I am sure I am not alone in having accessed music via YouTube. On one level this is extremely simple; posting music/performances without the permission or payment to the composer/artists involved is breach of copyright.... Also, from a personal point of view I prefer to own hard CD copies of discs or occasionally his-res studio downloads so when I have listened it might be as part of a comparative review when I don't want/need to buy an alternative version
However the issue clouds when you consider the access YouTube (and other platforms) gives us to music - and artists performing music - that commercial companies have not sought to cover. In the Pop field several huge names achieved their initial fame through this platform singing covers of songs by artists that - in licencing terms - they were not entitled to perform. In the CM field, there are so many off-air recordings from BBC archives of real musical treasures. The BBC (or the Itter archive) are not in a position to make all these commercially available but the world is richer for them being available. And there is the additional argument that some composers'/artists' names live on only because of these performances being available in this way. Is it better to be heard and known on some level than not at all. For those lesser known names the financial loss is probably minimal. I am genuinely conflicted because I do believe creative people should be fairly paid for their work.
On a slight tangent - I have a major archive of light orchestral sheet music. I know that this is a very minor/peripheral field but trying to complete a set of parts of say a John Foulds Suite can be a nightmare - and if you can find these days a publisher who will make an archive copy of an oboe part (for example) it is horribly expensive. So I have considered making this archive digitally available online for free. On one level this would breach copyright BUT it would possibly promote performances of these often wonderful scores. A dilemmma........!
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