Music Downloads

By defaultuser
October 16, 2003

In response to Mike Kazanjian’s letter last week, I would like to touch on the subject of downloading music. As someone who has been working in the music industry for around three years, and following it for even longer, I feel that I should provide some corrections to his statements.

According to Kazanjian, the artists lose money when their songs are downloaded. Granted that may be true, it is not as harmful to the artist as you may think. Most artists receive no more than three cents per album sold, and even the biggest artists, such as Madonna and The Rolling Stones, only get around 15-16 percent of the album’s sale, which in the end isn’t as much as you’d think. The record labels receive the majority of the money from album sales. Most artists, in fact, make all of their money from merchandising and tours. They do get money from selling their albums at the shows, but the artists need to BUY those albums from the record label before they can sell them.

In my opinion, the music industry has been going about selling their records the wrong way. People don’t want just the music anymore; they want extras, which can almost never be downloaded. These include live concert footage, bios, flashy and attractive packaging, and occasionally some interactive materials. Universal Music Group has taken a giant leap towards helping their record sales by dropping the suggested retail price back down to $12.98 on a lot of their big titles. This is a step that needs to be taken by the industry as a whole.

The pay-to-download music sites are also something that the record labels have not taken enough advantage of. These sites allow people to download just the single they like while also contributing money to the artist or label. The industry also needs to realize that people don’t want to buy an album that sounds like crap. They want to spend their hard earned $20 on good music, and downloading allows them to check out the album before buying it.

My record collection, of actual CDs, not MP3s, is almost breaking the 800 mark, and half of them would never have been bought if I hadn’t downloaded the album first to see if I liked it. In fact, at this moment I am listening to my newly purchased copy of Hybrid’s Morning Sci-Fi which I’ve had downloaded for almost three months. I bought the album because I like the artist, I like the packaging, it came with a DVD, and I like the idea of having the actual album.

As a musician who has been writing for over five years, I can say that I love it when people download my music. I love to write; it brings a warmth to my soul that is unmatchable and if other people like what I write, that makes me feel even better. Sure, it’d be wonderful if people wanted to purchase my music, but in the mindset of an artist, that’s not the driving force to releasing the records. Yes, some bands are together purely for profit, and those bands don’t write real music, they write what people want, whatever’s popular, and they deserve to have their music downloaded instead of bought.

Overall, I feel that the downloading of music is essential to an artists’ survival. It allows for exposure to the masses in a way that radio would never allow; radio only plays the top hits most of the time. If you want to hear new music, you have no choice but to download it.

– Julian Smoger


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