Pandora, Spotify, Grooveshark, Youtube, and about a hundred other sites are all easy ways for users to absorb content for free. All of these sites are driven by advertisements or by a small monthly subscription fee that takes the annoying ads off the screen. Sites like Netflix and Hulu offer a similar model for the use of streaming shows and movies directly to your computer, tablet, smart TV, video game console, or even your phone if you’re looking for extremely mobile show watching.
This means that there are a plethora of means for people to watch the content that they want in a free, or pretty cheap, and legal way. Because of this, piracy has become less and less prominent over recent years.
Yet the entertainment industry continues to preach about the coming doomsday brought on by the internet when the industry has been seeing growth across all fields. According to a report titled “The Sky is Rising” by the Computer and Communication Industry Association, every facet of the entertainment industry has been seeing rapid growth over the last few years.
The number of gaming companies in 2008 was 18,000 compared to only 1,000 companies in 2005. This has been followed by a rapid growth in the number of families who play video games as well as the revenue of the industry which reached over ten billion dollars in 2009, according to the Entertainment Software Rating Board.
People have also been discouraged from pirating games not only from increasingly strict Digital Rights Management being put in place by companies, but also the availability of free games. League of Legends is one of these games, and is the most played game in the world with more than 27 million daily users and more than 67 million active monthly users according to Riot Games.
Between free games and services like Valve Software’s Steam that offer weekly sales that often lower the price of games to less than $5 a pop, piracy has become a less glamorous option than ever.
Though the video game industry isn’t the only one that has seen growth with the help of the internet. Spotify, Pandora, and Grooveshark all offer a similar services that stream music for free with some advertisements unless you pay a subscription. Part of the money earned from the ads and subscriptions goes to the business running the service, while most of the money goes to paying royalties to the companies allowing their music to be streamed from that service.
According to a press release from Spotify, the company has paid out “Over $1 Billion USD in royalties to-date ($500 million of which we paid in 2013 alone).”
Though Spotify isn’t the only one doing good for the music industry. There are other sites like Bandcamp and Soundcloud that allow independent music creators to upload their music and sell it to the masses for an adjustable price. This means that more independent artists can make money off their music without having to worry about finding a label to support them. This is especially good when you consider that purchasing a CD through Bandcamp directly supports the artists instead of a label or corporations.
Between Bandcamp, Youtube, and new sites like Patreon, which allows users to pay a monthly “salary” to content creators they enjoy, becoming an independent artist is becoming more and more feasible, and that means that there’s way more music for consumers to enjoy.
If the entertainment industry was truly interested in growth, they would stop trying to fight one of the things that is helping them grow consistently. Of course there are still pirates, just like there are still thieves and murderers out there in the real world, and those are likely to never go away. However, allowing products to be consumed for free and just slapping an advertisement on it will make people more likely to actually go to that platform and consume it before they think about stealing it.