Illegal downloading of music is threatening to kill (if it hasn't already killed) the music industry. I am posting here an article written by my daughter for her college Common App essay. In it, she speaks against this scourge of the music industry and rails against her generation which, possibly inadvertently, is driving the nail into music's coffin.
Not a single person I know would consider walking into Best Buy and shoplifting a CD. So why do my peers go online and illegally download music for free without giving it a second thought? And why do they look at me like I am crazy when I tell them this is stealing? They flock to sites where they download music without paying for it and seem oblivious to the fact that it is wrong. But it is not just wrong; it is killing the thing I love. So much of my childhood memories are enveloped by music, from being entranced by the simple but powerful Green Day video for “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” to listening to the hypnotic song “Re-Arranged” by Limp Bizkit. I worry that the stealing of digital music is going to deprive future generations of new music that can have the same effect on them.You go, girl!
I am a strong proponent of downloading music legally, a position scarcely seen by most people my age. When I castigate people for burning CDs for friends or using peer-to-peer file-sharing programs, they act as if I am telling them not to breathe. Because a song is not a tangible object, there is no residue of guilt when it is downloaded for free. Those who do it call it “sharing,” not what it really is – stealing. By twisting these words, people can avoid responsibility and pretend that what they are doing is right. People say that they are simply sharing music and, as my generation learned from the Care Bears, “sharing is caring,” so they pretend that they are not acting dishonorably. They use euphemisms to brainwash themselves into thinking that, because they can call it something other than stealing, that makes it okay.
Some use the justification that songs cost too much, an absurd claim which would seem to excuse the stealing of anything seen as “too expensive.” I find it astonishing that the same people willing to dole out $3.50 for a Pinkberry cannot be bothered to spend a mere dollar to pay for a song they will listen to hundreds of times. They neglect the fact that artists may work for years perfecting their music, only to have their hard work slip away as someone clicks “download” on a file-sharing website. If they were real music fans, they would never dream of depriving artists because they are too stingy to pay.
Those who profess to love music have no idea what they are doing to the music business. So often my dad has lamented to me, “your generation is going to kill the music industry.” That is a scary thought for me. Music is such an important part of my life; I would feel empty if I ever had to go a day without listening to any. I become transfixed when I hear the crack in the voice of Brian Aubert of Silversun Pickups as he pours out his heartfelt lyrics. The dollar I pay to have one of his songs is a small fee for the feeling the song gives me. It pains me to see how short-sighted and blasé my generation is about the damage they are doing to the future of the music industry.
I could just keep my thoughts to myself and not get into arguments with my friends and fellow students, but that is not me. I have a very strong opinion when it comes to this issue and, much to the dismay of those around me who download illegally, I am not one to back down until I know what I have said has had an impact on them. It is not easy going against the tide, but usually what is right is what is harder to do. So I continue to make my opinion known and encourage everyone to do the right thing. I can proudly point to a few people I have converted to legal downloading. Of course, I also give out gift cards for music downloads. By adding iTunes money to my gifts for people, I feel it is a way I can gently guide them down the path of morality, a small step in my huge battle against illegally downloading music.