Free music is hurting the economy

September 10, 2012 Blogs, Former Pioneer Staff Print Print

Millions of songs are download every day, but how many of them are paid for? This is one of the main problems music companies and artists face today. The thought process for most is the belief that if music is free, why should one have to pay for it? While today there are many forms of accessing music for free (spotify, illegal downloads, music sharing), many do not think about the effects it has on music labels, artists, and more importantly, the economy.

With just less than 10 percent of CDs released making profits, it is safe to say the majority of music accessed comes from the Internet. Virtually everyone with an iPod or mp3 player has at some point downloaded music from the Internet but according to an online source, 95 percent of that music is downloaded illegally. Piracy has long caused much controversy and many feel if something is not done to stop illegal downloads the music industry could be in for trouble.

It used to be simple: the consumer downloads a song for $1 and automatically the profit is split between the artist, music label, and songwriter. However, with much music being downloaded illegally, many feel artists are not getting the cut they deserve. So how do we minimize illegal downloading? How about subscribing?

Instead of purchasing individual songs, users would pay a small monthly fee for access to millions of songs. Some companies like this have already been invented, but how do we know it would be effective if it was the only way to download music? The idea is no one would bother stealing music if they had access to virtually the whole world of music at their fingertips on the device of their choosing. Musicians and songwriters could be compensated through systems that track their popularity and consumers would be able to explore music they haven’t before. Artists would be compensated accordingly, all while receiving exposure to new audiences.

What it comes down to is with new technology, people want better and more convenient ways to access their music. While the music industry may never be perfect, it needs to find middle ground that will make everyone happy. Music is not a dying industry as some think, but rather artists, labels and the music industry need to learn how to budget their money in a way that is beneficial to all parties. The public must also join in and realize that not only is downloading illegal music unfair, it also affects the economy of music.

Unless we take steps to solving these problems, I predict many more unhappy artists and illegal downloads in the future.

Disclaimer: The opinions and views expressed in this blog are the opinions of Erin Peden and do not reflect the opinions or views of any other Pioneer employees.

To contact Erin Peden, email

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