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Comment: Illegal music downloading needs to be rectified - but it is not killing the industry

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Last week Emily White, an intern for All Songs Considered: NPR, wrote a controversial article detailing how she acquired her music library. It lead to several critical responses, re-igniting the discussion on illegal downloading and file-sharing.

She is not unlike the majority of young music consumers and I commend her bravery for telling the truth. Whilst it is clear that such activity is against the law and is a form of theft, I agree with White’s point that she can’t see her peers or even herself buying albums. From Limewire to Pirate Bay to YouTube converter, our generation has had easy access to downloading music for free at our very fingertips. Such sources and sites are the go-to places for a large percentage of us.

As record sales continue to fall, file-sharing is said to be causing the death of the music industry - but what can be done to stop it? And is it really destroying the music industry?

It seems to be impossible to increase internet restrictions without limiting its freedom in general so a change of mindset is required. If you were to ask 14 year-old me why I used Limewire and similar sources, my response would be “why should I pay for music when I can get it for free with extremely little chance of punishment?” Now that I am older, wiser and with aims to have a career in the arts, as well as having friends that are musicians, I understand my wrongdoings. It is necessary for people to view downloading in the same league as stealing from a shop. Although the two are not likely to have the same consequences, the action of stealing from a hardworking artist is inherently wrong.

Statistics on the decline of the music industry haven’t seemed to have much of an effect and to the average consumer many artists don’t seem to be particularly hard done by as they tweet about jetting off to exotic locations and Instagram items that cost more than our entire tuition fees. Concert ticket sales and merchandise are still going strong as well. I would argue that the industry is not dying but that technology has developed at a faster rate and music needs to catch up with it. File-sharing is a definite hindrance in realtion to the business aspect, but hold the obituaries  - because a healthy industry is not based on sales but on creativity and artistry; things that will never die. 

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