I download music. So what?

Okay, this.

According to data released by IFPI Communications in the UK this week, it is estimated that more than 40 billion illegal downloads of songs occurred during 2008.

While digital downloads accounted for revenues of around $3.7 billion last year, it is estimated than more than 95% of downloads are still via illegal means.

Yeah. So?

I hear a new artist, or existing artist’s new release on the radio or on MySpace or on YouTube or in street press or through a friend recommendation.

I immediately check whether I can acquire the mp3s, through a variety of channels that I won’t divulge here. If I can – awesome. Download immediately, save to disk; in most cases, transfer to iPod. Then:

Listen to music. Do I like?

If yes:

  • Tell friends to listen to music
  • Attend show if they tour – most often in a reviewing capacity
  • Bring friends to show
  • Buy album (in rare cases)
  • Buy merch (in even rarer cases)

If no:

  • Tell friends not to listen to music
  • Do not listen to music

This is how I’ve operated for over a year. I’ve written about this before.

Impress me, or get the hell out of my ears. There’s simply too much good music out there to waste even a couple of minutes listening to a poor, or even an average song.

It’s 2009. The above data should not be surprising. I doubt that many musicians dare to dream of making a decent full-time living from their craft. Competition grows stronger each day, and attention gets diverted further.

I download music regularly. This is my musical microeconomy. What’s yours?

Comments? Below.
  1. TDW says:

    It’s an excellent point. No one is in music for money anyway, unless you’re totally deluded about how the system works. If it wasn’t for downloads I wouldn’t know 95% of the artists I know, and there’s no way in hell I could ever imagine buying a CD just because I heard it was good. It just doesn’t happen, CD’s are expensive.

    Apparently artists are doing a lot more shows and tours these days to make up for lost revenue, and to me that’s awesome, that’s the way it should be – artists should WANT to perform as often as they can. The less power for those that try to use music to solely make money, and who in the process flood our radios with inreasingly deteriorating shit, the better. IMHO.

  2. Life’s never been the same for me following my broadband initiation in 2003, so anyone telling me it’s “illegal” to download music can go and… burn me a CD.

  3. I think music’s heading in the right direction… it’s just the major labels that are hampering it, by making illegal downloading look evil. I also illegally download and if I like it, I tell my friends and check out their MySpace for any live shows. If I don’t, then I delete it and never speak of it again.

  4. Stuart says:

    I bought some BAAAD CDs in years gone by simply because I’d heard they were good albums!

    Still buy a fair amount of CDs without hearing them beforehand (it’s good to be surprised and go out on a limb), but it’s good that I don’t have to solely rely on taking a $25 leap of faith.

  5. Hunz says:

    I’ve always believed that Artist have to start writing better music. Music is just getting a little lame T_T. I haven’t listened to music in years come to think of it now .. lol


  6. Cam says:

    I buy albums sight-unseen (or music-unheard, I guess) all the time. I’ve bought a few albums that haven’t done much for me over the years, but my strike rate is generally pretty good (and often I’ll come back to albums years later and find that I just wasn’t in the right headspace at the time, and that what I had previously thought was a mediocre album is actually quite great). Sure, I download a lot too, but if I like an album I almost always buy a copy (these days usually on vinyl).

    I don’t think the argument ‘I don’t buy albums because bands don’t/shouldn’t expect to make money’ holds up. Selling records is often not a way of making money, it’s a way of not losing money.

    This discussion reminds me of this: http://tomellard.com/wp/?p=328


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