How streaming services and my smartphone kept me from pirating

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from  Kansas City, MO
| May 8, 2013

One of my favorite hobbies and pastimes as a child growing up was listening to music and watching movies. When I wasn’t outside or at the mall hanging out with my friends, I spent a lot of time listening to the radio for songs I liked. I then paid very close attention to the announcer afterwards of who sang the song and what the song was called, then wrote it down. I would venture out to find the CD the song was on and buy it for my collection at home.

But there came a time where the habits of my collecting caught up with my funds and it wasn’t as easy to afford the music I wanted to anymore. I didn’t know much about the internet then, but I did employ the help of my friends and a CD burner (that probably shouldn’t have been in my possession) to continue my extensive CD collection of music. Life was pretty easy then. As a teenager I ignored the fact that its true purpose was to make backup copies of important DVDs or CDs, not to use them to hand out copies to friends.

At some point along the line I got tired of listening to new music on the radio – I either didn’t like what I was hearing or I finally hit that age where no music was as good as “the good ol’ days” (because pop culture songs were so deep in the 90’s and all). Regardless, my hunt for music slowed down exponentially at one point - but then I discovered Pandora. Pandora in itself was great for finding new music, but at this point not many of my friends were buying CDs anymore and it was harder to obtain this music once I found it.  This was the first time I seriously thought about pirating, but ultimately decided against it.

Movies would be my next hurdle.

Pirating any sort of media straight from the Internet is dangerous in itself. I had heard a few horror stories from people pirating movies and music. Some of them did get caught, or in the very least warned. Even my own brother got a warning, so I knew first hand if I decided to go that route that I could get myself into some serious trouble. At this point I knew full well that pirating was illegal, and that I probably shouldn’t do it.

In the end, I decided against it, but there were definitely certain days where I would be reading a book thinking about how it would be cool to watch the movie, but I didn’t necessarily want to pay to own it. It is tempting to know that you could have something for free if you really wanted it, but sometimes that pesky conscience gets in the way. I know mine did.

Luckily for me, my conscience hadn’t been bugging me for long when suddenly Netflix happened, and it pretty much changed everything. All of my thoughts of pirating went out the window because I was so distracted at the amount of movies I had available to me at any given time. It might not have been the exact movie I wanted to watch, but there were so many alternatives that it didn’t matter – I would simply find something else. The best part was when Netflix went from just being a computer software or console app to smartphones – the convenience was fantastic. Netflix is still one of the most used apps on my phone today.

But there was still that issue about the music. While Pandora was great for discovering new music, it wasn’t so great for retaining that music and letting me play it whenever I wanted. That’s where Spotify comes in.

Spotify is probably the most used app on my phone. I have only come across one or two songs that Spotify doesn’t have in its library, so along with my new extensive playlists I only have to pay $10 a month in order to get commercial-free listening and offline playlist availability. But even as a standard free app, Spotify is the perfect app for finding and building perfect infinite playlists. The seamless integration between my computer and my smartphone also make this a top-notch app choice for me, but most importantly it has nixed any reason at all for me to feel the need to pirate anything.

Together, Netflix and Spotify have driven me off the path of piracy. While I think it could have been cool to call myself a pirate, it would not have been cool to risk getting caught. The convenience of having these streaming apps on my smartphone is practically a steal at the prices I pay for them – yet they’re legal, so I don’t feel so bad about it. As long as these two apps are in my life I will never be a pirate.

PhoneDog readers, what are some of your favorite streaming apps? Have they taken over your traditional music/movie collection? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!