I honestly can't say I've met anyone of my particular generation who hasn't stolen music. Yeah, I admit, I've done it too. The problem is, as long as we're not picking up a physical CD at the nearest Target and walking out of the store without visiting the friendly cashiers first, we don't see it as stealing. It is. We need to convince people that not only is illegal downloading wrong, but the quality of music is eventually going to suffer for it.
I don't honestly understand what has led people to feel so entitled to music for free. What other services will expect not to pay for next? Should we visit a restaurant without tipping a server who did his or her job remarkably just because, hey, that's the job? Should we walk into an accountant's office and expect him or her to do our taxes for us, free of charge? How about seeking out a lawyer's service? Should he or she have gotten through years of expensive law school just to dispense free advice in all cases?
There are new services bringing entertainment into our homes for free-- and TV is the first thing I think of when I think of this. Services like Hulu.com and TheWB.com are offering full episodes of a variety of TV shows free of charge to the viewer--but they've found a way to do it legally, by obtaining licensing and including advertisements to make the funding possible. And when you think about it, watching TV this way isn't much different than watching it in the traditional way, because you're still paying for one main service (cable, satellite, or the internet), and the advertisements are still helping to fund the experience, so it's not really free.
Internet radio has made some of this possible in some cases for music: Pandora.com, iLike.com, and Last.fm all offer different ways to listen to the songs and artists you like, allowing you to create playlists, listen to stations based on a certain artist you love, or just search, song by song, artist by artist, and listening to what you please. The reason this works, though, is that those plays are all being recorded, and the artists, songwriters, and other associated with each song played are still earning their royalties. You're not paying, really, but they're still earning, and it's a beautiful, beautiful thing.
To be continued....