I get this from commentators on copyright-related sites from time to time, “Have you personally been ripped off? Which songs, how many times and by how much?”, etc. There’s no way of knowing exactly how much revenue is being sucked out of the music industry by these tech-sector bad guys, because there are far too many income streams affected. I don’t have to have my songs ripped off to be denied an opportunity to produce a record, to engineer or be paid to record vocals or guitars, because of the drastic drop in recording budgets, or the perception on the part of potential clients that the money to recoup recording costs is never gonna be there. Neither is it simple to parse how many illicit downloads represent lost sales and how many would never have been downloaded at any price, but solely by casual users who only snagged it, cuz it was free.
Freetards love to point out that the most-downloaded artists are also the ones making the most from legal sales/touring, which is factually correct, but correlation does not equal causation; freeloading is an indication of popularity, which drives both illicit and legal acquisition. I think it’s fair to say that music ‘consumers’ who are happy enough with an illegal MP3 rip are not gonna buy a CD, nor even a FLAC file, so protestations that file-sharing on a large scale is actually beneficial to artists, and by extension, the music business are completely bogus. I don’t believe copyright is in its death throes; I believe that sound and limited copyright is the foundation of our industry, and that the tech sector that greases the rails with such unprecedented access between music artists and audiences deserves a share of the digital claimstake in this modern gold rush. The rub is that prior to digital, distribution was king; now that distribution has become essentially worthless, how is it that the distributors are keeping the pie and leaving crumbs for creators?