Downloading music doesn't harm the industry

Tuesday, January 4, 2005

Imagine being able to own all your favorite songs without having to pay an average of fifteen dollars for a CD that you just bought for one or two songs. For many music appreciators all over the world this is possible due to technology and the use of downloading music free off the Internet, but in recent years it has become illegal and lawsuits are currently pending against many users. While some people classify downloading music off the Net as stealing an artist's music, I feel downloading off the Web hurts no one, and should be free to consumers. Downloading benefits the artists by generating revenue and providing them a way to get their music to millions of listeners they otherwise wouldn't reach.

Most of the people who are fighting to keep the downloading of free music illegal are the heads of the major recording companies. Worldwide, the music industry brought in over $32 billion. Over the past few years the industry lost a total of $5 billion, which really only amounts to each recording company president being unable to afford a new Viper for the year. According to Carl Vogt from infoworld.com, the industry says its "main goal is to protect the consumers' rights and money. Nonsense. The only statistics against file sharing is the fact that the industry as a whole is losing money, not the artists, managers or songwriters. Consumers are not losing money from this by any means."

The bottom line is, the companies want to continue to earn extravagant amounts of money at any means possible and the Internet has put a damper on this for now. If they would sit back and examine the situation they would see that this new technology could benefit them. According to Jon Pareles of the New York Times, "there are many new smaller record companies that flourish due to sampling their music out over the Internet." If smaller companies can use the Web to their benefit, then why can't the larger companies do the same?

Since music has been available to download, music artists' total earnings have been raised. An actual recording artist makes most of his or her money from tours and commercialization. Carl Voght writes, "by downloading a couple of songs from an artist, I do not hurt them. I help them. I would not have bought their CD anyway, but I might buy the next one or I might tell a friend and they may buy the CD." According to the New York Times, many performers such as Bob Dylan and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are posting hard to find songs as free downloads to promote their work and generate revenue.

Because music is available off the Web, the New York Times suggests that artists' general earnings have significantly been raised. Another example of how downloading is beneficial is the free libraries over the Internet. They provide samplings and sometimes whole books available for downloads. Growing rapidly, these libraries' book orders have nearly tripled, due in part to downloads.

Not only does downloading music off the Web help an artist's earnings, but it also gives artists a way to get their music to thousands of listeners for a low price. Free exposure is practically a thing of the past for entertainers. Janis Ian, of Singer Songwriter Magazine, said getting your record played on the radio 'costs more than most of us dream of ever earning.'

So many independent bands and artists do not choose radio as a vehicle of publicity. Free downloading gives every do-it-yourself artist out there a chance to get their music to millions of people, enticing consumers to buy the CD and come to concerts. I have found my favorite bands by downloading from the Net. Because I discovered certain bands' music through the Web, I now support those bands by going to their concerts.

Generating more revenue for artists and getting music out to millions of consumers: Both are reasons why downloading music off the Internet should be made completely legal. To download music off the Web is the right of an American citizen and is not taking away the rights of the creators of the songs.

Lacey Hayes is a student at XXX

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