Discussion #3,1004 about the state of the music biz, this one by Amy Harmon of the NY Times:
- The industry is pursuing lawsuits against music pirates but is also offering new ways to legally listen to and buy music online through deals like a recent alliance with Apple Computer.
That prospect may be difficult to achieve. Forty-three million Americans – half of those who connected to the Internet – used file-sharing software last month that allows people to copy music without paying for it, according to a survey by the NPD Group, a market research firm. The file-sharing program KaZaA, which rose in popularity after the record industry won its lawsuit against Napster, has been downloaded more than 270 million times, more than any other free program available on CNet’s Download.com site.
….The industry’s position was bolstered by a ruling last week by a federal appeals court that forced Verizon Communications, a major Internet service provider, to hand over the names of four individuals whom the record industry suspects of illegally trading music using KaZaA.
The first lawsuits are likely to be filed this summer. “We’re going to continue to address this with harsher and harsher means,” said Mr. Morris of Universal. “If people are criminals I’m not concerned about alienating them.”
….Meanwhile, the industry’s critics are calling for a more radical restructuring of the way music is distributed online. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based civil liberties group, is organizing a campaign to rally students to push Congress to create alternative approaches that would legalize some forms of file-sharing.
….For better or worse, the Internet file-trading bonanza of recent years has given lovers of popular music a taste of what it means to have near-instant access to almost anything created by their favorite performers for free, to use their personal computers as listening stations, to burn their own music mixes on CD’s and e-mail songs to their friends.
“There’s a lifestyle issue about how people want to use music that has been missed,” said Russ Crupnick, vice president of the music division of NPD. “The industry needs to reconnect with consumers and understand what they are seeing here besides the free part.”
Apple, to its credit, has recognized that the disappearance of singles and access to individual songs at a reasonable price has driven much digital downloading. Here’s a little example of what’s going on.
I had to DJ a wedding Saturday night. On the request sheet were about 20 songs I didn’t have. At retail prices, to buy the albums the songs were on – even though some were on the same albums – would have cost in the neighborhood of $150. Since I am doing this for money, spending half of my earnings to pick up ten CDs I wouldn’t use very often in the future was not a good option.
When I DJ’d for a living in the ’80s, you could still buy singles for about $1 each, and 12″ singles with remixes and whatnot for around $3. I would have been happy to pick up the songs the wedding couple wanted at $1 each – $20 would have been a reasonable price to pay to meet their needs, and have the songs for the future. But this is no longer an option, nor is the Apple store an option for me – yet – because I am a Windows user.
So what happened? I asked my son to download the MP3’s from Kazaa, rip them and burn them onto one very valuable CD – we played at least ten of the songs at the wedding and a great time was had by all.
When I can buy songs for a dollar (or preferably less because I am not getting anything physical to keep, just an MP3 that I have to transfer to CD to bring with me) that I can burn without restriction to a CD, I will be happy to pay for them. Hear me now and believe me later: meet my needs and I will meet yours.