The record industry may finally have an effective, rational, not-obnoxious way to combat music piracy, no government restrictions necessary. Its answer lies in giving music-lovers what they want at an unbeatable price. Music streaming services such as Google Play Music and Spotify are making headway against music piracy, and I, a longtime pirate of the Web’s high seas, consider myself a convert.
Over the past several years, I’ve purchased few albums, whether physical or digital. Rather than buy an album and risk blowing $20 on something terrible, I’d pirate it to test the waters. Now, however, I’ve embraced the more convenient (and legal) method of streaming my music.
Although piracy offers music for the low, low price of free, streaming services offer convenience well worth the usual monthly charges. In addition, some services, such as the popular Spotify, provide free listening with ads. Google Play Music All Access, my service of choice, offers unlimited streaming, along with the ability to download any songs or albums I want to my Android devices for $9.99 a month.
While piracy would allow me to get my fix for free, I’ve found that Google Play Music offers a greater selection of artists, since the more obscure something is, the less likely there is a user to upload it for pirating. Plus, I no longer have to worry about missing album art, poor sound quality or misnamed files.
For those less tech savvy, piracy also presents a problem when it comes to security. While an experienced pirate can navigate the oceans of downloadable files and determine which ones are safe, a less knowledgeable landlubber might find him or herself downloading malware rather than the ‘N Sync discography they were looking for. Streaming services bypass this issue entirely, either by allowing the user to download the music to a device or by playing it over the Internet.
While I still find myself buying albums from my long-time favorite artists or small indie musicians, streaming has essentially taken over my listening habits. Rather than hoard pirated albums that I may or may not listen to on a regular basis, I can keep my storage space free and take only what I really want when I want it.
Although album sales will never go away completely, it’s likely streaming has a major place to take in the future of music, for better or worse.