(*Editor’s Note: The Appetizer does not condone nor endorse the illegal downloading of anyone’s music, even if the consensus is “they can afford it.” The following is the opinion of contributing writer Martha Chace, and her perspectives shed light on issues we all face as consumers and music fans alike. Enjoy!)
Your favorite artist released their newest album about a month ago. You’ve heard their top songs on the radio, seen the lyrics to some written across your friend’s Facebook pages (why people don’t just say what they mean, I’ll never know), and you’ve been streaming the album through Spotify. However, you’ve spent all your money on a plane ticket to visit home for Thanksgiving, but you want to be able to listen to this album while you travel—it’s entertainment, right? Recently, you found a free torrent of the album, you click “download” and voila! You have your album, with all your pennies still in your pocket. But, is this right?
It comes in many forms—file sharing and torrenting name a few. Just to note, I’m not going to argue this topic statistically or with facts to back it up—this is solely my perspective, and honestly, I’m still on the fence about the whole thing. However, is it okay to download an artist’s music without purchasing it? First, I want to take a look at the consequences of downloading illegally. For me, the first one that comes to mind is viruses. I’ve had many computers taken to the doc to be shot up with a steroid to rid it of ridiculous viruses . . . but, the day I would have it back, I immediately began downloading again. It’s easy, all you have to do is click the big green button with the arrow on it; how could I resist? Somehow, getting viruses over and over didn’t send me the hint that I shouldn’t download, another symptom of downloading did: a friend of mine had their internet turned off from it. That was a wakeup call.
Now, sometimes downloading for free is okay— artists can promote their music on their websites with free downloads, and in this case, I’ll download. But, the reality of it is, downloading when it isn’t a promotion, is illegal—it is punishable by law, or in our case, punishable by having your internet shut off. Not long after this, I realized it’s illegal because downloading is stealing. I love my musicians, why would I want to steal from them? Sometimes, I justify it by saying the artist is already making millions, how will they miss forty-nine cents from this one song? But, if someone was to steal forty-nine cents from me, little by little, I wouldn’t have anything—then, I wouldn’t even be able to buy music!
I’ve found there are different levels of protecting music—some of my friends don’t even burn CDs for other friends, I make mix CDs all the time, especially Christmas ones! Some swear by the “they’re famous, it’s okay” rule, and some of my friends don’t really care too much. Personally, I feel it is important to give an artist credit to their work, but it is ground to be tread with caution. Luckily, today, we are provided many options to listen to music freely—some with our complete choice, like Spotify and Grooveshark, and some like Pandora which create a playlist for you. If you ever find yourself wanting to push that green button, break away and listen to an extraordinary playlist, like The Appetizer. Happy listening!