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I used to pirate music. This is why I stopped.
Who remembers Limewire? The Pirate Bay? Mp3shits.com? Those were the websites a lot of us (me included) used to get our music from back in the day, completely illegally, of course.
But at one point when I was 14 years old, I decided to make a hard decision to completely stop pirating music, a decision that slowly led me to stop pirating everything. Here’s what happened afterward →
Understanding the value of music
At the age of 14, in 2011, I lived with a German family for 3 weeks, and I was inspired by how most people in Germany bought music from iTunes because it was illegal to download mp3s, and people got caught.
I had also just started being a musician at the time, and it made me think about how it’s kinda wrong to just “steal” someone’s work, especially after I knew how much work went into it.
That’s when I decided that I won’t pirate music anymore. I thought I would just see what happens.
I deleted my entire pirated music library and decided to start from scratch. There was a service that allowed me to buy songs at INR 1 per song, and I decided I would just buy songs from there.
It felt like the stupidest thing to do, especially in India where everyone just downloaded mp3s, but I felt like it was the right thing to do.
No more pirated mp3s on this iPod!
What happened next →
I just felt better about myself.
There are times in our lives, when we have a choice – to do the “right” thing which is usually harder, or the “wrong” thing which is usually the easier way out of a situation.
Many of those situations also don’t have any tangible or real consequences. This was one of those situations. In India, no one would catch me for pirating music.
But there’s always someone watching.
That someone is you. By making a hard decision that was in line with my morals, and sticking with it, it set me on a path of increasing my self-esteem to a great extent.
I enjoyed my music a lot more.
When I had to pay for music, there was a value to it, even if it was 1 rupee. This made me a lot more intentional in the songs that I bought and put on my iPod.
And as I’ve learned over the years, being intentional about your actions is a great source of self-trust and happiness.
I broadened my music tastes.
Since I could no longer pirate music, I had to get creative about the music I listened to. I started looking for legally-free songs, made by indie artists, and by doing that I discovered a lot of niche Bandcamp and SoundCloud artists that gave out their music for free.
This was revolutionary for me because it made me listen to music that no one around me was listening to, and each discovery led to other discoveries, and I started discovering whole new genres of music that I wouldn’t have discovered otherwise.
Discovering indie artists also gave me the confidence to produce more of my own music, because prior to that music production was this “all or nothing” endeavor that you either became a pop music celebrity from, or you failed.
I realized that you can make good music as an indie artist, and that’s what I aspired to be myself as well.
I stopped pirating other things too
In college, when everyone around me used a cracked version of Photoshop and Premiere Pro (for video editing), I was the only person paying INR 2000 a month for Adobe Creative Cloud.
My reasoning? If I paid for it, I would take my hobby a lot more seriously, and push myself to make money from it. And I did.
I ended up making more money than I paid for Adobe CC, and then some. It also had a lot of the self-esteem and self-confidence results that I spoke about before, which paved the way for me to take up a career in digital marketing.
Being morally wrong isn't always very obvious
It took me traveling to Germany to realize that pirating music, and pirating generally, was morally wrong. Because everyone around me was doing it I never really questioned it before then.
What are some of the things you do that are actually morally wrong (and likely with 0 consequences) but you haven’t realized yet? How can you stop doing them?
Hit ‘reply’ to this email, I’d love to know if you’re willing to share!
Happy New Year, by the way! I hope you’re keeping safe and doing well.
See you in the next one!