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The Digital Music Era: Sales vs. Illegal Downloads Essay

In early 2000, Americans helped usher in what has become known as the “Digital Music Era”. With the sales of physical albums declining due to the surge of pirated music online, the record labels have felt a loss of nearly 3% to 6% per year, in total profits from 2004 to 2011. Overall, the global recording industry has experienced a 31% percent decline in music sales from 2004-2010. Over the last 7 years the digital music market value has increased over 1000%, with only 16.5% of internet users purchasing music online. As with the growth of everything you have your pros and cons. The main problem with music downloads are, the artists aren’t getting paid due to lack of royalties being collected. If the music is not selling and the royalties cannot be collected you then have a problem with recovering your ROI (Return on Investment).

Globally 28% of internet users are accessing at least one unlicensed music site a month. While some artists are relying mainly on digital sales while others are losing profits due to early online releases, also known as “leaks”. With the United States government attempting to pass laws like SOPA and PIPA music downloading is being cracked down on more than ever before. According to the RIAA only 37% of music downloads in America were paid for in 2009, leaving 63% of downloads unpaid for. With over 30 million tracks available for illegal download on the internet the war on piracy has just begun.


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