Why purchasing music legally ISN’T a rip-off

Today’s post is a little different to what I’d normally write here, but last week I heard something which inspired me.

During a lecture, my lecturer asked for a show of hands of everyone who had never illegally downloaded music.  As one of those people, I put my hand up, along with about three others in a group of around 100.  I then heard someone from my course mutter, “You’re being ripped off” under their breath.  I don’t know who that person was, and chances are they’ll never read my blog, but this post is dedicated to you, whoever you are.

I think taking part in illegally downloading music is a massive double standard.  I expect the vast majority of people who illegally download music would never dream of shoplifting, or stealing a car, or mugging someone for their wallet.  However, because music (and other forms of media, such as TV shows and films) can be stolen at the click of a button over the internet, I expect it doesn’t feel as if it’s really stealing.  But it is.

Whilst I don’t want to speak for everybody, since illegally downloading media became common practice it feels like consumers have developed a sense of entitlement which, quite frankly, shouldn’t exist.  Instead of saving up your pocket money to buy Fall Out Boy’s latest CD like I used to in my teenage years, as soon as an album is released fans want to have it in their iTunes RIGHT NOW, even if that means getting it by illegal means.  Fans seem to think that they deserve music for free, but that simply isn’t the case.

Artists spend literally months of their time putting albums together, and there are a lot of hidden costs that most audiences probably don’t even consider, such as:

  • Purchasing instruments, or if you’re a solo artist, hiring musicians;
  • Hours of writing and rehearsal time outside of the studio;
  • Hiring a studio to record the separate instrument and vocal tracks (this process could take weeks);
  • Hiring a producer to produce the album, or spending time producing the album yourself;
  • Paying record label and iTunes fees;
  • Designing and printing album artwork;
  • Hours of time spent promoting the album and social networking;
  • And probably a whole host of other steps which I am unaware of.

When you consider how much time and money goes into putting an album together, how could anyone think spending money on music is a rip-off?  More and more artists are struggling to live off their musical careers because sales are plummeting year after year.  Illegally downloading music would be the same, in my eyes, as taking an painter’s canvas down from the wall of a gallery and expecting to walk out with it for free.

When album and single sales flop, artists have no choice but to go on long tours, hoping to make up for money lost and pay their fees and resulting in months away from home and their loved ones.  As much as we all love going to live gigs, touring just to pay the rent can’t be fun for anyone involved.

Although I hate to admit it, the music industry is dying.  Even though I’m only one person, I will continue to legally purchase music because it gives me the satisfaction of knowing that I’m supporting my favourite artists – hopefully allowing them to go on to make more albums and go on more tours. I can listen to every song on my iPod guilt free, and I hope everyone reading this post can too.

Currently listening to: So Far AwayAvenged Sevenfold

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