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Napster Not To Blame 620

Posted by Hemos
from the killing-the-messenger dept.
enjo13 writes "Slate is running an article on the music industries recent troubles. It articulates exactly what Slashdot has preached all along.. that the Music industry is suffering at its own hands and has no one to blame but itself. All I have to say is... finally." There's actually been a number of pieces like this, but I think this one says it best.
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Napster Not To Blame

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  • ...many many times? The recording industry just wants to blame something other than themselves for the loss in profits.
  • by garcia (6573) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @05:01PM (#4122092) Homepage
    The RIAA found that young consumers are less likely to forge strong bonds to the music that they buy and are unlikely to either buy previous albums from an artist or subsequent albums.

    So. Music today basically blows. The major component of the music market are less likely to buy a ton of CDs from one artist and are instead more likely to just hop the bandwagon for a short time...
    • by Viewsonic (584922) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @05:46PM (#4122508)
      I could buy a DVD for that much! Full digital 5.1 audio that is over 2 hrs long! Whats a $15 Audio CD provide? 60 mins of stereo music... Joy.. Their business model has DIED, they need to start selling Audio CDs for $5 to sell them.
  • It'd be nice not to have to go and find another job....
  • by thelinuxking (574760) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @05:02PM (#4122098)
    Napster and its successors are obviously not the problem...its just like the article says...its those damn cassette tapes! Ban them!
  • by thanq (321486) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @05:03PM (#4122105)

    Britney Spears' latest album has moved 4 million copies--a big number, but less than half what its predecessor did.

    That's one statement that sums it all up: music industry's slumping sales are not because of the pirates, it's because of the crappier cookie-cutting kind of music that's being rewarmed over and over and over.

    I won't believe that Britney's albums are not selling as well as they used to because everyone wants to get them for free.

    (aside from the obvious, why would anyone listen to it, not mentioning OWNING a cd with her music???)

    • its not just that... a lot of the 14 year olds who bought her earlier albums are now 16 and much cooler...so they dont buy them, being cool, and peer pressure are a much more dangerous to the 10-second-attention-span-entertainment industy.

      "like, you know...like briteny was like my favorite when i was 14...but i'm like sooo much older now and i like listen to cooler stuff now."

      dude.
    • "I won't believe that Britney's albums are not selling as well as they used to because everyone wants to get them for free."

      Take, for example, my neighbors kid. She's 14 and can't afford a $20 CD so she asked her mom. Her mom says something like: "All her music sounds the same. Just listen to the radio." She asked my son if she could download it at my house.
      I told her I was doing her a favor, and gave her 3 phish CDs.
      The good news... now she wants to download phish cds.

      The point? Well she wasn't buying CDs to begin with - this is not lost sales. Downloading the legally traded phish stuff does build word of mouth fan base for phish. Maybe it will generate sales for them in the future.
    • by gregw51 (152615)
      She likes the teen-pop stuff, but it doesn't stick. She figures out that the new album from band A sounds just like their last album, so she moves on. Pretty much the same stuff with a slightly different twist, but she sure wants a lot fewer CD's now than she did a year ago.
  • by AtariKee (455870) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @05:04PM (#4122110)
    at least in subject matter, ran in both the online and print editions of USA Today on June 5. The article was very well written and insightful; something that surprised me considering the rag it ran in.

    The online version is still up here [usatoday.com].
  • by ch-chuck (9622) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @05:05PM (#4122118) Homepage
    Looks like Ford [bbspot.com] is getting into the act.

  • ...we have reached the point in which it is impossible for people to understand that music business is - business.

    Even if that CD costs $4242 in the store, it's a product. If you want it, buy it.

  • by targo (409974) <`moc.liamtoh' `ta' `t_ograt'> on Thursday August 22, 2002 @05:10PM (#4122162) Homepage
    Personally, I can definitely say that the labels are getting less money from me than they used to.
    The main reasons are:
    1) Very often I want to listen to just something very particular, and I believe it is silly to pay (and ask) $15 for just one song.
    2) Convenience. Using file-sharing programs, I can get anything I want in a minute or two, in a convenient format that I can copy to my laptop and listen in my car or whatever. Buying a CD will never give me that. And yes, I know that there are ways to buy single songs online etc but the choice tends to be crappy, (the late) Napster and its clones have always had a better and more interesting choice.
    I believe that there are many people who share these reasons and there's going to be more and more every day. Now, the point is that the music industry could definitely do a better job here by making it cheaper and more convenient to get what I want but it is also wrong to say that online music sharing has no effect on their revenue.

    • > Personally, I can definitely say that the labels are getting less money from me than they used to.

      I went on an extended CD buying spree from ~95 - ~00, buying up all the remastered editions of my favorite "classic rock" albums as soon as they hit the shelves. But that's pretty much over with, so unless they can think of another way to sucker me into buying my old faves for a fourth time, my purchasing habits will remain at a background level from now on.

      I'm somewhat on the tail end of the Baby Boomer generation, but if lots of other BB's did the same thing, you can imagine how the music industry might be feeling a morning-after effect from their remastering binge.

  • by superdan2k (135614) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @05:12PM (#4122174) Homepage Journal
    Even proven acts that I've been a long-time fan of have been getting worse and worse. Two prime examples: Bad Religion and Public Enemy. (I like my music with a social/political bent.) Bad Religion hasn't put out a *solid* album since 1991's Stranger Than Fiction, but I buy them anyway, in hopes that they've gotten back to their ass-kicking roots. The newest Public Enemy album (Revolverlution), which I purchased yesterday, is worse than Bad Religion's recent efforts -- there are a few original, new songs on the disc, but there's also live performances of old songs, remixes of old songs, an interview track, and two PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENTS by Chuck D and Flava Flav.

    Don't get me started on the dogshit that passes for Aerosmith music as of late.

    The point is, it's not just new artists targetted at the 18-25 market...all of music is sucking ass lately. Sometimes, I think that there was more to the move to ban Napster and other P2P systems than just the "loss of sales" argument. I found some real gems on Napster -- stuff I'd never listen to before, Napster started me on a blues kick that continues to this day, for example. God forbid that the record companies should have to start dropping their NuMetal Poserbands and Bling-Bling Flash-in-the-Pan Rap Acts in favor of signing some bands with real musical talent, because real musical acts are harder to sell than a prepackaged pseudo-lifestyle.

    I guess part of why music sucks is that the idiots in the RIAA know they have a losing formula, but stick to it because it's all they know.
    • You're both right (Score:5, Insightful)

      by xant (99438) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @05:28PM (#4122338) Homepage
      It's not just new music, but it is caused by the music industry. Haven't you ever noticed how frequently good bands break up and reform into other, newer good bands? Personal conflicts with the other band members are usually cited as the reason for the breakup, but the truth is good bands break up because they get bored doing the same old shit, and they need fresh blood and fresh directions to keep making good music. Band breakups sometimes result in less good music, but I think the new (and different) bands that result are better for music quality on the whole. Think of it as sexual reproduction for music; more genes being passed around means more advantageous adaptations.

      Yet at the same time, the music industry wants bands like Aerosmith to stay together for album after ass-like album, and usually, they have legal language in the contracts to enforce it for the first few albums. (After those few, if a band is still popular, they may have the clout to be able to write their own contracts. But they're usually dead by then.)

      With very few exceptions, bands that have been around forever suck because they've been around forever, and their sound is tired and dead. But people keep buying their albums, as you just said yourself. The music industry, including the artists, realizes this: big name = more sales. New artists have little choice in the matter but to stay together. Big artists who get greedy try to stay together; big artists who care about the quality of their music go on to try different things. Those different things may not sell as well, but they sound better.
      • You're on to two good things here:
        but the truth is good bands break up because they get bored doing the same old shit, and they need fresh blood and fresh directions to keep making good music. Band breakups sometimes result in less good music, but I think the new (and different) bands that result are better for music quality on the whole.

        Absolutely, but here's the $64 billion question:
        Do you want to bother dealing with the new bands' sounds? Recall that this means:
        a) some of their albums will suck. Music is art, not craft or science, and that means like in baseball, if you bat above .300, you're pretty a prodigious artist. But as an out-in-front consumer it means that you have to acquire 3* as much music as you expect to keep.
        b) you have to get accustomed to a new sound. This sounds lame and staid, but how often have you dismissed an album only to come back to it later and discover that you can really get into it? This is why pump the same songs over the radio works - often people's resistance to a song is grounded in not liking something new.
        c) There seem to be a lot of people who don't care that much, they just want some kinda music for their days. And they've got it - music is more ubiquitous and commoditized than ever. The record companies may want every band to be a U2, but they'll probably settle for a Cypress Hill.

        You also pointed out:

        But people keep buying their albums, as you just said yourself. The music industry, including the artists, realizes this: big name = more sales.


        This is brand development, the lifeblood of any consumer-driven corporation (hell, just about any corporation). In a market of infinite choices, what do people want: a lot of them want a stable choice that they can trust - hence the brand relationship. The more stable and reliable the conneciton between the brand and the product, the more durable it will be. Anyone who's reading this knows exactly what a McDonalds hamburger tastes like - the taste is a brand. The much-loved Microsoft is probably one of the most brilliant branding engines of all times - you can recognize a Microsoft program from 50 miles away, and damn if they don't all work the same.

        Recording mavens are businesspoeople, and they're just using the standard things they learned in business school. Problem for us and for them is, people are incredibly fickle when it comes to music, (for reasons I don't really understand, or articulate, but I surmise have a lot to do with how strongly popular music and identity are related in modern society) so building a brand is counterproductive. Until someone comes up with another way to describe building a stable place in a fickle market, these guys are gonna be hammering the square peg into the round hole. The question is, who's got the clout to do build a new way of doing thigs? Could actually be that the consumers refragment this market on their own - that'd be a damn good historical precedent. I ain't holdin my breath tho.
    • The point is, it's not just new artists targetted at the 18-25 market...all of music is sucking ass lately.

      Well, perhaps not all music. For my money, there [flecktones.com] are [galacticfunk.com] still [lesclaypool.com] some [phish.com] acts [charliehunter.com] out [johnscofield.com] there [radiohead.com] with real musical talent [mmw.net].
    • by maynard (3337) <j@maynard@gelinas.gmail@com> on Thursday August 22, 2002 @05:56PM (#4122588) Journal
      • Expand your taste to include a wider range of musical forms through exploration.
      • Seek out new local acts by attending live performances at small clubs, bars, and concert halls.
      • Purchase CDs directly from those performers and bands whom you have enjoyed seeing live.
      Not only does buying CDs directly from the artist provide them better compensation, but since you've already heard his/her music you know you'll enjoy much of what's on the CD. And to top it off the music cartels don't get a dime of your money. SCORE!

      This is primarily how I buy music now. I haven't purchased a big label pop disc in well over a year -- because the music sucks. I don't "steal" music across the net; I don't tape or burn CDs to trade with friends; I don't tape off the radio. I go to shows and if I like the act I buy some music. Fuck the RIAA and all their noise about "piracy".

      --Maynard
    • Music Suggestions (Score:5, Interesting)

      by krmt (91422) <therefrmhere@yahoo . c om> on Thursday August 22, 2002 @06:02PM (#4122662) Homepage
      Not all new music sucks, you just have to look around a bit harder to find it, as it's not all over MTV or the radio.

      If you want a political bend to go along with your new music, a good place to start is with Radiohead. Another one is Mos Def and Blackstar (which is Mos and Talib Kwali) who are this generation's Public Enemy, and they are incredible.

      As far as I know, the punk scene has degenerated politically, but Joe Strummer (of the Clash) is putting out incredible new stuff with his new band The Mescaleros. There's a band I happened to catch live at a music festival called The International Noise Conspiracy, who are a really fun act to see (communist/socialst propaganda from Sweden, how can you not love a song named "Capitalism Stole My Virginity"?)

      Also, if you've looked at the American radioscape lately, a lot of the Nu-Metal junk has faded away. The focus these days is on more standard rock, with bands like Jimmy Eat World, the Strokes, the White Stripes, and the Hives all doing a great job kicking the crap out of Fred Durst and his various imitators. Some of the stuff (particularly The White Stripes) is really outstanding work. There's still a lot of pop out there, but that's never going to change (hence the name). There's a lot of good non-political music out there too, that I didn't mention, that is just off to the side of mainstream, but is actually very good. As for the political/social stuff, I don't think there's a whole lot right now, but who knows? The new Rage Against the Machine album should be out soon.
    • I have discovered tons of new music styles which I would have never listened to, thanks to Audiogalaxy. Man I really miss it. It seems that soulseek http://www.slsk.org is taking the torch, but it's not there yet !
  • Hold on. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FortKnox (169099) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @05:13PM (#4122188) Homepage Journal
    Now don't tell me that you can look back and say "well, it isn't napsters fault".
    You CAN'T. You need a study that shows what happened when Napster came around. We have plenty of those. Now you need a study that shows what happened, in the exact same time period as napster, without napster. Anyone got a time machine?
    Napster (and other file sharing programs/piracy) MAY OF done the music industry bad. Napster (and other file sharing programs/piracy) MAY OF done the music industry good.
    But there is no possible way you can say it is one way for sure. File sharing still exists and is still widely used (KaZaA and Morpheus come to mind), so there is no possible way we can look at stats and compare.

    So take this article with a grain of salt, not with absolute conviction.
  • beginning to happen..... The Dark Ages again....

    Was watching a Voyager rerun last nite - it was broadcast in digital and had more digital corruption in it and the analog air wave static..

    First time I saw that epsoide, it wasn't being broadcast in digital format and look fine...

    Like music I guess TV is going down hill too.

    All in the name of anti-piracy.....

    It works too......if nobody wants it.....who's gonna pirate it?

    The ultimate in piracy protection!!!! yeah buddy.....happy now?
  • by r_j_prahad (309298)
    For the past few days I have been seeing on TV some extremely negative reviews about Eminem's new music video. I have not seen it myself, but if the news is accurate it is one of the most revolting pieces of putrified garbage that the U.S. music industry has ever perpetrated on the American public.

    So they are staying away from this trash in droves, and the RIAA is blaming piracy? The truth is more likely that there has been a sudden unexplainable outbreak of good taste by music-listeners.

  • by TheCrayfish (73892) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @05:15PM (#4122202) Homepage
    ...making new pop and rock music. If we arbitrarily assign 1957 as the first year of Rock and Roll, then we've got 45 years' worth of music we can all go back through and mine for gems (as long as it all stays in print, of course.) I mean, until everyone owns "Marquee Moon" by Television, and at least one album by Nick Lowe, The Clash, Argent, 10cc, Pilot, The Soft Boys, The Undertones, The Velvet Underground, The Sex Pistols, Eddie Cochran, Elvis Costello, XTC, Radiohead, Badfinger, The Who, The Flaming Lips, and Love, why do we need anything new?

    • > If we arbitrarily assign 1957 as the first year of Rock and Roll, then we've got 45 years' worth of music we can all go back through and mine for gems

      When the "Classic Rock" radio format first came out it was really nice, because they would play lots of B-sides and other non-warhorse material, and you could hear lots of stuff you missed during the Top 40 radio era.

      Unfortunately, the broadcasters have the same "sure thing formula" mentality that the recording industry does, so they started airing all those "vote for your favorite tunes" programs, and five years later the top-voted tunes was all you ever heard on those stations anymore. Some of us tuned them out. I, for one, don't need to hear Bob Seeger sing "Old Time Rock and Roll" three times a day.

      Maybe that's the same effect the RIAA is seeing?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I used to buy a lot of CDs (40-50 a year), happily laying down $15-20 each, sometimes for a CD I would listen to once - which is my point: Napster may not be hurting the sales of the U2s, Pink Floyds, and Rolling Stones of the industry, as these are quality bands who put out quality albums (mostly). But imagine the effect on the sales of some of the recent spate of flash-in-the-pan acts... I liked Linkin Park's last few singles, but the truth is that I was sick of them long before I bought the CD. The same is true for a lot of acts.

    Napster popularized P2P, and really brought about the try-before-you-buy mindset that alot of people have developped since in buying CDs; the effect has been lowered sales of mediocre products. David Bowie will continue to sell millions of CDs despite P2P, good luck to the middle-of-the-road acts though.

    Also, P2P brings about lowered "thought-out" purchasing decisions much more than impulse buys. I would think that music that appeals to teenagers who have less disposable income (and thus are more prone to thinking out how to spend $20) will be much harder hit than music which appeals to the more affluent "older" crowds. It's a terrible thought, but I bet Britney Spears would have sold many more albums ten years ago - wheareas I doubt that an artist like Eric Clapton is much affected either way.
  • by nsanit (153392) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @05:18PM (#4122236) Homepage
    Nowhere did the article bother to talk about the woes of the economy.

    Maybe I'm just a freak, but I know if I'm trying to curtail my spending, as many are in the uncertain economy, music purchases would be one of the first things I'd stop.

    I know, their sales have been diminishing since before the US economy started heading south, but it's a possibility.

    Maybe if the price of a cd was less than 700% profict for RIAA (dont know the number, but I know it's HUGE), and they cost what they were worth they would sell more.

    I know this is theory, but I was taught in my econ class back in college that the sale price was where the supply and demand curve met. That point was the price that the consumer considered 'fair'.

    Maybe RIAA needs to think about THAT. Maybe more and more consumers are thinking that cd's are just not worth the money and are settling for what's on the radio and not buying cd's. I'm sure some are turning to P2P software too, but I imagine that really is the minority.

    I dont download music (used to - delted them all) and I will buy cd's. I've not bought one in almost 6 months because there hasnt been one that I think is worth the money.

    Maybe I didnt think there were any worth the money because they are cookie cutter as the article stated. Maybe it's because it's just too damned expensive.

    :wq
  • of course not... we've known all along - its Canada!
  • Napster not to Blame (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gn08979 (602850)
    Hmmmmmmmm. I could buy the Shrek soundtrack for $19 or I could buy the Shrek DVD for the same $19. Whats wrong here? Seems we get a lot more content on the DVD. I can download movies from the net, why isn't that hurting the studios? Perhaps, and this is just a hunch.......there are far fewer stupid people willing to buy the crap that the record companies are trying to shove down out throats? Could it have anything to do with content? Now I now that there are some DVD's that I just "must have" the first week they are out. I can't remember the last time I anticipated such a CD (OK, I bought the last Chili Peppers CD on the first day it was out, BUT, that is partially because Best Buy sould it for $13 for the first day of release only)
    • Blockquoth the poster:

      Hmmmmmmmm. I could buy the Shrek soundtrack for $19 or I could buy the Shrek DVD for the same $19. Whats wrong here? Seems we get a lot more content on the DVD.

      I've seen this argument 4 times today. You know what the end result will be, if we relentlessly point out this disparity? $50 DVDs. :)
  • OK so we got a story on Slate. Slashdot says this all the time. Big Woop.

    Let me know when it shows up in Business Week, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, or some of Jack Valenti's ti^Hrade mags.

    The issue really isn't about "someone else just joined our bandwagon." It's about who just joined your bandwagon, and if the who doesn't include the folks making, marketing, and distributing the music, then it really doesn't make a whole hill of beans worth of difference, does it?
  • by Kraegar (565221) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @05:28PM (#4122343)
    Maybe the Big 5 will learn from people like Ani Difranco - new, original, heartfelt music. She has her own label, Rightease Babe [righteousbabe.com] and is doing quite well in both CD sales and profits.

    She even does things like put *full* sample tracks on her website. *gasp*

    And her sales and profits climb...

    And her music continues to be her own...

    And her music continues to kick ass.

    Are you reading, RIAA?

    • That one example was a label that has several artists on it, effectively making it not just several examples, but one damned good one. Follow the link.
    • Give me a break. Someone puts out a record, and has free downloads on her website, and is making money, and THAT is supposed to be an indictment of whatever the RIAA is or is not trying to do ? For all we know, she would sell MORE records if she had a big music company pushing her with the marketing force that only a big music company has. I'm not saying she would or not, but my point is that ONE (or two, or ten) EXAMPLE(s) DOES NOT THE ARGUMENT MAKE.
    • Gah, I suck at spelling. How the hell did "Righteaous Babe" Turn into "Rightease Babe"? Sorry Ani!
    • by Anonymous Coward
      according to RIAA.com [riaa.com], Righteous Babe Records is a RIAA member.

      curiouser and curiouser...
  • by Stephen Samuel (106962) <samuel@b[ ]een.com ['cgr' in gap]> on Thursday August 22, 2002 @05:30PM (#4122360) Homepage Journal
    They seemed to start to go in the direction.. they talked about how MTV, for example, managed to launch the video-based British (re)invasion by providing an avenue for a 'different' musical style to enter the market, and how the current market has become monopolized and bland.

    They didn't however, go the the next stage of the argument -- that P2P networks have provided an avenue for (currently) non-mainstream artists to get exposure and market share.

    They also seem to miss the question of whether the rise and fall of Napster coincided with the rise and fall of CD purchases. These seemed like obvious next steps for the article, but then it just seemed to .... stop.

  • Things change (Score:2, Interesting)

    When I was a kid back in the late '60s (yeah, I AM that old) everybody wanted a guitar, or drums, or a PA. We all wanted to be rock stars.

    Now, instead of instruments, all the kids I hang out with are buying mixing decks. They all want to be club DJs.

    They play four hour sets of techno. House, trance, bass&drums, whatever. It's got no lyrics. It's got no melody. It's got a GREAT groove. And without a melody, or lyrics, it's REALLY HARD to copyright. I like a lot of it.

    They've done it again. Rock, punk, whatever it takes to take the music back from the corporations. The kids are alright.

    Fuck the RIAA. Just wait, they WILL try to copyright 120 beats per minute.
  • by Target Drone (546651) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @05:40PM (#4122459)
    This article seems like a case study in how to ruin a business. Let's see
    1. Snub the over forty crowd that makes up 44% of your business.
    2. Make sure you stagnate so that you don't come out with anything fresh.
    3. During a recession raise your prices.
    4. Forget any lesson you might have learned from the late 70's when the industry underwent a similar crisis.
    The only thing left to do to put that final nail into your coffin is to implement some "creative accounting" practices.
  • by johnlcallaway (165670) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @05:41PM (#4122466)
    For some reason, downloading music never appealed to me. I like to browse music stores, pick up and handle CDs. But I always balked at paying over $12.00 for a cd if it wasn't a greatest hit's CD or I hadn't heard most of the songs before. I had downloaded a couple of pieces, but found it to be too much of a bother and the quality was too unpredictable. Music on the Internet?? It just wasn't worth it.

    Recent events have changed all that. I had put my CD collection on my hard drive so I could listen to them while I worked. But, through a series of events, I had to rebuild my entire system. Unfortunatly, I couldn't reinstall my purchased copy of RealPlayer/RealOne/Real and didn't want the new one because of their stupid subscription based service.

    I dumped Real and bought MusicMatch at a real store, intending to dump my CDs to my new 40GB hard drive. In the box was an offer for MusicMatch radio. I had done Winamp before, but again, the quality just wasn't there. To my surprise, I discovered that for $4 a month, I can get crisp, clear music delivered over my broadband, and was able to create my own 'stations' based on the music I liked. I could skip tracks too if I wanted. The best part was I could click on the playlist and create lists of CDs to buy later, or buy them right on the spot. Wow .. this was cool. Now, my music collection is growing a couple of CDs a month, even though I still hate paying over $12. Internet music (which I paid for) was STIMULATING me to buy CDs. It really dawned on me then how stupid RIAA is for not encouraging access to music over the Internet. I was proof that the Internet actually increase music sales.

    Then, a few days ago, RIAA announced their legal action regarding list4ever.com. Curiosity got the best of me, so I fired up Google and started looking around. Know what I discovered?? Hundreds of sites where I can download music and videos, sites I never knew about before. I still haven't downloaded anything, but now I know where to go if I want to, all thanks to RIAA.

    I never did dump my CDs to the new hard drive.....
  • by Lendrick (314723) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @05:46PM (#4122509) Homepage Journal
    I've always thought that I'd very enthusiastically pay for music if it were sold at $0.25 a track. The music companies don't want to do this, because presumably it devalues the music that they've tried so hard do inflate to over five times that value.

    What I'd like to know is, if they did start selling tracks at a quarter apiece, how much more music would people have to buy to make up for the drop in price? (Not taking production or bandwidth costs into account, it people would need to download about 60 songs for every CD they purchase now). Is it plausiable that you'd buy five times as much music if it were a fifth the price? I probably would myself, but I very rarely buy CDs.

  • I dislike the politics of the content industry so much that I avoid full price movies and I mostly content myself with the music I already have. This is an effective form of protest which I would like to see more people employ.

    Except. Except that the content industry is pointing to their loss of sales as evidence that everyone not giving them money is a crook and that they are therefore justified in destroying the PC as an open platform.

    Who needs clever accounting with logic like that?
  • by r3volve (460422)
    this whole recording industry situation has prompted eveyone to play the blame game, but it seems evident to me that it's not possible to single out one single thing as the bad sales turn.

    are there people out there downloading music who would have otherwise bought it? yes.
    but aren't there people out there downloading music that will spur future purchases? yes.

    are cdr's used to copy cds? yes.
    but aren't they used for other purposes as well, and doesn't a percentage of cdr sales go to the riaa? yes.

    is the nation going through an econonic downturn on the whole? yes.
    but aren't other countries' music industries being affected as well? yes.

    i'm certainly against the **aa and all for fair use, but i think this situation is much more complicated than most people realize. and i think the best way to figure out what's wrong (if anything), is to conduct more independent (and independently-funded) surveys, especially outside of the united states. we get nowhere by propagating lies/rumors/FUD on either side, so it may be best to get as accurate and truthful a view of the problem as we can, whether we like it or not.
  • by wompser (165008) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @05:51PM (#4122554)
    From the article:

    1. "Yet maintaining superstars is hard and getting harder. They require large advances, high royalty rates, and massive production and marketing money. And they keep demanding such things even when their careers tank (notable recent examples: Michael Jackson and Mariah Carey)."


    The first thing I thougth of when I read this snippet was how similar the big record companies are acting to the 'superstars' Read as:


    1. Yet maintaining marketshare for the large labels is hard and getting harder. It requires large advances, high royalty rates, and massive production and marketing money. And the record companies keep demanding such things even when their top anticipated performers tank (notable recent examples: Michael Jackson and Mariah Carey).


    I am NOT sympathetic to the labels and RIAA, but if I had refused to keep my eyes on my cash cow, (and where the market was headed two years in the future) and was now facing a greatly reduced revenue stream you can bet I would be upset too.

    Though not eloquent, what I am trying to show is how similar the labels act to their divas and darlings. What they have not yet figured out is how to reinvent themselves every few years to stay fresh like their artists have (think U2, the Beatles, or REM)
  • NoOne is to blame (Score:2, Insightful)

    by xagon7 (530399)
    If it can happen, it will. One can copy and move intellectual property at virtually no cost. It was inevitable. "The computer is to intellectual property what a matter replication device is to matter" - me
  • by kcbrown (7426) <slashdot@sysexperts.com> on Thursday August 22, 2002 @05:54PM (#4122575)
    ...and that's something they've completely forgotten. Now their customers are telling them that they're not happy and the RIAA still isn't listening.

    The customers' message to the RIAA will get louder and louder until they finally hear it or until they go under. Which one happens is ultimately the RIAA's choice.

    The RIAA probably believes that because it's a monopoly (or oligopoly ... same thing from an economic perspective) like Microsoft, that it can get away with the same market tactics that Microsoft does. But what they haven't figured out is that unlike Microsoft's products, which are essentially required to keep a business running (Openoffice and friends aside), the RIAA's products are not required, they are optional. Having a monopoly doesn't help you if your customers can get away with not buying your product -- and that's exactly what's happening now.

    So my message to the RIAA is simple: you'd better figure this shit out, and fast, because your number is coming up.

    What sucks the most is that the RIAA is going to do a hell of a lot of damage before they either finally learn or go under.

  • "Although usually termed teen- pop, the music of 'N Sync and Britney Spears is not unlike disco: Both are intellectually underachieving, cookie-cutter styles that have made stars of performers not known primarily for their skills as singers, songwriters, or musicians."

    And they honestly wonder about why nobody is making money? This is the biggest money maker for the industry, and its total crap. I dont think the american public has enough intelligence to finally understand that the stuff that they are spending their money on is crap, so why are they not buying CD's anymore? My guess is that if they actually liked this "music" they dont really care about music in the first place and they just gave up entirely. I dont think it has anything to do with the "new" trend of swapping music, be it over the internet, recording on tapes, or even just listening to the radio. I think the main problem is that people have been spoon fed the same crap (if nothing has changed in the pop world since disco...) for 30 years and they've just gotten bored.

    The next question that gets brought up is why then are better bands, who actually do offer something intellectually selling records? Maybe because there arent all that many that exist; I'll still fork out my 13 bucks for a new Fugazi record, or my new favorite band Queens of the Stoneage, but most people dont like to think, and therefore, wouldnt like or even give a good new band a chance.

    If the death of pop (please dear god kill it now!!!) is gonna bring the music business down with it, so what, I'll still be strumming away on my guitar, and I know that anyone who had any real interest in music in the first place will too.

    But if anybody has any conflicting viewpoint on this, I'd actually like to hear it, unless you liked N'sync or britney spears...

  • I think the larger whole of the music industry is reflecting the trends in society. As a people we are becoming more and more specialized and focused in those things which we want. Music is no different. The days of the single artist making the whole country swoon are gone. Since the labels are still attempting to do business using that model, their sales are dying off. Easy.
  • Why can't the RIAA and kazaa (for example) work together to bring in the cash? Imagine the following.

    Kazaa implements credit card billing features so that whenever you download a song owned by the RIAA, a fee is charged to your account (and for this to succede it'd better be reasonable - around a dollar). Kazaa gets a cut of that dollar, and the rest goes to the RIAA.

    This would not only be unbelievably easy for the consumer (any idiot can download a song), but would use an already well established network that, if done correctly, would use the people on the network for distribution. Of course the RIAA would be wise to put up it's own servers sharing the files, too.

    The only downside i can see is if you get lamers sharing missnamed or incomplete songs that you end up paying for. Any ideas (checksums, etc?) for fixing that?
  • by tmark (230091) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @06:07PM (#4122706)
    I'm sick of reading some study that points to some supposed failings of the music industry and concludes that file-sharing isn't hurting the industry. I'm just as sick of reading stories about how file-sharing has gone up and profits have gone down, stories which conclude that file-sharing IS hurting the industry. I'm sick of the blind chauvinism that surrounds both sides of the issue.

    The assorted and supposed failures of the music industry and the presumed decline in quality of today's music - even if true - can NOT be taken as evidence that file-sharing isn't hurting the industry, just like declining record sales can't necessarily be attributed to the accompanying rise in file-sharing.

    BOTH types of 'evidence' marshalled by both sides are correlational and don't really say anything about what the proponents are arguing about, namely the root of the problem. Maybe file-sharing is going up because today's music sucks, or because people want this method of distribution. Or maybe file-sharing is on the rise because people just like grabbing things they don't have to pay for.
    You've heard it a million times: Correlation is NOT causation. Once we get past the stupid "X is happening, and Y is/isn't happening, therefore X does/doesn't cause Y", we'll be able to really and fairly consider the issue instead of looking through these blinders that seem to get narrower and narrower as time goes on, and hearing the tautologies flogged like yesterday's dead horse - by BOTH sides.
  • Being a lover of history, I am always looking for parrallels from the past with problems of today. This paragraph then, cuaght my attention:

    In 1978, record sales began to fall, and the major labels blamed a larcenous new technology: cassette tapes. The international industry even had an outraged official slogan: "Home taping is killing music." The idea was that music fans--ingrates that they are--would rather pirate songs than pay for them, and that sharing favorite songs was a crime against hard-working musicians (rather than great word-of-mouth advertising).

    This helps me remember that as fast paced as our world may be, we're really just handling the same problems that have been dealt with in the past. The article goes on to say how the emergence of MTV and Rock Videos saved the music industry now, and that if the Music Mavens don't stop blocking every new technology that comes along, they miss their own savior. Bravo for a great article and let's hope the RIAA will study some history as well.
  • by TheCodeFoundry (246594) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @06:09PM (#4122730)
    The US music scene sucks, plain and simple. The majority of albums released within the last 5 years have been formulaic, cookie-cutter crap. Remember in the 80's how bands were designed around musicians? Randy Rhoads, Eddie Van Halen, Neil Peart etc ad nauseum....you used to be able to name the members of bands. They actually had talent, wrote their own songs, some were even (God forbid) classically trained.

    With the one hit wonders we have now, you can't even name the vocalist for the bands.

    Skip across to the pond and see what the 'peans are up to. Let's see, progressive metal bands like Stratovarius, Blind Guardian, Avantasia, Edguy, Theatre of Tragedy, etc are HUGE stars. They play arena concerts, like GNR, VH, Selloutica and others did in the 80's and 90's. Members are usually classically trained musicians and have technical abilities that most US musicians only dream of. Many of the band members collaborate with other bands for entire albums (ex. Demons & Wizards).

    Granted, this music may not be to everyone's tastes, but looks at the techno scene overseas. People like DJ Tiesto, Oakenfold, Van Dyk, etc are huge....yet unless you go to a trance club in the US, you are unlikely to ever hear them.

    The US labels are failing for the same reason the US carmakers failed late last century:
    Lack of innovation.
  • by blonde rser (253047) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @06:13PM (#4122766) Homepage
    To find out if filesharing has had an effect on music sharing one only needs to look at the success of a different product that shares many characteristics with cds: for example MTV and concert tickets. If cd sales have dropped because consumers have lost interest in the music then we should see a similar decline in concert ticket sales and MTV ratings.

    I have neither these numbers available to me nor the interest to properly evaluate them (properly meaning statisticly... not just scanning them with the naked eye.) But the numbers are there and any interested party could resolve this.

    If concert ticket sales have declined it would be very difficult for the industry to say that this is the fault of filesharing. But at the same time if it is found that Britney Spears concerts are still selling out then it is also very hard for consumers to say there is less interest in listening to her.

    Perhaps by stating their claims so heavily, both sides have too much to lose if they are found to be wrong.
  • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @06:17PM (#4122800) Homepage Journal
    The music industry really was, for a while, doing quite well in improving music reproduction technology.

    First there were '78's made of shellac. Then they came up with vinyl, much easier to handle and able to hold more data, at 33RPM's. Still too pricey for kids, they did 45's.

    Now, America was moving towards an automobile culture, and you just can't run an LP in a car (ignoring the Lexus ad).

    So, they came up with 8-tracks. Great, an LP in your hand, and shock-proof to boot. But they were awfully clumsy, and apparently not all that cheap to manufacture (which ought to translate to consumer prices, but that's another rant).

    So, they came up with cassette tapes. They were small, portable, and dirt cheap. I remember buying albums for $6-7 in the early eighties. But the quality of the cassettes was fairly miserable.
    Tape also has a tendency to stretch and wear out, so it's tough to commit to a music collection on 8-track or cassette.

    So they came up with CD's. Finally, very high quality, random access, and portable (after a few shakey years). With the advent of the CD it finally made sense again to collect music for the long haul, so the music industry saw a boom in replacement purchases, from all the people who had purchased 8-tracks and cassettes.

    But the CD is close to perfect. It doesn't wear out, it has random access, it has really good quality, it's portable, and it's cheap to manufacture. People had their music now, and they didn't need to replace it. This was a new situation for the music industry. They would have to keep producing good new music to keep up the sales or come up with a better format.

    What could be better than a CD? Well, what are the CD's weaknesses? You couldn't record on them (before the past few years). You also had to carry quite a stack of CD's around for just a few good songs. Sony recognized this and made a few stabs at the market with MiniDisc. They got portable, small, random-access, and cheap, eventually, but the quality of the first round of MD's was pretty poor. It used a 3-subband lossy coder, and it just didn't compare to CD's. It was also fairly proprietary.

    It seems that at this point, the industry just gave up. I don't know what really happened behind the scenes, but the entire industry seemed to undergo a cranial/anal inversion. When DAT tried to get near the market, they got scared and had the Digital Home Recording Act [Tax] enacted. This was the start of viewing the customer as the criminal adversary.

    Meanwhile, the personal computer industry was booming. Computers started to get hard disks capable of storing lots of music and good perceptual coders came to market. I remember ripping all my CD's onto my 601-based Mac in '96 (in MP2, at 0.2x, after a separate rip stage, typing all the track names in) and it was just amazing. Soon everybody noticed that you could listen to your music in a form that you wanted. With the advent of CD writers and the iPod, the missing portability element came back. By 2001, the technology provided by the music industry had been totally overtaken by the technology the computer industry provides, and that's when they started sueing everybody in sight.

    So, as I see it the music industry has 3 options:
    1) Come up with a better technology. If I knew what it was, I'd be doing it, but it obviously involves the internet, probably 3G cell. The only thing I can't do with an iPod is get my music I don't have with me. Note: I don't want SACD's or DVD-A's. They don't solve any problems I have.
    2) Put out good music. I doesn't even have to be new, I just bought a box set of remastered Miles Davis on Monday and In a Silent Way is my new favorite CD.
    3) Criminalize everything the customers want to do and sue the begezus out of everybody who tries to help them.

    What's behind Door #1 and Door #2 are sustainable options. Lurking behind Door #3 is a business model that has outlived its usefullness and is trying to get by on the creation of artificial scarcity. Stockholders ought to be very leery of a management that doesn't want any part of a sustainable market.
  • by dh003i (203189) <dh003iNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday August 22, 2002 @06:19PM (#4122810) Homepage Journal
    Being quite honest, I like Britney Spear and her music. For saying this, I expect to get a whole slew of responses talking about how terrible my taste is, and even moderated down.

    And it has nothing to do with the latest trend or whatever. Eminem's also one of the latest trends, and I hate what he has to offer.

    So, why do I like her? Well, simply put, because her music is fun to listen to. And its fun to watch her videos. I'm not saying its intellectually rich music, but I really don't care. If I want intellectually enriched music, I'll go someplace else (like Ernesto Cortazar, Beethoven, John Williams).

    That said, I can understand why this style of music means a slump for the music industry. Its not something I want to listen to all the time. In fact, there's very few artists I'd like to listen to all the time. The only musician who's music I've been able to listen to repeatedly over and over again is Beethoven.

    So, what's the problem? Well, the problem is the zillion Britney-alikes that pop up (you know what I'm talking about, Pink, etc). And its not even so much them. I like some of Pink's music. I like alot of the stuff by Pink, No Doubt, Shakira, Aquilera, Spears, etc. Its not that the music's that bad. It's that it gets OVER -PLAYED.

    This, my friends, is the fault of the music industry and the radio stations. Hearing the same song 500 times in one day is going to make me sick of it (i.e., anyone remember "I Saw The Sign" -- they played that song to death).

    That's part of the reason I love the 80's stations, because they have a large selection to choose from, and I probably won't hear the same song twice in one day. That's also part of the appeal of P2P -- you get to mix it up.

    So, ultimately, the current slump in the music business is completely the fault of the RIAA and music companies, along with the radio stations. Start mixing it up more, and people will be more interested. But really, who wants to buy that latest Britney Spears album when the songs in it have been played on the radio 500 times a day? If I listened to the radio more, I probably wouldn't buy CD's, but since I don't, I don't get so sick of songs that I want to puke when I hear them, like most people do.

    So, the take home message to the RIAA? Well, lets say it like this. I like ice cream. I really like ice cream. I really really like ice cream. But if I've been eating nothing but ice cream for a week straight, I'm going to puke the next time I see it and I never want to see it again.
  • by Newer Guy (520108) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @06:20PM (#4122820)
    The record industry is looking for a government bail out. They look to Congress and the courts to fix ailments that they brought upon themselves. I find it funny that in this day of: "let the marketplace decide", the music industry seems to be seeking (and getting) special treatment. This industry should be left to live (or die) by its own bad decisions. I'm in my fourties, and I find that the 'big five' record companies have completely alienated me. Apparently they don't want me for a customer. All they seem to care about is serving my daughters, who can't afford their exhorbitant prices any more. My attitude is why bail therse clowns out? Let them die and be replaced by better run companies who care about serving their customers. Of course, we all iknow the answer to why this won't happen: $$....the flow of $$ to Congress' pockets that is!
  • I personaly think Fast Company said it best nearly a month ago

    http://www.fastcompany.com/online/60/monopolist. ht ml
  • They're Doomed (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SQL Error (16383) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @06:33PM (#4122924)
    As far as I can see, the music industry as we know and hate it is doomed. We don't need them. Anyone can make music, burn CDs, put up a website and sell them. Distributors will come to the party soon enough.

    All we lose is the saturation media bombing to promote the latest 15-minute megastar. Well, darn.

    The movie industry is in a stronger position - at least for the time being. You can't get some friends together and make The Lord of the Rings, no matter how much creative talent you have. And I still enjoy going to the movies with my friends and munching popcorn and seeing it all on the big screen.

    The MPAA still needs to be clubbed senseless, though. Maybe we can get some out-of-work seal trappers on the case.

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