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How Much Does It Really Cost to Download "Free" Music From the Internet?

Updated on July 4, 2011

Beware - The Dangers of Downloading

If you are older than 40 this may not shock you, but believe it or not, people of all ages are being sued by music companies for downloading and sharing music. One of my collegues told me about this because their teenager had this actually happen to them. It was an extremely expensive way to get music. Teenagers are bombarded daily with ads and opportunities to get new music on the internet; people of all ages that download music from the internet for that matter are at risk. Have you ever heard of the old saying....nothing is free? Well, in the instance of file sharing it is just that.....not free. There are companies out there such as Kazaa that you can join for $29.99 per month and begin "file sharing". This may sound like you are paying for the music. Not so. You are purchasing the use of their software. The producers and musicians are not being paid through these companies. These companies are providing a service to you but it deals with their software.

According to In New York, some music producers or companies that represent musicians are turning to the legal system to regain lost income. This may seem drastic but literally millions of dollars are being siphened off of the music companies via the internet. You do not have to be the one who downloaded the song and you do not have to have a recording of the song either. Just having it on your computer is enough. In the case of my colleague, her daughter had the lone computer in a dorm room at Texas A&M University. She was sent a notice of the lawsuit. Their daughter did not download the music and did not even listen to that genre. The music company was not interested in plea bargaining. There were thousands of students included in this lawsuit. My colleague had to hire an attorney and saw thousands of dollars go down the drain in defending their child. Case in point, September 9, 2003 a 12-year-old New York City girl who thought downloading songs was fun. She received a letter in the mail naming her along with hundreds of others in a lawsuit. The parent and girl thought that it was legal because they had paid their $29.99 to a company on the internet for this service. The outcome of this story can be read

Here is the fine print that most people click through without reading:

Full track Downloads

In addition to any and all other usage prohibitions and restrictions contained in these TOU and the terms and conditions specified during the subscription registration process for the Subscription Service to which you subscribe, you agree that the following usage restrictions apply to full track downloads of Materials through the Subscription Services:

  • Full track downloads are protected using digital rights management ("DRM") technology.
  • Before being able to complete your music Subscription Service sign-up, you must register an Account with BDE.
  • Before being able to download or play Materials, you must log into your Account from the PC on which you wish to play those Materials.
  • You may log in from and play files on up to 3 different PCs.
  • The Services support PCs only, not Mac or Linux.
  • You acknowledge you have read and understand the minimum compatibility requirements for the Subscription Services, and that you must be running Windows XP or Vista, and have Windows Media Player 10 or a later version installed in order to access the Services and Software.
  • You are strictly prohibited from burning any of the full track downloads to a CD or any other permanent storage media.
  • When your Subscription Service expires or is cancelled, any downloaded Materials will no longer be playable or otherwise accessible by you.

Downloading Music Can Be Hairy


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    • Naomi's Banner profile image

      Naomi's Banner 6 years ago from United States

      Very well written Hub! Sounds like when it's seems too good to be true it is. I wouldn't like someone stealing my paintings so I wouldn't steal your music. Very informative. Thanks

    • copywriter31 profile image

      James Ranka 6 years ago from Port Neches

      To the music thieves out there who feel nothing is wrong with swiping a recording artist's music, Greg's comment is spot on. IT COSTS DEARLY FOR US TO PRODUCE THOSE MAGIC MOMENTS WE MAKE FOR LAW BREAKERS LIKE YOU!

      Last thing: It costs 99 PENNIES/download for you to do it the legal way. You've got that amount taking space on top of a dresser.

    • Greg Sage profile image

      Greg Sage 6 years ago from Orlando, Florida

      If it's ONLY taking you a year of your life to create a viable cd, consider yourself lucky.

      2 years of unpaid 12 hour days, and my first solo album is only 2/3 done... some of that time spent on video, website, and other aspects, though.

      Total investment so far... enough to have built a house or two... or three.

      Time or money... one's gotta pay. It's time now, since I'm all in and doing everything myself, but when I kept the high paying day gig and rented studio time and paid engineers and musicians, my first single cost me $14,000 to produce.

    • copywriter31 profile image

      James Ranka 6 years ago from Port Neches

      Very well written. I'm an indie recording artist, so I don't have the power traditional labels have at their disposal, but I compare stealing my music to stealing my car. Those actions are both against the law. If I knew who was "file sharing" my original music, you can bet I would hire an attorney who chews barbed wire for breakfast, and go after them for all they are worth!

      In some cases, a full year is need to create a tangible CD from music I've written... That is much blood, sweat and tears and I'm not describing the great band by the same name.

      Maybe your Hub will scare would-be thieves enough to PAY for their music choices. I hope that will be the case.

      Great Hub!

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 6 years ago

      I refuse to buy anything unless I know the artists are getting paid and that they are getting paid a fair share of profits. This is one main reason why I prefer actual cds to downloaded music in general. There are several reasons besides this, such as loving cover artwork, wanting to read linenotes,being a traditionalist. I have vinal records and still listen to them from time to time. There are certain sounds that can only be heard from a turn table. And by the way, I'm 35. Old enough to remember the vinal records, and yet young enough to have just graduated highschool before the internet became available to the general public. Rated up and useful

    • Phil Plasma profile image

      Phil Plasma 6 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      I listen to most of my music these days on Grooveshark which apparently does send some money the artist's way. It doesn't store any music on my computer so as far as I know I am safe. Good hub earning you a vote-up.

    • Julip Manor profile image

      Julip Manor 6 years ago from Kingwood, Texas

      Thanks! I'm just learning and I wasn't raised around computers.....they hadn't been invented when I was a teen!

    • Greg Sage profile image

      Greg Sage 6 years ago from Orlando, Florida

      It's no joke.

      Total music business sales are down roughly 75% vs a decade ago. Charts of illegal downloads for the same period show an undeniably strong inverse correlation.

      A host of tools exist for users to strip music from public sites at the press of a button.

      The notion of a "platinum artist" has all but vanished.

      Even many of the legal outlets today pay artists nothing or close to it. Lady GAGA was the number one artist on Pandora last year.

      She wasn't even paid enough to buy a reliable used car... and they are nearing 100million users.

      She was paid $167 for her million plays of "Poker Face" on Spotify.

      The times, they are a changin'.

    • RGNestle profile image

      RGNestle 6 years ago from Seattle

      As far back as the late '90s, companies were suing kids and adults. I had to be very careful when Napster came out and people wanted to use my Internet cafe for downloading.

      A good thing to remember though; if you purchase your tracks, you are allowed have a second copy, according to the copyright act addendum of 1979. This can now mean one on your computer and one on your MP3 player OR one on your computer and one burned to disk. Two or more copies (2 MP3 players and one on the computer) might make it, but it's not technically allowed according to the 1979 statute.

      Take care! Be safe out there in that gigantic world of the Web!