Ukrainians aren’t ready to pay for music

(Opinion article)

In 2019, it is extremely easy to access various sites and services that provide you with tons of music, movies and TV Series. Still, research shows that only 6% use streaming platforms to listen to music. According to an analytic company MUSO, Ukraine joins top-10 of countries visiting piracy sites. So why do Ukrainians still choose to steal media and refuse to pay for anything on the internet?

One of the popular arguments is “I have already paid FOR the Internet!” The world wide web is very accessible, but not free, and sometimes people can’t afford more than just access to it. The average income in Ukraine is around $360 per month. More than half of it goes to pay utility bills and/or rent, the rest is spent on food. With the little free money that remains, Ukrainians try to entertain themselves. You would think that this activity would include music, but not quite.

You see, there is such a thing as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It defines basic needs as the most important for human existence, and it’s not about music — it only includes food and rest. So people would rather spend on a fancy new café in the city or a night in the club than on buying an album online. So, such a childish joke about pirates will live long in Ukraine, “What happens if we take ‘p’ out of ‘pirates’? They get irate!”

Therefore, music remains unpaid for and is a kind of taken for granted as a freebie by consumers. While it takes great finance to produce and distribute it, so the artist really goes negative in numbers.

This kind reminds me of the South Park episode called “Christian Rock Hard”, where celebrities couldn’t afford islands and jets because of music piracy. Except for when we’re talking about Ukraine, artists here usually can’t afford those in the first place. Most of the income they have they get from concerts and the little coins they get from digital sales are only lessened by illegal downloads. Our artists need extreme support because of how small the industry actually is, they are just denied in it by their own listeners.

The whole situation is saddening, and there aren’t any solutions visible in the future. One of the reasons I switched from piracy to legal downloads was how uncomfortable it became after Ukraine blokes access to Vkontakte website, where most people would get their pirate downloads for music, movies, and even games and books. Most free services are tapping into this branch of making the listeners pay for own comfort: like having to buy a subscription for no ads and ability to choose exact songs you’ll listen to on Spotify or ability to skip songs and access tracks from countries outside North America. Maybe this forced discomfort by distributors seems like an inhumane solution to the problem, but if it’s a way of finally leading people away from piracy to supporting artists in other ways than attending concerts, then I agree with it, hands down. I feel happier knowing I helped my favorite band chart really high on iTunes, and I never let myself bring up thoughts about the price I paid for it. But sadly, PRICE is the key moment why most people can’t think like me. Unfortunately, the material world dominates but does not make us happy.So, just like that, Ukraine is still not ready to pay for its music.

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