Most people who are into music (and various other goods) are well intentioned people when it comes to consuming it. You’ve got others who find no wrong in ‘sharing’ this music with others… without permission to do so and often very much against the wishes of those who created it. Why?
I’ll detail a few reasons I’ve done some thinking on…
It’s easy to steal – If something is easy to do and seems to also be a ‘social norm’ then it becomes like a white lie. If it doesn’t really hurt someone, it’s not so bad right? Besides, if you’re not being caught and there are no felt penalties… it’s easy to become complacent in feeling okay about it. The trouble is that if you apply the same thinking to other things, the same person wouldn’t do it.
It’s free – There is no cost to it. The common rationale is that “I’ll try it and if I like it, I’ll buy it.” Really? It makes one wonder what the follow through rate on such justification.
This also points to a weakness in the promotional department for many artists/labels. Are you offering previews? How about a free song or two? One would assume that simply offering the chance to preview the tunes would discourage a certain amount of piracy and even sell more music in legitimate fashion.
It’s just a few bucks – Well, sort of. You can find a plethora of spots selling pirated music that pay ZERO royalties to those they sell music of. You know, full albums for a dollar or unlimited songs for like 7 cents each. Most based out of an Eastern European nation or even Russia. If it’s too good to be true — it is. Plus knowing these unscrupulous types, you’ll also end up with some bonus “junk” on your computer.
I can’t afford it – Try that at the grocery store, or the car dealership, or at the video rental store… just because it’s downloadable, doesn’t mean you can take it. Again, rationalization downplaying what the act does is dangerous.
It’s out of print or I can’t find it for sale – Most of the time this is a legitimate excuse. Sometimes it’s simply laziness. Especially in our niche of the hip-hop scene, it’s not too hard to find a copy at an online store such as Sphere of Hip-Hop. Sometimes an email to a retailer like Sphere will shed details on the products availability.
I can speak for Sphere in saying, we stock deeply and make every effort to keep pushing older titles. Why? Because if we’re selling… you’re finding past releases AND the artist is usually encouraged to keep the title available… because it sells! This is really where the piracy bug hurts. Sales are down and there is no disputing it. Those albums that are years old may now not be worth printing more copies because of the pace of sale. I know from experience that I think twice when it comes to spending $2,000 on printing another run of CDs that will take years to break even on AND have more boxes taking up space. Consider this from the perspective of an artist or record label and now you’ve got some insight into why albums go “out of print”.
I’ll drop a second installment soon with some ideas and suggestions. Enjoy your hip-hop responsibly.