Emohawk said:Well, I can see it from two points of view.
1 - the Artist/label
From the artists standpoint (depending on the artist) and moreso form the label's standpoint it certainly is theft. However, that's based on the assumption that the person downloading doesn't purchase the material at some point.
2 - the Consumer
From the consumer's standpoint, downloading is an opportunity to preview new music that they might never have exposure to and expands their interest. This can result in more purchases. However, if not it's just put abuse.
Now I fall into the second school here. For a while I had practically stopped buying CD's. Then I hooked into the the internet and got to check out a boatload of music I never would have heard from other sources. So, in the last 2 or 3 years I've gotten back into somewhat of a DVD habit and 90%+ of my purchases are a direct result of MP3 downloads. So, in my case downloading has actually dramatically increased my purchases, and I have developed a list of stuff I want that is as long as my arm.
Granted, I don't buy 30-40 CD's a year like I once did, but that's because I've filled in most of the back catalog of old stuff I want (and I have a DVD addiction also). But thanks to the internet I now am back to purchasing 20 or so a year, and I had been down to under 5.
It's a really tough issue really. My biggest complaint is not that the record companies and artists are whining about lost revenues (downloading is not the only reason, and not even the biggest reason IMHO - but that's a whole other rant). My issue is that they have been spending all their time & money trying to hurt their own target markets rather than invest in trying to find ways to adjust to new consumer shopping needs/wants. The labels have been force-feeding what THEY want us to listen to for so long that they're afraid to change. That is their biggest problem.