I just finished reading about OK GO's opinions on DRM and it got me thinking about why I download albums from file-sharing networks instead of buying. For the record, I would say I buy 80% of the music I procure, with another 15% coming from friends and the rest coming from illegal downloads, which I think is better than most people in their 20s.
Damian (of OK GO) explains how he relies on kids to get their music in whatever way necessary, even if it means they don't pay for it. Since they're still not turning much if any of a profit for the label or making much themselves, exposure is paramount over everything else. This seems to be why so many artists can justify p2p. Now, here are my reasons for turning to the dark side.
1. The CD hasn't been released. Oftentimes I'm really excited about a new album and just can't wait. This is probably the least justifiable excuse, but I also don't download many albums for this reason.
2. The CD has been released overseas but is not available here (for a reasonable price). On Friday I was listening to the We Are Scientists' album and I liked it enough to buy it. Oh, it's an import and it's twenty bucks? Nah. Information moves too fast these days to stagger international release dates. I know, it's not always strategic, but I would have bought the record if it were $15 or less.
3. An album is just too darn expensive. I really wanted the new American Analogue Set but I couldn't justify paying the high price tag (which I've forgotten at this point). So, I turn to Soulseek. I'll buy just about any album if it's $13. When it's more I have to think about how badly I want the album. If it's over $15, it's highly unlikely I'll ever pay for it.*
4. I'm curious about the band, but not enough to spend money. Listening to a single or song samples aren't always enough (if they're even available).
In the end, it comes down to value. I'll spend $30 on an album if it's one of my favorite bands, but you won't find me spending more than $12 on the new Minus the Bear record. I realize that legal downloads solve some of my problems, but that opens up another can of worms, which I'll save for a later date. For now, you can read my potential solution from a few month's ago.
* There are exceptions. While in Japan, I bought Quruli's The World is Mine for over twenty dollars even though I had already downloaded it. The combination of my being a big fan, it's lack of availability in the U.S. and the relatively cheap price compared to other Japanese albums made me buy it.