Is downloading MP3s “stealing”?
Stealing depends on the intent of the downloader and the artist.
With death metal, for example, where 5000 CDs sold is an out-of-the-ballpark smash, artists love it when you download their music — much of which is out of print. They gain fans; sometimes, enough fans leads to CDs being re-pressed.
If the artist wants to gain fans, and the downloaders want to buy the CD if they really connect with the music, the situation is good.
As with all downloads, there are some people who will never buy anything and will just leech. However, they weren’t going to buy the CDs anyway. Leeches just leech. DRM doesn’t stop them, but it does hassle ordinary users who might want a second copy of Deicide’s “Legion” for the car or something.
In my view, downloading is a boon to small and niche genres with fanatical fans; it’s a loss for big box store style pop genres, whose fans only care for novelty. Oh well — the destruction of that music is a win for art :)
Death metal never plays by the rules. People buy the music because it’s eternal, not new. They want to own it so they never lose it, not because it’s worth something outside of its enjoyment. And, almost everyone else hates it and thinks it’s degraded noise made by failed reprobates. But luckily, not playing by the rules means you’re outside the popularity leads to money and power game. Instead, you can focus on the art itself. That’s transcendence of a kind.