digital music piracy essay

Download Digital Music Piracy Essay

Post on 18-Nov-2014




0 download

Embed Size (px)


S2569013 Rhiannon Moushall

1712QCM Assignment 1

From Problematic to Productive: Digital Music Piracy as a Marketing Tool and Distribution Model for ArtistsRhiannon Moushall S2679013


S2679013 Rhiannon Moushall

AbstractThis paper explores the possibility of artists utilizing digital music piracy as a marketing tool in an increasingly artist-driven distribution system. Psychological evidence indicates that the general population partakes in music piracy and enjoys its processes; if harnessed, this form of illegal distribution could result in financial gain, through exposure, lesser production costs and manipulating current attitudes and behaviours towards piracy.

IntroductionThroughout history technological advancements have significantly impacted upon the music industry, with both beneficial and detrimental results. Since the introduction of the mp3 and P2P (peer-to-peer) file sharing networks digital piracy has become increasingly prevalent. Despite copyright laws and anti-piracy initiatives, the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) continues to attribute financial losses, in both MP3 and CD sales, to illegal file-sharing (Gopal, Lertwachara, Marsden, & Telang, 2007) . This paper seeks to discover how digital music piracy be utilized as a marketing tool and distribution model for artists by analysing why consumers choose to pirate, and capitalizing on these attitudes through advertising and distribution using the bands Wilco, OK Go and Radiohead as examples.

Literature ReviewLiterature concerning digital music piracy often tends toward the belief that piracy is both economically and ethically damaging, and seeks to monitor and eradicate its processes. The RIAA maintain that the introduction of P2P (peer-to-peer) networks has negatively impacted their business (Gopal, Lertwachara, Marsden, & Telang, 2007), and Zentner (2004) identified a direct correlation between the fall in music sales and the introduction of


S2679013 Rhiannon Moushall

file-sharing technology. The RIAAs aggression against the concept was epitomized in the 1999 case against Napster, one of the first popular online P2P networks, and it resulted in Napsters untimely closure. Other academics grapple with the moral issue of digital piracy, such as Professor Goldstein (2003), who maintains that networks such as Napster are simply promoting theft, and he suggests the introduction of a celestial jukebox a network which offers a vast number of recordings, films and literature on a pay-per-use basis would be the most ethically viable option. However, Easley (2005)argues that it is in fact the RIAA who are negatively affecting the evolution of the music industry by clinging to excessive profit margins and suing their own consumers, whom studies suggest are more inclined to pay for the product after partaking in piracy. This argument is furthered by Ku (2002), who identifies digital copyright as undermining the greater good as it inhibits the free exchange of ideas. He also notes that the argument for digital copyright is only serving distributors; once upon a time, the rights of the public, distributors and artists ... were aligned because of one important fact: providing the public with access to content was costly. (p. 267) However, they are becoming increasingly obsolete as ...consumers themselves build and fund the distribution channels for digital content. (p. 263)

An Analysis of the Attitudes that Result in Music PiracyIn order to utilize digital music piracy in a positive manner one must determine why digital music piracy takes place. Al-Rafee and Cronan (2008) have concluded that combinations of moral, cultural and incidental factors persuade a consumer to commit the act of digital piracy. Through understanding and exploiting the indicative behaviours, artists can appeal to their audience on a deeper level and target their music appropriately.


S2679013 Rhiannon Moushall

Moral FactorsPeople perceive certain crimes as more serious than others based on the consequences of their action (Gupta, Gould, & Pola, 2004). Thus, people do not perceive piracy as being as morally detrimental as physical theft as there is a lack of consequences experienced by consumers of piracy. This attitude cannot be affected without violating the internet users privacy acts an action that would only agitate consumers to turn against the RIAA. However, artists benefit from the exposure their work receives; a person who pirates a song may not have initially purchased it (Easley, 2005) this encourages the concept of using digital piracy as a marketing tool.

Cultural FactorsWe live in a society in which famous musicians and artists are idolized; many consumers who pirate blame the producers for charging too much, and see these entertainers as enjoying a high standard of living and therefore do not feel the need to contribute (Chiou, Huang, & Lee, 2005). This image is perpetuated by constant media coverage, and ...individual consumers perceive themselves in a David against Goliath relationship with impersonal big business[es], something akin to consumer or cultural resistance. (Gupta, Gould, & Pola, 2004, p. 258). Therefore, consumer equity also drives the decision to pirate. Through the removal of recording labels, consumers are more likely to pay for the product, creating a more cost-effective distribution model.

Incidental FactorsAl-Rafee and Cronan (2006) determined that sex, perceived importance, moral judgement, happiness and cognitive behaviours all contributed to the act of digital piracy, but none so significantly as Machiavellianism and age (p. 248). Understanding that these are the dominant indicators of piracy, allow artists to aim their distributive strategies accordingly. For example, appealing to a rebellious teen with a free album should encourage a positive response.


S2679013 Rhiannon Moushall

Digital Music Piracy as AdvertisingAs previously asserted in the discussion of moral factors that influence digital music piracy, the process provides exposure to a greater demographic than initially intended. Easley (2005) notes that while the RIAA attribute billions of dollars in losses to record sales, ...there are others who might suggest that they are ignoring the benefits of a massive, free viral marketing campaign. (p. 165) There is also indirect evidence that suggests that people who pirate music are also more likely to spend money on music products (p. 164). It is important to remember that is an experience good whose true value is revealed only after its consumption, a product whose evaluation is based primarily on personal experience and individual consumer tastes... (Gopal, Lertwachara, Marsden, & Telang, 2007, p. 1362). Therefore, it seems foolish for an artist to deprive billions of listeners of the opportunity of listening to their work. An intelligent artist would take advantage of both psychological and economic evidence, and promote their music on P2P networks.

WilcoOne such performer who has benefited from P2P networks is Jeff Tweedy, front man of the band Wilco, who reported that some fans were happy to find a copy of their album, A Ghost is Born, on a P2P network and wanted to give something back to the band. While they could not accept the money themselves, Wilco asked people to direct any money to the charity Doctors without Borders. The charity reported receiving $15000 thanks to the contributions of their fans. Following this example, Wilco then released their next album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, for free over the internet. They then capitalized on this free publicity through releasing it under the label, Nonesuch; it debuted on the charts higher than any of their previous albums (Easley, 2005).


S2679013 Rhiannon Moushall

Positive Application Resulting in a Model for DistributionWhile the concept of online distribution, particularly through P2P technologies may appear financially detrimental, Easley (2005) asserts that ...maximizing the value of intellectual property requires different strategies... (p. 165). However, the advent of file-sharing makes viral distribution possible at no cost to the content provider. (Ku, 2002, p. 268). Therefore, artists are able to mass-distribute their music and take advantage of P2P technologies to advertise their works, with no fear of financial loss.

RadioheadIn 2007, successful alternative rock band Radiohead, having fulfilled their contract with EMI/Capitol in 2003, set about producing and releasing their next album, In Rainbows, independently through their website (Tyrangiel, 2007). They also allowed the consumer to pay whatever price they saw fit. Front man Thom Yorke said that ... the time is at hand when you have to ask why anyone needs [a recording company]. (p. 1) He also suggested that it was a failing business model, and that in order to survive artists had to adapt to the developing technology. Radiohead still refuse to release how much was money was made from the sales of In Rainbows, but they referred to the profits as ...a nice surprise. (NME News, 2008)

OK GoSimilarly, indie DIY band OK Go, have enjoyed unprecedented success through P2P technology; they produce and distribute all their work online through their own record label, Paracadute. They were dissatisfied with the manner in which record labels where dictating artistic content. So ... with only five bucks and a camcorder [they] did what none of the giant record labels could... (Glass. They revolutionized how people viewed music and the internet. Through removing the


S2679013 Rhiannon Moushall

distributor, they are not only benefitting financially, but allowing themselves greater artistic control.

ConclusionIn conc


View more >