It’s true, artists should not be so concerned about how many record sales are being made, more so they should be concerned about how many people their music is reaching. Which is something that is becoming more and more prominent in the music industry.
In 2008, a report by the American Financial Printing Inc. stated that only 5% of the music downloaded that year was actually paid for (Mahoney). The trend seen in today’s music industry concerns the artists and producers—artists being my focus of attention. People now have the tools to access music so easily yet, musicians are not resisting sites like Spotify and Pandora as heavily because in the end they—their brand, their image—are still benefiting from the publicity.
Artists “embrace the unprecedented reach of the internet, using it to build their fan base by making their videos available on YouTube for free”; a change that is affecting consumers and musicians everywhere. Big name artists are still dependent on album releases but their efforts have evolved from needing one more sale to looking for one more source to be heard through.
The real benefactor from this trend in our society is the consumer. In a 2012 survey, 49% of “persistent illegal down-loaders” agreed with the statement that piracy is “stealing/theft.” But 74% responded that they didn’t view it as a punishable crime and it was not something “they gave much thought to.”
So why are there no major pushes by artists to put an end to this unlawful distribution? Artists have come to the conclusion that it is better to have their music out in the open or shared rather than skipped over due to the price put up on iTunes or on the shelves of stores. There is still much profit from sales—people still legally buy songs and albums, $3.7 billion on digital purchases alone in 2008, according to John Mahoney, an online blogger for the site Gizmodo. The trend, however as we have discussed, has allowed one person to illegally download a song, share the song via social media, and in turn allow someone else to become aware of a new hit. The chances that this person ends up buying the song legally are still quite high at a rate of 30%. So the artists are benefiting from the situation, their name is being put out in the open, and they are taking control of that publicity, rather than fighting it, which is what we see with artists like Lady Gaga, as mentioned before.
Artists are still left with a slight dilemma though. According to “Music Piracy: A Case of ‘The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Poorer’” big name musicians are indeed losing more sales to piracy than smaller artists, but in the process achieve greater recognition in the dissemination of their music. Which is what Kaci has touched on. Artists should, and are, being more and more concerned with the reach of their music, however that may be, rather than the sales of physical or digital purchases. But as she also pointed out, there are still many artists who resist this movement. Is it just the artists though?
Turns out, it is the music producers who are meeting illegal downloads with the most resistance. Sean Parker is one to thank for the beginning of this battle era between the big producers and the down-loaders. He got his big start right out of high school in 1999 when he co-founded the infamous music sharing site Napster. Napster was the catalyst for the era of digital music-sharing which changed the music industry forever. It wasn’t long before Napster became the object of lawsuits “concerning intellectual-property rights.” Many producers and lawyers were outraged. When an album sells under a production company’s name, a majority of that money comes back to them. But what do they get from illegal downloads? It is not nearly as beneficial for the music producers as it is for the artists, who with the increased recognition from music piracy and sharing can still manage to build and maintain such a strong following. By the time of its demise in 2002, Napster had contributed to billions of separate acts of copyright infringement and many record labels were seeking punitive damages of no less than $150,000 per violation of copyright.