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What is Piracy Doing to Music?
by Darren W Chow

Sure, it's great to see all your favorite music available for "free". All you have to do is to fire up your P2P or torrent client, key in a few search phrases, set up a download, and come back a few minutes later to play the track.

Most people who do this on a large scale know that they are doing it wrong - that they should be paying for the music they listen to. The reason they don't stop is simple: there's nothing better than getting it free.

The problem with free music is simple - the person who makes music needs to make money off it, otherwise the music doesn't get made. For the industry to continue, music needs to have a price tag attached to it. This takes the music industry into a death-spiral, where the prices keep rising to satisfy the needs of the artist and the industry, while the number of people willing to pay those near-exorbitant prices goes down. Clearly, the business model of the packaged album is nearing its end.

Online music stores, which sell single mp3s at affordable rates, are a much better alternative to CDs or DVDs. There are multiple factors which allow single mp3s to be much cheaper than other forms of dissemination:

  • There is little to no cost of hardware. A CD or a USB disk costs money even before the music is burned onto it. By contrast, an online music store only needs to pay for the data taken up on a server. This cost is a very small fraction of that incurred while selling music CDs.
  • Cost of transportation and processing etc. is also negligible. A music store requires a developer, someone to take care of the server, some people for customer support and some people to speak to the music production companies. This is a much smaller staff requirement than that of a CD store, which needs to pay rent for the floor space, salaries to the personnel, maintenance costs of the building itself, utility bills and a host of expenses that are nowhere near negligible. Also, let us not forget the fact that music stores can reach people in a very small area, so the required number of stores is very, very large compared to the number of online stores.
  • Single tracks are sold, which means that people do not need to pay for what they do not want. This proves to be a win-win situation for the online store, as cheaper goods also sell better. The total volume of sales goes up

Another big advantage of legal and nominally paid downloads is that independent musicians can find a livelihood through these. While the bread and butter of someone like Lady Gaga is assured by now, there are a number of musicians who are just starting out, and who find a lifeline in online stores where they can market their music.

The answer is simple - pay less, but pay all the same. Everyone benefits, including you.

Mp3 Downloads are an inexpensive and easy way of enjoying your music in highly portable form. Instead of pirating, go for Legal Mp3 Downloads to give yourself your fun, while being fair to the artist in the process. Choose from over 4 million songs.

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