Music. I grew up with it. Memories cling to it. I surround myself with it. If I am not at work, or watching TV, I am probably listening to music. I physically can’t leave the house without my iPod and headphones. It is both the background and the foreground to my life. It was my first obsession and it will probably be my last. But what is it actually worth?

A friend fired this topic at me and I replied, “I don’t think you can put a price on the music you love, however, I think it should be cheap to buy.” When I looked back at what I had written it didn’t seem to tally somehow. How can music be both priceless and cheap at the same time? Music means the absolute world to me, it would have to be a life or death situation before I would even consider selling my vinyl or CD collections, and even then there would be certain albums I could never part with, despite the fact that I have them all uploaded to a hard drive and never use physical copies anymore. Everyone should be able to have that experience, music should be readily, easily and cheaply available to anyone that wants it (and forced upon those who think they don’t), whether that be to buy in the neatly packaged form of a CD or download, or just to have access to a radio or a musical instrument.

Then came the topic of file sharing. Personally, I would never illegally download music, but I say this as a reasonably well paid member of society with funds spare each month to spend on the things I love. Music companies like to bandy about terms like “Piracy is killing music.” To them I say, get an internet connection. I say that piracy, and I’m not talking the mass production of fake CDs and DVDs, I’m talking Joe Bloggs who sits at his computer and helps himself to a little free music from a download site, then in turn shares that with his friends, can actually help music.

Firstly, the artists themselves make very little money from selling their product in the form of a CD or download. The money from the sale of a CD is shared between a whole host of people and you can bet your life the biggest chunk is going to the record companies that are so busy scaremongering about the imminent death of music. Artists get their money from touring and all the lovely lucrative bonuses that come along with it.

Why do you think record companies are pushing for stronger controls on music piracy but no one gives two hoots about the touts ripping off fans by selling fake and/or exorbitantly priced gig tickets and the dodgy geezers selling fake merchandise that’s spelled incorrectly and falls apart after two washes? Yep, cos the record companies aren’t making any money off that stuff. Touring is the artists bread and butter.

Of course, artists need the record companies to produce their music in the first place, but it is becoming easier and easier to self produce and cut out those annoying middlemen, which would probably also be accused of killing music if the record companies were actually aware enough to realise it was happening.

Secondly, the majority of music played by commercial radio stations at the moment comes straight off the back of reality shows like X-Factor and American Idol (during the daytime when most people listen to the radio at least), and to be perfectly honest I don’t think either Simon Cowell or Louis Walsh needs any more money. Sometimes the only access people have to new, original music is discovering it through file sharing. Take the Arctic Monkeys for example, one of the biggest UK bands of the last few years. They got their start through the very thing record companies insist is killing music. File sharing. The band gave out free CDs at early gigs and fans shared them online and clamoured for more. Their first album, “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not” (released in 2006) still holds the record the fastest selling debut album in the UK.

Thirdly, and finally, it is at least in part because of piracy and efforts to counter it, that music has become much more widely available and cheap to legally downland and that we have wonderful places like Spotify, where you can listen to music all day long for free, while the copyright holders still get their pound of flesh. I am, at this very moment, discovering some incredible Drum and Bass which I will more than likely pay good money for at a later date.

I put it to you that in actual fact, piracy is keeping music alive, it’s Simon Cowell that is killing music.