The Effects Of Piracy On the Music Industry by Matthew Slater

Everyone and their dog are trying to say that widespread music piracy and peer-to-peer networks are causing the downfall of modern music as we know it. Artists such as Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead are giving away their albums for free, by themselves, without involvement from the recording industry machine. That the huge music institutions and the roaring, corporate machines will tire, lie down and die. Ask yourself though, has widespread music piracy and availability hindered your enjoyment and your consumption of music as the end-user, or has it bettered it? Widespread piracy and the ease of access it involves mean that more listeners have access to more music than before. This combined with a no-win, no-fee style pricing scheme allows more listeners to try new music than before, at no cost. The question is a little like asking someone to buy an expensive item like a TV or a car and asking them not to look them up, not to ensure that their purchase is a fit for them, the right choice. I know CD’s aren’t that expensive, but the sheer amount of music that people consume means that the cost isn’t worthwhile. Just how much music have you paid for on your personal MP3 player? It’s not that the artist loses out though; record deals are generally advances to pay for studio recording, production and mixing, and marketing costs both for the album and the accompanying tour. Only after these their profits break above this glass ceiling can an artist make money for themselves off of the label. Touring has always been, and still is, the most profitable venture for a recording artist. Labels, on the other hand, will only want to sign sure-thing artists – acts that will sell, that will make them the big bucks. Unfortunately, artists that may require some time to grow and develop are never given the chance. The Internet can change this. A gross generalisation perhaps, but the music industry is centring around digital distribution and artist independence must surely follow. Touring, word of mouth and online campaigns will replace traditional media marketing. Music will become more personal again; the underground bands championed by the genre-loving communities behind them will thrive. Forums where fresh, new exciting talent is showcased will become the place where labels will hopefully send in talent scouts to monitor the talent, so hopefully the talent will always rise to the top – to the masses.