Piracy is passé anyway

Affordable alternatives to pirating content

Over the past decade, it has become unbelievably easy to download basically anything we’ve wanted. Now it’s becoming easier than ever to get these things legally.

The government certainly helped with its anti-piracy efforts headlined by the take down of Kim Dotcom. Gone are the days of simply searching “Katy Perry prism megaupload.”

More importantly, there is the rise of streaming services. Now there are online radio stations services such as Spotify and Rdio, which give users quick, easy access to huge libraries of music both current and classic.

Music isn’t the only media where streaming is rising, either: services like Netflix, Hulu Plus and TV stations’ own websites offer super-cheap outlets for unlimited content.

With large amounts of media being kept in various clouds now, possessing MP3 or video files is becoming less important, as possession of physical media once did. Downloading may be free, but it’s time-consuming. We also all have multiple devices; the cloud can reach those, but downloaded files must be uploaded first. By simply putting up with a few ads or paying a small monthly fee – often less than $10 – users can get right to the music or the movies.

Much has been made of how little Spotify pays artist in royalties – currently ranging from half a cent to a cent-and-a-half – but that amount is still greater than a great big zero. Besides being more time and movile-friendly, these services also offer the owners two important things: some small amount of revenue and a better measurement of their media’s reach.

There are more ways to help a creator than direct money. Internet statistics are growing in importance. YouTube hits count toward the Hot 100 now. Television networks and advertisers are slowly factoring DVR and online streaming numbers into their decisions to keep or cancel shows.

Every little bit helps, and those little bits are asking less of us than ever. As an added bonus, they’re also legal.