Interesting analysis of the music-swapping phenomenon in USA Today: it’s notable for subtle things it does and does not say. The writer, Jefferson Graham, takes a middle line between advocacy and condemnation of swapping: unlike most mainstream press stories heretofore, never using the industry appellation “pirate” to describe swappers, but also trotting out the industry assumption that swapping is the cause of the industries’ downturn:
- With the rise in popularity of online song-trading sites, record sales have taken a tumble. The Recording Industry Association of America says shipments of CDs fell 7% in the first half of 2002.
High-profile artists such as Britney Spears, Stevie Wonder and the Dixie Chicks have been spotlighted in a recent RIAA ad campaign to educate the public that downloading music is akin to stealing.
His conclusion takes rather overwhelming facts and then still attempts to twist them into some kind of status quo-oriented solution:
- Says Raymond James analyst Phil Leigh: ”Kazaa is on 157 million computers, with a typical daily usage of 3 million users. AOL’s (daily) peak is around 6 million. That shows downloading music is a daily part of life.”
….Even though record companies continue to win court battles against file sharing services, new ones keep popping up, notes Leigh: ”They’re winning the war, but losing on the battlefield.”
Leigh doesn’t see consumer behavior changing until the industry gets even more aggressive, singling out individual consumers for downloading and rolling out copy-protected CDs widely.
Okay, except neither of those solutions is going to work: there is no way the industry will be able to alter the behavior of (currently) 61 million people by going after them individually, even if it could withstand the PR nightmare this would unleash. And, regarding the latter, Microsoft’s team of experts reports that there is no way copy-protection is ever going to stop the process, or even appreciably slow it down. It would be nice to see a mainstream article that took these realities into account.