The Real Reason Why People Continue to Pirate Music

I’ll start by stating the obvious: downloading music illegally is cheaper and easier than the alternative. The question, though, is why do people continue to pirate even with the scare campaigns and tougher laws? It happens that on a recent Hamish And Andy podcast, one of the main reasons for why people don’t care about music piracy came painfully clear to me.

Early in the podcast titled “Best of Friday 4th April”, Hamish and Andy interviewed Australian popstar Vanessa Amorosi about her new album. As a bit of fun, the pair played a game with Amorosi whereby they would build “the perfect man” by using components of various well known male identities such as Robin Williams and Jack Black. Mildly amusing, the segment continued, this time the category was personality, for which Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was chosen. Following is a transcript, or MP3 File if you’d prefer:

Hamish: What have we got next, Ando?
Andy: OK, we’ve got ‘Personality of…’

Hamish: Hmm, personality of Kevin Rudd. So, whilst he’s very cut, very sensible to you on the phone while you’re on tour…
Amorosi: Kevin Rudd? Sorry, explain.
Hamish & Andy: The Prime Minster.
Amorosi: Oh, my god! The guy with the glasses! Why did I think he was a football player for a second?

Download MP3 File (0:49, 384kb)

Now, I’m sure there are quite a few people overseas who don’t know the Australian Prime Mister’s name, but if you don’t know the leader of the country you are living in, there is something seriously wrong.

So what does this have to do with music piracy? The fact is people don’t care about pirating music because they don’t care about the artist. You are more inclined to spend money on an artist that you know writes their own lyrics and plays their own music because you want to support them — you want the music you love to keep coming. The problem with artists like Amorosi, however, is that she has little talent herself, and its comments like this that prove if it weren’t for the record label pumping money into her marketing and writing her songs and her music, she would not have made it to be the celebrity she is today.

I’m not trying to sound self-righteous, or begin a support-indie-music rant — anyone who knows me will know that I have followed some pretty tragic pop artists in my time — I simply wanted to take this chance to articulate the root of people’s flippant attitude towards piracy. Perhaps if record companies spent time finding real artists with real talent, consumers would respect them more, and feel a stronger compulsion to invest in their success.

Hear the audio version of this article in Episode 11 of Podwatch: iTunes | RSS | Direct download


  1. Posted April 16, 2008 at 1:59 am | Permalink

    I hope that whoever continues downloading music illegally (meaning for free) should get money taken out of their pay cheque each week. If they can’t be respectful enough of artists working their a** off to get their music out there and pay them for their work, then they deserve to work and not get paid for their 5-9 shift either.

  2. Memories
    Posted June 15, 2008 at 3:59 am | Permalink

    So you’re saying that Amorosi has little talent because she doesn’t know her Prime Mister’s name (it’s Minister by the way)? What does that have to do with musical talent? Sounds like you just don’t like her music.

    If someone is downloading Amorosi’s music, they probably already like her in the first place. So how could a record company reduce piracy by finding “real artists with real talent”?

  3. Kaori
    Posted December 20, 2008 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    I found this during a late night drunken internet search. I have to agree with the person who wrote this article. I tend to pour out $15-$20 for albums when I respect the artist creating the CD. Respect as in their lyrics are not made of random words strung together that happen to rhyme at the same time. If I happen to like a novelty song I tend to download it.

    Sad to say that mainstream music is heading in the latter direction with songs that stick in your head with little meaning behind the song itself. Then again there are artist I liked initially but then they completely sold out their original fans for more money. C’est la vie!

  4. fri
    Posted September 18, 2009 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    Huh? You clearly have no idea how the industry works. If you like an artist, you donate money to the artist: you sure as hell don’t buy a CD where the artist is going to get somewhere around 3 to 10%.

    The reason people pirate things is because it’s easy, it’s cheap and they don’t want to support a industry that obviously hates them.

    The copyright debate outside Europe (or even outside Sweden, which is more or less the center of pirate ideology) is in it’s very cradle.

    (Oh, and garshley, I really hope that people like you take some time and stop to think about what the hell they mean. Seriously, advocating that the government should watch every single file transfer on the internet so they are able to steal money from people? That’s an INSANE threat to personal rights!)

    • kassie
      Posted December 9, 2009 at 10:46 am | Permalink

      ur so rite!

  5. chris
    Posted December 12, 2009 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

    People pirate because of poverty,you can’t easily criticize them because it is their only way of surviving in this unfair world, specially for those who are uneducated or didn’t finish schooling pirating is the only way they know so that their family can eat…

  6. chris
    Posted December 12, 2009 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

    It is not about knowing the leader of your country. They don’t care about the leader because the one who rules can’t help them all,the only concern of the pirates is for their family not to experience hunger…
    we shoudn’t easily judge them or condemn them because they pirate for survival… you can easily criticize them because you don’t know how it feels to suffer.

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