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Borne of Contention

Understandably, the recording industry has buried innocent consumers knee-deep in litigation for unwittingly downloading music files. From the consumer’s perspective, should they be held responsible for illegally downloading songs? The answer is yes. From the industry’s perspective, they are aware of the illegal downloads and thus far, any consumer whose had the unfortunate experience of being caught has been “ruined financially”.

The question that needs to be asked is this: should the music industry fully explore the avenue of music downloads as a legitimate channel of distributing songs/albums? Industry experts will reply that this avenue already exists but the conduct of the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) begs to differ. Ethical Conduct There are certain ethical considerations that one needs to consider while analyzing the music industry. The biggest profits are earned from distribution and telemarketing as opposed to the big concerts like Live 8.

Adding to this, the artists have always lacked the mechanism and market know-how to distribute their songs; producing a million CDs and distributing them across the globe requires a lot of capital. With advent of the internet music downloads, artists can take distributors out of the equation, and get the full profits. It’s worth pointing out that such a system will work if the downloads are legal. Unfortunately, the likes of RIAA have refused to legalize all music downloads.

A consumer can get the odd one or two songs in an album but the recording industry still prefers the traditional CDs. Why? “The current industry distribution and revenue models rely on radio to gauge the listener’s perception and then produce a music CD which they assume will be popular” (Spotts, 2009, p 4). One factor that has been left out of this equation is the artist. A CD may be sold for $15 and the artist’s cut may be around $4-5 on every copy sold; the rest of the profits are gobbled up by the producers and distributors.

What if an artist could sell the same CD over the internet and ensure that he gets the full $15? This is a line that the recording industry has refused to cross. Conclusion It’s downright unethical for them to look at their profit margins first as opposed to the welfare of the artist who went through the trouble of composing the song. Theoretically, the biggest beneficiaries from the music industry should be the artists but this isn’t the case. The likes of RIAA have always been the biggest winners and the script might change if the current trend of internet downloads continues.

Again, it should be noted that the position taken in this paper doesn’t support music piracy. Simply put, consumers should be given an option of how they want to purchase their music. Why buy a CD with two songs at $15 yet you can obtain the same songs over the internet at a much lower rate? This is a question that should be answered by the consumer, not the recording industry. References Spotts Hallan E. (February 2009). “We’d Rather Fight than Switch: Music Industry in a Time of Change”. Journal for the International Academy of Case Studies. Pp 1-15

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