A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

24 January 2008

Music Sales Down. What a Surprise!

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry claims that music sales worldwide have dropped ten percent.

Gee, I wonder why?

First off, the BBC article is badly written. What actually happened was that growth in digital sales has slowed, rather than actual digital sales, which are climbing--legal downloads are up 40 percent. Apparently, though, digital music growth isn't replacing lost physical music sales.

So in fact they're still making billions and no-one's going broke. Which is a rather different thing from saying an industry "lost" 10 percent. They just aren't selling as much this year as they did last year.

It could just be the slowing of the world economy, of course, or a simple result of the market having gotten saturated. After all, once you've sold music to the whole world, what's left? Or maybe, as the IFPI claims, it's all due to "piracy".

Well, O IFPI (and listen up you deaf gits at the RIAA), here's why I personally haven't bought an album in quite a while (note--I don't pirate much either):

1) I'm not sure that the various fees I pay to buy and use digital media are actually going to the artists. Sorry--scratch that--I know they aren't.

2) I refuse to add your spyware to my computer, or your crippleware to my mobile device. If you're going to automatically treat me like a criminal I'll behave like one, you dinks.

3) I don't wish to pay $23 for a CD that cost you $2 to produce and package, or $3 for an online track you uploaded for damn-near nothing.

4) I don't really want to support the lobbying effort your industry puts forth to preserve its ludicrous profit margin. The Millenium Digital Copyright Act was enacted by high-pressure lobbying in the US. Ironically, that means that your customers paid your lobbyists to enable you to screw them.

This perversion of honest trading includes your $250-a-plate dinner for Bev Oda and your recent efforts in Ottawa.

5) And finally, I refuse to engage in commerce with an industry that engages in active persecution of its own customer base.
Want some cases?

Here's a woman paying over $9,000 per song for downloaded music, because the RIAA decided she should.

A guy forking over $4,000, and another woman fined $6,000.

How much did you spend sending those scare letters to all those colleges and their students? Is it logical for you to $#17 all over your customer base like that?

And finally, here's a guy who got £µ©λed over by the RIAA for the "crime" of uploading legally purchased music from a CD to his computer.

That is, he legally purchased the music at the industry-inflated price, and got penalized for copying it for his own damn use! Here's a gem from one of your (doubtless highly-paid, given the pretzel-like quality of their legal thinking) attorneys:
The Howell case was not the first time the industry has argued that making a personal copy from a legally purchased CD is illegal. At the Thomas trial in Minnesota, Sony BMG's chief of litigation, Jennifer Pariser, testified that "when an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." Copying a song you bought is "a nice way of saying 'steals just one copy,' " she said.
Oh--and one last reason:

I refuse to pay the RIAA and its allies money to preserve a defunct business model. You had all the warnings--ten years before Napster was the gleam in some cheetos-munching moral dwarf's eye, you were told: "Hey--someday soon people will be able to send songs as data across the Internet."

And you replied "Yeah, so? We'll just keep doing business like it never happened."

And you did. Now you're fining and suing and frantically trying to control the free marketplace that your reluctance to change and intransigence made necessary.

£µ©λ you.

It's like an oil lamp manufacturer decided to make laws preventing people from buying electric light bulbs.

To quote Princess Leia Organa:
"The more you tighten your grip, the more systems will slip through your fingers."

Hell--you aren't even sure yourself what the rules you've paid for are.
And that's why THREAT LEVEL concluded today that:
[W]hile the RIAA does believe that it is illegal for Americans to make digital music files from legally purchased CDs, they have not sued anyone for doing so in absence of a belief that person shared such files on the internet.

So, to sum up, the RIAA does believe that a majority of American music buyers are thieving criminals, but it's not going to sue anyone over ripping MP3s because) a) it's not really a big deal to them anymore b) there's no real way to find out and/or c) it would be terrible publicity to sue someone for using an iPod.
Why should you expect customers to pay the slightest notice?

Long live the Alliance and viva the piratocracy!

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At 10:48 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

The thing is that I do buy CDs. However I usually first become familiar with the artist's work through downloads or from seeing them in concert. I've recently acquired CDs by Neko Case, Kathleen Edwards, Jeremy Fisher, and George Leach. All of whom I first heard on CKUA radio and then from free downloads. I wouldn't have spent the money based solely on one song I'd heard on the radio.
If I was afraid of prosecution I wouldn't have downloaded the songs and then spent the money buying the CDs afterwards.
According to Gene Simmons, Kiss' smallest revenue came from album sales. He said they made the most money from touring and from the marketing of Kiss merchandise.
So, the people losing the most money are the record company executives and they are the ones pointing lawyers at everyone.
When you have Radiohead asking fans to pay what they want for downloading the new album directly from their website you know that the funds are going mostly to the artists. Of course this also provides a boost in popularity/publicity and increased attendance at concerts and more revenue for the band.
There are some performers who can't or won't tour and rely on album sales and radio air play for an income. I think that most of them have an older audience who are more likely to buy albums rather than download, so that income is fairly secure. The odds of my buying a Tom T. Hall album are pretty slim, but my Mom would.
Downloading a song is no different than taping it off the radio. It's just a lot easier and faster.
If the record companies want to survive they have to invent new ways of selling music.


At 1:13 p.m., Blogger Metro said...

You nailed it, much more succinctly than I did.

Why'n'tya get yer own damn blog, huh?


At 12:01 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

As Bill the Cat would say - Pthhbbbbtt!!


At 6:47 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am waiting for them to bust into bathrooms all over the world to catch people illegally singing songs. Since the average bathroom tenor does not pay the composer it is obviously illegal.

As for humming or whistling such music in a public place, this is definitely a public performance!

Send'm all to gaol!

At 8:57 a.m., Blogger Philipa said...

Hey Metro, hows things? Hope you are in rude health.

I knew there was a good reason to keep listening to my old faves and it wasn't just because I can't stand James Blunt.

At 9:38 a.m., Blogger Metro said...


Actually, in some instances a persuasive case could be made for the jailing of bathroom tenors.

Personally, I prefer hot nude chicks playing guitars in the shower.


The very rudest, dear. One of the reasons I dowload fearlessly is that Paul McCartney is extremely unlikely to come to my house and a) sue me or b) punch me up the hooter because I've gypped him out of the 0.7¢ he'd normally earn off of a copy of "Eleanor Rigby".

Although since Michael Jackson actually owns the Beatles' catalogue these days, perhaps I should be more careful ...

At 12:19 a.m., Blogger mur said...

Yes, Michael could use the money.

Interesting comment heard over here from UK Isp's when whinging music industry execs suggest they are bound to intercept the downloads as they share responsibility for allowing illegal filesharing to continue. As one Isp said, no one would accept the mailperson opening every letter that comes through the post office. You can't stop progress so why don't they just live with it and adapt?


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