Both illegal and legal downloading has been having a huge effect on the music industry in recent years. The music industry is claiming huge losses down to file-sharers. However 2009 was the biggest ever year for singles, with over 117m sold. Nearly all of these singles were purchased digitally, showing that we have now entered the era of “the digital single”.
File-sharers argue that the big record companies can afford to lose money, but if the labels are making less money then they have less to invest in up and coming artists. It is the less established artists that are affected the most by illegal downloads, therefore making it even more difficult to breakthrough in what is already a highly competitive industry. File-sharers also argue that they only download to sample music and will then buy it if they enjoy it. Despite these claims nearly all music downloaded is done so illegally, giving a lopsided look to file-sharers claims to only using it as a tester.
With much more reasonably priced music and also access to be able to legally listen to music via the internet there is really no need to illegally download. The government have tried threats and general posturing towards file-sharers, which has made little impact so far. A major problem is that legal action taken against websites and individuals has proven to be pointless as it has only aided in increased illegal downloads, by giving file-sharing publicity. This was seen when Swedish file-sharing site The Pirate Bay continued to run after being ordered to pay three million pounds in damages to various record labels.
There is also an argument that the music industry became greedy and started setting prices far too high, which they probably did, although they are a lot fairer now. There are now peer-to-peer services being developed in the music industry that will enable consumers the benefits of peer-to-peer distribution in a legal environment. Technology has been developed that can filter out unlicensed material which has allowed new peer-to-peer services to be introduced.
If a way of monetising peer-to-peer services is developed it could revolutionise the music industry even further and help to decrease the number of illegal downloads. And any advocate of new music would cease downloading as there is so many other ways to access the music, without necessarily spending money. These sites are also positive for the industry and the artists as they generate revenue through mediums such as advertising.