Why is Music Piracy So High?


Andrew Sosanya

Pictured is the website of The Pirate Bay, one of the most abundant sources of getting music and other digital media illegally

Paying for music is a thing of the past. Over the years, the population of people who pay for music have became a minority; in contrast to the good old days when people were considered evil or even  criminals for downloading illegal music. But now, music retailers and artists have to compete in a world where “it’s free” is the standard.

Over the years, the number of people who download media illegally has skyrocketed. According to the Institute for Policy Innovation , the US economy loses about $12.5 billion each year due to illegal downloads in the music industry.

Even though illegal music downloading is something that is worldwide, the United States is ranked as the number one country which downloads music illegally. In 2012, it was recorded that more than 96.8 million downloads of illegal media occurred in a period of six month.

With the eruption of social media, free access to a musician’s hard work serves as free advertisement for the artists. With a teen employment rate of  51.9 percent, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics, teens aren’t able to buy their favorite musician’s $15 album on iTunes.

On an article on bandzoogle.com, it is explained how artists’ only get to experience a fraction the profits of the body of work they created. Even though albums used to cost more than $15, with the new trend of digital music the price dropped to $15. In reality, the drop in album prices didn’t drastically affect the income of musicians since artists only get about six percent of the money made from album sales. Producers rake in about two percent of the proceeds, and songwriters account for four and a half percent. Distributors get 22 percent of the bucks, and the manufacturing departments earns five percent while, the retailers and record labels both get their own thirty percent of the money made from the artist’s album sales.

For a band of multiple members, the business of record sales is a nightmare. For a band of four, after all the other people who aren’t the artists get paid, end up with less than a dollar per CD that is sold.

It is hard to believe an unemployed teenager’s illegal album download would stop an artist from surviving. According to an interview on digitalmusicnews.com, Gabriel Douglas, a member of the band The 4onthefloor, proved that his top income source comes from live shows. The “evil men in suits” who are benefitting from an artist’s endless nights in the studio, just to make under a dollar per album, want consumers to think that getting free music is bad, but if you take a look at where the money actually goes, you’re not supporting the freedom of your favorite musician even by paying for his or her music. In fact you may be contributing to its growing popularity and therefore possibly the artists’ success.

It is much easier today for consumers to get access to music from platforms like Spotify, Beats Music, Pandora if they want to pay for the music, since the money they would pay for one CD will give them access to thousands of songs to listen on their computer, iPod, or mobile device.

The way music reaches fans has changed over the years. According to the New York Times, the music industry’s global sales rose digitally since the first time in 1999. The music industry was the first media business to be taken over by the digital revolution. According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, in 2012 the increase compared to 1999 was 0.3 percent,  $16.5 billion compared to 1999’s $38 billion. These numbers proved to the IFOPI that the empire of digital music downloads is recovering. As the years progress, CDs will be ancient history.

Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 1.08.25 PMAndrew Sosanya