Keeping up with the ever-changing music scene is not only a difficult task, but a pricey one. At $1.29 a song, trying to stay on top of every new release quickly adds up, especially for teenagers who are already strapped for cash.
Many people resort to downloading music illegally for free from file sharing websites in order to save money. It is a common misconception that illegal downloading affects record sales.
Researchers Felix Oberholzer of Harvard Business School and Koleman Strumpf of UNC-Chapel Hill have studied the relationship extensively. Their “The Effect of File Sharing on Record Sales: An Empirical Analysis” determines that “Downloads have an effect on [record] sales which is statistically indistinguishable from zero.”
In all honesty, I regularly download music illegally and see little wrong with it in most cases. For me, the decision to buy something legally as opposed to download it for free comes down to the necessity of support for the artist I am considering.
New artists need a great deal of support in order to get their career off the ground, and without it, many of them will not be able to sustain a career in music. If the artist I am considering downloading is relatively new or unknown I almost always pay for their music rather than download it for free; being a poor musician myself, I feel their pain.
This initial support is vital to the longevity of an artist’s career because the vast majority of their funding will come out of their own pocket, rather than a large record company financing their endeavor. More established artists typically have a record company backing them and an extensive staff of managers, promoters, road crew, instrument technicians and booking agents at their disposal who can assist them with anything they might need.
The decision to “steal” from an artist should not be one hastily reached. Although I do download many songs illegally, I also spend a very sizable amount of my parents’ income on iTunes and in local music stores.
Although downloading for free is the most cost-effective way of feeding your music habit, sometimes it can be more satisfying paying for something knowing that your $1.29 is going to fuel the art you love.
–By Dylan Newcity