Why Music Piracy is Good for Music

January 4th, 2007 | Categories: networks, off topic, social media, trends

It is widely-knowned that the RIAA is a strong advocate against music piracy. After all, this all-star organization “works to protect intellectual property rights worldwide and the First Amendment rights of artists”. Lightly translated, they want to make as much money as possible. As they say, everybody wants a piece of the pie. And if you can’t get a big enough piece, then sue others to achieve your desired level of greed.

Although artists such as Metallica curse at the Internet downloading phenomenon, others embrace this medium. Many cult/indie groups owe their success almost entirely to the web. It just wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. The combination of a unique music approach and viral distribution overcompensate for a lack of marketing dollars.

Time to jump into the space capsule and cruise back to the 60s and 70s…

During this time, there was no such thing as a music video. There was TV, but no music video channels like MTV or VH1, so to speak. Then along came MTV in 1982 and video did indeed kill the radio star.

All of a sudden, your popularity didn’t necessarily depend of your music quality, lyrics, voice, or song-writing ability, but rather on aesthetics and looks. In other words, if you were ‘hot’ but your music sucked, you still had a chance to make it big. This created a void. The less-than-beautiful, talented musicians were being suppressed to make way for the more aesthetically-pleasing amateurs. Although I am speaking in generalities, this definitely was and is the case.

Now let’s swing back to today. Once again, the shift should in theory turn back to the music itself. If nearly all artists succumb to illegal downloads, no-one makes money. But if the music is actually good, many people are willing to pay for future albums, songs, or even concert tickets, in support of the artist and their endeavours. On the contrary, artists who churn out mass-marketed pop crap will not attract the same following. Many fans will attend the concerts to see the performer, but music sales will languish as listeners continue to download as no-one actually values the music quality. Moreover, the demographic of these artists is teenagers, who simply don’t buy music.

This may mean that the future of record companies is in jeopardy. I say: cut out the middleman who does nothing but market inflated garbage with raunchy videos and ridiculously cheesy beats. This would put more money in the hands of the artist (assuming they’re good) and eliminate bad quality music from seeping into the mainstream. And forget the idea that record companies market artists. Leave this up to the Internet. It has proven time and time again, that viral distribution and word-of-mouth marketing DO work… and quickly.

My belief is that the quality musicians will rise to the top and continue to produce music, while the manufactured pop artists will eventually fade into oblivion… well, after they try to flog a clothing line… and maybe a reality show.


  1. Mike Bhatti Says:

    Are these claims supported by objective facts? or are they merely subjective ramblings?

  2. Aidan Says:


    Most are subjective ramblings, but I do throw in the odd objective fact ;)


  3. Mike Tan Says:

    You might find Jeff Mallet from Snocap and Mick Hart’s talk at the Web 2.0 Conference interesting and relevant to your last post. In fact some of the things they say justifies your post.


  4. Aidan Says:

    Thanks for the link, Mike.

  5. Piracy good? « The Relentless Stream of Consciousness Says:

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  6. The Relentless Stream of Consciousness - Archive - Piracy good? Says:

    […] Interesting article on music piracy - click here. […]

  7. Wayne Wargo Says:

    If interested in 60’s music, check out the new blog.

  8. Shaun Cable Says:

    This is a great point. It’s also very good for me, considering I am doing a debate on music piracy in school and I’m on the PRO side. I thank you for supplying me with this info!! YOU ROCK!!! :)

  9. Impact of the ‘Network Age’ on the music industry - Piracy « Janis’ UNSW Blog Says:

    […] the Web’ raises many interesting points about networks and piracy. In his article ‘Why Music Piracy is Good for Music’, Henry writes “although artists such asMetallica curse at the Internet downloading […]

  10. AJ Says:

    The problem is, the vast majority of people who pirate music don’t do it to hear new artists, just steal from the ones they already listen too because they are too lazy to get money and give the artists what they are due for their hard work and effort. For a lot of artists it isn’t all about the money but they still have to get something to continue to produce at the level and quality that people want.

  11. Andreas Says:

    Please, do someone know some artist who got famous because of downloading their songs, as mentioned in line 9? I need this for a school project about piracy.

  12. Agent88 Says:

    We have already seen an increase in big names performing in places where they would have otherwise turned down, had it been 10 years ago. Piracy affects the musician’s pockets, but is that such a bad thing? I mean, all they were doing with it was getting off their heads anyway. Plus, songs will never die if they are distributed rapidly amongst the populace. The internet is doing all artists a favour by free advertising. After all, people Dloading wouldn’t have gone out and bought 99.9% of the sheet they Dload anyways.

  13. fk you Says:

    you suk

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