Music Piracy – An Artist’s Opinion
I woke up this morning and checked my email as I usually do, and read my “Digital Music News”, which is similar to an online newspaper that runs articles about current music happenings for digital musicians. One of today’s articles was about music piracy and the difficulty in removing your music from these sites. Below the article was a very long thread of comments from all possible points of view.
Here is my opinion.
Music piracy is stealing. And it does hurt the musician. Over the past decade, we have gradually shifted from physical distribution to digital distribution with the advancement of mp3 players, specifically the advancements of Apple and it’s “iProducts”. Digital distribution now accounts for more than 52% of the music industry in the US. But there was a time during the shift when people had difficulty placing “value” on a digital product, with tangible products being of more value. This is what led people to believe that they aren’t really “stealing”, because a file can be duplicated an infinite number of times and not “cost” the musician anything. But it does cost us.
I spoke with a fan in early October, just before my first album, “Red” was released. He had told me that he was listening to my song on his iPod every day and loved it! While I was flattered that my song was this fan’s current favorite, I was also perplexed…”How did you get an mp3 of Red?” He told me that he was able to steal the audio content from my upload on YouTube. Wonderful. Not. When the album released, this fan didn’t come back to purchase it through the 20+ different digital distribution companies that carry it, because he already had what he wanted.
Being able to download or steal practically any song you want without paying is lowering the perceived value of music. Sure, I want to share my music with people – – it’s why I have this site, and why I keep performing. But making music is expensive. I’m not saying that the rest of the world is responsible for financing my purchases of music gear, but professional recording and distribution costs quite a lot of money. And why would anyone pay to download one of MY tracks when they can get famous artists’ like Beyonce, Lady Gaga and BabyFace tracks for free?
Just because you aren’t stealing a physical product, it’s still stealing. I know that during the “shift” from physical to digital goods, it may have taken some time for some us to understand the value of something that we can’t hold and touch. This inability to assign value made it morally “ok” to steal for some. But now that technology has evolved and people are paying for apps, data services and other digital product with a clear understanding that we are paying for the time that was spent into creating that product, our moral compass should tell us that stealing these things just isn’t right.
Worst of all, the companies that banded to allow music “sharing” have caused the consumer to put a value of $0 on my product. Not a good thing.