Music downloads from file-sharing sources have become increasingly popular since the advent of Napster in 1999. Downloads are easy to locate and can cost nothing to the user, making them a tempting alternative to legal methods of obtaining music. Unfortunately, there are numerous risks associated with downloading music. It is detrimental to the user, the artist and record companies.
Decline in Album Sales
Illegal downloads result in fewer sales for record companies. Record companies rely on sales of their product to pay their employees, promote artists on the label and produce new albums. Labels are forced to downsize when sales begin to dwindle. This means that new works are not released, new artists cannot be signed and current artists may be dropped from the label. The listener ultimately loses, as it becomes impossible to obtain new recordings of his favorite artists.
Lost Profits for the Artist
When one downloads music outside of legal channels, the artist loses money on the sale of that material. While artists make only a fraction of the profit on a CD sale, there stands a lot more to be lost than just money. Musicians often rely on record labels for promotion and advertisement. If the musician loses that support, then their exposure and fan base can decline. This will make it very challenging and sometimes impossible for the artist to continue to perform and record.
Viruses and Adware
Many of the file-sharing programs used can be dangerous. This type of software frequently installs adware on the user's computer. This ties up system resources and often gathers information about the user unknowingly. It is also easy to download a virus while using these programs. Viruses can be mislabeled so that the user will install it on her computer. This can be costly to remove and repair any damage done.
Downloading music from unauthorized sources may constitute copyright infringement and many labels are willing to take legal action against users in order to deter others. Record companies frequently monitor commonly used programs, identify individual users violating copyright laws and file suit against them. When compared to the cost of a legal download, it seems like a risk not worth taking.