A New Kind of Piracy

March 6, 2012
By , Reno, NV
Music piracy is a problem that has been troubling the music industry since 1999, when Napster was first created. Napster was a file sharing network that allowed people to upload music and share it with others. The result of file sharing sites like this ended up in a drop in sales of about 7.7 billion dollars. The Record Industry Association of America (RIAA) is trying to discourage piracy like this by saying that artists are hurt by piracy. Yet, while piracy can hurt the artist it can actually help the artist in many different ways also. Therefore music piracy can actually benefit some artists.

First off, while piracy doesn’t hurt the artist it does hurt those in the RIAA. This means when music is stolen people who help make an artist’s album are the ones hurt. The results of piracy are a 12.5 billion dollar loss each year and 71,060 jobs lost in the US music industry. In addition, the only artists that are hurt by music piracy are the multiplatinum artists such as Lady Gaga or Katy Perry. These mega artists are essentially cash cows for the RIAA because their music is loved all over the world. Their songs are downloaded millions of times a day but at the same time millions of songs are also downloaded illegally each day. Therefore the RIAA and the artist lose millions of dollars. The money loss is the reason the RIAA likes to use these artists as poster children for their anti-piracy campaign. .

Despite the negative affects of piracy it can actually help small up and coming artists under independent labels. It can help because artists don’t even get royalties( payments ) until 500,000 copies are sold. Yet, even then they only get 30 cents in royalties for each album. An artists’ main source of income comes from merchandise and concerts. So therefore stealing a song wouldn’t impact the artist as much as stealing a band shirt.

Piracy also helps the artist in other ways besides their paycheck. When people share new music on file sharing sites, they talk about. Once people start to talk about an artist’s music it helps spread the word about the artist. The more people talk, the more hype or attention an artist gets, which really helps the artists who are just starting out. By the time an artist is known to at least a small portion of the general public, they are on the road touring. This can help a small independent record label launch an artist without having to pay thousands of dollars to get them on the radio.

Now, having covered many reasons I still have the most important one to cover, the viewpoint of the artists themselves. Many artists actually support music piracy and don’t believe it has any negative effects. For example, rapper 50 Cent who owns his own independent label G-Unit records has said,” What is important for the music industry to understand is that this (piracy) really doesn’t hurt the artists. A young fan may be just as devout and dedicated no matter if he bought it or stole it. The concerts are crowded and the industry must understand that they have to manage all the 360 degrees around an artist. They, (the industry), have to maximize their income from concerts and merchandise. It is the only way they can get their marketing money back.”. His quote proves that as long as the music gets out there the fans will come. One artist even encourages music piracy. Trent Rezor the front man for the band Nine Inch Nails has said,” Steal it. Steal away. Steal, steal and steal some more and give it to all your friends and keep on stealing.” These quotes show that artists themselves not only support piracy but believe that it can benefit them. Of course there are also artists who believe that piracy hurts them. For instance there is Lilly Allan who has said,” For new talent, file-sharing is a disaster as it’s making it harder and harder for new acts to emerge.” This is true for the artists under major record companies but for those under independent companies the piracy can actually help them as stated above. The one thing that all artists can agree on though is that the creative aspect of a song should be protected. I guess the RIAA took this as all artists support anti-piracy.

In conclusion, some artists aren’t hurt at all by music piracy. The negative effects of piracy are that it hurts mega stars, the RIAA, and the economy. The positive effects of piracy benefit small up and coming artists, small record labels, and your wallet. With these reasons in mind down loaders are now at an impasse. Should they support their wallet and download illegal music or should they do the correct thing and buy the music? I say download away for all the little bands who are struggling. If it can help the bands in any way then why not download the song? For the songs that belong to the mega starts just listen to it on Youtube or Pandora. The songs are still free anyway and if people like the song enough then they’ll buy it. At least this way people can support their wallet without feeling guilty that they hurt an artist. In addition, people also get to “stick it to the man” by showing that they are willing to support the artist without hurting them.

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