The downloading music dilemma has been a serious issue for the music industry over the past decade. Artists and record companies have been battling the internet and its pirating networks in order to regain control over music distribution and consumer sales. The introduction of online streaming has assisted in lowering the rate of downloading as the latest statistics have found and assisted in returning some money back to musicians, however the streaming comes with a cost to the consumer. In order to stream songs through applications such as Spotify, consumers have to endure 30 second ads and limited skips, or subscribe to a premium version that costs $12 a month. This means that downloading music is still popular among our generation, and is still causing trouble for the music industry.

The debate on if downloading music is acceptable is a heated one, and one that has caused lots of controversy in the music world. Should we be able to download music when we have the technology readily available? Or should we return to buying music and put the money back into the musician’s hands? We conducted a survey to find out people’s opinions on downloading music.

Our survey found that 54.55% said they download music compared to 18.18% who said they buy music (27.27% said they either do both, or stream music). When asked what downloading website/software they use to download music, the most common answers were YouTube converter, MP3 converter, Pirate bay and UTorrent.

Contrary to belief, respondents said that they didn’t download music just because it was possible to do so, but because it is too expensive/the could not afford it. One respondent brought up a good point, “who wants to spend $5 on one song or $15-$25 on an album when you only want two songs from it”. Following this, 72.73% said that music should be cheaper to buy, with 18.18% disagreeing and 9.09% saying they are unbothered.

When asked if downloading music should be legal, 45.45% said yes and 27.27% said no (18.1% said they were unbothered). One respondent had a conflicted opinion: “Yes and no, if it was legal to download the music industry would start failing because they wouldn’t have as much money, then there wouldn’t be as many songs out”. However, the question that caused most confliction was ‘Do you think downloading music has a negative impact on society? Explain’. There were mixed opinions on both sides with some people saying that it had a negative impact on musicians because it denies them money and some people saying that if we couldn’t download music then there would be people who wouldn’t be able to listen to music due to financial reasons. However, one respondent brought up a probable solution: “a lot of people that can’t afford to buy music will save up for merchandise or to attend a show which supports the artist more”.

Unfortunately, that opinion is not shared by the government and record companies. In Australia, the ‘Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill was introduced in 2015 to prevent Australians from accessing oversea websites such as Pirate Bay. In an interview with SBS Vanessa Hutley from Music Rights Australia said, “We have a huge problem with these sites. They make only money for the people who operate it, and so this will be an important arm for rights holders to protect their rights”.

What side of the debate are you on? Do you think we should be able to download music or do you agree with it being illegal? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!