Wednesday, June 15, 2005

i wrote this on LIVEdigitally, a site that i've been writing for since early march, it started out for them, then turned into something for high-entropy. and it ended up on both.

‘The music industry’. Enter that string of words into my brain’s thesaurus and I’d spit out: evil, greedy, selfish, money hoarding animals that have made me suffer therefore now it’s their turn.

I fantasized about a driver’s license in 1994, a year before I turned 16, so I would be able to drive to the different Warehouse Music stores in order to browse through the used CD sections. Paying $17.99 for a new CD was near impossible living off of $20.00 per week for lunch and allowance, used CDs were half the price but availability was issue.

The fact that those CDs I poured my high school savings into contained only 2-3 enjoyable tracks bundled in between ‘filler’ songs, often left me with a sour taste in my mouth. The late 90’s was ‘The Music Industry’s’ hay day, funded by suckers such as yours truly. Come to think of it, from the dawn of recorded audio until Napster, was the Music Industry’s hay day.

P2P (peer to peer) file-sharing, pioneered by Napster and followed by a slew of others such as Morphious, Limewire, WinMx, Kazaa, BearShare, etc…, put up a huge middle finger to $17.99 CDs and the record labels who took advantage of me. I downloaded songs day and night, skipping class to find a song that I had only heard once was not unheard of. I discovered more music in the first month of my Napster usage than I had in a year of listening to the radio, TV, and word of mouth combined. The Internet was now worth more than email and pornography (porn was the most searched item on the net before Napster)

P2P file sharing was legal until the Music Industry cried and cried in courtrooms. They had the money and lawyers to get their way. Napster was then shut down and sued into oblivion.

CD burners were around before this P2P phenomenon, and no record executive had a problem with it. The ability for computer users to copy a CD didn’t scare these $17.99 demanding savages, they were still pulling in plenty of cash.

The Evil [Music] Industry has suffered in CD sales over the years. Technology has allowed me to make a fool of those who once made a fool of me. And now the Music Industry is making a fool of themselves all on their own.

The brilliant decision to implement SunnComm’s technology in new CDs is supposedly the new path record companies are going to take. A CD with SunnComm technology restricts the number of times the CD can be burned to only three times. Research by NPD Group reports that music fans acquired twice as much music via burned CDs than by internet file sharing. I refuse to believe such, unless however, the survey was taken in 1996.

CD sales are on the decline. Economics 101: Chapter 1, Page 1, when sales are on the decline something is wrong, and you need to offer a better product or service or simply lower the price. "Here you have a product with declining sales, and for the same price you want to decrease the potential value of it," said analyst Phil Leigh of Inside Digital Media. Phil hits the nail on the head here, he is thinking more like a consumer and less like an executive.

I still like CDs, almost everything electrical that I own can play CDs, and I wouldn’t mind purchasing a CD from time to time. Yet with prices of $15.99 I just don’t see that happening anytime in the near future. If I were head of EMI or BMG I’d do something crazy, and sell all CDs for $4.99.

Let’s draw out an example for fun. I completely loved the new Bloc Party CD, and yet I was still pained by spending $15+ dollars for it. I then copied the CD for approximately 10 people who I knew would enjoy the Brit Rock band. All ten of the friends loved Bloc Party’s CD, yet nobody went out and purchased it. The math: One CD sale, 11 satisfied listeners, 15+ dollars for the Music Industry. Had this Album only cost $4.99 I would have purchased it, along with ½ of the friends I introduced to the band. This would have chalked up six sales for the CD totaling $30.00+ for the record industry. Finally, if the Bloc Party CD had SunnComm technology, I would have resented the band for allowing themselves to be part of such nonsense, then illegally download the CD and distributed it to the same 10 friends. The math: record sales = $0.00, dollars for the music industry = $0.00, people with the Bloc Party CD = 11.

The problem with this is that I like Bloc Party, and want them to continue producing music. Pirating their music doesn’t put money in their tip jar, possibly leading them to an early extinction. That isn’t my goal here.

Musicians do have many different means to pull in revenue these days, opposed to 7-8 years ago. The OC, (which I don’t watch, I swear) has featured music by Bloc Party, I don’t recall Growing Pains, Family Matters, or Saved By The Bell featuring any new music in their episodes.

Commercials, video games, movies, concerts, merchandise, ringtones, and a slew of other avenues of making money are now available to artists. Why then are CD prices still where they were before these bonus ways of making bread came about?

I realize that I’m very one sided on this issue, and feel I have good reason to be. The Music Industry used to laugh in the face of Karma, and is now feeling the burn from her inevitable table turning ability. I don’t mind paying for a quality product or service, but I do mind getting ripped off.

The restriction of 3 burns per CD will hopefully bring these music giants to a realization that they are going about business all wrong. I write this article not as a writer, but as a music consumer. I feel that these feelings reflect feelings of most consumers in the 18-34 year old demographic. Change here is necessary, but I’m not holding my breath.


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