The Continued Prevalence of Music Piracy
Gone are the days of LimeWire and the original Napster, but people still continue to pirate music in the digital sphere. It is alarming for the industry when such an issue remains for so long. After all, it is already experiencing losses as CDs and physical release in general no longer sell as well as before. So what can the industry do to address digital music piracy in this day and age?
Streaming Didn’t Entirely Save the Music Industry
The arrival of Spotify was seen as a godsend when the industry was failing on pretty much every aspect. For one, the average artist couldn’t make enough each year to make ends meet. Spotify does not help in this case. Only artists like Drake and Cardi B who have millions of plays can earn a lot from the platform. However, it does give musicians an avenue to release their music and earn a bit.
So why didn’t streaming stop music piracy? It’s hard to argue against the sheer convenience of streaming platforms. You didn’t have to buy specific tracks or risk getting downloading malware through torrenting. All you had to do was search for an album or artist and listen to the tracks online. There are even monthly plans to get rid of ads and help pay the artists.
The Stream-Ripping Dilemma
The problem comes from how some developers have taken advantage of streaming apps and websites. Stream-ripping refers to the process of downloading content from legitimate sources. In other words, you could get a link for a music track on YouTube and download an audio file for offline listening. The artist nor the record label gets anything from this.
Right now, there are numerous websites and software designed for stream-ripping and connecting to various web sources. What’s making things difficult is that these come from genuine sources. It’s different from tracing down illegal content. Stream-ripping has become a such a headache for the industry that Sony worked with Universal and Warner Brothers to battle the stream-rip software developers in court.
According to these record labels, millions of songs are stream-ripped on a monthly basis. This will only rise in number if nothing is done. More people will have access to the Internet and will want to listen to music — but not all of them will consider paying the artists. In fact, the research indicates that money is not a problem. There are people earning nearly $200,000 each year yet will still stream-rip music.
YouTube as a Significant Source of Piracy
What seems to be the case is that YouTube is the favorite platform of stream-rippers. This is understandable for many reasons. Unlike Spotify and other platforms, it’s easy to get the URL or link for the song you want to download on YouTube. There are also way more developers who’ve made ripping software for YouTube content. Here, users could convert videos to other video formats or to audio.
Simply put, YouTube is the prime source of stream-ripping due to how old and familiar it is to everyone. Research even reveals that a significant chunk of rippers downloads more than 100 tracks annually. Is there anything being done? Some believe that Google isn’t doing enough to address the issue. They’re in the business of ads, and these sites often serve Google ads as well to tens of thousands of people.
Taking a Stand Against Piracy
The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) claims that one in three music listeners still participate in piracy. It seems that the widespread availability of convenient streaming platforms isn’t enough. Thankfully, there is still hope for the music industry. Lawsuits have led to some websites closing down. Some sites that remain online have already received orders to cease their activities.
Ideally, there should be an encompassing lawsuit taken against the practice of stream-ripping. For now, it helps that record labels are willing to investigate stream-ripping websites and apps individually. Educating music listeners is also important, which is why anti-piracy campaigns need more funding.
How Musicians Earn in the Digital Age?
Even as the music industry goes through drastic changes each year, there are still several ways for artists to earn a living. If they aren’t earning enough through streaming revenue, they can have live tours. Gigs are a great way to not only meet the fans but also to sell albums and merchandise. As streaming became prominent, it’s become a status symbol for fans to have actual merch such as shirts and vinyl records.
Likewise, musician can earn through advertising. It’s not rare for companies to pay artists big bucks to use their music for a commercial. Think of iPhone and Samsung ads — they always feature interesting music choices. Moreover, musicians can also earn through ads displayed on their website or on their YouTube videos. Then there’s the option to crowdfund your next album or tour.
For now, there is no end in sight to digital music piracy. But that doesn’t mean your favourite musicians won’t earn anything. The digital era can be good for them as well. Now, people from around the world can check out their music through streaming apps. The more fans they get, the likelier they can sell more record and merchandise and land better-paying gigs.