One of my longstanding pet peeves is illegal filesharing. Filesharing refers to those individuals who enjoy music, but opt not to purchase it legally by purchasing a physical CD or downloading the song on sites such as Amazon.com, i-Tunes or Beatport.com; or for professional DJs, purchasing a subscription to services such as Promo Only or DJCity.com.
Here is a list of the most popular excuses:
Top Five Excuses People Use to Justify Filesharing
1) The artists are rich already and don't need my money.
2) I spent a bundle of money on music in the past, and have earned the right for freebies.
3) Money is tight and I really can't afford to pay for it.
4) Everybody is doing it, and I'll never get caught.
5) (For DJs) - By playing out an artist's songs at my performances, I am actually doing them a service by promoting their work, and thus am entitled to a freebie.
Not surprisingly, with these prevailing attitudes, music sales have plunged in the past decade. According to Forrester Research, total revenue from U.S. music sales and licensing plunged to $6.3 billion in 2009 from $14.6 billion a decade earlier. Of course, the gap is attributable to illegal filesharing! In terms of digital downloads, unauthorized downloads continue to represent about 90% of the market according to online download tracker BigChampagne Media Measurement.
Rather than lecturing on the logical fallacies on the five excuses listed above, I wanted to make the case for why you SHOULD purchase your music legally.
Throughout the ages, artists (such as musicians) have been cherished members of society. As citizens, we toil every day to meet our basic needs. We take no pleasure in paying an electric bill or the mortgage, but these are overheads which must be met. What most people truly yearn for is to have disposable income to enjoy the finer things in life such as music, sports and travel. As a society, we have no problem rewarding professional athletes with multi-million salaries for the enjoyment that they provide, so why should musicians be different?
Every time that you steal (for lack of a better word) an artist's work, you are making a choice to penalize the arts. Perhaps these musical acts are not "starving artists" but you are making it harder for them to make an honest living. For every band that makes it big, there are countless others who fail, quite possibly frustrated by financial difficulties in pursuing their passion. Think about it, $8 billion that used to be paid to musical artists no longer is. Think about all of the livelihoods affected by $8 billion. Is it possible that the supply of quality music will drop in future years, since it is no longer economically viable for artists to make it their full-time profession?
Is a DJ a performance artist? I would argue 'yes'. Thus, we should be even more sensitive to support our fellow brothers and sisters in the arts. Sadly, there are some unscrupulous disc jockeys who do not purchase their music, entirely relying on illegal filesharing. This is the equivalent of an electrician who performs his work using a stolen work van and stolen tools! It is no wonder that there are so many new disc jockey companies, as startup costs are low when the cost to acquire a music library is zero. To learn about how illegal filesharing affects DJ pricing, click here.
For those who do rely on illegal filesharing sites, they can expect to face challenges like poor-sounding audio files with low bit rate MP3s, mislabeled files and possibly computer viruses.