Gone are the Days of Free Legal and Illegal Music DownloadsFrustrated record label executives are taking a stand and refusing to release music to the public. In addition to shelving numerous albums indefinitely, record executives have also taken legal action against online media markets forcing them to stop all sales of digital media.Beginning April 1, digital media outlets like iTunes, Amazon and Rhapsody will no longer offer digital media content to consumers. Consumers should also be weary of websites that allow free streaming of music like Spotify and Pandora. Although these websites have not yet been ordered to shut down, they will be in upcoming weeks.Through this digital media embargo record label executives are hoping to bring awareness to the seriousness of digital piracy.“Digital piracy is disrupting the livelihood of thousands and we are prepared to fight,” said Ratchet Enterprise CEO Rap Wright.Since the Internet boom, record sales have steadily declined. Many have credited the declining sales to the emergence and rising popularity of peer-to-peer file sharing. The rise of the Internet birthed a multitude of peer-to-peer file sharing networks like Napster, LimeWire, MegaUpload and MediaFire. Each website allowed users from across the world to upload media content free of charge for all Internet users to download for their personal use.Luckily, many of these peer-to-peer sharing networks have run into legal trouble. Napster was notoriously disbanded in 2001 after being sued by several recording companies via the RIAA, the heavy metal band Metallica, rapper-producer Dr. Dre. LimeWire and MegaUpload suffered similar fates. LimeWire software was discontinued after the 2010 injunction was issued by the U.S. federal court forcing them to prevent the functionality of their software. Megaupload was shut down in 2012 after domain names and websites associated with Megaupload were seized by the United States Department of Justice.For record labels, the disbanding of these websites was a small, temporary victory. Many websites have since rebranded and numerous new peer-to-peer networks have emerged in their place.However, record label executives refuse to be defeated.“Consumers do not realize the harm these services are doing to the business side of music. They just see music videos featuring expensive cars and artists draped in gold. They’ve bought into the belief that label executives are money hungry monsters. None of that is true. These free services are taking the well-deserved wages from those that actually worked for it,” said Wright.In a more shocking twist, many high profile artists are speaking out and expressing their support of the record labels and executives.“I’m tired of feeling like I’m being ripped off. I’ve dedicated myself to this craft and my fans, the least they can do is pay .89 cents to $1.29 for a song,” said rapper Soldier Boy.It is not clear how long this embargo will last, or what the effectives will be. However, it is clear that music listeners across the globe will be outraged and this embargo will forever change the face of music.
By: Dominique BaileyAssistant Arts & Entertainment Editor