Torrenting Music – Is it an issue?

The issue of illegally downloading music has been a major talking point for the music industry since the turn of the century. As the internet has developed and become a major medium in today’s technological world the growth of torrenting music has become huge; more than 33 million records were torrented in the UK for the first six months of 2012. So is torrenting music a major thorn in the careers of musicians or is it a over-hyped issue?

The major problem surrounding the issue of illegally downloading music is the loss of revenue for the related parties. This includes record labels, PR agencies, and most importantly the musicians themselves. The life of a musician is incredibly tough and how can they expect to make a living for themselves when all potential income is effectively stolen via the internet? It seems no accident that touring has increased dramatically over the years – if anything it seems that touring and the sub-sequential sale of merchandise is the major one for bands to make any sort of financial gain.

The biggest problem surrounding illegal downloading is that the impact it has on the bands. I’m not talking about the multi-millionaires. The Taylor Swifts, the Metallicas of the music world. I’m talking about the bands that haven’t enjoyed worldwide radio airplay, the bands that haven’t had number one singles that have dominated the charts. I’m talking about the bands that work more or less every day of the year to earn enough money to keep a roof over their head.

I interviewed CJ from Thy Art Is Murder in November when they were on tour with Suicide Silence and at that point, Thy Art Is Murder had played over 300 shows in support of 2012’s Hate. That’s an absolutely ridiculous amount of shows in support of one record, at the end of the day it boils down to the fact that touring is the major way musicians can make money in the modern world.

Yet when you look at the issue of illegally downloading music you have to look at the perspective of the fan. Bands would be absolutely nothing if it wasn’t for the fans that support them and as many music fans felt the pinch of the most recent economic recession the amount of money they have available for records has effectively shortened dramatically. Music fans have to be more careful with what they spend their money on – and in today’s scene that money is normally spent on tickets for gigs rather than on a physical copy of the band’s music.

When I spoke with Ben Falgoust of Goathwore in November he admitted that he doesn’t mind the issue of illegal downloading due to the financial status of the large majority of music fans; “me personally, I don’t really mind the Spotify thing and the download thing. It is what it is, but only in the same sense in a statistical level you can only expect people to buy so much a month. I mean you! Can you buy £400 worth of records a month?” Admits Ben, ” I know as me, as an older adult I don’t have the money to spend $400 a month beside all the other bills I have to pay.”

Illegal downloading is always going to be a major talking point for those involved in the music industry as long as the internet remains as influential as it is today. Yet bands are finding new and interesting ways to avoid losing too much revenue, but whether you agree with downloading or not, torrenting will always exist in today’s modern music world.