When file-sharing websites like Napster emerged in 1999, most people had no idea the impact their access to “free” music would have on the music industry, the economy, and ultimately their power to choose which artists succeeded and which didn't. Since the Internet was still so new to most people, the idea of spending money on things you couldn't physically hold in your hand was difficult to comprehend. The general perception was that record labels and artists made more than enough money, so many people felt justified in downloading music without paying for it. What many did not realize was the impact the loss of revenue would have on the careers of the rest of the people working for these record labels as well as upcoming artists.
According to the Institute for Policy Innovation, sound recording piracy has had a devastating impact on the U.S. economy, losing over 71,000 jobs. This has caused a loss of $2.7 billion in annual earnings, which has resulted in a $422 million loss in annual tax revenue.
Aside from the impact on jobs and the U.S. economy, music piracy has potentially diminished the ability of record labels to invest in new artists and take risks with new and innovative music. Record labels have always discontinued artists who don't sell, so music piracy then promotes an inaccurate estimation on what music is “sellable.” This takes power away from you, as a consumer and music fan, to determine the variety and availability of the music that you like.