Image courtesy of Kate's Comment

As times change and technology gets stronger, many people begin to do things differently. The way the Internet is used in the consumption of music is no exception. Before the age of the Internet and music downloads there was cassettes, vinyl and CDs. Now as MP3 players and iPods are becoming more and more popular, and more and more people are looking to the Internet for their music, what does this mean for record stores and the music industry as a whole?

A recent article by Record Industry boss, John Kennedy, published in the Sun newspaper stated that 95% of downloads are illegal. This in turn, results in more and more bands finding it harder to break into an industry that can’t invest in them. But why are people turning to the Internet? Well, as I believe, simply put, it is a combination of laziness and the word ‘free’. People can access the Internet from the comfort of their homes, however they need to venture outside in order to go to a record store. Whilst there are those who use websites such as HMV, Amazon and iTunes to purchase their music, there are others who look at Limewire for free music as it proves to be more financially acceptable to them. And now with many artists urging fans to download their work, it seems as though this is the way to go.

It is important to understand the power the Internet and its users hold. For example, last year saw two Rage Against the Machine fans take on X Factor in a battle for Christmas Number 1. The group, set up by Tracy and Jon Morter, urged for the public to revolt against the show and download the bands Killing In The Name Of, resulting in a success, even though X Factor winner Joe McElderry fans could purchase his cover of Miley Cyrus’ The Climb in two formats.

Even though downloads look set to take over, not everyone is happy, with band Pink Floyd suing record label EMI over online royalties based on a contract negotiated in 1998 and 1999. The contract stated that songs were not allowed to be sold individually without permission. Whilst EMI argued the contract did not include online sales, NME blogger, Luke Lewis argues that the band were right to sue. He states “music isn’t like cornflakes, or home insurance. This is art we’re talking about, not commerce – ‘consumer rights’ only go so far. Why should one digital retailer define the limits of what constitutes the ‘work’? Isn’t that for the artist to decide?” and that “Post-X Factor and Glee, there’s a danger we’re hurtling towards a world where people buy the tracks they’ve heard on TV, and ignore the rest.”

So there we have it. Downloads are good for some, and the cause of problems for others. For myself, I think I’ll stick to buying CDs until I no longer have that option.