How to live without the Music Industry

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 10, 2005
Updated • Nov 4, 2017
Music, Music and Video

We read it in the news every day. Major music industry firms like Sony BMG or EMI are reporting losses all over the place and blame it solely on Internet pirates. Internet pirates are actually a very good excuse for bad times.

Hard facts do not exist and no one is able to check on the numbers the Music Industry provides for losses because of  internet pirates. A common theme seems to be to calculate each illegal download as a lost sale. The method has that many flaws that it hard to list them all. Imagine a 16 year old who downloads hundreds of CDs per month. Is it likely that the person would be able to buy more than a hundred CDs per month if there would not be illegal download options available? Not very likely, do you think? You can only spend money once.

They don't seem to realize that they criminalize their own customers with measures like copy protected cd's and rootkit software installed on customers PC.

More and more customers are becoming aware of this and are looking for good alternatives. Don't buy Cds from major record labels anymore but still enjoy music, is that possible at all?

Yes it is possible, there are numerous ways one could get his daily dosis of music and even download it to his personal computer without feeding the dragon.

1. Buy used CDs

This one is pretty obvious. As soon as a CD is released it shortly thereafter appears on virtual marketplaces like eBay and amazon as used used copies. The music industry won't see a dime if you buy a used CD instead of the original one.

2. Record and Listen to (internet) radio:

Thousands of independent internet radio stations exist. Sites like offer a large variety of genres and cater to every music taste. The traditional radio stations tend to become less of an alternative to internet radio. The main reason is that is difficul to record "clean", meaning without someone babbling at the beginning and end, versions of a song and transfer it to the computer.

Recording internet radio has never been that easy, I've published a tutorial about this, just take a look at my guide to streamripping

3. Trade CDs with friends:

The CD and tape trading that our fathers excelled at is slowly been put to rest. Its far easier to download the latest album and have it immediately on the PC than to trade it with a friend and copy it by some means.

Trading CDs has some advantages and also some disadvantages. To trade CDs one must have some, e.g. buy them. Then you need someone with the same music taste to trade CDs with. The big advantage is that its 100% legal to trade music CDs with your friends. In most countries you are even allowed to copy the CD and then trade it and keep the copy. Check your local laws on this.

4. Download free music

Independent musicians and bands often offer their work for free on the internet. Portals like amazon also offer music downloads of known artists for free download. I compiled a incomplete list of some.

Take a look at and the wikipedia entry for free music for good lists.

5. Audio Blogs:

Audio Blogs offer another possibility, they have become increasingly popular since 2003. Visit for a large list of audio blog sites.

Visit the top list over at for a listing of audio and music blogs.

6. Support local bands

Local bands tend to produce and sell their CDss on their own. Visit festivals and concerts, buy CDs there and support those independent bands and musicians.

Tip: Check out the follow-up article how to live without the music industry (feedback)

How to live without the Music Industry
Article Name
How to live without the Music Industry
If you don't want to be criminalized by the Music Industry anymore, try out these suggestions to enjoy music without having to deal with the industry.
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  1. MusicMan said on April 5, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    Good article. The bottom-line is that the music industry is broken in their distribution and — arguably –their quality. Articles on how to get tunes on the cheap aren’t gonna affect them one way or the other until they fix what is broken. And all their gestapo like tactics do is make folks hate them even more. As for the dire predictions about what will occur, they are hogwash. There will always be music but record companies and music are not synonymous. There were those who bemoaned the passing of the buggy whip industry, too. Same difference. People still get from Pt. A to Pt B without that industry and music will still be made and enjoyed after record companies are gone.

  2. bob said on January 8, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    all languages all genres and all free!

  3. MadRienell said on September 7, 2006 at 9:32 pm

    When it only takes .90 cents to make a CD for mass production, paying $19.00 CD is ridiculous. Regardless of all the work that goes into producing one. The problem is, there’s too many hands in the pot when it comes to producing a CD.
    Kudos to all the bands/musicians who produce their own stuff and market it themselves.
    Musicians need to put a stop to all the middlemen/agents/etc. who are getting rich off their efforts and running up CD prices.

  4. R Phoenix said on April 11, 2006 at 1:29 pm

    Wow, there’s very few things that make people as heated as music discussions! Interesting conversation though.
    I think there is good music around, and those who say that music should be “art” and at the same time complaining that their band can’t get a six figure record deal are hypocrites. If money shouldn’t be a factor in the industry then why are you so bummed that you’re not rich? I’m a musician myself and I understand from my situation and the people around me that it SuCKS to work in a call centre. But where there is good music, there will always be people to listen to it. More than that, a part of that music is the process of discovery. Have you ever noticed that people love a band before they’re popular and then when they sell millions they are branded sellouts? A part of why people liked those bands before was as much to do with exclusivity as the music itself, which to me is not such a virtuous motive.
    Good music will prevail, and no, not everything released on majors is boring. Check out Regina Spektor if you haven’t……

  5. Bob said on March 22, 2006 at 2:03 am

    I hate that euphamism: “artist” What the fuck is that? Every time I hear that term used in that context, I’m reminded of Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson and a long line of many other manufactured music industry “products” Talent isn’t even important in music anymore, but the “booty” is. I hate that word too: “booty” Go fuck yourself. A lot of things about entertainment in North America suck. From television, to what passes for good music these days, to video games that are more about pushing hardware then they are about originality, imagination and creativity. Even the language we use: LOL for fuck sakes! North American populous doesn’t doesn’t like change. The evidence is there: how much longer are we going to have to put up with this crap before consumers realize or accept the fact that they are getting royaly screwed? I hate tv, I hate MTV, I hate much music and I am starting to really hate the internet.

    Anyway, back to the topic at hand, I remember when a musician was called a musician and they played instruments and knew how to play with feeling and the music had balls. When is the last time that anyone heard anything in mainstream music like Double Trouble, Bob Marley, John Lee Hooker, Led Zeppelin or Iron Maiden? There are many other great bands and musicians, but those are just a few examples of some of the greats.

    This is why I hate the term artist in the context of music: because Britney can’t play shit. Can you honestly picture all the molded pop-princesses playing a bass, a guitar solo or a drum solo? I can’t. The funny thing is: Milli Vanilli ended up being the butt of jokes for what they pulled. However, in retroapect; they were pioneers. There are some really great bands out there: playing the clubs and the bars, but they will never get signed because they may not fit the mold of the product the music industry wants. There are also bands like: Velvet Revolver, the white stripes and evanessence, which in my opion: are pretty damn good.

    I’m just one guy with an opinion and you don’t have to agree with me; but in this era of blogs, reality tv and shitty pop music-The state of things reminds me a lot of fast food: We know it’s not good for us, we know it’s full of garbage and can make us sick, we know it’s processed and fake: but we go for it anyway.

  6. Captain Howdy said on March 18, 2006 at 7:28 am

    Good thread on the whole. My take:

    The corporate music industry is based on the fact that producing and distributing records is a very expensive proposition, beyond the reach of small companies and individual bands. I am taling about pressed vinyl records. And only pressed vinyl records.

    Time and technology march on. The corporate music industry is dead. Nothing can revive it, short of killing the public Internet and disabling the public’s general purpose computers. Microsoft Vista, and related “TPM” and “DRM” technology, are an attempt to do just that, save the corporate music industry by thoroughly crippling both the public internet and all privately owned computers. It won’t work. People will refuse to cooperate.

    You can’t stop the tide with a broom.

    All debates about the propriety and legality of distributing music the modern way, are nothing but turbulence raised by the slow motion collapse of the old monolithic music industry. A few hundred record company executives will not be able to double or triple their money before they die. Boo hoo. They want to smash our computers and rip up our Internet to “correct” that? Fuck them. The quality of American music, and the real income potential of the vast majority of working musicians, is already rising and will continue to do so, BECAUSE od the death of the American Music Industry. The sooner the better, I say…

  7. Brian Nelson said on January 22, 2006 at 9:08 am

    Hey. We’re building a site based upon concept #6. BlueO2 music. Check us out,

    I’d love to see your comments and suggestions. Support local music!

  8. marty mcfly said on November 19, 2005 at 8:02 am

    Wow, no one has mentioned cdbaby yet?

  9. John Becker said on November 18, 2005 at 11:32 pm

    Also, is a newer site that seems to be thwarting the music industry.

  10. Megan Lynch said on November 18, 2005 at 11:01 pm

    #6 should be #1.

    The musicians and the folks whose work actively supports the making of music deserve some moolah for their efforts (if you’re consuming their product, that is) the same way that you expect to be paid when someone is enjoying the fruits of *your* labor. However, we all know the RIAA isn’t passing on much of what they’re raking in.

    Vote with your pocketbook and support independent record labels, independent musicians, independent radio, and independent distribution networks.

    Supporting your local musicians and businesses that are in touch with the community and have a sustainable ethical approach enriches your neighborhood by keeping your money in your community and keeping local culture thriving.

  11. William said on November 18, 2005 at 5:31 am

    Copying content from a Library’s Cd is not illegal if the Cd is Public Domain.

  12. lizzy said on November 17, 2005 at 7:31 pm

    I used to have some sympathy for the labels in that they do to some extent enable the artists to make and distribute their music..

    but this Sony rootkit malware is some bullshit – they are purposely messing up my computer to punish me for using the product I ACTUALLY PAID FOR on my computer.

    Screw Sony. Screw all of them. I hope the current guys go bankrupt, and new labels with respect for music and fans fill in the void.

  13. Me said on November 17, 2005 at 7:20 pm

    I use peer-to-peer to decide whether or not I like a band. I’ve been a metal fan for years, but never got into Iron Maiden. A couple of years ago I got “Run to the Hills” and “Can I Play With Madness” and really enjoyed them. I now own almost every Iron Maiden album. I saw Death From Above 1979 on Conan O’Brian, downloaded a few of their songs, then went out and special ordered their album (wasn’t available locally). I bought a punk compilation CD (talk about independant labels!) and enjoyed the Dropkick Murphys – I bought an album and plan on purchasing more. I didn’t used to like Korn, but I acquired a few of their songs in an MP3 swap. Now I have three of their albums and am going to buy more. There is a ton of music out there I like – almost none of it is the crap the music industry is pushing. I am forced to use illegal means to find the music I like without wasting huge sums of money.

    I would also be happier paying $15 an album if I knew half of it was going to the artists who did the hard work. I can’t remember the name of the band who wrote “Closing Time”, but I think one of their members wrote a book about how badly they were shafted. Most one-hit wonder bands make less than minimum wage out of the time they spend in the industry.

    Last, a lot of less-popular, but established bands (I’m thinking KMFDM) sell their CDs over the internet so they can keep a higher profit margin. Check your favorite band’s website before you run to Wally-Mart.

  14. Jeffro said on November 17, 2005 at 6:43 pm

    The reason why piracy is not hurting the mucis industry:

    The music industry blames music piracy on their sales slump. I will explain
    why they cant.

    1) if you can afford to buy the music you will.
    2) if you cannot afford to buy the music you wont.

    If, by some magical means they could prevent anyone from obtaining musical
    content illegally they are still going to have a sales slump.
    1) if you can afford to buy the music you will.
    2) if you cannot afford to buy the music you wont

    Saying person X is hurting our sales becuase thy downloaded our song is a
    flawed argument. Person X downloaded the song because they cant afford
    to purchase it. Since person X cant afford to buy it they wont buy it.
    either way they are not going to gt a sale from person X

    Their bottom line will be the same either way.

    Lets say we have a group of 20 people.
    10 of those people buy a cd for $10 each.
    10 of those people download the content.

    the music people will get $100
    now the magic anti piracy wand has been waved

    10 people buy the cd at $10 ech
    10 people go without the music becuase they cant afford it

    the music people get $100
    Music should be free to those that cant afford to buy it.
    I am a musician. I give my work away to anyone that wants it.
    Its not about the money. Once you music becomes about the money you are
    no longer an artist and have turned into just another
    corporate suit.

  15. Patrick said on November 14, 2005 at 3:01 pm

    I have my own theories about downloading music which remains illegal. That being said, my main contention with the Music Industry is how they use their money. We only see commercials for bands that are established. Seems I have to go underground or surf the net for like eleventeen hours before I find any good new music. How do they expect to sell any albums when they don’t advertise their own product?
    Lots of “independent labels” are popping up all over the place, and doing very well for themselves. These labels will sell over 10,000 copies of a CD and consider that awesome, see a return on their investment. What is so messed up about the larger Music Industry that they don’t see the same thing? I’ll tell you: too many people not doing enough work and getting paid too much for it. I’ve never made a record or promoted it myself, so I may just be running my mouth, but doesn’t it seem a bit odd that an “independent label” can do so much more with a few bands than a ginormous label like Sony can do with a lot more capital and a LOT more bands?

    God bless the internet, now bands don’t have to wait to hear their first single on the radio at 1:00am in the morning.

  16. Andy said on November 14, 2005 at 1:50 pm

    Look, what this is about mainly is a music industry that hikes its prices and markets its products at a demographice that can barely afford them anyway. They do a great job of getting kids to get their parents to shell out £16 a pop for a CD, when the children actually have no idea about music whatsoever. Yes, industry professionals like producers should be able to make a decent living from their craft, but I think this living is dependant on the integrity of the musicians that they agree to record. I have to admit, I am biased and don’t think music should be a business at all, but since it is, there should be a collective ethics involved in the industry. For too long, the marketing moguls have been at the head of the music industry. If an act that you like has gone to a record label with questionable business practices, stop buying the records!! Stop downloading them, stop listnening! They know what they are getting themselves in for when they sign that deal, and they don’t deserve your hard earned cash!! This applies to ANY band, on an Indie label (who can be bloody pushy sometimes) or a major. Stick with your own sense of business ethics and hopefully the industry will clean itself up. As NOFK say “The dinosaurs will slowly die!”. Peace

  17. Danila said on November 13, 2005 at 4:12 pm

    Most artists (and especially the smaller ones) make their money from shows and merchandise, and not from direct CD sales. So support the bands you like by going to shows and bringing some friends along.

  18. Dan said on November 13, 2005 at 8:49 am

    Just one more thing. Like gun control laws and the like, these ‘protection’ measures only serve to inconvience the honest people. The pirates that the MI is supposedly targeting will just find the workaround and continue as normal.

  19. Dan said on November 13, 2005 at 8:44 am

    It just makes me wish there were some way to get all of the music pirates to agree to stop pirating music temporarily just to demonstrate to the MI that it’s their treatment of their customers and/or lack of budget causing their losses. If anything, I bet stopping the piracy completely will end up hurting them even more. I haven’t downloaded a music file from file sharing networks for at least 2 years and I haven’t bought a CD in that time either. I have no intention of supporting these corporate crooks. Nor do I have any sympathy for their pain.

  20. ridge said on November 12, 2005 at 3:27 am

    There are many unsigned bands that are giving away their songs and even albums for FREE. Even good bands – check out Monika Bullette’s debut album – “The Secrets” – given away free of charge with great Internet praise. to download the entire album.

    If you want a physical copy with original limited edition artwork you can buy it from her site – the money goes straight to the artist.

  21. slashjunior said on November 12, 2005 at 1:10 am

    At the end of the day the record companies provide the artists with the money to make an album, market it and do all these big worldwide tours. Artists can’t walk into a bank and ask for a loan, so they have to goto the record companies for the finacial support and that marketing power to help the bands get on the radio and television. Fair enough, the record companies do screw the artists, although the best artists will manage to make something of it like making their own label and starting their own clothing lines etc. All artists have to start somewhere and kiss some ass to get a start and deal with the shit, like with everything in life. Of course the record companies are going to be pissed off. They are the ones that funded the album and whatever made the artist. They just want their investment back. A lot of people still wouldn’t legally pay for music even if the record companies lowered their prices or dropped copy-protection, and the people who say they would are lying. It is illegal, I do it. Although I wouldn’t steal a car, because it isn’t as easy as stealing music.

  22. peski said on November 11, 2005 at 10:51 pm

    The best allover download spot on the net must be It´s legal too.They have free software,games, music and videos.Another site is for free windows software.All legal !!!!

  23. Thomas Chai said on November 11, 2005 at 7:16 pm

    My take is SONY-BMG take on DRM is not so much on the piracy but rather to force Apple to open up their Fair Play license so they can compete ITMS by selling song online directly to iPods users. Because, firstly SONY-BMG cd’s will only allow user to rip into WMA files and won’t allow them to tip to iTunes (unless you are a Mac user). They are stupid enough to think that by strong arming its customers, they will force customers to abandon iPods and ITMS. What a joke.

  24. Alvin said on November 11, 2005 at 6:09 pm

    There’s a cool little Windows program called Screamer Radio

    It plays and records Internet radio. You can either have it record everything it plays, or just hit record when you hear a song you like. Even if the song is about to end, you can get a complete copy of the song because it is held in a cache.

  25. Martin said on November 11, 2005 at 1:24 pm

    I don´t see lots of comments that advocate illegal means of aquiring music, I see none actually. As long as this is the case I don´t see a reason to censor news entries.

    Well i edited two of them, one for being rascist against whites and one for displaying the url of the russian mp3 portal. Its illegal in my country to link directy to it. Can you believe that ?

  26. Folkestone Gerald said on November 11, 2005 at 12:51 pm

    Lots of those comments are about actually stealing music, the russian stuff, and suggesting ripping songs from library CD’s for example. You should probably can them to maintain any sort of integrity in this article.

  27. wingo said on November 11, 2005 at 10:48 am

    There is lots of free music @ thepiratebay ;)

  28. Dark said on November 11, 2005 at 10:39 am

    Buy and sell on ebay!!! as for trading songs with the kids I know, I have a small USB hard drive. Plug it in and trade trade trade. Always keep a back up and check for virus befor instaling into your main system.

    We have also set up a small WiFi lap top server and leave it open to the public every were we go. This would be great in a dorm setting as it works well next to the highschool next to my home. It’s always fun to see what has been uploaded buy the kids. It has kinda become a cult thing at this point.

    Last question why is a CD $15 when a DVD movie is $15? who do you think is the real thing. The Dumb Blond or an actor who puts in 3 years of time on a set?

  29. Martin said on November 11, 2005 at 10:25 am

    I posted a followup article

    that comments on feedback given ;)

  30. Mark Nutter said on November 11, 2005 at 8:44 am

    A great way of cutting out the music industry would be to steal the record by downloading the tracks on a peer-to-peer network, and then just send a check written out directly to the artist themselves for the price the record company is charging. That way everyone who counts wins: the artist and the consumer, cutting out the middle man completely.

  31. Grammar Nazi said on November 11, 2005 at 7:19 am
  32. JimXugle said on November 11, 2005 at 7:00 am


  33. JimXugle said on November 11, 2005 at 6:59 am

    I suggest allofmp3. Cheap Music ($0.03 US/MB). Run By Russians. Reputible. No DRM. anywhere from 128k to 320k MP3s… I havnt tried the other formats.

    Oh yeh… the record companies see absolutely NO cash from this. Neither do the bands, but it’s the same deal with CDs anyway. BUY RAMMSTEIN SWAG!!


  34. Pete Ashdown said on November 11, 2005 at 6:16 am

    I say support the unenumbered MP3 services that reward artists. Bleep ( is my favorite.

  35. rollout said on November 11, 2005 at 5:33 am

    Good article but you left out one important resource–the local library!! My nearest library has 1,000’s of CDs, and if they don’t have the one you want they’ll get it for you if it’s anywhere in the library system. It’s a good way to start or round out your collection.

  36. Kennils said on November 11, 2005 at 5:02 am

    Yoy should add podcasting to the list. The podcast music netowork is great and there are so many music based podcasts.

  37. miscblogger said on November 11, 2005 at 4:33 am

    i totally agree with you. there are other ways to enjoy music without shelling out 19 a CD. CD prices are insane! I like your first suggestion the best, Buying used CDs. I don’t understand why all people don’t do that (unless they are giving a gift).

  38. spawn said on November 11, 2005 at 4:30 am

    Easy to say and not so easy to do

  39. robotArn said on November 11, 2005 at 4:25 am

    also you can buy cds at concerts because that money usually goes straight to the band

  40. Steve Melnyk said on November 11, 2005 at 4:24 am

    What is this “music industry”? Does this represent the artists themselves? The producers? The record label owners?

    It is one thing to feel resentment toward those that own the labels and capture the majority of the profits, but this guide is actually saying that we should “enjoy the music” without giving a penny to the people to write, perform and record it. Like simple peer-to-peer filesharing, this is not productive at all.

    The so-called “music industry” begins with musicians, who will (perhaps inadvertently?) shoulder the consequences of the boycott that you advocate. There has to be another solution.

  41. Kazrog said on November 11, 2005 at 4:20 am

    The intentions behind what you are saying are potentially noble, but your arguments are completely misguided.

    At the end of the day, it costs money to make music, and there are many jobs at stake. Money makes the world go around, and until that changes, music cannot be free. Supporting local bands is important, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle.

    What about studios? producers? etc. How are they supposed to make money? Making a quality album takes money, certainly not millions, but definitely thousands of dollars. How are companies that make music equipment supposed to make money, if all of the artists and producers are broke?

    The type of industry “downsizing” you are advocating, which is essentially downsizing the industry until it does not exist, is going to make it virtually impossible for artists to continue making music, and is going to cripple a vast set of industries internationally.

    Ultimately the labels have failed to find a way to monetize the internet, and Apple has bailed them out with iTunes. While iTunes is a step in the right direction, ultimately to succeed it will have to continually prove its advantages against outright stealing.

  42. halr9000 said on November 11, 2005 at 3:59 am

    Don’t forget the Etree!

    etree (taper scene)’s Live Music Archive

    A lot of stuff on there is also available as a stream. As may be obvious, these are all live shows, taped by a dedicated hobbyist taper, usually to a DAT deck, then uploaded. The site only accepts bands who encourage and allow free trading of tapes of their live shows.

  43. Lance A. said on November 11, 2005 at 3:58 am

    #7 Borrow CDs from the library and load on your computer.

  44. Digger said on November 11, 2005 at 3:49 am

    “If you like the story…” Man… I realize that you’re trying to make additional money on ads and such, but this is almost whoring.

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