Thursday, 9 June 2011

Illegal Downloading - thoughts?

The new album you’ve been waiting for just came out, you’re instantly struck with a decision, whether to pay for your copy or to illegally download it.  There are definitely more personal advantages towards illegally downloading the entire discography of your favourite band or artist... but how many people will still pay money for what can easily be downloaded for free?

Would it really affect the artist if you took one or two songs?  Probably not beings as the amount of money they get per song/album is a mere 7.5% of the price it was sold at; taking Lady Gaga’s ‘Born This Way’ as an example, which has sold around 1,921,000 copies so far, would have earned about $28,366,474.23.  If one million of those copies had been illegally downloaded instead of being bought it would have made $1,019,991.77 instead.  For someone as big as Lady Gaga I’m sure no one would cry themselves to sleep about her if she didn’t make up that extra million dollars, but if it was your favourite unknown artist who gets by with 20,000 album sales would you feel bad knowing that they had to get by with those earnings until their next album?  That is the reality of the effect of illegal downloading on the music industry.

I’d say the idea of illegal downloading started when cassette players were invented, people would make each other mix tapes by illegally copying the audio onto a new tape with only the cost of the tape to worry about.  It was so easy to do and being as they were eventually designed to be able to copy and record cassettes, the music industry was unknowingly asking for file sharing to start happening.

The way the government has chosen to combat this is an extreme one; their weapon of choice is the ‘Digital Economy Bill’.  This means that if you’re caught illegally downloading music they can either slow your internet down or stop your household’s connection completely after sending you a series of warnings of them doing so.  I’m not sure that neither tampering with your right to information nor scaring people out of illegally downloading is the right way to go about stopping it.  If it was me with no internet because I had been caught, it wouldn’t make me want to buy music at all.  It’s definitely making me watch mine and my family’s internet usage though.

I’m not confident in thinking that the government know where they’re going with the Digital Economy Bill; the way it’s been thought/set out makes it sound like they’re using it as their final stage against illegal downloading rather than just one of the many steps needing to be taken.  It’s just a weapon of fear initially, in thinking they can down and out illegal downloading in one punch; I’m sure that all it’s going to do is annoy a lot of people.

What I’m certain of is that this won’t stop people from stealing music off of the internet.  Technology is always advancing with different ways to help people to hide themselves from being caught, as well as sly ways of replacing someone else’s internet identity with your own.  Basically, at this stage, it’s way too late to eliminate illegal downloading.

As a person who’s hoping to become a part of the music industry, everything that I’ve mentioned in this blog is quite a scary aspect to take in, thinking that there are people out there who will end up stealing your life’s work from you without giving it a second thought.  It’s hard to except that as well as have big ambition for where your career could take you, thought there are plenty of things I could get myself into in the music industry that doesn’t have illegal downloader’s circling you like vultures.

The effect of illegal downloading on the recording industry in the future? Well some people are saying that it’ll be the death of it, but in terms of how many people are listening to music there are more than ever.  In this respect the record industry is thriving, music is everywhere these days and there are definitely more ways of making money from it.  Besides, the death of the industry has been predicted many times before with things like the invention of radio: artists thought that no one would want to go and see them live since they could listen to it for free on the radio, but they were of course wrong too!  So we might not be saying good bye to illegal downloading anytime soon, but neither will we be saying it to the music industry too.