Long Form Research Essay

War. It is something that in most scenarios, both sides want to avoid. It brings more loss than gain, and a lot of blood within both sides. The music industry has been at war with artists, and free music for a while now. Since the new era of digital music entered, everything has become chaos on all sides. Purchased music has decreased, and artists become bankrupt, while audience get away with more music for free. This is a war about the record label, artist, and illegal downloading. Since the industry has been going downhill over the past years, the question has been asked multiple times, when will the music industry completely collapse? The music industry has tried to find new ways to keep everybody happy on both ends, audience and artist. I believe that the music industry should continue experimenting new ways to fight this virus of illegal music.


We all know or at least heard rumors of our favorite artists/bands being sued or in trouble with their label. There has been great debates over the years of joining or not joining a label. History has shown that labels have taken advantage of artists. On the other hand, a label artist can make more money by signing with a record label than an independent label.  You can find other sites that talk about that matter. But those are minor problems. We are facing bigger problems than just the possibility of an artist’s absence, but possibly almost every artist out there.

Some of  us, call ourselves musicians. And could really care less about the industry collapsing, because we love creating our own music because it brings great benefits to our mind and health. But let’s be honest, weather you are a musician or not, imagine a world without music. I am not saying that this is going to happen if the industry falls, because it is not. However imagine if all our favorite artists stopped all of a sudden making music. Every fan would be affected negatively. That emotion we felt when listening to their music would be weakened or gone, and replaced with emptiness. And rising artists would not be able to get influenced by other artists. In a perfect world a musician/artist would work for free because it is what they love, but we do not live in a perfect world. Artist have to sell their work to make a living and survive, and if their hard work is being viewed for free then why should they continue to make music?

On the other hand, consumers have their own everyday problems, and now they have to pay for music at unfair costs paying up to two dollars for one song. Paying for music is like taxes nobody wants to do them but have to. So why should we have to pay for music? We will only be doing the artists and label a favor.

This is the biggest problem the music industry is trying to solve. They have to make a decision that will benefit both ends. Since physical copies have been dying over the years digital copies became available. Once digital copies became available, revenue grew, but so did illegal downloads grew illegally. To fix this, we know that businesses can not go back to the RIAA lawsuits by suing fans for illegal downloading/music sharing, just to send a threatening warning message “that will teach em” and “not to do it.”

When illegal downloading was first heard of, the lawsuits were not that big of a threat and the chances of being caught were small. As the illegal downloading increased, the court’s increased the number of lawsuits as well. In 2007, the RIAA chairman said “We’ve found that students know that downloading from unauthorized P2P system is illegal, but the chance of getting caught isn’t great enough to discourage them from doing it. By increasing the number of lawsuits, we’re letting them know that the risk of getting caught is greater. That’s also why we’re bringing more lawsuits on a single college campus.”

Now what is wrong with this statement is that the consumer is not to blame for illegal downloading for multiple reasons. The main reason being they can not afford to buy an album that is at least twelve to fifteen dollars. And to correspond to this businesses complain they are just trying to reach the demand that is being asked for. So it creates a paradox closed loop.

Well know we know that free music can not be an option because the payment to artist is unfair. And if you charge too much the consumer would not by their music.

So physical copies are dying, digital copies are hard to manage. Then what has the music industry been up to today? Overtime in order to survive in any situation you will need to learn how to adapt. Streaming services is the “new thing” that people are are using these days. Spotify, and apple music are two of the biggest sites  today in the field. Unlike illegal music, the audience get to have free music and Artists and their record company get paid at the end of the day. Spotify for example holds thirty percent of the rights and the seventy percent of total revenue goes to the rightful owners. However some artists believe that these services are stealing from them. Taylor Swift believes that the work of artists on Spotify is being disvalued. Each stream on average makes around $0.006-$0.008. Yet Spotify still tries to negotiate with them by giving them new contracts and explaining to the them how the business works so that they will not feel robbed.

The artists paycheck works like the following with Spotify’s royalty system. Spotify’s monthly revenue multiplied by the artists spotify streams over total spotify streams multiplied by seventy percent to master and publishing owners multiplied by the artist’s royalty rate which will then finally give you the artists final payout.

Users get to listen music for free and this time it is legal. Users get the choice to listen to free music, or the premium version which includes more features than the free version. Both free version and premium include “shuffle play any playlist or artists catalogue, create your own playlist, and play any on demand song. With only $9.99 per month, you can include the more features, including highest quality audio, uninterrupted listening (such as ads like in the free version), and downloading music and listen offline.

Premium delivers twice as much more revenue than the average music consumer does. Premiums goal is to convince millions of people to turn to premium so that the overall total revenue can grow and build back the music industry.

Now you know the problems that everyone is facing within the  music industry. But do we finally have the solution to fix this hurricane the music industry has been going through? Can streaming services such as Spotify and Apple music be the answer to what the industry has struggled for almost decades now. It may not bring balance to how things used to be. Artists might not be as rich as the old artists used to be and businesses might not be as big, and users might not be as happy as they were illegally downloading music,  but if the industry keeps experimenting after failure in this direction of streaming, and if consumers are willing to stop illegal downloading, then maybe this can bring peace to both sides and put an end to this war.



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