Free or Fee? What is Music Worth?
We are much more reliant today than ever before on technology and the many contributions it makes to our lives every second. Perhaps most notable is the many options technology has given to the Internet and the world of entertainment, making many artistic projects and productions, from digital music albums to e-books to short and long films and television programs available to a larger audience of people.
Steadily children that grew up with the Internet and don’t remember a time without it are reaching adulthood, and attitudes about both the monetary value of artists’ works available online and the cultural value of these works are changing. This revolution began with the introduction of CD’s, which became easy to copy and distribute to friends.
There are certainly varying opinions about the worth of downloadable music and purchased music in general; while a younger generation of music lovers is certainly divided on whether music downloaded online should be free music, there are definitely more in that generation deciding that perhaps people should be more freely allowed. When it is so much easier to copy mp3’s online and from friends, and also easier to record entire albums in the studio with full digital capabilities, many young music listeners wonder, is a musician’s work and the musician him/herself really worth as much as at the dawn of the recording industry?
Many studies have shown that adults that remember a time when recorded music was expensive and more difficult to obtain are much more cognizant and respectful of basic music Copyright Law. They understand why certain laws are in place, and some that are artists themselves have relied on Copyright Law to protect their creative expressions. Copyright Law also allows music and other art forms to perpetuate in the world, and is the reason there is so much variety available.
The music industry has been cracking down on how people get their music recently in response to the increased availability of downloadable music and digital music on the Internet. The music industry was largely unprepared for the sudden introduction of file sharing programs to music lovers, and it has taken several years for them to realize their impact on musicians, songwriters, other music professionals and record companies. Before the Internet, most young people bought CD’s, and shared them by simply burning a copy for friends. While this was certainly a violation of Copyright Law, it somehow did not pose as large of a problem as when mp3 players became available and people downloaded free music off the Internet en mass through high-speed connections. The music industry has recently started filing lawsuit after lawsuit to stop this phenomenon and put systems in place to make music lovers pay for downloadable music. As was evidenced in recent lawsuits that were filed against those in small towns in middle America, you do not have to be high profile to suffer consequences for violating the law when it comes to digital music.
The industry has been driving hard to try to get the public to recognize that not paying for music takes money away from artists and musicians that they deserve for their hard work. While music is a source of entertainment and a cultural commodity for most, for those involved in creating it, it is a job that they rely on to make lives for themselves. Like any other professional, musicians can’t be expected to do their work for free. While the amount some receive is certainly debatable, what is not debatable is that they should receive something. The latest drive to enforce Copyright Law by the music industry is causing a stir among young people. New anti-piracy software is now being put on CD’s to cut down on illegal CD copying. The software prevents listeners from burning the CD more than five times.
Teens especially are noting that this will not stop others from discovering new ways to get music. Many adults agree that someone is bound to come up with a way around the software, as technology always seems to find a way to surmount obstacles that prevent free sharing of music, DVD’s and other media.
Many teens note that there is an obvious and simple way around the anti-piracy software; all a person has to do is make a copy of the CD once and then use the copy to make more copies. Those invested in the downloadable music and digital music craze feel the anti-piracy software is really just a way to slow down some of the most avid copiers while the industry thinks of a more permanent solution.
Other teens support these new attempts to prevent people from getting music for free. They feel that music is a valuable part of everyone’s lives that touches so many aspects that certainly free music or even cheap music should not even be an option. They fully understand why musicians deserve to be paid for the privilege of owning and listening to their music over and over again.
So what are some alternatives to illegally downloading digital music or free music?
There are many services that provide low-cost and virtually free music for professionals and individuals simply hoping to expand their music collection. For those still entrenched in the CD movement, there are some subscription services in development that will allow people to freely share unlimited CD’s through the mail at very low cost and without violating Copyright Law.
As more services for downloadable music and digital music arrive on the scene and make a more competitive market, track downloads and album downloads are becoming cheaper. Even iTunes offers songs as 99 cents apiece, and entire albums at cut rates, so even young people can afford to buy music legally to enjoy.
As an alternative to digital music provided by major music providers, reputable royalty free music companies are bringing original tracks of music plus many high quality royalty free music versions of some favorite classical pieces to listeners at affordable prices and sometimes even free. Royalty free music companies such as Royalty Free Music.com offer huge and very comprehensive downloadable music libraries with collections from every genre from classical and jazz to rock, techno, dance and Hip Hop. And with royalty free music, you pay to satisfy Copyright Law upfront so you don’t have to worry later about any additional fees. Many royalty free music companies even offer totally free music that is of excellent quality and different from anything else available.
The point with digital music is that listeners will continue to try to find ways to get free or cheap music; at this stage of technology, finding loopholes and ways that allow for freer sharing of information is just human nature.