The Compact Disc is dead, the age of Digital Music has arrived and the Record Companies are scared to death. For several decades, the recording industry has had complete control over every aspect of music, from artist acquisition to distribution to the medium the music was delivered on. With the advent of a little known standard called MPEG-3, their control evaporated in an instant.
Unbeknownst to them, hundreds of people had been trading the small, fast-downloading music files for play on their computers. Limited at first to only the few hardcore early adopters, the MP3 soon spread throughout college campuses and into the general public.
It was the killer app to beat all killer apps: A small program to "rip" and encode CD wave files to MP3 and a program to read and play the MP3 files were all that were needed to bring down an entire industry.
When news of Napster and MP3. com eventually reached the mainstream press, hundreds of thousands of music files had already been swapped and the record industry finally realized that not only had they been caught with their pants down, they had been bent over the table and repeatedly whacked with a nail-riddled 2X4.
All of this nonsense over copyright infringement is merely a sideshow to the main attraction: Loss of Control and the resulting Panic. They've lashed out at file trading services not because of silly interpretations of copyright law, but because they've lost control of the music delivery system. This whole issue is about money, but not in the way they're presenting it. They still sign artists and create music, but they've lost
their bread and butter: Distribution. That's where the money's made, folks.
You think the $18.00 you forked over for that CD barely covers the losses incurred for the music creation process, leaving poor, benighted Sony with only a razor-width's profit margin? Of course not. They're making serious bank charging you a ridiculous fee for the privilege of listening to music. Remember the 45? You know, that little record with a hit single and an unremarkable B-Side you'd pay a buck for? What happened to that? It went the way of the dodo because it's not a profit-maker for the record companies. They'll have you believe there's no market for singles anymore, but I find it hard to believe a thriving market disappeared overnight with the advent of the CD. Plus, you need look no
further than MP3's themselves and how people are using them to see what a bogus argument this is.