Music piracy has existed for a long time before it became an online phenomenon. Many people, including some critics who know the stats and the various factors that facilitated the evolution of music piracy, are aware that duplication of cassettes and distributing them through organized networks of bootleggers and shops was a rampant practice. However, those were not entirely a freebie. Those counterfeit cassettes and later discs were copied or duplicated and thus made cheaper but one still had to pay some money.
Today, music piracy has scaled the penultimate heights and people don’t even pay peanuts. They simply get on peer to peer sharing networks and download the music for free. Music piracy has become an uncontrolled phenomenon and depending on who you are or which side of the fence you are, it could be a wonderful or a horrible thing. Like most forms of piracy, there are several pros and cons of music piracy.
Pros of Music Piracy
1. Can Obtain Music for Free
Piracy of any kind will have a desirable and an undesirable impact, depending on who the piracy is benefiting. For music lovers across the world or even the ordinary folks who don’t particularly have any fondness for any specific type of music or artist, the free download is certainly a boon. Who would want to pay for something when it is available for free? Duplicating or copying the stuff and reproducing it is no longer relevant or necessary because everything is digital now. When you copy a music file in Mp3 or any such format, there is hardly any loss of quality, the exact audio or album is replicated and one can access the file through multiple devices. One doesn’t need a good old disc player or a walkman to access the music. Free download is the biggest advantage of music piracy. Avid music lovers would spend a substantial part of their allowance or income on the latest albums. Today, one can pay nothing and yet have the latest releases.
2. Benefits Artists by Broadening Audiences
While one may believe that all the pros of music piracy pertain to listeners or the audience and all the cons pertain to the music industry, labels, artists and other associated organizations, it is not the case in reality. Music piracy does benefit artists to an extent. Artists can get free promotion when their albums or songs are downloaded for free and listened to by many more people than they would otherwise get to reach out to. When you ask an audience to pay, a substantial part of the audience will not pay. When you make your music available for free or it is downloadable without any cost courtesy music piracy, you get free publicity. More people would listen to your music and chances are high that you would have an exponentially larger fan base.
3. May Lead to Sales Late On
When an artist or a band gets to enjoy a larger outreach and more people start to like their music, it is possible that they would download a few songs or an album or two for free but then would make purchases later on. Also, when the bands or the artists would go on tours, the fans will pay for the tickets. You cannot get help from music piracy to get into one of the concerts in your area. In a way, many artists or albums may never become popular if there is no music piracy. People are seldom willing to pay for budding artists or unknown brands.
4. Gives Access to Fans Worldwide
Music piracy is in a way quintessential. It may sound to be very odd because something that is morally wrong cannot be held to be the right thing. But if you come to think of it, the biggest fan base of most musicians of the day are teenagers and adolescents or young adults. Most of these kids don’t have any source of income and they don’t necessarily get a lot of money as allowance to buy all the music that they would want. Downloading the music for free gives them the only avenue to listen to whoever they want and as much as they want. This also leads to unprecedented popularity of many bands or artists. If this fan base was to be lost, then more than half of our popular pop stars wouldn’t even get a foothold; let aside getting record deals worth millions.
Cons of Music Piracy
1. Illegal to Download
The first thing that must be noted is that music piracy is illegal. Stealing or obtaining something without paying the rightful fees or money for it, without asking for permission or being granted the right to get access to it by the owner is immoral, unethical and it is outright illegal. Music piracy is just plain and simple theft and it also infringes on copyright and intellectual property rights.
2. Financially Detrimental to Artists
Music piracy is detrimental to artists who would otherwise earn or make much more money. It is also absolutely undesirable for record labels or music producing companies. Music piracy hits the lesser known people in the industry, such as the junior level executives, the scouts, the marketing people, those who work in the technical departments of producing music, whether it is mixing or sound engineering. Music piracy has lead to many record labels shutting down, companies going bankrupts and thousands of people around the world losing their jobs. Music piracy has also killed the careers of many artists who had otherwise been poised for fame and fortune.
3. Lead to a Decline in Quality Music
Music piracy can be blamed to an extent for the declining quality of music being produced right now. The compulsion to make some music available willingly or intentionally to get famous or to have some foundation has diluted the significance of quality. When an artist gets duly paid for his or her efforts, he or she doesn’t have to worry about rent or livelihood expenses. Music piracy has made it imperative for people to play to the whims and fancies of the galleries, alas the masses and one has to produce music that the companies think will sell, not exactly what would evolve the concept, practice and composition of music further.
4. Expose Your Computer to Viruses
Music piracy has a side effect that doesn’t really affect the music industry but certainly puts the recipients at risk. Opening up a computer or any device with an operating system to piracy sites will make the system vulnerable to viruses, malwares, adware, spywares, phishing attacks and hacks among others.
Any kind of piracy has a financial impact. At one end of the impact are those who benefit because they are not paying for what they should otherwise spend money. At the other end are all those people who are losing money. From artists to companies, bands to employees and even the government, everyone other than the pirates and the beneficiaries lose money. It is the country that eventually loses because a flourishing music industry free of piracy would pay much more taxes. The music industry would also develop further, thus boosting the economy, opening up avenues of opportunities for the young and aspiring artists who will look forward to actually making some money doing what they love instead of giving away their skills, talent and their creations for free.