Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Intellectual piracy and Singapore’s music websites

Has anyone in Singapore tried to download 'rare' music (not top twenty stuff) using an online website? I tried this past weekend. I failed.
My experience was both disappointing and frustrating.
I am not a 'techie' but I do manage my own blog. I can generally follow instructions. Critically for the musicians and the music industry, I am willing to pay for the tracks I download.
It should have been easy. The iTunes store listed all the songs I desired, so all I had to do was register. Wrong. The iTunes storefront I viewed is the US storefront. All overseas users have a different store geared to that particular country's market. (You can't beat the system as it monitors the location of the IP address used to access the site.)
To the best of my understanding, the Singapore iTunes store sold only applications for the iPhone. No music at all.
Well, I thought someone must be willing to take my Singapore Dollars – after all it is an internationally acceptable currency! No Zambian Kwachas here.
Based on recommendations and internet searches I tried a few other sites: Napster, Lime Wire and Kazaa. Same problem: the content in these three sites is not licensed for distribution outside of the US. I was unable to download any songs.
I guess many will say I am crazy for trying to download music legally and at a cost. After my recent experience, I am beginning to agree!
It is easy to understand why illegal downloading is widespread. It certainly seems more convenient than the legal procedure. And, I can download all the songs I want. I don't need to 'make do' with a limited selection of songs which may be available.
In the larger scheme of things, the Singapore music market may not be terribly large. However, it seems as if the entire non-US market is off-limits to legal 'down loaders' (like me).

If the movie Avatar is anything to go by, musicians are much poorer by restricting themselves to the US. In January, Avatar became only the fifth film to gross over one billion US Dollars. Interestingly, approximately two thirds of the revenue (USD 648 million) came from non-US markets. One can extrapolate the amount of international revenues musicians forfeit by not making their product easily available globally.
Perhaps I am going about the whole process of finding my music incorrectly? Nevertheless, I suspect many individuals in Singapore and other parts of the world are frustrated by an inability to download music legally. People have limited patience and the devil's illegal path is always tempting.
I guess my favourite ageing rockers from the 1980s will have to find other means to fund their retirement lifestyle. My 99 cents will not hit their accounts this week.
PS – I will be grateful to anyone who can refer me to a decent music site.

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