In a poll taken in 2012 on Violinist.com, 74% of 351 people said that humans need music like they need shelter, food, and clothing; by definition, making music a necessity of life. The blog continues by questioning if, “a child [would] learn his or her alphabet, without a song to go with it? Perhaps, but I just haven’t happened to meet any children during my lifetime who did not learn this fundamental skill without a song to help.” A valid point made by this blogger who also agrees, music IS a necessity of life. So if music–like clothing, shelter, and food–is something that 74% of people say they can’t live without, why are there laws set in place to keep us from getting music online? Some artists have banned together to say, “let music be free.”

Some artists, however, refuse to let their music on any sites where it could be downloaded for free or even streamed. These artists and other people in the music industry claim that it affects the artists and the music industry as a whole. Amy Adkins wrote an article on Chron that claimed, “The availability of free music has cost the music industry $12.5 billion in economic losses.” Which I highly doubt but even so, it doesn’t seem to be affecting Justin Bieber too much; although that could simply be a lack of people downloading his music. A Twitter post by the popular television show “Ridiculousness”, sarcastically showed how artists claim to be affected yet live a luxurious life; one picture even shows the artist with stacks of money surrounding him.

Illegally downloading music isn’t hurting any of the artists. If anything, these artists should be flattered that their fans are willing to literally break the law just to download their song. UpVenue recorded Lady GaGa’s smug remark to the artists against free download sites which says, “You know how much you can earn off touring, right? Big artists can make anywhere from $50 million for one cycle of two years’ touring. Giant artists make upwards of $100 million.” $50 million dollars is more than most Americans will ever see in their lifetime. Downloading a couple of songs for free isn’t even going to put a dent in the artist’s millions. I’m with GaGa on this one.



For centuries music has been a need for multitudes of people. Music can be a healer, it can get you through numerous of things, events, even people. It is universal and it used to be free at a time until it became a business industry. Now music is seen and utilized to an even greater extent. You can find music anywhere but then there are limitations that the music industry has imposed. The act of illegally downloading music is something that has been frowned upon for many years but it has also been a benefit and negative thing for the music industry. How it is handled is what matters, but can it can be something that the music industry can overcome?

It can be fairly easy to say artists are not affected by a few illegal downloads of their songs. They are ridiculously rich but there are artists out there that aren’t rich, that can barely cover their studio time. As David Lowery described in an article in The DIY Musician, as the music improved, in regards to if it was a good track, sales declined in most aspects of income. These aspects that come from concert ticket sales, t-shirt sales, CD’s, and etc,. So it can be easy to say that of such artists that placing tracks on the tops of the chart but there is also others that are trying to make just make it. These companies in the Music Industry try to nurture these upcoming artists and so if income is not coming as projected where are those artists being left. This has been one of the many concerns that all their hard work in making the product and at the end it is being taken for free.

But on the other side of the coin, there are artists that believe that their music is a gift and it should be shared even if they aren’t getting any profit. In the DailyMail, in regards to illegally downloading, the Colombian singer, Shakira, stated “I like what’s going on because I feel like closer to my fans and the people who appreciate the music.” And much can be said for such a talented artist like her just ask the millions of fans she has. Shakira has surpassed over 100 million likes on Facebook alone! By obtaining music illegally it is also allowing music to spread and for others to hear music they would not generally listen to. You can easily become as fan by listening to at least some of their songs online. There are dedicated fan bases that are 100% on their artists side when buying all their music and merchandise. Music spreads rapidly, especially online. New promising artists can be found online by posting their music on such sites. Didn’t Justin Bieber start out as posting videos on Youtube? There is no side that is better when debating over illegal downloads. You just have to embrace the positives and find solutions to the negative impact that it may create,


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.


Most cases involving illegal downloading, never go to court; however, in a recent case, A 25-year-old college student, Joel Tenenbaum, was charged with 30 counts of illegally downloading pirated music and was found liable for infringing. He was fined $675,000, or $22,500 per song. The law states that if found guilty, a person can be charged with up to $150,000 PER SONG AND to five years in jail! If the jury had prosecuted him fully, he would have been fined with 4.5 million dollars FOR DOWNLOADING A SONG OFF THE INTERNET. Please just think about that for a minute–one click of a button and you could be charged with $150,000.

In 2013, the U.S. average wasn’t even half of that. The average household income in 2013 was $51,100; divide that by 52 weeks and you get $982.69 per week. After configuring the average of what most Americans spent on various yearly expenses–housing items, transportation, medical expenses, etc.–The U.S. Department of Labor averaged around $3,267 for “all other expenditures”. Now, assume that you were Joel Tenenbaum and were found guilty of 30 counts of illegal downloads and charged to the full extent; thus leaving you with $4.5 million of debt. Again, assuming we’re on the 2013 U.S. average income, that $3,267 a year would be going towards paying off that $4.5 million. It would take over 1,377 YEARS to pay off a fine like that. Even if it were just the $675,000 that Tenenbaum was actually fined with, it would still take over 206 years to pay off. At that point, a person would be forced into bankruptcy and the artist would STILL have lost money and greatly affected his/her fan in the process.

And yet again I’ll bring up the fact that artists do not seem to be too affected by this–according the Forbes magazine, in 2011, Taylor Swift made $57 million, Rihanna made $53 million, and Kenny Chesney made $44 million. Even if all 30 of Tenenbaum’s songs were Taylor Swift’s and the $4.5 million was supposed to go to her, do you really think adding $4.5 million dollars is going to make a difference on how she lives? In plainer terms, it’s like adding $4.50 to $57; could you by a few extra things? Probably. Would it make a difference to go without the $4.50? Probably not.

See the music industry claims to lose all this money yet does nothing to try and fix the problem. They could easily ALLOW people to just download the music for free on a website that they create and benefit from advertisement. This is exactly what Taylor Abegg-Lawrence suggested. He also stated that, “It’s the difference between stealing and copying,”–“For example, if I steal a car, I steal a car. If I pirate a car, in the morning they still have a car. The only difference is I have one too.” So I return to my original question; is it really hurting anyone to download a song illegally? I mean, it’s a valid point that Abegg-Lawrence makes–he stole nothing. Downloading a song from the internet for free is not technically stealing; it’s copying. The artist still HAS his/her song and he/she still OWNS the song, you simply copied the song and listen to it every once in a while. If you think about it, this isn’t much different than Spotify. On Spotify, you can save songs to a playlist and listen to them whenever you want, assuming you have wifi. You didn’t steal the song from Spotify, you saved a copy of it.


It is a very valid point that artists should be putting their music out their for people to download for free–because ultimately, yes they (the artists/musicians) are still benefiting, from their fans and the publicity it brings them. They will still have that $57, and definitely will not miss the $4.50.

Something that we do see as a result of free music availability, and something that is growing in popularity, is the artist looking for a second stream of income in alternatives to album sales, the result is world tours, merchandise, clothing lines, and deals with big companies to be spokespersons. This is where a majority of the $57 comes from. The goal of the bands and individual artists are no longer to be just “that”; they are a brand, an image, and an icon that they hope to market outside of their music. They become a “megastar”, more than just an artist. Big artists are especially targeting the 18-29 year olds group due to the fact they view a wide range of copying practices as “reasonable.”

Another result to be noted by the increase of “shared” or “copied” music is a new wave of artists described by musician Amanda Palmer as being more trusting to their supporters. In Amanda Palmer’s Ted Talk, she describes the dignity of giving and of asking when it comes to music.

Being a smaller artist, Palmer does not have the luxury cushion of big sold out tours to rely on for a second stream of income over album sales.  So instead she proposes and encourages what others call “illegal downloads” of her music, but in return asks for the support of her listeners. “I think people have been obsessed with the wrong question, which is, ‘How do we make people pay for music?’ What if we started asking, ‘How do we let people pay for music?’”

This “utopic” idea that Palmer proposes can change the music industry. Music can be put out there for everyone to experience and the artist can still be successful. Although she takes a different approach than above mentioned “megastars” they both ultimately are driving to get their music out there for everyone to experience, which is really what the music industry is headed towards.


In this era technology has played a major role in evolving many different types of industries, especially the Music Industry. Many teens now have never bought a physical CD. For them in order to attain music is digitally. Emily White, a writer for All Songs Considered, states that she never really took part in the transition from physical to digital. In her 21 years of life she has only bought 15 CD’s however her iTunes library exceeds more than 11,000 songs. Yet she states that she did not illegally download all of those songs. Some came from a friend, family member, etc,. This is the encouragement of sharing the music and spreading it. Artists want to make an impact and influence people! So you see Emily never truly knew the impact that digital sales had over physical sales. Punishing them to the full extent of the law would be wrong. Adolescents growing up in this era do not fully comprehend how the Music Industry has had to evolved to get to this present time. They grew up around technology that gave them the way to get access to this music. But that does not mean they are not at all affected because of this also. The Music Industry have had to find income in other areas of their interests.

The Music Industry has to evolve and accommodate to what it currently out there and that would be people having access to illegally downloading music. In order to compensate for the loss of income that illegal downloads have caused other sources of income have increased as a result. Bit o Java writer Jessica, wrote an article titled Illegal Downloading and the Music Industry. In this article she explains how as a result of those losses concert tickets and artist’s merchandise have increased in their prices. Now concert tickets that otherwise would be cheap in cost is now pretty expensive in comparison to other times. This era is constantly changing and evolving it is up to the Music Industry to keep up. They can not blame it all to illegal downloading, they are just using the means that are all ready made available to them. Physical sales were already declining because of digital sales. Now they have to accommodate and try to come up with a concept that could boost their sales and actually make the consumers keep buying. As Neil Young tells the reporter for the Wall Street Journal, “Piracy is the new radio, that’s how music gets around. That’s the real world for kids.”

As, Tess had mentioned before the question that Palmer wants everyone to start considering is “How do we let people pay for music?” The Music Industry should have that question in their front mind. They should revolve their methods around that question instead of continuing to kindle the debate of illegal downloads which may I say looks like it is not ending anytime sooner. There is no going back and amending what is already done, it does not matter whether the artist is being affected or even that downloading music like that is illegal and is punishable.The real issue is how the Music Industry will continue on and what will they used as their replacement for consumers to return buying their products.