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Is Downloading Music For Free a Bad Thing?

Many people listen to free music by downloading it through various means and the main reasons for doing this have always been convenience, speed and cost. It is true that it is cheaper to buy a digital track from an online vendor than a CD single but most believe that music is still simply too expensive.

People have been complaining about the price of CDs since they were invented and although the record industry has now embraced the idea of selling digital music tracks, they still insist on charging high prices for the privilege.

They want people to believe that the prices they charge per track are a good deal, but buying 10 or 15 tracks for download is often the same as the CD equivalent and the quality is inferior. Not to mention the fact that they have no reproduction, packaging, or distribution costs.

It is primarily because people have repeatedly been disappointed for so many years that they want to download and listen to fee music first before deciding whether to buy it or not. This is why the P2P culture has blossomed in the way it has and people are able to choose more wisely because of it.

The general opinion on music file sharing from the aspect of the record companies and their representatives is that it is something which will ultimately destroy the industry if it isn't stopped. They want us to think every time someone downloads a track, they have lost revenue and this will lead to reduced investment resulting in poorer music and fewer new artists.

But there is more new music emerging now than ever, really good bands and artists from a wide variety of genres that contradicts what the record industry says will happen if you listen to free music. This supports the opinion that file sharing serves as a free global distribution channel helping bands reach a wider audience and build a larger fan base.

As a result they can spend less on marketing, sell more concert tickets and merchandise, and be in more demand for interviews and appearances on TV or radio. It is also likely that they will sell more albums too as it has been shown time and time again that file sharers not only listen to free music but buy more than any other group.

Quite a few recording artists, mostly independent, have been experimenting with various downloading technologies and have completely embraced the distribution capability that it gives them, so they want you to listen to free music. Many worry in fact that courtroom success in shutting down these networks by agencies such as the RIAA and BPI will eliminate the very technologies that are providing them with a more level playing field.

If the record companies looked at the bigger picture they might see that every time a track is shared it is the popularity of that artist and therefore their overall value that has increased. Marketing through file sharing takes full advantage of the viral nature of the Internet and allows an artist to be more independent, benefiting more from their work. But the record companies don't want you to listen to free music, they want complete control of it all and how it is distributed.

And don't forget that if you purchase a track from iTunes, eMusic or any other downloading site, you will not have the right to sell it in the future like you do with a CD or DVD.

Laws such as the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act), the proposed IPPA Intellectual Property Protection Act) in America, and DRM (Digital Rights Management) on legally downloaded files seem to show the rights of the big companies are increasing while the rights of the individual diminish, which is the exact opposite of why copyright law was originally introduced.

It is traditional however that the entertainment industry will try to fight off anything new and oppose innovation. The most recent examples include the fight against VCRs, CDs, and MP3 players. Every time though they come to realise the value of these technologies for themselves and magically start to embrace them. So just do what you think is right, you don't always get what you pay for.

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