Music Piracy: The Great Debate

As a generation defined by technology and the ever-changing way of life it provides for people, today's youth are becoming increasingly reluctant to spend their limited cash on music. This is something that is not aided by the worryingly low employment prospects and figures of the fresh crop of young people in society. The question of what can be done is one that lingers on the minds of those involved in the music business. We gained an insight into potential solutions by interrogating a handful of young people, asking them the questions that could hold the vital answer to raising profits for musicians.

We spoke to the talented bassist of a promising unsigned band who revealed that he purchases music legally and downloads it illegally too. When questioned as to whether he would steal from HMV, the equivalent of downloading tracks illegally, he claimed there was no risk of prosecution, which is what ultimately casts a divide between the two acts. The musician also went on to say that it has become so easy for people to steal music online by downloading it illegally as they consider it 'just a file' on their laptop and not a physical item. Although, if it was as easy and risk free to steal an album from a shop, as it is online, then he believes more people would be willing to take the risk. 

When the conversation turned to the topic of popular music streaming site Spotify, the young bassist claimed the streaming service is "doing a lot of good for the music industry, so long as they keep enabling musicians to make money". This is an important aspect for upcoming bands who need all of the help they can get. Spotify not only raises profits for musicians, but adds that all important awareness that can turn a band from a mere support slot filler to top of the charts in a short space of time. 

These views were opposed by a music fan who claimed the music industry revolves too heavily around money anyway and that ticket prices to gigs are high enough; we should let musicians earn their money through this medium. However, fans don't always benefit from ticket sales as touts and third parties involve themselves by purchasing tickets to re-sell at a greater cost, neither benefiting artists or fans. A prime example of this exposes itself in the sale of tickets to Mumford and Sons' upcoming winter tour. Fans were left waiting to get their hands on tickets only to be left disappointed as sites like Stub Hub had already beat them to it. They were selling tickets at double the price shortly after general sale had opened to the public. In light of this event, fans are now calling for artists and promoters of gigs to take action quicker on the so called 'fans' who snap up a bundle of tickets to sell on at three times the cost later down the line. 

Additionally, it has been said that musicians are starting to put out free downloads of tracks in order to maintain interest in their music, encouraging legal downloads at a later stage as a direct result of the free sample. The overall impact that artists can make by doing this is still to be discovered, however it's a step in the right direction that could ultimately place profits of music sales back in the rightful places. 

Moreover, with the likes of Taylor Swift calling out Apple Music for initially planning not to pay artists during the new streaming service's three month free trial, it appears that even the musicians are fighting for the industry to become a better place for all - even if Swift is earning way more than most people could ever dream of. This is another step that will ensure music sales and profits will remain strong against the force of the digital age and new technology that often encourages people to illegally download. The battle is not over but music piracy will not be victorious. 

Words Lauren Wade

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