It seems to me that the media are creating a moral panic; my views are very mixed on the subject of music piracy. But I am definitely against the way the media and Government are portraying the subject. I don’t like that we are being controlled by certain groups like Sopa & Pipa and the Government itself, which is supposed to support us. I will admit that I have a large collection of illegally downloaded material, But I probably put more money into the music industry being a ‘pirate’. I use illegal downloading as a way to trial the music, if I download an album and I happen to like it, I’ll go out and buy the cd, even if I have the full album illegally. I believe that it’s important to still support musicians and I personally like to be able to hold a cd in my hand as oppose to an MP3 which doesn’t really exist. I also buy regular monthly subscriptions to Spotify’s premium service which costs me ten pounds a month, I also use this as a way to trial music and find new independent artists and bands.
I still find the price of MP3 tracks very off putting, even though they have drastically come down in price over the years. I am not likely to pay 50p for a single track or anything above, when I don’t actually have something that I can own. There’s more to a CD than just music, there’s the album artwork, the casing and the booklet, which often contains extra information about the musician, or images.
Nobody can predict what the future will be for the music industry, but there will no doubt be some huge developments. At the moment it’s impossible to think how anything more developed than the MP3 could even exist, but no doubt it will happen eventually. In ten years time we could be having the same dilemma, MP3s could be becoming unpopular and a new technology could have been invented. This happened with every other type of music technology; first of all we had the vinyl record, which still do considerably well considering that we live in the 21st century. The tape was the next technology to slowly die, in the 1980s when tapes were an extremely popular music platform many people feared the future of the music industry, and the campaign called “Home taping is killing music.” was born. The campaign was a copyright infringement campaign, and was created by the British phonographic industry to reduce people recording music from the radio onto a cassette tape. The British Phonographic industry feared that allowing people to record from radio to tape would see a decline in record sales, causing the death of the music industry. The campaign has recently had a revival, as the Norweigan branch of ‘IFPI’ launched a new campaign which was called ‘Piracy kills music.’ the campaign has the same message, similar logo and name. Now, more than 30 years after this campaign we know for a fact that it didn’t kill the music industry, cassette tapes merely shaped the music industry and aided the development of new technology.
There are many musicians and celebrities that are part of a preferred audience, and some opposing music piracy. Some recent musicians opposing music piracy include Lily Allen, Taio Cruz, Gary Barlow, James Blunt and Jessie J. There seems to be an emerging trend of what some people would call ‘mainstream pop musicians’ on the opposing side. On the preferred side musicians include Ed O’Brian of Radiohead, Dave Rowntree of Blur, Liam Gallagher of Oasis and Shakira. If we take Shakira out of the equation then as a stereotype the members of these bands that are for music piracy come from a less mainstream background. Blur, Oasis and Radiohead would fit into the genre of ‘Alternative Rock’. Liam Gallagher’s views on music piracy are clearly very preferred “I hate all these big, silly rock stars who moan – at least they’re f*ckin’ downloading your music, you c**t, and paying attention, know what I mean? You should f*ckin’ appreciate that – what are you moaning about? You’ve got f*ckin’ five big houses, so shut up,” Alternative rockstars are clearly more laid back when it comes to fame and money, and are well known for being rebellious.
We seem to currently be in an Audience VS Institutional war, People have strong views on what music really means, and many believe that it is being ‘Dummed down’.
Current popular record labels include Sony, EMI, Warner music group and of course; the ever growing ‘Syco’ which is run by budding entrepreneur and creator of the famous X Factor – Simon Cowell. The popular culture debate is still very popular amongst strong music fans, many oppose to X factor and for the last three years a campaign has been run to stop X factor getting to Christmas number one. This year, X factor failed to reach number one, after the ‘Military Wives’ took the place. There was also competition in the battle to beat X Factor from The Wombles, The cast of The only way is Essex Nirvana, and Amy Winehouse.
It seems that music piracy could be part of this institutional war, Piracy is a perfect way for avid music fans to rebel against greedy institutions.
What angered me more than the institutions was popstar Jessie J, Who sings in her number one hit ‘Price tag’ “It’s not about the money,money, money, we don’t need your money,money,money, we just want to make the world dance, forget about the price tag.” Despite Jessie J admitting she’s totally against music piracy. This is a major contradiction and makes the meaning of the song totally irrelevant. Jessie J’s album is not free, and is infact £7.99.
If no one is really to blame for music piracy, why are so called ‘music pirates’ being portrayed in a negative way? The narrative of music piracy in the media follows Russian structuralist – Vladamir Propp’s theory to some extent. The common view of the media is that illegal music consumers who are also referred to as ‘Pirates’ are seen as the villains in the story, the musicians and record companies are the victims, the legal music consumers – the heroes. There are countless articles which paint illegal music-downloaders in a bad light, simply by using clever vocabulary. The word ‘Pirate’ connotes negative feelings, and symbolises theft. Even the word ‘Piracy’ which is commonly known and used means “Practice of a pirate; robbery or illegal violence at sea.” Without realizing it we are almost being forced into using the word ‘Piracy’, We are constantly seeing repetition of the word in newspapers,magazines,videos,even in this essay; in ways this could be hegemonic.
From the oppositional point of view a binary opposite can be created Some people would argue that the Record companies and money-hungry musicians are the villains, turning music into a money game, from this view the ‘pirates’ would be the victims.
If we look into the socio-economic groups it is clear that music piracy is more common amongst the younger generation.
Entertainment is fairly expensive these days, especially when you’re young and low on cash. In 2004 an article was produced which detailed how “Fewer than 1 in 10 teenagers believe that music piracy is morally wrong.”
When the state of the British economy is getting worse, and as the recession continues into 2012 people simply cannot afford to spend money on entertainment, especially when it’s not seen as an every day necessity. After all, almost every industry has been affected by the British recession since it first began in 2009. We’ve seen the closure of classic shops like Woolworths and Habitat, Job losses in the public sector and banks in deep trouble.
As well as the recession maybe music piracy is becoming increasingly popular because of developments in technology. After all, whenever a new generation of people are born, technology develops further. Maybe the ‘Pirates’ are merely adapting to the new technology and digital media. We are taught to embrace new technology, learn about it and use it as much as possible in our every day lives, Ideology is always going to change, and people’s morals and views are going to change along with it.
The Amazon Kindle could have the same effect on books as the MP3 and piracy has had on CD sales, but surely this is just a positive development? Perhaps the debate over music piracy is just a case of moral panic brought into play by record companies and music producers.
It started with the death of the vinyl record, later on we saw the demise of the tape. Now, as the extremely versatile ‘MP3’ takes over, we are having to contemplate what exactly the future is for the CD. But how do we decide who takes the blame for this, is it down to the consumers or institutions?
Piracy is a form of copyright infringement and is illegal in many countries. There are growing concerns over music piracy and how it is affecting record labels, musicians and the industry.
It has been an unsolved problem for many years, and even proved a problem when tapes were popular. In 2010 “The music industry saw revenues decline 4.8% to £3.8bn.” The main underlying problem is that music sales are plummeting every year, a suitable solution needs to be found to drag he music industry back to where it was.
The collapse of the British economy has been a contributing factor. Small music stores have been hit the worst, classic record stores are almost non-existent and larger stores are having to converge.
Over the years large music companies have slowly dwindled, the only one to survive is HMV. Despite so far surviving the economic downturn HMV have had to change their strategic plans along the way, and haven’t had it easy. Earlier this year the boss of HMV announced that expensive headphones and concert tickets would be the new strategy to salvage the store.
However, the competition still lies with new digital media; the Internet is HMVs biggest nightmare. Websites like Amazon and Play.com offer customers a phenomenal discount on various sectors of the media. CDs can sometimes be half the price, and they are so easy to buy – with just the click of a button and free delivery. The development of the internet has allowed us to purchase music easily, both legally and illegally, giving us a vast amount of freedom as a consumer. As much as we like to think we have total freedom, we don’t live in a completely Capitalist society, there will always be a rule to stop us and hold us back.
As a consumer, freedom comes in the form of the MP3. MP3’s are becoming increasingly popular, this partly being due to the simplicity of the purchase. The development of the internet means people don’t have to physically go out and shop; meaning they also don’t have to physically go out and buy a CD.
In 2006 ‘Spotify’ was founded, with one simple click of a button Spotify can be downloaded, allowing the user to listen to streamed music either on a free or premium (which comes at a price) subscription. The free Spotify service is supported by both visual and audio advertisements, which are played every 5-6 songs. It is an extremely popular way of listening to music and has recently merged with Facebook which proves that Spotify is doing well.
Now that Spotify has merged with Facebook, it can be integrated into your profile and adds a social aspect to listening to music. On Spotify’s website the social aspect is certainly emphasised with words such as ‘Sharing’ and ‘Social’ repeated numerous times, it is also emphasised through the use of non verbal codes, a popular gesture. This is in the form of an image of two people toasting a drink which is symbolic worldwide of “Cheers” and friendship. On the page it says “A world of music awaits.” Suggesting that Spotify has a vast collection of music. The discourse used, for example: ‘Awaits’ is very fairytale like, this could link to Vladamir Propps theory.