Downloading music, in the eyes of the music industry, is their largest enemy. According to the Times Online, the average teenager has downloaded over 800 songs illegally and that 96% have illegally copied or shared music.
Yes, downloading music is illegal, and if we downloaded every song to listen to then there would be no money going into the music industry and it would fall and die – but that’s unlikely to ever happen. On the contrary, if no-one illegally downloaded music at all then it’s likely that the music industry would not be as it was today. By that I mean, a common opinion among many people who admittedly download music is that if they didn’t, then for some artists they’d never discover music, and for other artists they’d no longer support them as much. A common saying often heard is “I’ll download it, if I like it: I’ll buy it.”
I admittedly download music from time to time although I’m more of a movie person and so the same concept applies. In class discussions and conversation among friends, it seems apparent that everyone has downloaded something without paying for it, and most do this on a regular occasion. Why? Well if there’s a way to get something for free, and there’s seemingly no consequences, then why not? Those consequences are often not seen because we are not directly affected by it whereas the content producer will lose out as they claim. That is often under debate.
I believe that downloading anything in moderation is overall a beneficial thing for the industry. I’ll take myself as an example. I watch a ridiculous amount of movies, it’s what I enjoy doing and what I enjoy making. Thinking back I’ve probably watched over 100 movies this year, many old and many new: a good percentage of those where movies I downloaded to analyse for the Academy Awards earlier in the year. Due to the slow release date from US to the UK, downloading was my only option if I wanted to stay up-to-date with the movie industry. In addition, the sheer number of movies nominated is unreasonable for anyone to go see in the theatres. However, had I not downloaded some of these movies then it’s unlikely I would have ever have watched them in the first place. I would have missed out an opportunity to discover a director’s work and never be able to contribute financially in the future.
This is what many people see as the “redeeming” option of downloading. If they illegally acquire something and enjoy it, then they are more likely to go out and buy the product, or be enticed to buy future work from that artist. As well as downloading movies I will frequently visit the cinema as much as my wallet can allow and with the introduction of services like Netflix and Spotify, there is a greater opportunity to watch or listen to what you might not usually specifically pay for. If there could be more availability of these services at reasonable prices imposing less restrictions like HBO’s Game of Thrones (the most downloaded TV show of all time) then perhaps the balance of purchasing and downloading will shift. What we can expect though is downloading will not disappear any day soon.