Student Number: 67452101
Subject: MN 398 – Business Research Methods
Research area: Consumers ethical thinking when illegally downloading music and the effect it has on the industry Research Question: How has the consumer’s attitude toward piracy affected the music industry? Word Count: 2,909
“A decade’s worth of music file sharing has made it clear that the people it hurts are the creators... and the people this reverse Robin Hooding benefits are rich service providers, whose swollen profits perfectly mirror the lost receipts of the music business.” (Bono, IFPI Digital Music Report 2010)
The music industry changes at a rapid pace. Throughout the years it has overcome challenges and transformed its self. However illegal downloading is possibly the biggest ever challenge to confront the industry. The creation of the original peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing site Napster, has presented the industry with a problem that appears to lack a foolproof solution. The illegal distribution of music files has resulted in a global downturn in the music industry in the last decade. As of now there is no proper legislation to prevent piracy. This means piracy will continue until a global law is introduced to internet users sharing files, changing the industry yet again. Despite people’s personal issues with Paul Hewson - or Bono as he is more commonly know - in relation to other topics, his opinion on the file sharing industry illustrates perfectly the feelings of many artists. While for years many felt that artists were vastly overpaid for their recorded work, now many receive virtually nothing. The truth may be that they were overpaid, but that was the price set by demand. So is this new illegal downloading phenomenon a sign of protest, or simply an attitude of ‘why should I pay when I can have it for free’? I chose to look at this area because it is a particular field of interest and may consider a career in the music industry later in my life. I also have experience of seeing young bands being affected by illegal downloading and the relative ease with which internet users can access a vast amount of songs. So with this in mind I thought this would be a topic which I could research with huge interest. I did however find that many articles, despite being written as recently as 2004 had become irrelevant due to the pace of change in the way consumers download.
Since the turn of the century, piracy has become an even bigger issue in the music industry. While before the industry had to deal with bootleg recordings or CD burning, the major issue is now P2P file sharing sites. Major players in the industry feel they have gone unprotected for too long. In the past CD burning was considered a problem but its overall affect is minimal in comparison to illegal downloading. CD piracy was mainly sharing among small groups of friends, but the advent of the P2P sites has made piracy a more worldwide issue. File sharing sites such as Napster made music more accessible to the general public toward the end of the last century. The problem stakeholders in the music industry had with Napster was the lack of re-numeration they received. Artists felt taken advantage of. Now all it took was one person to upload their album to Napster and it became available to anyone with an internet connection, for free. Eventually a legal campaign by record labels had Napster shut down, however other file sharing sites such as Bearshare and Limewire (shut down in November 2010) have picked up where it left off. Despite the illegality of his website, Shawn Fanning, Napster creator, has revolutionised how we consume music. P2P sites mean that any internet user has literally millions of songs at their finger tips, waiting to be downloaded. Napster’s major flaw in the eyes of the downloader was that files downloaded from the site could only...