Napster, a file sharing website, was started in 1999 and began the era of digital piracy. In 2001 the Recording Industry Association of America filed suit against the website and it was shut down. Since then, the industry has been struggling to keep piracy under control. The technological boom and the opportunities that the Internet provides are not only affecting revenue, but are definitely influencing how the music industry runs. It is creating so much change throughout the industry because the Internet gives so many different ways for people to access music.
The problems that we are having with digital downloading is making the industry find different ways to make money and basically changing their whole business model. “Music piracy causes $12.5 billion of economic losses every year, 71,060 U.S. jobs lost, a loss of $2.7 billion in workers’ earnings, and a loss of $422 million in tax revenues, $291 million in personal income tax,” according to the RIAA The old business model could create super stars that sold out 40,000 seat venues and artists that could sell a million records no problem. The reason being was because there were only so many mediums that people could access music, therefore people would listen and buy the same records. Now there are so many ways that artists can make their music known. People now have a wider variety to choose the type of music they want to listen to and acquire.
According to the law, all of my friends are criminals because they download music illegally. I agree that music downloading is definitely shattering the music business model and is essentially stealing from those that would otherwise make a profit from the sales, but downloading isn’t going anywhere. If there is a question of right and wrong, of course that is not negotiable, but so many people don’t believe they should have to pay for music. At this point, I honestly think there is no reason to steal music, because music is not at all expensive. Especially if a consumer only wants to purchase a single. Since we know that piracy isn’t going anywhere, we should think about the positive aspects of free music.
Even though artists aren’t getting their money for the songs that people are downloading illegally, they are getting the exposure to more consumers and by word of mouth. The more downloads they get, the more publicity and recognition. As we see, the business is changing and we need to realize the way the labels look at downloading has to change in order to make money.
Instead of fully embracing the change, they are suing consumers that are downloading illegally. They recently required a woman, Jammie Thomas-Rasset to cough up $1.5 million for downloading and sharing 24 songs on Kazaa. Ridiculous? Absolutely. But they have officially set a platform for future cases, and a basic standard.
Illegal downloading is wrong, I don’t agree with it, but since it is going to continue, the business needs to find a different way to make their money. As we go forward in this business, I’m sure labels will continue to sue consumers for a profit, but they should focus on the good it’s doing for the artist. In a perfect world, consumers would understand and appreciate the value of music and want to pay for it, but I don’t think that will ever happen. I wish I had a solution to our problem, a new business model, but as technology continues to develop our business will as well.
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“US Woman Fined $1.5 Million for Music Piracy of 24 Songs | Music Blog.” Music Blog. 6 Nov. 2010. Web. 21 Feb. 2011.
“Napster, Inc. — Company History.” Find Funding with Banks, Investors, and Other Funding Sources | FundingUniverse. Web. 22 Feb. 2011