– by Brendan Reid, Editor –
The act of file sharing, also known as pirating, is usually considered a bad thing. File sharing is the practice of distributing digital media through peer-to-peer networking, and is a service that provides consumers with music free of charge. While file sharing is often labeled as property theft, it should be viewed as the natural evolution of music distribution, a change that actually benefits the artists as opposed to hindering them.
How It Began
Napster was the first peer-to-peer file sharing website, released in 1999, and it’s publication marked the beginning of a decline in record sales. From 1999 to 2009, record sales were decimated, and an industry that used to bring in upwards of $38 billion was now only generating $17 billion. Many music technicians and audio engineers who are a part of larger record companies lost their jobs due to the fallout, which is an unfortunate outcome, but the skills they possess are invaluable, and their services will always be in demand. When Itunes was released in 2003, the nosedive of record sales was curbed somewhat, but the damage had already been done. File sharing jeopardizes the bottom lines of conglomerated record companies, this much is true–but for the artist and consumer, the effects of it are purely beneficial.
Through file sharing, all forms of musical expression are legitimized, and can find themselves an audience. Nowadays there is a niche for just about everything, and if something is crafted with passion, you can be certain there will be an audience for it. File sharing allows people to access the music that they love, whatever it happens to be, and allows artists to create with a purpose. Most artists are content with the fact that their work may never make them millions, but with file sharing, artists can become well known around the world.
And in recent months, amidst all the distribution of digital media, physical media is making a comeback. Many people listen to the torrent or Youtube link of an album, decide they like it, then go out and buy the record. A generation that is nostalgic for physical products is reinvigorating the vinyl industry. Through the internet, bands are generating demand for their products, and benefiting financially as a result. The worldwide exposure creates demand for concerts, and through these tours, tickets and merchandise can be sold. It is a win-win situation all around.
And yet, the government continues to target those behind the file-sharing revolution. Pirate Bay is the leader of this charge, and one of the most popular torrenting sites around today. In 2006, the police raided the sites headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden, and arrested four of the sites administrators. This did very little to stop the torrenting giant, for within three days the site was back online, and its traffic had doubled. The raids continued however, and eventually its founder, Fredrik Neij, was arrested in 2014. This still did nothing to stop the momentum of Pirate Bay, for it is still going strong to this day. The benefits for artists and consumers are just too numerous, and the technology too vast to properly control. Demand for file sharing is higher then its ever been, and it’s difficult to imagine the trend going anywhere anytime soon.