As I sit in my dorm room downloading “The Tipping Point” by the Roots off BitTorrent, I think about the state of the music industry. By pirating this CD, I am short changing the Roots. The million dollar question is, how much should they be entitled to? When you consider that the band may only see 5% of whatever I pay for their music, I like the idea of mailing money straight to the band, but I am too lazy to do this.
The RIAA has argued that piracy is causing decreasing CD sales. They may have a point. I haven’t bought a CD since last summer (Hard-Fi’s “Stars of CCTV” and Thom Yorke’s “The Eraser”, both from Amazon), around the time I discovered how easy it was to download CD’s off BitTorrent. The anti-RIAA side argues that decreasing CD sales are caused by high prices (true, you will never get me to pay $19 for a CD) and by poor quality music (and Mims rapping “I can make a mill sayin’ nothin’ on the track” isn’t helping.) I realized today that the RIAA, in turn, should point out that the poor quality music may be caused by piracy. Take the extreme scenario where songs are instantly available for free whenever a musician records a new one. If musicians never got paid, there would be little incentive for them to produce music for a living (it would be impossible). If there was no piracy, not only would CD’s probably be cheaper but there would be lots more money for artists to make by producing music. If consumers demand free music, they will get the quality that free provides. If they are willing to pay for music they will get better quality music.
That said, we will never eliminate piracy. I am guessing that the big labels will slowly go out of business, as the costs of recording and advertising decrease, and bands discover they can make more money by not signing with a label. In addition I think the agreements radio stations and big labels have to promote new songs will go out the window as radio gets more competition (from the Internet, hopefully, and from portable music players)