Digital music sales rise, rampant piracy still a problem

By Matthew ยท 17 replies
Jan 21, 2010
  1. While digital music sales witness strong growth in 2009, the international recorded music industry is still in decline, and pirates are still lurking.

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  2. Timonius

    Timonius TS Evangelist Posts: 647   +58

    Perhaps they could lower the prices of digital downloads? $0.99 for a 128Kbps (or even 256) mp3 is hardly worth the money when I can go buy the physical CD and get lossless audio for about the same price. Or provide the option to download the track at whatever compression/non-compression quality the customer prefers with the option to download a higher quality version of it.
  3. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,713   +855

    Although you make good points Timonius, that's not going to resolve the theft problem. People steal because it is so easy and they can do it with complete anonymity. And it's been going on for so long and is so prevalent that there literally are teenagers who believe that is the only way to get their music.

    I'm not sure what the solution is. But for sure until there is developed some negative consequence for the theft, it's going to continue forever.
  4. @TomSEA: It is quite ridiculous that the labels continue to focus on music "theft". The piracy argument utilized is in many ways flawed: so-called music "pirates" are almost always individuals who would not consider buying the particular music they "steal" in the first place; their "piracy" isn't causing loss to the record labels because that there was never a potential for profit from them. The "negative consequences" for theft are already there: individuals can be extortionately fined millions of dollars for sharing a handful of songs worth $20.

    Ironically, piracy is cited as a dominant reason for a (small) decline in profits, while economic conditions and a shift in the public's consumption of media are not. The industry should focus on marketing to individuals who are prone to buy music, rather than chasing after individuals who have no intention of paying for it.
  5. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,713   +855

    That's just one of a litany of excuses used to pirate, Guest. And I personally don't agree with it. I think it's been said best by Mr. Koroush Ghazi of in his excellent "PC Game Pirating Examined" article. (Obviously the article is about PC game pirating, but his comments are easily applied to pirated movies and music too.)

    "Piracy is the result of human nature: when faced with the option of getting something for free or paying for it, and in the absence of any significant risks, you don't need complex economic studies to show you that most people will opt for the free route. However to back this up, the data presented in this article shows quite clearly that DRM or no DRM, good game or bad game, demo or no demo, available via Steam or not, cheap or expensive, whether sold by an independent or a major publisher - all games are being pirated on a massive scale. The most significant determinant of which games will get pirated more is how desirable they are. No surprises there.

    The purely self-serving nature of the arguments people use to justify piracy has become quite galling, and frankly is an insult to the collective intelligence of all internet users. Whether you pirate games or not is ultimately none of my business, but at least have the decency to be honest with yourself and everyone else about the real reasons why you're doing it."
  6. I apologize, TomSEA; I wasn't trying to comment on the morality of file sharing - I'm sure most would agree that it is immoral to some extent, and that not contributing to the artist is harmful in the long run. I agree with the premise of your quote: that individuals can and will take the free route if they so desire. It is this point that I originally alluded to: nothing that the studios do, save extreme measures which drive away those who actually pay for content, will sway the actions of habitual "pirates". Essentially, those who share content will continue to do so, regardless of any obstacles put in their way, be it DRM or legislation. Studios should focus on marketing to the demographic which does not engage in piracy, rather than engaging in a futile campaign on those pirates.
  7. Relic

    Relic TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,379   +16

    Not to jump between ya two but you're sort of right Tom imo. Piracy is not a simple black and white issue that some want it to be or like the media loves to tell us. There are many different forms of piracy but they are all put together in one bag...and the industry be it gaming, movies, or music love to blame piracy for all their problems rather then realizing that maybe they screwed up somewhere. Nevertheless Mr. Ghazi is right though a lot of people make up or wrongly use legitimate reasons to justify selfish behavior. But the industries are no better themselves in this matter.
  8. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,713   +855

    No need to apologize, guest. I understand where you're coming from. However I do believe the studios have done what they can to provide their product to legitimate consumers in an easy, cost effective manner so that everyone's happy. The artists get their cut, the distributor gets theirs, the consumer gets to pick and choose as they please. If you recall, it wasn't that long ago where a music CD ran ya a $20 bill. Now I can get a full digital MP3 CD of virtually any artist for 8 bucks or individual songs for as low as .89.

    The problem is the culture of pirating that prevails, primarily among young males. It is just too convenient to steal - in fact even easier than to pay for something. No credit card to provide, no address to enter, not even an e-mail to provide. Just set up your list, go to bed and wake up the next morning with 200 songs downloaded courtesy of BitTorrent.

    That's why my take is that for pirating to end (and it will never be completely eliminated - we all know that), is to have a mechanism in place where there is a negative consequence for the pirating. What that is, I haven't a clue. But it was certainly easy enough to figure out P2P processes, media compression, etc. It shouldn't be that damn tough to figure out a consequence for theft.

    Just my 2 bits. ;)
  9. I agree with Guest. A 30% decline in CD sales since 2004 doesn't seem very significant when digital sales are on the rise. As far as I know, PS3 games still can't be pirated while 360 games can be, yet the 360 dominates in sales of cross platform games, even taking into account it's larger install base. This seems to agree with Guests argument that pirates don't take away from potential sales, if they couldn't get it for free they wouldn't pay for it either.

    I can't help but think of that episode of south park about piracy where they see Lars (of Metalica) sitting by his pool looking sad and Kyle asks what's the matter with him.

    Detective - "This month he was hoping to have a gold-plated shark tank bar installed right next to the pool, but thanks to people downloading his music for free, he must now wait a few months before he can afford it. [a close-up of Lars sobbing] Come. There's more. [leads them away. Next scene is a small airport at night] Here's Britney Spears' private jet. Notice anything? [a shot of Britney boarding a plane, then stopping to look at it before entering] Britney used to have a Gulfstream IV. Now she's had to sell it and get a Gulfstream III because people like you chose to download her music for free. [Britney gives a heavy sigh and goes inside.] The Gulfstream III doesn't even have a remote control for its surround-sound DVD system. Still think downloading music for free is no big deal? "
  10. The bottom line is greed. Plain and simple. Corporations want to overcharge and pirates want something for nothing. There is no victim here, only participants. I don't feel sorry for either side because they are both to blame. The only way to control piracy is to shut off the entire internet and hope people don't go back to recording bootleg media.

    People put too much importantence on music anyways. Who the f*ck cares if Britney Spears or Lady Gaga released a new song. Why risk a lawsuit to get their new songs? Again..GREED. Your friends have something you don't so you have to have it too. There is an invention that lets you hear all the music you want for free..its called a Radio. Your argument then is "but then I can't listen to my favorite song all I want, when I want" advice is SUCK IT UP, MARY.
  11. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +8

    This is just all about a small number of very greedy companies wanting to maintain their monopoly on the distribution of media, and realising that their time is up because of advances in technology. History will look back at organisations like the MPAA and the RIAA, etc and put them into the same category as the people who smashed up printing presses when they were first invented.

    Go ahead, send me some crappy warning letter to stop downloading movies and songs - I will just start to use some software that uses better encryption, or TOR, or something similar. They'll just be some Torrent2 protocol or something that has anonymity built in. They cannot and will not win in the end, they will just rattle their sabres some more.
  12. LightHeart

    LightHeart TS Rookie Posts: 155

    Piracy is wrong

    Greed on the part of a corporation, does not give anybody the right to steal from that corporation.
  13. The really reason that music sales are down is that the music being produced today is mainly a complete load of s$%&.
    I don't buy music, and I don't bother pirating it, as none of it is worth the effort.
  14. yangly18

    yangly18 TS Rookie Posts: 217

    I'll admit, most of my music is shared, I don't really pirate music myself, but when you get do aquire quite alot of stuff. Also, as someone said above, they aren't really 'losing money' if the person never had the intention to buy it in the first place.
  15. compdata

    compdata TechSpot Paladin Posts: 529   +7

    I agree. They have a right to charge what they want for their products. You have a right to not buy it.

    The argument that they are stealing what they wouldn't have purchased is pure BS, try telling a judge that you took the HD TV because you wouldn't have paid for it anyway. People tell themselves that it is different because the "physical cost" of a mp3 is very low, but there are many things that fit the same bill (satellite tv/radio, SMS on cell phones come to mind) and anyone who knows anything about economics understands that labor/design/marketing costs have to be split over each unit. So stealing it in effect drives up the price for everyone else.
  16. Music is a product just like a shoe or a car. I can give away my car without the automaker's permission just as I can with any shoes I own. I can even give away the shoe laces and keep the shoes if I choose. If I buy a CD, I own that CD. I own what is on that CD also. Yes you heard me right. I own that song because I paid the manufacturer a sum of money for the media and it's contents. If I choose to share a song with a friend, that is my option. Why do I have to pay twice for something I already paid for? The CD and the songs have already been paid for once. Thats what the music industry is doing. This isnt stealing. The CD HAS been bought. Copyright infringement in its truest form is to protect the artist from me taking his music, words, etc. and putting into a song of my own and profiting from it. Stealing in it's truest form would be someone hacking into the recording companys systems and downloading the song from its source without paying for it. The laws have been bastardized so much that the recording companies can make up anything that gives them what they want.

    All the record companies are doing is trying to get people to pay for something that may or may not have sold. If I sell or give my car to my neighbor, do the automakers have the right to sue me because they may or may not have lost a potential sale on a new car? Hell no they don't. While its true that illegal downloading is stealing, you have to define what illegal downloading really is and not make up a definition to suit you just like the music companies are doing.

    Personally, I really could care less if the music industy makes money or not. My point is that they are just have laws made because they have the money to do it. If I share a CD with 100 people, the record company needs to do a better job of marketing thier product to get those 100 people to buy their own copy, not whine and make up laws.
  17. 9Nails

    9Nails TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,215   +177

    Lady Gaga sold 9.8 million downloads? And piracy accounts for 95% of the downloads? That would suggest that Lady Gaga was downloaded 196 Million times. Shockingly, if the industry was forward thinking enough to lower their prices enticing the pirates into buyers of music at $0.10 each, they would have doubled their income. Instead they keep prices high and lost sales.

    I think that there's a disconnect between listening to music from the radio and buying a CD to listen to music in a stereo. Stereo's are no longer the hot thing and are a commodity item replaced by computers, phones and digital music players. Even some factory car stereo's include a USB port to import music to the included vehicle hard drive.

    What hurts digital sales is that music has become a commodity. No longer do you need a recording studio to produce a good single. These days a Mac, and a YouTube or MySpace account is enough. The record industry still has a distribution channel, but indie artists can get into iTunes without much effort.

    One of the detractions from a recording industry is their DRM which limits where you can listen to that music. People want to share music with their friends, and why not when it's free over the air waves in radio and in the Internet? And I agree with the others here who describe the quality of the digital downloads as being inferior to a lossless compact disk recording. So digital music should be sold at a lower cost.

    Finally, I agree that the prices are too high. I'd argue that the bulk of the pirates are under the working age and can't afford or have no means (credit cards or elsewise) to easily purchase music, yet it's readily available on the Internet. To them it's like picking a fruit off the neighbors tree, instead of buying the fruit at the store. It's available and right next to them seemingly at all times. With the needs for a studio going away, the nature that music is freely available any ways, and that people want more ways to listen and share music - the industry needs to take a u-turn and take a cold hard look at what they need to do to please their customers.
  18. A contest between genuine and pirated CDs will not end, because it is sandwiched between them for the existence of the interests of buyers. After all everyone is concerned about is their own interest.
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