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How Harmful Is Illegal Downloading To The EDM Industry?

The music industry has been greatly affected by society’s infinite technological progression. In order to remain successful in the industry, music producers must provide entertainment that coincides with our altering preferences and new tastes. The music industry must also stay on top of growing technology in order to ensure monetary incomes are not being negatively affected. As we all know, EDM has exponentially grown due to technology, and it is currently reaching record-breaking heights.

Although the electronic dance music scene has skyrocketed to the top of the pop culture scene and has seen record-breaking numbers in revenue due to the amount of attendees their over-the-top events and festivals attract, the EDM industry is most likely still not making the full income that it should be because of the tremendous amount of online streaming, illegal downloading, and sharing of music. “The growth of EDM is intrinsically tied to social media,” according to the founder of Elektro Magazine, Zev Norotsky.

Due to the music being created electronically and being based off of technology, this is customarily how the majority of the music is circulated and what is causing electronic dance music to be amongst the top troubled genres when attempting to sell the products. This is where the root of the problem originates, develops, and branches out to become what seems like a never-ending cycle of illegal downloading and streaming. In order to prevent further unlawful downloading of music and loss of serious money from continuing, the artists and those involved in the EDM industry need to take a stand against the issue and begin to strictly enforce copyright laws or find an alternative that ensures the music, creations, and all involved are compensated for appropriately.

There really is no specific instruction on how to go about creating a song. It is a journey in which each individual artist embarks and conquers in their own, unique way. Typically, a producer will begin the process of making music by coming up with an idea. They will build upon that and come up with a beat and melody that they are satisfied enough with to improve and complete. After messing around with what they have generated, they run wild with their thoughts and ultimately create a masterpiece by putting all their fancy equipment to work and perhaps even throwing some vocals into the song at the end. Once the producer believes their work is perfected, they understandably want to share it with their fans. Those artists with good management and representation will undergo the copyright process and release their music to the public. Once their sound has been created and copyrighted, consumers of this particular song or sound will have to pay artists to listen and use their music, whether it be on television, radio, or even a store. New, up-and-coming DJs looking to get signed by a record label on the other hand will generally use some sort of social media to promote their music like Facebook or Twitter in order to promote their work for free in order to start getting their name and sound out to the public. They technically own the copyright as soon as their creation is made, but in order to have a legitimate case in the US court system, it needs to be registered with the copyright offices.

Although social media is essential to the sharing of music to the masses, it is platforms like SoundCloud and YouTube that make copying and distributing music so accessible. Those who have the slightest knowledge on how to convert a video into an MP3 audio file can easily put a YouTube video on their music library without having to pay anything at all. There are some internet users savvy enough who understand how to record what is playing and upload it elsewhere for free. These are the kinds of people causing the producers to lose money they worked hard for.

The 2012 New York Times article "Electronic Dance Concerts Turn Up Volume, Tempting Investors" states, “While record sales for dance music are relatively low – even the biggest recent albums, like David Guetta’s Nothing But the Beat, rarely sell more than 300,000 copies.” Three hundred thousand copies of an album may seem like a large number but in reality it is not at all. To put those three hundred thousand copies into a comparable perspective, ten years ago in 2004, R&B artist Usher sold twenty million copies of his album Confessions. Those involved in the process of making, performing, and distributing EDM to audiences don’t receive the full possible pay they potentially could be earning. It can undoubtedly be almost guaranteed that there are more than 300,000 copies of every song on that album in existence that are transferred onto listeners' music libraries because of illegal downloading and sharing of files. But with technology providing so many different outlets to receive and distribute music, it is nearly impossible to keep up with and trace back every single violation of copyright laws.

Online streaming has also become an issue that goes hand in hand with illegal downloading of audio files. There are now several options to stream music such as Spotify and Pandora. Admired by many users, one can listen to personalized radio that plays music according to your taste. Spotify offers free limited-time trials but eventually users have to pay a monthly fee in order to enjoy and there is a premium version of Pandora in which consumers have to pay for also. These types of music providers don’t even require listeners to download any files but it does in fact give the opportunity to those tech savvy listeners to copy the music and keep it.

Illegally downloading music has become a prominent issue, especially because it has become so casual in this generation. People genuinely believe that downloading a few songs has no impact whatsoever. One credible analysis by the Institute for Policy Innovation concludes that global music piracy causes $12.5 billion of economic losses every year, 71,060 U.S. jobs lost, a loss of $2.7 billion in workers' earnings, and a loss of $422 million in tax revenues, $291 million in personal income tax and $131 million in lost corporate income and production taxes.

Although these statistics aren’t specifically linked to the electronic dance music genres and are instead representing piracy as a whole in the music industry, one can infer that this genre is highly affected by the act of pirating due to the nature in which the music is distributed.

Some fans rationalize illegally downloading music by saying that Beatport top sellers must be making a ton of money, so some illegal downloads won't affect them. However, Nick Thayer, whose EP was the #2 EP on Beatport for 13 weeks, wrote a viral Tumblr post that exhibits how little money a Beatport chart topper truly earns.

It is imperative that the public is educated and informed about which websites and ways to download music are okay to use. With the application and pushing of current copyright laws and development of new ways to prevent piracy, the music industry could thrive at the level it is supposed to and will be less negatively affected by the technological advancements made in the future. The electronic dance music industry will flourish rather than suffer and allow for the continuation of its expansion and popularity around the world. EDM is this generation’s “Rock and Roll” and electronic dance music events are this generation's Woodstock. It is vital to preserve the intellectual property of the artists involved in order to continue making history.

Written by Nicole Suhr

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

Cover photo credit: The Table Of Truth

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