This essay was written by me, Brandon Nolet, in the context that I am a free software enthusiast that still uses some proprietary services in my personal life.
I’m generally not someone who has a huge pin in my ass about piracy. I’m okay with “stealing” a movie if I know that no matter what I do, the actors are going to get paid. That goes doubly for movies that I’m on the fence for as to whether I think it’ll be good or not (I’m looking at you Superhero Movie).
Piracy, for me, is not about stealing content, it’s about the convenience it provides. I’ll download a movie before I ever go through the hassle of buying a movie on iTunes. Some of that is also because I’d rather not give my money to Apple.
When it comes to music, it’s a different story. There are a few artists that I know the struggles they’ve been through. You could say I have an emotional attachment to them. So with this emotional attachment, I feel like I owe them the money they’re due.
I like to donate directly to those who I know and who I know already aren’t making much money off their art in the first place.
I could just as easily watch the ads on YouTube to contribute towards the artists that I like, but that would also be using some other proprietary service. I don’t want to listen to/watch ads either. I like to listen to music without interruption, especially when I’m trying to get in “the zone.”
“But Brandon, if you’re okay with piracy for those who make a lot of money, why not just pirate the music?”
I have but one two words: quality and convenience.
Pirating music is anybody’s guess as to what the quality of the music will be. Either I torrent a full album or I download the individual songs from YouTube.
By downloading the full album, that’s a waste of both my time and bandwidth. I don’t usually listen to every song on a given album and it’s anybody’s guess as to whether the quality will be high enough or whether there’ll be enough seeders to actually download the full torrent.
With YouTube, quality is probably the biggest issue. Either you have subpar quality for the audio track, or you have rip the song from a music video. With the latter, you have the issue of having to either clip the beginnings and/or ends off the audio track, or you have to sort of deal with an intermission in the middle of the song.
I cannot be bothered to do all that just to get a few songs. I also cannot be bothered to do that every time I want to add new music.
With Spotify, I can skip all that and just search for the song. Instantly, it’s transported to my personal library. I don’t have have to deal with ads. I don’t have to deal with poor audio quality.
There is the caveat that due to some licensing, I don’t get to listen to every song I like. I’m still happy with the selection that I have.
I understand that Spotify probably isn’t paying their fair share, but if it’s Spotify vs. pirating, at least I’m paying some money.