Look, I’m not the police. I don’t really care what you do on your system. I’m not going to outright condone you find pirated versions of music software though- in part for liability, but mostly because you absolutely will get a virus. That said, some sites are more reputable than others, and if you’re careful, you can probably yoink at least a few things. Again, I’m not saying you should. But, I do understand why you might want to. First, yeah, some of the music software is ungodly expensive. DAWs are not cheap - I mean, Reaper is, but it’s UI is, well, it’s Reaper - and some software is nuts. You could easily drop $10,000 on Kontakt and libraies if you want to do ochestral music. But, the bigger thing is just that a lot of music software has outright draconian DRM, often making it a hassle to reauhorize everything when you upgrade hardware or update your OS. The biggest offender of this is probably iLok, which often requires a hardware key. Just google “Ilok drm” and you’ll find a lot of reasons a lot of people hate it.
One potential option is to only buy software that has been cracked, have the licence, unused, and just use the cracked version. It’s not great, but I think it’s a happy middle ground.
Another thing you should be aware of is that some plugins will be missing presets, functionality, or just crash a lot if they’re pirated. Sometimes this results in plugin devs knowing you have the pirated version if you file a bug report. So, generally, don’t be that guy™ that files a bug report on pirated software.
Tracks & Albums #
I don’t have much to say on this. If the artist is small, don’t be a jerk. Buy the music. That said, most musicans would rather you listen and not pay than not listen at all, so if you’re broke I say you do you. Just realize that often the sources of free music aren’t as good. YouTube (and songs downloaded with YouTubedl) will never sound as good as a high quality .wav or .flac from Bandcamp or a CD. Sure, sometimes you might find a torrent at good quality, but more often than not you literally get what you pay for. I think the worst I’ve seen in regards to this is downloading mp3s from bandcamp album pages. They’re like 128kbps mp3’s and you can hear the high end sonuding like trash in every single one. Don’t judge an album by it’s low quality demo, and buy the music you like if you can.
On this note, in general downloaded tracks will sound better than streaming though Spotify or Pandora or whatever, plus you won’t get stuck in the rut of whatever songs those services decide to push at you if you’re actively seeking new content from smaller artists.
Fighting piracy on your own work #
I get it, you worked hard, you spent money on equipment, time on development, whatever. But the thing is, usually anti-piracy schemes are more annoying for the paying customer than the pirate, and, frankly, piracy still benefits you (unless you’re absolutely massive to the point everyone knows about you) as it means more people are aware of your work. Hell, upload torrents to pirate sites yourself so they’re in high quality, and just put a readme.txt saying “Hey, I uploaded this myself, it’d be cool if you support me if you like it”. Weather you’re making plugins or music or games or anything else, it’s probably not worth it to fight it with DRM.