Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Music Media Businesses

The Music Industry's Crisis Writ Large 554

Posted by kdawson
from the day-the-music-faded dept.
The NY Times has an opinion piece that makes starkly clear the financial decline of the music industry. It's accompanied by an infographic that cleverly renders the drop-off. The latest culprit accelerating the undoing of the music business is free, legal online music streaming. "Since music sales peaked in 1999, the value of those sales, after adjusting for inflation, has dropped by more than half. At that rate, the industry could be decimated before Madonna's 60th birthday. ... 13- to 17-year-olds acquired 19 percent less music in 2008 than they did in 2007. CD sales among these teenagers were down 26 percent and digital purchases were down 13 percent. ... [T]he percentage of 14- to 18-year-olds who regularly share files dropped by nearly a third from December 2007 to January 2009. On the other hand, two-thirds of those teens now listen to streaming music 'regularly' and nearly a third listen to it every day."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The Music Industry's Crisis Writ Large

Comments Filter:
  • Let it die. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @08:39PM (#28921319) Homepage
    The words 'music' and 'industry' were never meant to go together. Music should come from the heart, not the wallet. This idea that you can become wealthy by being a musician is a new one and we've suffered for it.
    • Re:Let it die. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Sunday August 02, 2009 @08:51PM (#28921385) Journal

      The words 'music' and 'industry' were never meant to go together. Music should come from the heart, not the wallet. This idea that you can become wealthy by being a musician is a new one and we've suffered for it.

      You might like to come live in the current world. Like everything else in entertainment (movies, games, comics whatever), music is entertainment and professionally made. It requires time, effort and money. Just as stupid RIAA's lawsuits against studenst are, pirates reasoning to get content for free are too. Music *IS* industry. You dont get around that as much as you'd like to deny it. Or well, if you like to, stop listening to commercially produced music and go listen in the streets; they're nice sometimes and you can tip those who you think are good. But if you're against commercial music, the answer isn't to pirate it. Answer is not to listen to it all. You're just being hypocrisy and making excuses for pirating if you still listen to them.

      And now besides the point, record labels aren't there just to rip people off. Artists actually need them. They actually find the artists that could be something, provide them studio time and sponsor them so they can get their job done, help making the music videos, doing promotion, making sure the actual product is somewhat quality (yeah, quality can be argued!) to actually delivering the products to retailers, tv and radio stations and whatever other places. Lots of times people forget that record labels do lots of other work too and sponsor the bands, and they're not there just to collect money forgefully.

      This is why I think the record labels will continue to exist and will be used by artists. Yes, I said used. Its not necessary for artists to use them, noone force's them to. But lets face it, all that usually needs lots of money and time and work. Not a single person can usually do so much, but go work with record labels so they can handle all the other stuff and artists can spend the time on their core thing -- making music.

      • Re:Let it die. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 02, 2009 @09:03PM (#28921467)

        Hi, the 1950's called and they want their arguments back. I know a few musicians who can afford their own studio setups that are just as good as anything you'll find in the 'major labels'. Studio time isn't that big of a barrier to entry anymore.

        So do you need big labels for quality? Well, you have me there, no indie label could match the musical genius of somebody like say, Brittney Spears.

        The "industry" the GP refers to is the big labels that screw over everybody -- artists and listeners -- in the guise that there's barriers or a scarcity that's just not there anymore. Those are the companies that go away.

        • Re:Let it die. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Mad Merlin (837387) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @09:43PM (#28921779) Homepage

          Probably the only utility the record industry provides to artists is that of promotion. Yes, the Internet makes it very easy to distribute music for next to nothing, but how do you find people to distribute it to? Word of mouth only goes so far, and advertising is expensive.

          No, let me repeat that, advertising is very expensive. Go look up the numbers on Google Adsense and you'll see it's not unreasonable for every visitor to cost you (on average) $1. Assuming 10% of those people actually buy something from you (which is a very high conversion rate, more realistic would be 1-5%), and you need to make $10 sales (on average) per person, just to cover your advertising costs!

          But, back to the record industry. They have large coffers and deals with all the radio stations, so they can easily push out a $$$$ ad campaign and get airtime for songs they think they can make a return on. They probably don't make huge profits on most artists (indeed, they may even lose money), but in aggregate they still (obviously) turn a tidy profit.

          I don't know about you, but I don't have 6 figures to lay down on advertising, so as an independent content producer (of which I am, see Game! [wittyrpg.com]), it puts you in a very awkward position. For musicians, you can sell your soul to the music industry and hope there's some profit left over for you in the end, or you can go it alone and probably reach only a tiny audience, but keep all of the (tiny) profit for yourself. Or, you can lay down for advertising and promotion, which is expensive (as discussed already) and may or may not pay itself back.

          Don't get me wrong, obviously the record industry is only interested in turning a profit for itself (and will probably screw over most artists that sign with it in the process), but if the Internet had completely obsoleted the record industry, artists would have wised up by now and the record industry would actually be gone by now.

          • Re:Let it die. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by drsmithy (35869) <drsmithy.gmail@com> on Sunday August 02, 2009 @11:25PM (#28922431)

            Word of mouth only goes so far, and advertising is expensive.

            In the days of people having 100s (if not1000s) of "friends" on sites like Facebook, "word of mouth" is a hell of a lot more effective than it ever was before - and that's likely to remain true going forward.

          • Re:Let it die. (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Metrol (147060) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @11:44PM (#28922605) Homepage

            No, let me repeat that, advertising is very expensive.

            Why is this? I know this probably sounds hopelessly naive, but where do these "marketing" funds go to? I'm not talking about advertising a live show. More along the lines of how any of us ever heard of Miss Spears in the first place.

            It may be the more interesting aspect of this story isn't the record industry losing customers, but the younger generations skipping the main marketing arm of the recording industry, FM radio. The overtly corporate and hopelessly generic radio stations across the country all playing the exact same line up paid for by the "recording industry". I'm old enough to have witnessed this transition from edgy to safe FM stations in my life. Due to this I have satellite radio in my car, and I listen to streaming Internet stations at home.

            If FM survives the fall of the RIAA giants it will likely mean that stations will go back to when they chose for themselves what they would play. I think we'd all be better off if that kind of marketing money were to vanish.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by bemymonkey (1244086)

          "Hi, the 1950's called and they want their arguments back. I know a few musicians who can afford their own studio setups that are just as good as anything you'll find in the 'major labels'. Studio time isn't that big of a barrier to entry anymore."

          I have a hard time believing the bolded part... unless these people bought the studio instead of a house, it's unlikely that an unsigned musician (especially a professional one!) can afford to put that much money into a studio. Sure, home recording setups for say

      • Re:Let it die. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by je ne sais quoi (987177) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @09:06PM (#28921501)

        And now besides the point, record labels aren't there just to rip people off. Artists actually need them.

        Before advent of easy recording, just about every family that wanted to appear civilized owned a piano or some other musical instrument. That is, people used to play music themselves. I personally record my own music for my family and listen to a lot of bands of friends or ones that play small venues. You know, I listen to music that people can actually play. I'll never forget in high school going to one concert for some bands I liked quite a bit (U2 with the Pixes opening) and realizing that they sounded absolutely awful live and that the sound on their records has been manipulated to the point of being false. That was the day I stopped believing that the "current world" was the best solution. I don't need the RIAA, I can keep playing my own music and traditional, non-copyrighted music to my heart's content. I'm not alone in this. Don't believe me? Go spend a few hours on youtube.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by FelixNZ (1426093)
          Regarding Live performances - This isn't always the band's fault, although I haven't been to see either of those bands in person, but I have been to several venues where the guy behind the mixing desk is spot on, and the experience is far, far better than any recording. Conversely, the same bands in a different venue and some sort of bespectacled Human-Gorilla hybrid behind the desk, seemingly randomly playing with knobs and sliders have rendered the performance absolutely abysmal.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Darkness404 (1287218)
            Regarding live performances, you have to realize that many bands aren't exactly sober when they play.
          • Re:Let it die. (Score:5, Informative)

            by Falconhell (1289630) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @09:41PM (#28921771) Journal

            I did live sound for 20 years. It is not always the engineers fault if the sound is crap. Some rooms are just impossile to get a good sound. Some bands are so loud on stage that the PA system cannot keep up, again bad sound. Some PA systems are crap.

            Bottom line is if you werent at the mixing desk yourself you have no idea of the problems that are in front of the Sound guy.

            How many times have you actually mixed a band?

            Yeh right never, it shows.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Eil (82413)

          Don't believe me? Go spend a few hours on youtube.

          THIS.

          The music industry's days are numbered. They've shown themselves to be nothing but a boatload of evil over the last decade, but that's not why they're going down. They're going down because they have been replaced by technology. As many (and I do mean many) here on Slashdot have noted again and again, the record company's job is two-fold:

          1. Production
          2. Promotion

          As far as #1, a few hundred bucks will get you good low end--but good enough--equipment to p

      • Re:Let it die. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by cdrguru (88047) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @09:11PM (#28921525) Homepage

        The primary benefit that record companies provide to the artist today is promotion. Without promotion, most artists will remain in some kind of local niche. A few might get national attention for doing something that gathers lots of publicity - like running through a public park naked or something like that. That is about it.

        What people do not understand is the full spectrum of promotion. Kill off the record companies and promotion dies. With it go a lot of magazines that music promotion is supporting. FM Radio is going to change a lot in the US, because it is mostly a music promotion vehicle. I would expect most stations to just give up and shut down. The rest will do something else. They will not be playing popular music.

        How far do the tenacles of music promotion go? I don't really know. I suspect that the ripples from ending music promotion will go much further than anyone suspects.

        • Re:Let it die. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by enrevanche (953125) * on Sunday August 02, 2009 @09:31PM (#28921705)
          Killing off the record companies could possibly be the dawn of a new age with much more diversity. Without the massive inefficiencies of the current music business, how many more musicians can be supported with the same revenue? The fact is, their massive control over the market, requires draconian control and just a few over-promoted stars that blot out the rest. The changes in the music world brought about by technology and the internet has already dramatically increased the access to many artists that we would have had previously.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Falconhell (1289630)

          Record companies decide to "promote" on the basis
          of how good looking an artist is, see Brittany Spears or Kylie Minogue for examples.

          Getting rid of the "Industry" who are nothing more than leaches would be a very good thing.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by davester666 (731373)

          So you're saying that we're currently operating on a 'music bubble', where the labels just promote whatever they choose via payola to music stations to make appear popular, then people buy it en-masse, thus actually making it "popular"?

          That the industry is too big for the gov't to allow it to 'pop'?

          I'm sorry son, we have to listen to this crap. It's to save the economy.

        • Re:Let it die. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by russotto (537200) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @11:07PM (#28922289) Journal

          What people do not understand is the full spectrum of promotion. Kill off the record companies and promotion dies. With it go a lot of magazines that music promotion is supporting. FM Radio is going to change a lot in the US, because it is mostly a music promotion vehicle. I would expect most stations to just give up and shut down. The rest will do something else. They will not be playing popular music.

          OK, sounds like a deal... wait... is there a downside to all this?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Darkness404 (1287218)

        You might like to come live in the current world. Like everything else in entertainment (movies, games, comics whatever), music is entertainment and professionally made. It requires time, effort and money

        Your argument fails. While feature-length movies are generally the domain of professionals (requires a ton more time), there are entertaining other shorter movies such as Homestar Runner which doesn't even have ads on their site yet has hundreds of videos. Games? There are loads of games that the game itself is free while they use other ways of making a profit. Heck, I can download the WoW client for free ( http://www.worldofwarcraft.com/downloads/wowclient-download.html [worldofwarcraft.com] ) yet I wouldn't say it was unprof

    • Re:Let it die. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Moryath (553296) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @08:53PM (#28921397)

      No shit.

      The latest culprit accelerating the undoing of the music business is free, legal online music streaming.

      Counterpoint: the real culprit accelerating the undoing of the music business is:

      - anticompetitive business practices (price fixing, etc) that have given potential customers a sour attitude towards music labels
      - destruction of diversity in radio broadcasting (something the music industry ironically pushed for) via the death of media ownership regulations mid-'90s

      And finally, the main reason:

      - replacement of almost all talented acts that produced good music, with hyperproduced kiddie-shit "artists" whose assets are not musical talent or singing voices, but barely-covered bikini bottoms and tits. Just you wait: in 4 years, tops, "Hannah Montana" will be pulling a Britney-style selfdestruct. And neither of them are capable of producing "music" even remotely worth listening to.

      • Re:Let it die. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by clarkkent09 (1104833) * on Sunday August 02, 2009 @09:24PM (#28921653)
        - anticompetitive business practices (price fixing, etc) that have given potential customers a sour attitude towards music labels

        There is some truth in that, but come on. People really stopped buying music because of that?

        - destruction of diversity in radio broadcasting (something the music industry ironically pushed for) via the death of media ownership regulations mid-'90s

        Wrong. Radio hardly has any influence on what music people listen to these days.

        And finally, the main reason: - replacement of almost all talented acts that produced good music, with hyperproduced kiddie-shit "artists" whose assets are not musical talent or singing voices, but barely-covered bikini bottoms and tits. Just you wait: in 4 years, tops, "Hannah Montana" will be pulling a Britney-style selfdestruct. And neither of them are capable of producing "music" even remotely worth listening to.

        I doubt very much that the music industry is replacing musicians who would sell more music with those who would sell less. What you or I might consider quality music doesn't come into it at all and shouldn't. If people like "hyperproduced kiddie-shit artists", which they obviously do, then that's what they get. Just like on a typical weekend out of the top 10 grossing movies I would consider 9 or more to be completely unwatchable garbage, but other people obviously have different tastes so how can I say that unless movie industry makes more movies that I would like its profits would suffer? Your personal problems with the music industry are not necessarily the same ones that are causing its troubles.
        • Re:Let it die. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Jafafa Hots (580169) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @10:49PM (#28922141) Homepage Journal

          - anticompetitive business practices (price fixing, etc) that have given potential customers a sour attitude towards music labels

          There is some truth in that, but come on. People really stopped buying music because of that?

           

          I did. I spent many thousands of dollars on music in the 80s and 90s. The music industry went from selling $7.99 LPs that cost $1.50 to make, to selling CDs that cost less than 50 cents to make - yet they charged $15. WHY?

          Well one exec at the time said the reason why was because "they sound better so its worth it," which was akin to saying "fuck you, we do because we can."

          But the REAL reason was because they were illegally price fixing. They were NOT competing companies, they were an illegal cartel, violating anti-trust.

          They were found GUILTY of this, and yet the fine for the entire music cartel was less than what they sue one filesharer for.

          THAT'S why I swore I'd never give them another damned cent of mine - and I haven't. They were found GUILTY of being essentially organized crime, of ripping off their own customers to the tune of billions of dollars... they got a slap on the wrist and then complain that their CUSTOMERS are the crooks.

          And that's after notoriously ripping off most of the musicians whose product they are peddling in the first place.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Artifakt (700173)

          Ah, but the music industry has demonstrated its practices include replacing musicians who sell more with ones who sell less. Doubt it all you want, but really read up on the case of Prince - a proven seller, and the industry decided to enforce contract provisions that were so draconian that by their interpretation he couldn't use his own name to sign autographs, except on their schedule, at their formal events. Once you learn how his controllers made an attempt to break him that was like something out of th

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by russotto (537200)

        Just you wait: in 4 years, tops, "Hannah Montana" will be pulling a Britney-style selfdestruct.

        Don't think so. She's from a country music family. They've got a whole different style of self destruction.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by JakartaDean (834076)

        And finally, the main reason: - replacement of almost all talented acts that produced good music, with hyperproduced kiddie-shit "artists" whose assets are not musical talent or singing voices, but barely-covered bikini bottoms and tits. Just you wait: in 4 years, tops, "Hannah Montana" will be pulling a Britney-style selfdestruct. And neither of them are capable of producing "music" even remotely worth listening to.

        I believe you're right, but it's just a belief, not supported by conclusive fact. Howeve

    • The way I see it, the recording/copying technology created the industry in the first place at the cost of local/family musicians. The next iteration of technology made them obsolete. Recording execs are like telephone switchboard operators - one wave of technology created the role, the next wave destroys it. They're just trying to manipulate the law to defy the reality of technology ... why should this be different than any other industry since the start of the industrial revolution? (oh right, nobody's

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by bursch-X (458146)

      Tell this Georg Friedrich Händel (1685 - 1759) and he'll laugh his ass off. He was probably the best paid musician of his time. And music made him extremely rich. He just hit the right taste of the rich people sponsoring/hiring him.

      Most of the Music written from the 17th century onwards was basically contract work written for rich people. Bach has written most of his works being sponsored. Mozart, too. The whole idea that Music must not be paid for is ludicrous.

      Even the Minnesänger in Medieval tim

  • Film at 11. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by palegray.net (1195047) <philip.paradis@NoSpAm.palegray.net> on Sunday August 02, 2009 @08:40PM (#28921325) Homepage Journal
    Industry with a track record of charging insane prices for crappy products, ripping off artists who they claim to represent, and developing a business model of suing their own customers in gross abuse of the legal process is experiencing financial difficulties. We'll be providing blow-by-blow coverage.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ScrewMaster (602015) *

      We'll be providing blow-by-blow coverage.

      That's great! Just don't forget the hookers.

    • Re:Film at 11. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Sunday August 02, 2009 @10:12PM (#28921951)

      It really is bizarre, much more than the usual situation. Actors and directors, for example, kvetch about Hollywood, but I haven't seen nearly the same level of anti-studio invective from prominent directors and actors as I have seen anti-music-industry invective from prominent musicians. The RIAA types seem to have done a remarkably thorough job in pissing off the people they claim to represent, across a wide swathe of genres.

  • irony (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheSHAD0W (258774) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @08:44PM (#28921349) Homepage

    An article about an industry that is dying, published by an industry that is dying. Both are being killed by the same new technology.

    • Re:irony (Score:4, Informative)

      by Saxerman (253676) * on Sunday August 02, 2009 @10:46PM (#28922121) Homepage

      Right, these are RIAA numbers. Since when did we care what spin doctoring they did to their own numbers to try and justify their war on piracy? The only slant this article gives the numbers is that there are more and growing opportunities to listen to music for free... a fact the RIAA mentioned no where. But, guess what? Since around the 1950s or so, we've all been able to listen to music for free over the radio. And the Boston Strangler aside, the advent of the portable music player has only made music more accessible.

      The fact that we're in a fairly serious global recession coupled to the inflation they sprinkle on the numbers might make them look tragic. But last I checked, everyone still wants music. They just don't have as much to spend on it right now. I don't see the music industry going anywhere.

      Well, the major labels might vanish. But they stopped being a required piece of the music industry more than 10 years ago. Course, they won't really vanish unless their copyrights actually expire. Or our generation dies out and is replaced by a culture that believes music should be enjoyed rather than owned.

  • by lena_10326 (1100441) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @08:58PM (#28921425) Homepage

    The artist will win. No more signing away most your rights with shady contracts. No more skimming 99.9 cents on the dollar for CD sales. No more lock in for future albums. Artists are making their money by selling direct to consumers with online distribution channels because it gives the unknown artist a shot. It also promotes better music because when the consumer has better choice, they will choose better music.

    The direct sales channels will continue to grow and standardize so I expect the traditional industry losses will accelerate.

    • by FormerComposer (318416) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @09:30PM (#28921703)

      It also promotes better music because when the consumer has better choice, they will choose better music.

      I got out of the retail record business over 25 years ago because the industry was rapidly losing its customers to consumers. They weren't choosing better music; they were choosing cheaper music. Saving 50 cents on Saturday Night Fever was more important than their store actually having a wide selection of interesting sounds. Eventually, it wasn't worth it to stock the better; only the popular.

      I blame the Decline of Western Civilization on the Rise of the Consumer. YMMV.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      The rumors of our death are highly exaggerated [jedediahsbuggywhip.com]

  • The reason... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @08:58PM (#28921429)
    The reason why streaming music is taking over is because radio is crap. Seriously, if you don't like hip hop, pop, country or classic rock, there are -no- stations other than that anymore. If you have musical tastes other than that, too bad. You won't find any terrestrial radio that plays that. So because of that people stream more, in general streaming music ends up being better and have a greater variety. If I can't find a terrestrial radio station that plays music I like, I'm going to then listen to streaming music. Because of that, why buy the music when you can with a bit of searching find the streaming music?
    • Re:The reason... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Daniel_Staal (609844) <DStaal@usa.net> on Sunday August 02, 2009 @09:05PM (#28921481)

      The radio plays those genres? I thought it just played DJ's and ads.

    • Re:The reason... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by intx13 (808988) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @09:36PM (#28921743) Homepage

      The reason why streaming music is taking over is because radio is crap. Seriously, if you don't like hip hop, pop, country or classic rock, there are -no- stations other than that anymore. If you have musical tastes other than that, too bad.

      You could easily write that as: "If you have musical tastes that aren't the same as the majority, too bad." But that's pretty much expected, right? Imagine liking orchestral music when big band took off. Just because you don't like it doesn't mean it's "crap". A lot of people like Miley Cyrus and don't care if it's not skillfully performed music. Radio, like any limited-spectrum broadcast medium, caters to the majority.

      If dislike in radio genres was substantial enough to impact the music industry's bottom line (via "switchers" to streaming media) the radio stations would adjust accordingly.

      I think what is increasing demand in streaming media is availability, ease of use, and cost. The state of streaming "Internet radio" 10 years ago was pitiful. Since then we have standardized technologies, better quality, and (however grudgingly) music label support. Along with reasonable costs (free in many cases!), increased access to high-bandwidth Internet connections, and more legitimacy in not owning physical albums, tapes, CDs, etc. streaming becomes a viable media delivery method.

  • "Music Industry" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @09:04PM (#28921475)

    If by music industry you mean anything that is distributed in the form of iTunes or mp3's with a useful half life of a month or so, I'm all for its demise and good riddance.

    The vast majority of that sort of stuff is dung. If we are talking about taxing cigarettes and sugary carbonated soda and fast food, no reason to not extend that to this sort of "music" as well.

    Once this sort of stuff is gone maybe people will get a chance to listen to real music, in person or played back on high-fidelity equipment.

    It might be an epiphany.

  • Decimated... (Score:5, Informative)

    by HisMother (413313) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @09:09PM (#28921515)
    ... refers to the loss of one out of ten soldiers. If their sales are down by half, they've already been decimated five times over.

    </pedantry>

    • by Tau Neutrino (76206) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @09:35PM (#28921733)

      If their sales are down by half, they've already been decimated five times over.

      Actually, if sales had been decimated once, they would be at 90% of their previous level. Twice, they'd be at 81%. Five times, at 59.049%.

      To get to 50%, they'd have to have been decimated approximately 6.578 times.

      Pedantic even longer.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by xigxag (167441)

      Every single time someone uses the word "decimated" online, this comes up. Actually your definition is misleading to the point of being useless. "Decimated" didn't refer to the mere LOSS of ten percent of soldiers, as if toppled by enemy forces. It was unique form of punishment inflicted on mutinous legions which involved selecting 10% of their ranks by lot to be killed, and forcing the remaining 90% to execute the sentence. This punishment no longer exists, so the word has been repurposed to mean any l

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Chemisor (97276)

      Maybe in Roman times it did. These days it means "drastically reduced", or perhaps "down to one-tenth". Meaning of words changes. Get the f*@k over it already!

  • by zlel (736107) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @09:10PM (#28921521) Homepage
    There was once, music tapes cost SGD $8. When CDs hit the market, they cost SGD $30, but it was promised that they would go down to the same price as tapes one day. Isn't it time to sell full albums at SGD $5, considering the volume that the music industry is able to produce? Isn't that what industries do best - to give what the market wants at a cost leveraged by the economics of scale? Given that the packaging that comes with the CD does cost something to make, but essentially, isn't music, as a commodity, like software - make once, and sell it many times over? Given the international market exposed by the internet, is online music, too, overpriced? Or perhaps society needs to rethink the place of musicians - perhaps they could be like open source software authors, who have a day job?
  • Record Industry (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bjustice (1053864) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @09:12PM (#28921537)

    The Record Industry's Crisis Writ Large

    There, fixed that for you. The record industry is the one that makes money on recordings. The music industry is the one that makes money on music in general including concerts. The music industry is fine and will be fine. The record industry is fucked.

  • by RedWizzard (192002) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @09:19PM (#28921613)
    It's not the music industry that's dying, it's the recording industry. It's become clear that the money people are not spending on recorded music they are instead spending on live music:

    These reports all say the same thing: concert ticket sales growth more than makes up for the decline in recorded music sales.

  • by GPLHost-Thomas (1330431) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @09:27PM (#28921683)
    When I was a teen, about 15 years ago, I was also listening to streams. But at the time, it was called ... FM radio!
  • Hi. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tthomas48 (180798) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @09:50PM (#28921835) Homepage

    Hi. I'm the American actor, violinist, ballet dancer, and sculptor. We have little sympathy. Welcome back to having to make art because you love it, and not because you expect it to be a lottery ticket.

  • by zogger (617870) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @09:50PM (#28921843) Homepage Journal

    These "music industry" people want the equivalent of 250 thou for a 25 grand commuter car. nuts. They wonder why sales are off, whereas a billion music purchasers know exactly why sales are off, they just don't feel like getting price gouged anymore.

    I suggest the "music industry" lay off all the coke and booze for a year or two then come back and rethink their stance on pricing, for digital bits down the tubes or the same digital bits on two cents worth of plastic. Their "per unit" pricing is from decades ago, it doesn't come close to anything rational anymore. When it was very expensive to make a copy for sale, sure, it was understandable, but now, today?? Who are they kidding besides themselves?

        Tech advances and much cheaper bandwith should have allowed them to both drop prices dramatically, plus increase sales dramatically, instead, they have clung to those old price models like a wino to a jug of t-bird with ten drops left swirling around the bottom. It's pathetic really. I bought music pretty steady from the late 50s until the 90s, that's forty years of being a customer..then...just finally one day got annoyed with the price gouging, quit then, my one guy boycott. I don't pirate, but I won't pay those ludicrous prices either for some digital download copy (a buck for a few megs, who do they thing they are, telco ringtone sellers??), and certainly not a lot of folding dollars for a dime's worth of plastic with some cardboard "liner" nonsense.

    OK, maybe the car analogy sucks, how about computers? A decade ago, what did a decent desktop system go for, and what were the specs? Now, today, you can get something much faster, with equivalent increases in installed RAM and larger HDD and better video card etc, and for much less cash. You gets lots more, for less money, because of tech advances. And that's tangible hardware, manufactured stuff.

        A decade ago, an album cost how much? And what do they want for it today? Oh ya, the same. And to *download* it they want similar loot? HAHAHAHA

        Like I said, "nuts", you lost a good customer for being price gougers. In fact, looks like you lost millions and millions of customers, and the younger folks are starting to not even *be* customers in the first place, because they know even better that those "copies" just aren't worth what you ask.

  • by wonkavader (605434) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @10:24PM (#28922027)

    I'd like to know what titles people were buying as CDs in 1999. New stuff or old?

    Could it be that people were replacing their vinyl in 1999 and before, and that the whole peak in 1999 was really an effect of replacing one version of something with another? I'm not saying that the decline isn't real, I'm suggesting that the curve is much less than it seems and the peak is artificially high.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 02, 2009 @10:24PM (#28922029)

    A little bit of common sense is in order for this topic. A lot of people seem to be on the right track, though.

    The main consumers of new music tend to be people younger than 30. The average person in that age range, for the most part, grew up with the internet in their home. Napster alone is 10 years old, and how many million people were using that? MP3's were around and traded long before that, too. I myself am a youngin' compared to a lot here on /. and I remember trading .wav files for music swapping before mp3's were the norm.

    Let's face it. No one can reasonably believe that the record industry couldn't come up with something better for distribution in the 10 years since Napster. Consumers have become disillusioned and know they're being taken for a ride every time they buy a CD. I have a hard time justifying even walking into a record store, unless it's privately owned. If it's a chain, I laugh at the older people inside as I walk by.

    The radio is being programmed by computers based on how much radio advertising dollars can be generated. There is NO variety in the music whatsoever on terrestrial radio, and you'd know it too if you could catch a few songs back to back. But... when's the last time that's happened?
    I haven't been able to go 15 minutes on any given station without hearing 5 minutes of commercials. They even have commercials promoting the station you're already listening to. And, to top it off, some of those commercials advertise how few advertisements the station has as compared to the other station in your town that plays the same songs and to complete the cycle of absurdity, you can bet your ass both stations are owned by the same company... Clear Channel. The people who still listen to terrestrial radio do so only when there is no other option. It's the musical equivalent of public transportation.

    It's their own fault no one wants to buy a CD to listen to the same garbage they hear every 30 minutes on the radio, too. Who the hell wants to hear the same garbage on CD's, that they're forced to listen to already on the radio. Nothx.

    Americans lost the right to choose what they listen to years ago. The internet is giving it back to them. It seems only natural that this would happen to the recording industry. But hey... the recording industry made a SHITLOAD of money, right?
    What I can't figure out is how can they still feel sorry for themselves, and how can they expect consumers to feel sorry for them?

  • by Nightspirit (846159) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @10:30PM (#28922053)

    I bought the first Velvet Revolver CD, which installed a rootkit on the computer to prevent you from doing anything other than listening to some shitty WMA files. After that I swore I would never buy a CD again, and I haven't. You only screw me once. So until we have no DRM and a perpetual license (buy the music once, have the rights to any format) I'm done playing their game.

  • by Aurisor (932566) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @10:30PM (#28922055) Homepage

    I think a lot of the discussion around this issue ignores the fundamental fact that most of the activity in the music industry for the past twenty years has been due to the need for the music-consuming public to 'catch up' on the music that has been produced in the last 500 years or so. The industry went out of its way to force us to re-acquire this back catalog first on tape (replacing vinyl) and then cd (replacing tape). The bottom line is that the actual amount of salable new music produced each year is tiny compared to the amount of new material being produced.

    I view the late 90s as an enormous aberration in history. The back catalogs of western music were basically thrown open to the public and there was just this frenzy of buying as well as looting (piracy). Now the cat is largely out of the bag, and the industry (in whatever form it survives) will have to get back to reality and balance its expenditures with whatever it actually is producing. Unfortunately for them, without some massive disruption in continuity of digital information, they will never have an opportunity to re-sell that many hundred years of human labor again.

    (The previous two paragraphs are based on conjecture, anecdotes, and my own reasoning. I think my conclusions are fairly pedestrian, but if anyone has any statistics or studies as to the revenue generated by back catalog, I'd be interested to see them.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CSMatt (1175471)

      (The previous two paragraphs are based on conjecture, anecdotes, and my own reasoning. I think my conclusions are fairly pedestrian, but if anyone has any statistics or studies as to the revenue generated by back catalog, I'd be interested to see them.)

      Likewise.

      When the CD was introduced, everyone who wanted the new format ended up having to upgrade their collections or continue to use their current LPs and casettes until they wore out. The CD was not recordable (and would not become recordable for another 8 years), so dubbing one's existing collection to CD was out of the question. Still, the promise of the new format was enough to finally kill off vinyl, as no doubt customers were sick of worn out records and eaten cassettes, and loved the idea of a f

  • by hemp (36945) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @10:41PM (#28922097) Homepage Journal

    80 percent of all revenue came from about 52,000 songs. That's less than one percent of the songs.

    So much for the internets "fat tail".

    I am predicting that the book industry will soon find itself in the same boat as devices like the Kindle become more.

  • by FranTaylor (164577) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @10:48PM (#28922137)

    My wife can bang out old Beatles classics on her guitar all day, and it cheers me up a thousand times more than any of the crap on the radio or the Internet.

    Sometimes I suggest a song to her that she doesn't know. She takes this as a challenge, learns the song, and then serenades me with it.

    Life is good.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      ... it cheers me up...

      Yeah, right... You just get off on the lesbian frission when she sings "When I Saw Her Standing There".

  • chemlab.org (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DrugCheese (266151) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @11:03PM (#28922257)

    I listen to music the RIAA does not own, but they'll still shut them down because they think it's infringing on their bottom line.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 02, 2009 @11:09PM (#28922309)

    I read in a few of the comments posted here that many of the users here believe that this bodes ill for FM Radio. As someone that was just recently laid off from the interactive portion of a large radio broadcaster here in the states, I can tell you the only thing that will kill FM radio is FM radio.

    What I mean by that is that the broadcasters themselves, like the rest of the music industry, have largely been highly resistant to change. Be it the embracing of interactive advertising, or even recognizing that they now have a lot more competitors than just the other radio stations across the street (Hi Internet Radio!!).

    The way I see it, this is an amazing opportunity for music in-general to become much more highly diversified and with more emphasis on bands being local/regional sensations rather than the end-goal of national/international sensations (although that possibility will always be there). Anyway, local FM radio stations could very well be positioned to be the thought/taste leaders when it comes to which local/regional bands become "big." A hearkening back to the hay-day Program Directors and DJs had in the 80s where they pretty much ruled the roost in radio stations and had much more weight in determining which bands became popular. It would allow each radio station to become a sort of... mini-label in and of itself.

    However, FM radio has been moving away from local largely due to Clear Channel and its crowd-sourcing, cost-cutting efforts of sharing content across stations/regions. But perhaps with how the economy has been kicking CC's butt, this trend could change. But it will take time, and it will take some of the larger broadcasters taking a risk. Will it happen, I don't know. But the opportunity I think definitely exists.

  • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @11:19PM (#28922393)

    The graph is indeed pretty illustrative, but to suggest the CD is being killed off by streaming is misleading, because they don't graph the main competitor to the CD.

    That's right, the minidisc.

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @11:58PM (#28922727) Journal

    LISTEN to a top 1000 and wonder about the many 1 time hits. Some of them were of course produced but a lot of them just happened by chance. Someone heard it, played it for some friends and it spread. Music promotion is overrated for a lot of artists, because either they never get it in the first place OR their big hit happens from word of mouth while they pay the record label for all the publicity that didn't work. Oh, you thought the record labels payed for promotion? How silly of you.

    The record labels do a LOT less then a lot of people seem to think and still the best way to promote yourself is just to send your CD to every radio station and offer to perform live whenever you can to hope enough people hear your music to spread your music. And you do NOT need a billion dollar industry coming up with endless schemes to drive customers away to do that.

    In fact, an old dutch project "One day fly" showed that you do not need the music industry at all to create a hit. A radio presenter and some friends made a crappy song, promoted it heavily on radio (themselves) and voila, instant hit. You need people who can play your music to others to get noticed. The record labels do precious little more then buy you some airtime and that only for the big sure fire hits.

    Oh and for the small artists, all that promotion you end up paying yourself for, so that even when you score a big hit, most of the profits will be sucked up by the record label.

  • music 'industry' (Score:3, Insightful)

    by neonsignal (890658) on Monday August 03, 2009 @12:03AM (#28922751)

    That's like saying of the illuminated book 'industry' in 1499 that "the latest culprit accelerating the undoing of the reading business is free, legal printing presses".

    The measure of an industry is not the size of its profits (except in the minds of those mythical entities called corporations). It is the extent to which it affects people's lives. I could argue that the recording industry actually diminished the social culture of music, because it meant people could listen to music without interacting with the performer. On the other hand, it did allow more people to enjoy music by the most gifted performers. As does radio. As does the internet.

  • I have cash to burn (Score:4, Interesting)

    by aepervius (535155) on Monday August 03, 2009 @12:43AM (#28923023)
    I have cash to burn, but I am definitively too old. The stuff which they put out for sale, DO NOT interest me. What I like is stuff like electrical music vangelis/Jean michel Jarre , classic from funeral march for a marionette to tocatta in c minor, and a few rock/hard rock group and strange stuff (queen, megadeth, smashing pumpkins, and a few other less known ; commercial stuff like e-nomine, and a few other like in-extremo). For the first group, there isn't much which was put to sale recently and has got the quality of an oxygen, or heaven and hell. For the second group you can own so many version of them until nothing new comes out, for the third group, i search and search but rarely find stuff of interrest.

    So what bring us this long rambling on my taste ? I started buying a lot of CD end on 90. Then by 2002 it dwindled down. Because my classic collection was complete, and for electronic music I did not find anything new, except a few rare stuff coming from Japan (Idea/eufonius). Sure, I would wish to see much more new stuff, but my exposure (university) has dwindled only to friend and colleague. So now a day I try pirate stuff in hope of finding something to buy which please me , and I throw everything away after trying. The bottom line is that I buy no CD , not because of the crise, but because nothing cater to my taste.. Yeah my taste are eclectic.But hey nobody is perfect.
  • by s52d (1049172) on Monday August 03, 2009 @01:40AM (#28923357)

    If we assume average teenager has 100 Euros per month to spend ...

    20 years ago, they mainly spend it on music, beer and cigarettes.

    Today they spend it on mobile, internet, DVDs, computer games and some for music.
    There are so many options beside CDs.

    Music industry simply lost entertainment money share.

    Few years ago a pool was made in London: kids prefer to stop going out for beer in order to spend last pounds on their mobile phone.

  • Recoupable (Score:4, Informative)

    by Darth Cider (320236) on Monday August 03, 2009 @03:48AM (#28924061)
    There's a general misunderstanding I see here anytime record companies are discussed. Time after time, people say that the label pays for all sorts of things to help artists. The truth is that all of that stuff isn't given to the artists, it's an advance on future royalties.

    The artist has to repay the label for the cost of recording an album. The labels charge artists for promotion, too. It's a universal practice to include a "breakage" fee, which means the artist only receives royalties on 90% of sales. Concert touring expenses are also recoupable, paid for by the artist. Royalties are calculated on wholesale prices, not retail prices, so deals with record clubs can be based on deeply discounted wholesale prices and lower royalties

    The industry is geared to produce a few smash hit artists. Those who aren't given preferential treatment are generally stuck with big debt to the label. If the label decides not to release an artist's music, the artist can't release it on his own - and this happens quite a lot. The label can insist that the artist remain under contract for 7 years or more, while never releasing any recordings, so the artist is essentially silenced

    There is no hope of getting a song on a commercial radio station without the influence of "independent promoters," who have a lock on what stations will play and only promote songs after receiving huge payments. Radio airtime has nothing to do with the merits of the music. No song gets played on commercial radio without a payment to an independent promoter

    Most people who have very strong opinions against the music industry have little idea of exactly how bad the industry is. It's a rotten and corrupt industry.

    Read what Janis Ian has to say [janisian.com]. Read The Truth about the Music Industry." [bombhiphop.com]

Parkinson's Law: Work expands to fill the time alloted it.

Working...