How is it possible for a band to sell an album digitally online for any price the listener is willing to pay for it (even for nothing), and release the same album physically in stores months later and still top the Billboard album charts?
The music industry didn’t know what to make of Radiohead’s experiment, but it did seem to start a chain reaction that led artists away from the label system. With millions of people having already downloaded the album, the music industry was probably as shocked to see Radiohead’s In Rainbows sell 122,300 copies. The moral of the story? People are willing to (and will) pay for (good) music.
To a point I can agree that piracy has affected the music industry, but nowhere near the levels that the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) claims. With hints of the RIAA’s demise, the music industry might need to turn toward other means of enforcing copyrights and making extra revenue (lawsuit settlements aside). A music tax is possible, but there hasn’t been enough research in its achievability or feasibility.
Music’s biggest problem is really the product itself. Not the packaging, mind you. It’s this idea that music (and this would also apply to movies as well) isn’t something to worshiped and just listened to. Music isn’t considered good enough to be paid for. Music isn’t good enough anymore to exist on its own.
Unfortunately, the Internet can partly be blamed for this. The Internet made it easier to get music, but the music industry is guilty for not embracing it (and it still hasn’t). Napster was viewed as a threat, but those executives had no clue as to not just who was using Napster, but how they were using it. I was in high school during its heyday and everyone who was using it was really enthused by it. Not because they were getting songs for free, but because they were finding songs they hadn’t listened to in years and they could discover new songs not found on the radio.
The executives never understood this, and thus started the cataclysm chain against the average listener. Napster fell and dozens of programs replaced it. The industry fought and won, or did it? The result is the general apathy toward music in general.
Napster can be blamed for the idea that people expected to have music all the time. Music should be readily available whenever one wants it. That caused the CD’s decline. But most people associate the CD’s decline to music’s decline. Music is still popular. The music experience has just changed.