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Why Music Should Be Free

Above all else, the monetary value of a song challenges the concept of compensation. How much is a fan worth? Although some believe that “making music free makes music worthless,” they aren’t taking the listeners into consideration. Music consumers are far more likely to download a song if it’s free, and if it isn’t free then they’re going to download it anyway. The monetization of music tests the relationship between the credit and the praise for one’s work. Sure, if you charge people to listen to your music you are receiving credit for the work you’ve done. But to receive praise is entirely different. When a DJ/producer builds a massive fan base, the respect and admiration for their music is unbelievable. Look at producers like Bassnectar or Dillon Francis. They both hold extremely devoted fan bases that exceed what the "10 percent" of a $1-2 dollar song will give you.

Steve Angello, former member of Swedish House Mafia, believes that streaming is the future. Does the cost of a song dictate the quality? Although everyone places so much emphasis on the monetary cost of music, the music industry is experiencing a dramatic transformation from the old ways of downloading content. Angello persists there are no rules in the music industry and ultimately the freedom of the artist and expression is what really matters.

Another huge EDM producer who’s decided to release their music for free includes Mat Zo. Mad Zoo label founder announced earlier in the year that he would put out all his future songs for free download. Mat Zo is a big name in the industry; his diverse talents and ear for cutting-edge sounds makes him an increasingly popular producer. Ever since Zo began releasing music for free, I can honestly say I’ve downloaded every single one and listened to them all the time. I believe that distributing his music for free has expanded his name further than ever before.

Ultimately, the evolution of music will eventually get to a point where the industry will adapt, whether it means making changes similar to YouTube or artists pulling the plug on unlimited streaming all together. Music should be free because of many reasons. Huge record labels are asking for way too much money from the artists, even though artists only make the real money when they’re touring. Technology is where the future lies, and that includes the music industry. It’s hard to say what major companies will do in retaliation to online piracy, however, the fact that it will never stop due to modern technology capabilities, setting the music free seems to be the only logical conclusion.

Cover photo via Ultra Music

Disclaimer: The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of EDM.com.

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Can you really put a price on art?

In today’s digital age, technology reigns over our daily lives more than ever before. Specifically referring to the music industry, technology has impacted music delivery both for better and for worse, and it's time for the industry to adapt to the new ways of musical discovery. For many, it has become socially acceptable to steal music, partly in thanks to today's greater accessibility to digital music, and it has now come into question whether it’s really a matter of breaking the law or just a need for change between conventional and modern distribution approaches.

According to a study performed by the Institute for Policy Innovation, piracy causes the U.S. economy to lose roughly $12.5 billion annually. The Recording Industry Association of America constitutes that copyright laws protect the value of creative work, and that if one does not obtain legal permission to download copyrighted music that they can be prosecuted in criminal court. The RIAA also states that criminal penalties for first-time offenders could result in up to five years in prison as well as a minimum penalty of $750 per song. Although it may be socially acceptable to engage in online piracy, most offenders are unaware of the repercussions of illegally downloading content.

Remember this anti-piracy ad?

Music platforms such as Spotify have adapted to the modern way of delivering and receiving music, offering consumers access to virtually any song produced by a major artist via online streaming; the fee comes when the consumer decides to purchase the mobile app. However, music platforms that are similar to this actually fail to pay the artist a significant amount for their work. As we recently reported regarding Avicii’s most recent anthem “Wake Me Up,” the cast affiliated only earned $12,359 after 168 million streams. Although streaming services including Spotify, Pandora, and Soundcloud are just one of many methods of receiving music, the majority of music consumers utilize these online platforms as an alternative to individually paying $0.99 to $1.29 a song via iTunes or Beatport.

On the other hand, artists such as Taylor Swift have begun to pull their music from streaming services such as Spotify due to the disbelief that they aren’t being paid enough for their work. For Swift, removing her music from streaming services leaves her fans with two options: purchase the album or commit a crime and illegally download it. Nick Thayer recently broke down the cost of his 2012 Like Boom EP in a Tumblr post, proving that money earned from music sales is very minimal. The talented producer only earned a total income of $3,673.50. Both artists have expressed the minimal income that online streaming and sales generates.

Then we have producers like Kaskade who firmly believe that music should be free. Free music activist Ryan Raddon lives and breathes the aphorism “Free the Music and Creativity Will Flow.” The artist defines the word free as: “For free. Free as in free puppies. Pick them up, take care of them, enjoy them. It’s yours now.” When Kaskade voiced his concern regarding the free music movement, he made it clear that large record labels are solely to blame for the countless DMCA takedown notices the producer has received. The producer questions, “Am I authorized to post my music? Yep. Does their soulless robot program know that? Not so much.” When artists and record label companies have to worry about the false distribution of their artwork due to monetary concerns, the freedom of music is removed 100 percent from the creator and placed into the hands of a monopoly. Without freedom of expression, is it right to consider music an art form? Kaskade doesn’t think so, and it’s clear that he has become a spokesperson for the movement.

Gareth Emery marks the most recent to receive punishment by said robot program. Soundcloud copyright laws have gotten a lot stricter, and producers making their various claims and bashing the program, it’s hard to see exactly where the EDM movement stands on copyright laws today.

So if consumers are able to listen to unlimited music via platforms such as YouTube or Soundcloud without having to pay for it, then why do people illegally download content as much as they do? Each music platform offers a slightly different advantage in terms of receiving audio content. First off, YouTube and Soundcloud both experience a substantial amount of backlash from record labels regarding copyright infringement, more so nearly any other music platforms due to their size. YouTube and Soundcloud make it virtually effortless to upload content to the worldwide web and share their music at no cost to the listener.

Although these platforms make it possible for independent producers to gain popularity and a fan base, where do we draw the line between legal and illegal activity? Soundcloud has recently merged with major companies such as Warner Music Group due to their growth and introduction of track monetization. Soundcloud has served as one of the biggest methods of musical delivery of the decade simply because the platform provides easy access to music from anyone that has a computer. The company stated “SoundCloud does not necessarily need to license an all-encompassing catalogue of music from all of the major labels to develop a sustainable business because it specializes in undiscovered artists and remixes and mash-ups of popular music.”

A few months ago, YouTube announced a subscription service called Music Pass to better enhance their involvement in the streaming services world. The Google-owned site is monetizing YouTube to the fullest extent by removing independent artists: “meaning smaller, independent ones—that do not sign a deal with them will not only be left off the new service, but will have their content taken down from the original, free YouTube.” YouTube was arguably one of the first platforms to allow smaller producers to get their artwork out there for the public to enjoy. It has increased the output of music tremendously, and this change says a lot about where the values of the music industry stand today.

With all of this being said, people are left to wonder what the difference is between a musician and an artist. At what point do producers and DJs say that their love for music is a profession or a hobby? For many, music should be free because art transcends beyond the basis of a profession. When artists begin creating art for monetary purposes, the soul and compassion for the art form is undoubtedly influenced. Music should be free of charge because you can’t put a price on a form of expression.

Yes, I understand this takes away some of the income of a producer; however, there are other key factors in an artist’s income that greatly surpass the amount they’re making off music sales. Obviously the goal is to do what you love and you won’t have to work a single day of your life. Other artists have expressed their concern of making music not feel like a day job.

Tags Beatport free music itunes kaskade Mat Zo Spotify

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