After asking various students around campus whether free music sharing should be banned or not, I was not so surprised to find that out of the ten students I asked only one really seemed to be pretty split on the subject.
As students we are always looking for free and affordable things, and as a generation that was raised with the very first portable mp3 players and later ipods, music has become a huge part of our culture and something that I would strongly argue, that we all hold very dear. So of course, when you put the two together, how could you not say yes to free music when it’s so easily accessible and so rarely reprimanded for?
Of course there’s the moral dilemma that if we truly did love music, and appreciate the artists who gave us these gifts, we should support them and purchase their music, the way it was so commonly done only 15 years ago. However, many students would argue that now with our access to the Internet and our new forms of media, free music sharing can actually, for the first time, be truly beneficial to an artist.
After having heard this pro-music sharing theory from a couple of students, I took it upon myself to find some Sonoma State artists to ask for their thoughts on the matter. I was happy to hear that after all my years of suppressed free downloading guilt, and that free music-sharing and downloading has proven to be very beneficial to upcoming artists trying to make their break.
I discovered that the trick to balancing the system is enticing the public with a few free downloads, while having other songs up for sale. Although this panel of Seawolves probably isn’t a direct representation of the rest of the world or country’s views on free music sharing, I would argue that it is a valid portrayal of most student’s interests when it comes to music sharing and our reasonable tendencies of wanting whatever we can get or find for free.
Seeking out free items, regardless of whether I actually need or even really want them is a true guilty pleasure of mine.
I have been illegally downloading music for as long as I can remember. As the daughter of a somewhat overprotective father I had many restrictions on what I could watch or listen to as a child. I grew up listening to “the classics” on cassettes. Some of my all time favorites were The Beatles, Elton John and Buena Vista Social Club. I remember my first purchase on iTunes was “Temperature” by Sean Paul with my helicopter father strictly screening all the songs I wanted to buy. My iTunes library was always very limited and desperately lacked the Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys music which, to my father, was considered “crappy teeny bopper music.”
Of course with my growing hunger for new music and the repercussions at school for always being clueless about the next new song or TV show, something had to change. My discovery of websites and applications like Limewire, Frostwire, Youtube and mp3 converters, and later Piratebay changed my life forever and definitely for the better. I remember my first rap song was “Ms. Jackson” by Outkast and after that there was no going back.
Even if it wasn’t for my rigid upbringing, I would still have found these sites and shamelessly have used them. Anyone who loves music as much as I do and is constantly listening to new songs is guilty of illegally downloading and sharing songs, because if not, our bank accounts would be severely overdrawn. I guess what makes us feel like it’s okay is that since everything is now virtual and so easily accessible, it doesn’t feel like you’re going out and stealing a CD from Amoeba- which when it comes down to it, that’s essentially what you’re doing.
However, applications like Spotify and Pandora have been helpful in lessening the illegal downloads and sharing by finding a way to share music in a way where no one is “stealing” it. These artists are still making profits from their music, and selling their music on iTunes is not where they’re making the vast majority of their profits. A great chunk of that money is probably going to Apple, the producers and the ones who could arguably be stealing from the artists. Artists make most of their profits performing live and going on tour, and in order to get an artist to that point, we, the music junkies, should continue helping their fan base grow by continuing to share music and get their names and demand for more of their work out there.
As our fellow seawolves, Ang, Darby and Jordan all said, free music sharing helps the artist get their foot into the very competitive music industry, so keep calm and download on.
To read more about Sonoma State student’s opinions on the subject of free music sharing, see the article “Seawolves Speak!”