Your article also mentions that if our world catered only to the rich and government-sponsored, art would eventually disintegrate. But if you hadn’t noticed, the world the RIAA wishes to maintain does exactly that – cater to the rich. File sharing isn’t popular because it’s easier, faster, or better than buying a CD; but because it is free. For anyone with a computer and easy access to a music store, I can guarantee they would prefer having a CD to a list of low-quality MP3s. When you have a CD you own the artwork of the group, official lyrics, and these days, perhaps even a bonus DVD. The CD can even be made into files for MP3 players, so the format is not a concern. But how can the record industry compete with a business model where the product is free? Here is the crux of the issue: the price.
Consider this: CDs nowadays cost anywhere from $10 to $20. To get the albums of even half a dozen of your favorite artists is a huge investment, perhaps not for your standard businessman, but certainly – and obviously – for college students. As per the stereotype, college students for the most part have little to invest as it is in healthy food, clothes, and entertainment. Yet ironically, most record companies make their target audience the very people who can’t afford to spend as much on their product as they would like to…and the very people who will be prosecuted because of it.
Now imagine that file sharing were terminated completely. Would these record companies and artists still be making as much money? Would they even get back their 8% of sales, as you say? In all likelihood, no. The drop in sales is just as likely because of the rise in prices as it is because of file sharing. In the world of college and youth, $20 will easily buy you four meals. Is one CD worth that much when the music might not be that good to begin with? The dilemma for students is clear: of course they wish to support their favorite artists, but how can they do that when they must support the companies whose policies they may not agree with, rather than simply downloading the music for free when it is so easily and readily available? The answer for many of them becomes to see the musicians live and support their tours, where it is said artists make more money than by selling albums.
Thus, file sharing caters to the un-wealthy and independent, not the wealthy. That includes audience and musicians alike, which brings to light an even more important issue: the obvious fan base that file sharing provides. Destroy P2P networks, and you’ve lost a huge opportunity that, as yet, no record company has bothered to capitalize on: free exposure.
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