long time. I always chose to move on to something else, but now I feel like the time is right. My words of wisdom will soon no longer grace these pages, so let’s get to it.
If you’ve read any of my articles before, I’m sure you know my stance on illegal downloading already. Obviously, I’m not a fan of it at all. To be brutally honest, I feel like it’s a crime that was justified by society.
Theft is theft. If you wouldn’t turn a blind eye to someone stealing a television, why would you turn a blind eye to someone stealing music? Do our morals only kick in at a certain price point?
I could talk about this all day, but to keep it simple, I’d like to address two of the main arguments often heard from supporters of illegal downloading.
#1 – “(Artist name) has enough money!”
While it may be true that Beyoncé and Paul McCartney won’t miss your $10 for a CD, many artists feel the impact of illegal downloading, as many have their own record labels and pay for all album expenses themselves.
#2 – “I believe music should be free because it’s a form of expression!”
This one’s my personal favorite. My argument is that everything you do in life is a form of expression. If you own a restaurant, and I come in and eat a big meal, and then leave without paying, you’ll probably call the cops.
Recipes are like songs, and a chef’s cooking style could be easily compared to a singer’s vocal style. I consider that a form of expression. So, how do you justify that one is worth money and the other isn’t?
To be fair, I haven’t heard a lot about illegal downloading since streaming services, like Spotify and Pandora, came into the business. Even though many artists rightfully complain that the royalty payments are very low for these services, it does seem to be a way to curb illegal downloading. If someone has no intention of paying for the music, at least streaming it gives the artist some money.
Some lesser known artists have argued that illegal downloading can lead to exposure. I don’t necessarily agree. I can’t name any instances when I knew of someone using illegal downloading as a way to discover new talent. Generally, it was just to get whatever the popular song or album was at the time.
I don’t discourage artists from offering free downloads of their music. I’ve done it before, and it does attract people who may not have listened to you before because there’s no risk in it for them. I’ve made fans out of people that downloaded a free song from my website. But, the decision to make it available for free should be in control of the artist, not a piracy site.
At the end of the day, the fault is on the entertainment industry for not figuring out a way to keep media files from being so easy to copy and share. And although there are ideas that come along every now and then, it’s far too late to figure it out now. The damage has been done, and many people are already in a “free music mindset.”
And though it would be helpful if I came up with some winning solution, I don’t have one. It’s not my job. My job is to write about it, and my job is complete. Music industry, do your thing.