Downloading free music from the web may seem appealing at first, but there are many disadvantages to consider. Not only is it illegal to download copyrighted music for free, but the music which you are downloading may be of poor quality, have a virus or be corrupted. Most importantly however, by downloading free music from the web, you are stealing from your favorite artists.
According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), downloading copyrighted music for free from a file-sharing network or the Internet is an illegal offense. The RIAA state that lawsuits are taken out against those who repeatedly offend, since the downloading of music is considered to be a copyright infringement and therefore a crime.
Viruses and Corrupted Files
According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), music files which are downloaded for free from illegal Internet sources such as P2P networks, often contain spyware, ad ware, malware or viruses that will damage your PC. Additionally, the music which you are downloading is very likely to be corrupt and will not play correctly. You may not be able to burn the music files which you have downloaded onto a CD, and even if you can, your stereo may not be able to read it.
According to Mibba.com, the quality of audio which is downloaded for free from the web is generally poor, and not how artists intended their music to be heard. Contrastingly, music which is legally downloaded comes from a licensed source and therefore possesses the highest quality audio possible. The tracks which you are downloading for free will not match the sound quality of music you would find on a paid official release. Free music which you have downloaded may be, for example, a radio rip or a live recording, and therefore lacking in crisp sound.
It is worth purchasing physical format over the free music which can be downloaded from the web. CDs, vinyls, cassettes and other physical formats are not only legal, but they often come with extras that digital files do not, such as artwork, lyric sheets and posters.
Losing Digital Files
Unlike CDs, vinyls and other physical formats, hard drives are prone to failing. Therefore, any free music which you have download onto your PC may be completely lost if your computer experiences a hardware issue.
Effects on Music Industry
According to ThinkQuest.org, every year the music industry loses approximately $4.2 billion to piracy worldwide. Lost revenue means record companies are struggling to support artists on their label, and are unable to develop new ones. Musicians, too, rely on the sale of records to make a living, which in turn enables them to continue to be able to make music. By downloading their music for free, you are taking money from a musician's pocket. Artists may therefore be forced to stop making music if they are not able to make a living from the art.