Illegal Downloads: Unsolvable Problem or Cancer of the Industry?
The early 2000’s was a pretty monumental time for us; A new millennium and new technologies graced us. It was around this time we experienced the internet boom, when online content really started to be pushed and the digital age dawned on us. Whilst this has greatly benefitted us in so many ways, the internet hasn’t always been used positively (depending on which side of the fence you’re on obviously).
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One of the negatives of the internet has been illegal downloading; something that nearly all of us have been guilty of and a topic that has been widely discussed from internet forums to record label offices. Nowadays anything is available for illegal download, games, movies, TV episodes but most of all music. Punjabi Music is no exception to this and has perhaps felt the effects of illegal downloading more than others.
Anyone who is active on networks like Twitter will realise that there is much more support to purchase legal downloads from iTunes than there was a few years ago, but the problem still exists. This begs the question: why is this the case?
Many will simply attribute it to the stereotypical mentalities of Desi people; why pay money for something you can get for free? This may be true for a lot of cases, but I don’t believe this accounts for all illegal downloaders. How about the students who don’t have £7.99 free to spend on the newest album releases, for one example? Perhaps not all are content with the concept of digital downloads, and would prefer physical copies of albums on CD? Are these viable ‘excuses’? Obviously there are no excuses, it is theft at the end of the day, it is and this has detrimental effects on the rest of the industry.
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The less money coming back to artists and record labels, the less money there is to put back into producing new music, filming high quality videos and financing adequate marketing. What this has led to is a general downward spiral that I believe the Punjabi music industry is undergoing, bar a few artists who continue to produce quality and push boundaries.
Tackling illegal downloads is a tricky situation. As far as the technicalities are concerned, it’s similar to cassette recording from the radio in the 90’s; it will always exist in one form or another. In my opinion, it’s something that will never be completely eradicated, but I do also believe it can be minimised. It is fair to say that services such as iTunes, Napster and Spotify were born out of having to embrace digital downloads; a trend that only really got popular as a result of p2p sharing and torrents. Undoubtedly these have made the best of a bad situation. The question now is what artists and record labels can do to encourage legal downloads? Are the levels of illegal downloads now at the lowest they will ever be? Will newer generations embrace legal downloads in the future and start paying for their bhangra?
I put the question to you readers, what are your opinions on illegal/legal downloads? Digital downloads vs. CD’s? What do you think this means for the future of our industry that has produced so many timeless classics? Are illegal downloads something we should just accept now because they’ve been around for so long? Leave your comments below as I’d love to hear some of your opinions!