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Artists are losing out. Songwriters don't get paid either. This concept gets lost on many non-artists because they have no idea what goes into the creative process. The music business has always been a mess, but now it is seriously messed up. Record companies still exist but not because they are strictly record companies. Most of the majors that remain are diversified enough that they don't rely on record sales. However, when artists sign with them, they typically demand at least half of songwriting royalties along with half of the mechanical rights. That amounts to 50% of the total royalties of any one song. Typically radio stations pay a blanket licensing fee and submit playlists so artists can get paid. A tiny piece of that pie goes to support backing musicians, live music performances (usually educational or public service), pensions, and other means to provide those musicians and artists the ability to pay for production costs and hopefully have enough left to pay the rent.
By taking a song for free, it is very similar to walking into a restaurant and taking food without paying for it. After you've eaten it, it's gone and you're not really making a profit from it. However, anyone with a conscious would never think to do that. Somehow because you can steal something while you're sitting in your house or office makes it socially acceptable... No it doesn't.
You can have your music for free when I don't have to pay my mortgage, insurance, doctor bills for my kids, or anything else for that matter.
I am one of the lucky musicians. I was able to do it for almost 30 years exclusively. I can't do it anymore because everyday life has gotten too expensive and work that used to pay the bills (modestly) has been overrun with weekend warriors who have undercut the true professionals to the point where even multi-billion dollar corporations look to get talent for free. Add to the mix the lack of music education (many people have never picked up an instrument so they don't know how hard it is to play well) has made it so many people can't tell good music from not-so-good... But I digress.
It is definitely a crime to download copyrighted music and films from the Internet, even if a person is not the one who put them there in the first place. That being said, it should be the person who posted the content who is punished and/or prosecuted, as the people downloading it may not know that they are committing a crime. That being said, there is also public domain video and music available on the Internet, so not all content is protected, and some is legal to download.
Downloading music off of the Internet is illegal for a reason. Musicians work hard to make their art available and people need to respect that. Now it seems the only outlet musicians have for monetary gain is commercialization. How soul-crushing would it be to write something you cared about intensely, only to make a buck off of it after it airs on some soap commercial? Same goes for film because we've seen a dramatic diminishing of quality films over the years due to lack of funds.
Because people who download music illegally actually end up buying 30% more music and music artists won't lose their money because people still will go to consorts and events. And more than half of the websites will give you a bug on your computer unlike mp3 juices witch gives you free songs and does not give you bugs or get samples of songs on music stores to listen. So.... Half of your arguments for this, I gave an argument for.