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Music Media

RIAA Almost Down To Pre-Napster Revenues 799

Third time's the charm. Napster came out in 1999, and the Recording Industry Association of America had two great revenue statements for that year and the next. But now that CD sales finally are down year-to-year, at long last they get the chance to blame Napster for their woes. There's just one thing wrong...

...they don't have Napster to kick around anymore.

For yesterday's press release, the RIAA commissioned a survey by a research firm to prove that music-downloading is to blame, but all they tell us about it is that "23 percent of surveyed music consumers say they are not buying more music because they are downloading or copying their music for free." No more details provided, no link to the survey's raw numbers. So what does this mean? I guess 77 percent are buying more music because they're downloading it for free?

To put the new sales figures in perspective, a look at the big picture will be helpful. Free music-trading software had been in serious trouble since mid-2000. Despite indications that music-trading was helping sell CDs, the labels forced Napster to implement a name-blocking scheme. We ran a story in March 2001 pointing out that its traffic had fallen by 60%.

Then SF Gate ran a nice story last August, pointing out that declining RIAA sales seemed to mirror Napster downloads:

"At this point last year, with Napster in full swing, record sales were up 8 percent from the previous year. This year, sales of new albums -- not including established catalog titles -- are down 8 percent. That's quite a pendulum swing."

Sure, other file-trading software has taken Napster's place, but at this point it's fun just to watch the industry limp around after shooting itself in the foot.

Not that it's really hurting money-wise. All this week's numbers mean is that the RIAA's total revenue has declined almost to 1998 levels. In 1998 they made $13.71 billion; after peaking in the mid-$14-billions, last year they made $13.74 billion.

This probably is due party to the crummy economy, partly to their failure to find any new sound to co-opt and mainstream recently, and partly to lack of big artists releasing megahits like they did in 1999. You know music officially sucks when the labels have to pay someone $28million not to sing.

Oh, and partly due to the RIAA raising CD prices by $1.16, which is $0.25 over and above inflation (which has been higher than wage growth lately anyway). CDs are 94% of their revenue. Most industries, faced with declining sales, try lowering their prices. Not this one.

I've got two pieces of advice for the RIAA.

The first is to stop pissing off your own artists so much that they blow off the Grammys and throw their own party just to stick it to you. The musicians and singers are the ones making you rich. I know you think they're all interchangeable, but if you alienate them enough, when a new technology gives them an edge, they'll drop you like yesterday's sound.

The second is to reread Robert Heinlein's very first story Life-Line:

"There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary to public interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute or common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back."

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RIAA Almost Down To Pre-Napster Revenues

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  • Stupid... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SamMichaels ( 213605 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @09:48AM (#3077025)
    This is stupid...maybe the reduction in sales is due to paying $18 for a CD...because back when sales were up, it was $14.
    • Stupider (Score:4, Insightful)

      by tiltowait ( 306189 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @09:50AM (#3077030) Homepage Journal
      It costs less to make a CD than a casette tape. So why do CDs and DVDs cost more than tapes? Because it's what 'they' think the market will bear... wankers.
      • Re:Stupider (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Bloodwine ( 223097 )
        I don't mind DVD's being a bit more expensive than VHS tapes. Atleast not the DVD's that is packed full of extras. Not to mention it probably takes alot of effort on the studios part to get some of the older movies looking good on DVD.

        CD's on the other hand don't really offer much over cassettes other than superior sound quality and the ability to skip back and forth to songs. DVD's do this and more.

        I don't buy cassettes anymore, but I wonder if CD's made cassettes any more inexpensive? I know VHS tapes have gotten alot cheaper to buy now that everybody is pushing DVD's. Of course it's interesting that they do that since as you mentioned it's more expensive to make cassettes.
        • Re:Stupider (Score:5, Interesting)

          by jspaleta ( 136955 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @10:22AM (#3077219) Homepage
          Where did I read this.....was it /....or maybe cnet?

          Anyways...DVD's are at a turning point and there is a split in the ranks of the movie studies about how to handle DVD's inthe future. Extra bonus material is starting to cost way too much becuase actors and directors are starting to have pay for that bonus material getting written into contracts. So that extra 3 hours of behind th scense footage is now going to start costing studios real money to produce becuase the talent knows thats a revenue stream for the studies and they want a fair cut.

          Also the licensing deal with BlockBuster is coming up for renewal....and it looks like BlockBuster isnt going to renew. The deal let blockbuster get advanced distribution of movies for rental before they were available for commercial sale...and the studies got a percentage of the rental take. Now it seems both sides of that deal are backing off. The studies think getting titles out quicker for sale is a good idea...and blockbuster is looking at the lower cost of stocking DVD making up for any lost revenue garnished by having a rental only window before full release. Both the studies and BlockBuster think they can make more money by selling cheaper...

          More interesting still Warner Bros. is looking very hard at dropping the price of their DVD catalog through the floor...the idea being to get people to buy a DVD like they buy magazines in places like Walmart. Part of the reason is a lessoned learned trying to watching the record studies fight to keep control. If the price is low and reasonable...do people have less incentive still and more incentive to pony up the money....it seem like someone in the movie buz has woken up to the reality of file swapping...its always going to be there, the question is can you encourage people to buy instead of steal. If the DMCA is the stick....are $3 DVD's sitting in the checkout racks of your local Walmart the carrot?

          • Extra bonus material is starting to cost way too much becuase actors and directors are starting to have pay for that bonus material getting written into contracts.

            Columbia/Sony lately has been solving this problem by leaving out bonus DVD features, allowing mastering to greatly increase the bitrate for the primary video signal, making the DVD look as good as a 480-line picture can provide. See Columbia's Flash site [superbitdvd.com] for details.

          • Also the licensing deal with BlockBuster is coming up for renewal....and it looks like BlockBuster isnt going to renew. The deal let blockbuster get advanced distribution of movies for rental before they were available for commercial sale...and the studies got a percentage of the rental take.

            AIR, the licensing deal only covered tapes - and BB gave up a good chunk of revenue for teh early distribution rights. I think BB has discovered:

            a) They can make more money off of DVDs because they have to share less and used DVDs are worth more than used tape - which allows them to recoup more (if not all) of the purchase cost.

            b) There is very little competition to worry about, so first access to new movies doesn't provide enough return to warrant the profit sharing arrangement.

            c) As studios drop DVD prices, BB cost of goods gos down as well - and there are probably enough people who will pay $2 to rent a DVD rather than buy one for $5 - especially when they know BB will dump used ones for $3 after a few months. That really has to scare studios, because it mean sthey have a very small window to sell DVDs before the off-rental units start to cut into new sales. So the studios are caught in a double whammy - lower prices mean less revenue up front, and a shorter period where new DVDs have no competition from used ones.

          • Movies vrs Music (Score:4, Insightful)

            by MikeFM ( 12491 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @04:18PM (#3079724) Homepage Journal
            From my own buying habits I know I buy far more movies since the prices started dropping. Walmart has had VHS movies for $5-6 for some time and I've bought most of the ones they've made available. They now also have DVD's for $7-$10 which I've taken to buying instead of the VHS because I like DVD's better. I buy lots of movies because they are cheap and I buy almost no music because it's priced insanely. I actually buy the music videos on DVD for less than I could buy just the music on CD. How does that make sense?

            I'll still copy and even share the movies I buy but I buy far more. I have a bootleg copy of Harry Potter but I still plan on buying it on DVD when it's released. Because of the download size of LotR I decided to wait for the DVD rather than downloading it but I wouldn't have had I still had broadband. Not only does price matter but also release schedule. The studios need to understand that the DVD should be available as soon as the movie is in theatures. In many cases we'll still go to the theature.. for the experience.. despite the fact we own the movie already. Afterall many of us go watch good movies more than once at the theature anyway.

            One more thing music could learn from movies is that they need to release more than one version of a CD. A cheap version that is nothing but the CD for those who are satisfied with that and something more along the lines of a collectors edition later that might have extras such as a cool box (Rocky Horror Picture Show has an awesome DVD box), lyrics, information about the band, maybe a DVD of the music videos, etc. People will buy a product twice if the first time is a good deal and the second time offers stuff a 'true fan' will crave. Movie studios seem to understand this better than the music industry. The Phantom Menace Collectors Edition was also a nice release.. the inclusion of the film clip etc was very cool IMO and it probably cost them less than a nickle.

            If movies, music, and games would drop to $3/each I might buy 10+ a week (I buy 1-2 now) and would be much less likely to bother downloading them. They have to let me play them on whatever device I want though. If I can't play it in Linux and mess around with editing them etc then I'll go back to ripping and burning.
        • I know VHS tapes have gotten alot cheaper to buy now that everybody is pushing DVD's.

          DVDs are better for viewing, but they sure aren't better for recording... yet. I can pick up a 10 pack of VHS tapes at Sams Club for $4.99 and tape a few months of whatever on my $80 recorder. Can't do that yet with DVDs. We may not ever be able to do that once digital TV comes out...

      • True. Very true.

        And whats worse is the way they spin the whole situation. They manufacture CRAP "bands" like Brittany and N'SYNC, etc. They insist you are licensing the music, but won't replace damaged media. And they blame the whole "we're losing money because of illegal copies" on file sharing services instead of the purely digital format they release music on (CDDA). File copying and sharing whould still go on with the internet.
      • Yes it costs less to make a CD than a cassette, but that does not mean that the CD should be cheaper to the end user. Given a choice between a cassette and CD, if you have both a cassette player and a CD player, almost everyone will choose the CD. And since this is the case, there is more inherent value in a CD, so in a free market, the CD will cost more.

        But, why would you choose a CD over a cassette? A cassette tape will stretch each time it is played - and rewound. Although you might not initially notice it, after 20, 30 or perhaps 40 times you listen to it, the tape will slightly stretch, and its ability to accurately reproduce the fidelity of the original recording goes down. As for a CD, play it all you want - its quality does not change. Because of the properties of the two different media, the CD has more value. And as in all things in a free market, if it has more value, you will pay more for it.

        • Isn't that monopoly behavior? In the free market things that are cheaper to manufacture and more popular are supposed to go down in price. Granted the record companies don't have to play by the rules because they have a limited monopoly (only 70 years and counting so far), on the content.
      • why do cds cost as much as DVDs? why do DVDs cost the same but take many times more effort, money, and manpower into production?

        its easy. movie industry revenues are many, many times more than CDs. a typical CD is very lucky if 500,000 people listen to it, because that makes it a gold album. a gold album would earn the music industry mabye $500,000 x $12 . Thats 6 million. A super platinum album (with 3,000,000) in sales, might make 30 million for the record industry.

        a typical movie has already profited before it is released on DVD, and the revenues can be up to 2-10 times the amount of a good record album. (http://www.the-numbers.com/)

        Most importantly, the music industry spends a much larger percentage of profit on promotion and marketing... probably damn near 100% of profit... that means that they CANNOT lower prices, because if they do, they got to lay off all those marketing people, and if they do that, the other 4 big music companies will stomp all over them with marketing campaigns.

        its a catch-22 for the music industry as a whole.
    • Wouldn't this mean that sales are down even more than is represented by the survey, since they can sell fewer CD's to make the same amount of money. Ie., to make $40,000,000 at $14/CD they sold 2.857 million CDs; to make it at $18/CD they would only have to sell 2.222 million CDs. The numbers really do speak for themselves.
      Yeah the higher price probably do result in less sales, but revenue itself is down, which means sales have nose dived, is it because of a price increase, or the fact that the music, in general sucks, and people aren't buying CDs because they can't preview(?)them?
    • Yeah, I don't know about anyone else, but I never used napster (or any other music sharing program), and I haven't bought a new cd for months. Maybe it's because there aren't any cds I want to buy right now, or maybe because I just don't have the money to spend. Either way, I've been buying more movies than CDs which is really odd.
  • by blargityblorg ( 561807 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @09:50AM (#3077031) Homepage
    I have to admit that for the first time I began to believe the music industry had a point about piracy when I saw a grey haired woman pushing 60 in the coffee shop talking to her friend about all the music she'd downloaded on the weekend using Kaaza.
    • Re:Downloading Music (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @10:52AM (#3077422) Homepage
      • I have to admit that for the first time I began to believe the music industry had a point about piracy when I saw a grey haired woman pushing 60 in the coffee shop talking to her friend about all the music she'd downloaded on the weekend using Kaaza.

      Pop quiz (pun intended):

      How much had did that lady spend on music last year before discovering Kazaa?

      If your answer was "zero", explain how the RIAA can have "lost" any money from her non purchases this year.

      You know, when the Soviet Union was coming apart from within, and they finally admitted that it was farcical to try and control demand for products, we all nodded smugly and went "Uh huh, but of course". We laughed at the notion that you can decide how many and what color of cheap plastic toothbrushes to make five years in advance, on the basis that people will only demand the shoddy, expensive products that you produce.

      Strangely, we blithely ignored the fact that the same model was alive and well in the USA with music. A (de facto) single huge conglomerate decided how many albums we would buy, and the "artists", the content, and the price, all in advance. They expected that demand would match the predetermined supply.

      And then we learned the Soviet lesson. Street vendors started selling toothbrushes more cheaply than the state shops. Some of them were even better quality than (gasp) the cheap plastic state approved ones. It was illegal, but they were massively popular. And over here, we started to see guys on the corner giving music away. It was illegal, sure, but it was undeniably popular. We, the People wanted it.

      Strangely, the Russians (nee Soviets) adapted. They deregulated. They said to the toothbrush sellers "Go ahead, supply the demand. Come in out of the cold, run the shops, pay taxes. Everybody wins."

      We haven't got there yet. We're still at the stage of trying to stamp out street corner trading by making street corners illegal. It's farcical, and it will look increasingly so with hindsight. We need to take a look at the Russian model: if you criminalise demand, all you are doing is spending a lot of time, effort and money into turning a lot of people into criminals. Far better to bring it in out of the cold, ask We, the People what we actually want, and come to a fair compromise.

      Please don't respond with the childish "We want free music, so there can't be any compromise.". Russians want free toothbrushes, but they're happy to settle for paying for convenient access to a wider choice of better toothbrushes. Similarly, we want free music, but at the moment, our choice is free music, expensive CD's, or a tiny selection of expensive and crippled digital tracks. Give us the opportunity to buy only the tracks we want, in high quality, without idiotic content control, and without paying for the priveledge of having them marketed to us, and we might find out that we actually still like buying music after all.

      • by Starship Trooper ( 523907 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @11:30AM (#3077620) Homepage Journal
        I think the big problem with your theory is that you can't copy toothbrushes. Nor are "street corner merchants" like Kaaza making cheaper toothbrushes; they're copying other people's toothbrushes.

        If we created a P2P tool that had a real referral system and a way of promoting new music, that would be one thing. Instead, we have a system where you must know what you're looking for before you find it. We still learn what music we want to hear from the Radio and from MTV; we just use P2P technology to get it cheaper/for free.

        P2P should be replacing the advertising channels. Instead it's trying to replace the retail channels.

        And that really is illegal.
        • by jimfrost ( 58153 ) <jimf@frostbytes.com> on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @11:55AM (#3077758) Homepage
          We still learn what music we want to hear from the Radio and from MTV; we just use P2P technology to get it cheaper/for free.

          I dunno about you, but I gave up on MTV, it just sucks too much. I also don't listen to the radio too much, it's just more of the same crap that's on MTV. If you want to find a new artist who's any good, about the worst place to do it is MTV or the radio.

          Mostly I find new music from referral from friends. "Hey, check this out." That used to be done by going out to a bar and listening to a band, something I don't really have the time for these days. These days someone sends me an MP3 clip. And you know what? If I like it, I first try to see if I can buy it straight from the artist (many many small bands sell them off their own websites). If I can't do that, I try Amazon. Because you can bet your bottom dollar that the cool stuff isn't at Best Buy.

          Outside of those kinds of referrals, I've subscribed to an actual (gasp) pay-for-stream service, RealOne. Their commercial-free genre-based streaming system is worth $10/month; terrific for background noise.

          But having used RealOne for a few months now, I can see places where their model is seriously incomplete. For one, if I like a clip it's a pain to go listen to it again or to go listen to the whole album. There's no way I can forward a reference to the clip to someone so they can hear it too. There's a link to Amazon to buy the album, but no way to buy it and get it on MP3 immediately and the album delivered later.

          These companies really need to use a mixed model to build a strong business. You need streaming content for "browsing". You need referral services for audience building. You need purchasing features for retail. And, this being the internet, you need immediate gratification so that when you buy the album, you have it /now/. And if they're going to charge CD prices for MP3 content, they're going to have to send the CD too.

        • Re:Downloading Music (Score:3, Interesting)

          by dattaway ( 3088 )
          Sure it will work. Its all about marketing. The RIAA isn't marketing. They are demanding through the use of force. They are trying to sell by beating people with a stick, rather than appealing to their good senses.

          There are many profit motivated people who are trying to appeal to the masses with free music. The RIAA does not want any of that and wants us to believe that free music/software/beer will never work and will be the end of entertainment. Uh huh.
    • Re:Downloading Music (Score:4, Informative)

      by thumbtack ( 445103 ) <thumbtack@nOSpAm.juno.com> on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @10:59AM (#3077463)
      While you got a funny moderation, actually it's the truth...Ask your parents or even your grandparents what music they like or was their favorite when they were your age. Then do a search on your favorite filesharing program. Keep it to one of the simple to operate clients such as Morpheus. You will find the music they told you about. Now, I hardly think that the "average" filesharer whos ripping Korn, Dave Matthews, U2, or Britney for that matter, is ripping Tony Bennett, Engelbert Humperdink or Wayne Newton, Tommy Dorsey, or Bing Crosby to MP3 or any other format.

      46% off all filesharers are over 35, and 18% are over 45.

      What is interesting is the market data that can be gleaned from those two seemingly innocuous numbers. These are people with an income and that have disposable income to spend. The conclusion has to be reached that the market is not meeting the needs of the consumer, and they find a way to meet those wants and desires.
      • Re:Downloading Music (Score:4, Interesting)

        by weave ( 48069 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @01:18PM (#3078345) Journal
        I do think you've hit this one. I'm 42. When I was a teen, I had squat for cash and would have to resort to copying cassettes, LPs, and ah er, 8-tracks from friends onto blanks. No real income lost, I didn't have the money to spend. When I got older, that scene was old. Far easier just to buy the tapes or CDs I wanted. Then as I got older, my opportunities to listen to and get aquainted to new music went down the toilet. I stopped buying CDs period. I'd go into a record store and besides some old fossils like Rolling Stones that are still around, I had no idea what was for sale.

        Then when file sharing popped up, I had friends ICQ'ing me tunes "hey listen to this", I'd listen, like it, then go buy the CDs. I *do* rip them to my house's file server and copy them to work to listen there. Point being, exposure through alternate channels has caused me to start buying CDs again.

        Some stuff I've purchased recently (remember, I'm 42) includes, Rage, Limp Bizkit, Dream Theater, Dishwalla, Satriani, and a bunch of others I would have never been exposed to any other way...

        Remember, I'm an old fart. We don't listen to music on the radio when in the car, we listen to lame right-wing talk show hosts or motivational tapes trying to convince ourselves that we still have "it." So how do we get exposed to new music?

  • The economy blows (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bob Abooey ( 224634 ) <bababooey@techie.com> on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @09:52AM (#3077046) Homepage Journal
    Plain and simple. People cut out the little extras when things go bad and CD's fall into that category. Plus most new music just friggin blows anyways. Really.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @09:52AM (#3077049)
    exec1: Everybody is p2p-ing our stuff.
    exec2: Lets fight them by raising prices.
    exec1: Yes, that will surely work.
    • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @11:03AM (#3077484) Homepage

      That's unfairly trivialising what was surely a highly complex debate:

      exec2: It will only work if we cripple CD's so that the average consumer will not be able to copy their legally licensed tracks to portable digital formats.
      exec1: But won't that just encourage them to illegally download tracks that they legally own?
      exec2: Thereby...
      exec1: ...thereby... inflating the apparent amount of piracy out there and making it easier for us to cook up "research" that justifies us demanding that our honest and uncorrupt policians pass laws mandating content control in every piece of digital hardware and software in the civilised world! My god! How do you come up with these brilliant idea.
      exec2: Lots of high quality crack, and plenty of blowjobs from fifteen year old wannabe starlets.
      exec1: Aah, I wondered what the sucking sound was.
      exec2: Oh no, that's just my pet Senator, suckling on the nourishing Milk of Evil dribbling like acidic bile from my wizened teat. Yes honey, you keep drinking it down, there's plenty more where that came from, if you'll just sponsor this SSSCA bill for momma.

      I swear, that's how it went.

  • Napster = CD sales (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bravo_Two_Zero ( 516479 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @09:54AM (#3077054)
    It's a hard truth for the recording industry to accept, but as a friend of mine said, "when you're into Napster, you're into music." I have to say I bought a few dozen CDs during the Napster era. I've purchased one since the downfall (and that was a gift). Here's hoping the artists get more joy out of the RIAA than ordinary users like us.
    • by dnoyeb ( 547705 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @10:45AM (#3077376) Homepage Journal
      If napster lives, "the people" will choose the stars, not the recording industry. The RIAA knows and is not comfortable about this.

      Now artists will be able to command MORE money.

      Today, I watch RAP on TV and hear it on the radio and realize they are forcing complete garbage on me. 95% of RAP is total trash. Yet they still sell this trash because they force it down your throat.

      This is what the RIAA wants.
      1. they go find a no name artist.
      2. Sign him/her to an abusive contract that he/she will agree to out of desperation or necessity.
      3. He/she drops a hit record and the RIAA takes all the profits (see 2).
      4. By the time he gets name recognition and can sign a quality contract, the RIAA wants him to be washed up so they can push their NEW no name artists.

      So its not about CD sales at all. Its about power. Its just like any other industry. If you can flood the market with artists, their salaries will drop. But napster will allow us to filter to the songs and artists we like, and IGNORE the trash we dont, sending salaries for those artists who remain right back up.
  • by InterruptDescriptorT ( 531083 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @09:56AM (#3077064) Homepage
    Go watch MTV or MTV2 for a while.

    Tell me you instantly want to go out and buy the albums groups are hawking. The music is either pablum for the teen masses, a la Britney Spears, pseudo-intellectual neo-sensitive grunge like Creed, or mindless, repetitive breakbeats with woman singing, 'ooh, ooh baby' underneath it.

    Not inspiring, is it? There's good music being made, but it's not being marketed. Maybe the RIAA hasn't got it through their inscrutable little heads that people don't want the same shit they've been given for decades! People want intelligent, thought-provoking, emotionally engaging music. Meanwhile, this crap is pushed on it, and frankly, I think the CD consumer is starting to wise up and decide it's just not worth the $15 to buy the CD.

    Good job, RIAA. Keep it comin'. Meanwhile, I'll find my niche music in the corners of the Internet where you'll never find it hiding.
    • by G-funk ( 22712 ) <josh@gfunk007.com> on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @10:33AM (#3077299) Homepage Journal
      People want intelligent, thought-provoking, emotionally engaging music.

      No. YOU want "intelligent, thought-provoking, emotionally engaging music". People, as a whole, want Britney Spears. Or to be more correct, they want the cd of the music they keep hearing on the radio / video hits. The big boys know this, and they love it. Whatever they feed us, we as a group eat up. Until this changes, the RIAA/MPAA will just tighten their grip on the public and their devices.
      • Lets face it the music industry is going through the suckiest period in years. Boy band soda pop crap, teen girls dressed like transvestite hookers selling pepsi is not music. It really isn't! there is no melody anymore just vocal gymnastics over samples. The 11 year olds are even catching on that it sucks.

        The baby boomers built the music industry and if they actually started marketing to the baby boomers again they would see a renewed financial gain. But NO! They have a formula that works and no one is going to wrest control of music from these sleaze ball cheese ball pedaphile producers. Listening to World Cafe on NPR shows what quality of music is out there.

        One of the hottest selling albums of the year: The soundtrack from "O Brother Where Art Thou" sold millions with no radio airplay or promotion. It slaps the face of the music industry because it was made by outsiders. This is exactly wht the industry DOSE'NT want. Music that is cheap to make using songs that are public domain and traditional. That would encourage more people to possibly pick up instruments and start entertaining themselves. And that would be really bad for Pepsi, Coke, Britteny and that fat slob guy in Florida who created n.sync. So if the RIAA moans about lack of sales and tries to blame it on piracy they are just clueless. They won't admit they screwed up in selling SODA to pre-teens rather than making music.

        I tell my 11 year old daughter that some acts really suck in that they:
        1. Don't play an instrument
        2. Lip synch live perfromances
        3. Use sex appeal more than talent
        4. Can't write there own material.
        5. Auditioned for the part
        6. Will never be see them in a small club

        So if the RIAA whines about declining sales maybe they should get out the "music whore suckometer" and take a reading. They'll see its way in the red.
    • by graybeard ( 114823 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @10:57AM (#3077451)
      There is music on MTV?

      When did that start?
  • by EpsCylonB ( 307640 ) <eps@epscylo n b . c om> on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @09:57AM (#3077072) Homepage
    But are people file trading less ?

    progs like morpheus and audiogalaxy are just as easy to use as napster, they may not have quite the reputation that napster had but I reckon most people who were file trading three yaers ago are probably still doing it today.

    I know a lot of people are getting pissed off with napster now they have introduced their subscription service but they were originally the best. Morpheus is fine for anything popular (spears/nsync/etc.) but bad for the rare and obscure. When napster was at its peak you could find those kinds of songs.
  • CEO Pay increase (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Midnight Thunder ( 17205 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @09:57AM (#3077073) Homepage Journal
    If MPAA member companies are making less money it is probably because the CEOs are making more than ever - not verified, but they always seem to be making more money than the little guy that they fire when things get tough.

    One thing that is interesting to notes is that food recipes are available all the time, but people still go to restaurants. Or, are we going to get restaurants blaming Napster next time people don't eat at them?
    • So if I can buy the sheet music I should just play the songs myself and then I wouldn't have to buy the cd? The only way that analogy works is if I could download and steak and a baked potato from some p2p network.
  • Duh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sporty ( 27564 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @09:57AM (#3077074) Homepage
    I was unemployed for 3 months. What was the biggest luxary I had spent money on? Seeing lord of the rings. Yes. That was my biggest luxary spending. Well, that and food.

    With ~5.6% people unemployed, and cut backs of course... WHERE DO YOU THINK WE WILL GET THE MONEY TO BUY $18 CD'S!!

    Thank God I'm into older stuff now. At least those are a little cheaper...
  • Meanwhile (Score:5, Informative)

    by Vanders ( 110092 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @09:58AM (#3077078) Homepage
    In the UK, CD sales are up Again. Are they going to tell us people don't use P2P systems in the UK now?
  • by thumbtack ( 445103 ) <thumbtack@nOSpAm.juno.com> on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @09:58AM (#3077082)
    So far this year: Rick Boucher asks the RIAA and IFPI to explain how their copy protection schemes work and raises the question if the copy protection is illegal under Audio Home Recording Act of 1996.
    On January 9th, the RIAA lays off 16 employees, including Karen Allen, their "Internet Evangelist"
    The Recording Artists Coalition announced fund raising concerts to take place the night before the Grammy's to raise money to fight the recording industry for fair contracts and accounting oversight. The concerts sell out.
    The Department of Justice investigation into antitrust issues continues.
    The EFF steps up to defend Morpheus as having substantial non-infringing uses.
    The Supreme Court decides to hear the case of Eldred vs. Ashcroft (started out as Eldred vs. Reno) to determine if the retroactive Copyright Term Extension Act is constitutional.
    The Second District Court of Appeals reinstates the Chambers vs. Warner Brothers Case saying the judge considered evidence he shouldn't have. (this is the watershed case for older artists)
    Webcasting rates are set, most likely sending almost every webcaster offline, including non profit and college stations. Rates are retroactive to 1998. The webcasters have 30 days to pay after the rates are adopted.
    Suncomm (Media Cloque) and Charley Pride's record label settle the consumer case brought by consumers over "protected CDs", agreeing to clearly label the CD as incompatible with DVD player, Computer CD Players and portable CD players.
    Napster Judge Marilyn Hall Patel hands the RIAA a stunning defeat in a surprising turn around, by allowing Napster to do discovery on the copyrights the RIAA says they own, appoints a "Special Master" and gives the RIAA three weeks to prove they own the copyrights and that they are in fact "work for hire". (which the Recording Artists Coalition says they aren't) She also allows discovery on possible misuse of those copyrights to stifle competition to MusicNet and PressPlay.
    Filesharing is at an all time high.
    The RIAA releases figures showing that CD shipments are down 10.3%, but sales are only down 2.3 % in dollars.
    Five songwriters file suit in LA District Court over record club sales and lack of accounting oversight.
    California Senator Kevin Murray plans to introduce a bill this year to penalize record labels that purposely underpay royalties, this is in addition to the bill on the 7 year contract limitation. THE EFF and 4 law school clinics launch chillingeffects.org to educate internet users to their rights online.
    RIAA forms the California Music Coalition to fight against artists rights. Organizing support from people who are subject to the 7 year contract limitation in CA., the same rights the artists want.
    • "Webcasting rates are set, most likely sending almost every webcaster offline, including non profit and college stations. Rates are retroactive to 1998. The webcasters have 30 days to pay after the rates are adopted."

      When the hell was this done, and by whom? Last I checked, you could get the Quicktime streaming server for free, and then it was just a question of bandwidth...

  • by diabolus_in_america ( 159981 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @09:59AM (#3077086) Journal
    The RIAA continues to harp on declining profits and the disasterous effects of Napster and other P2P sites because their agenda, I think, from day one has been to get some sort of legislation that gives them the power of a Federal agency, while maintaining their for-profit status.
    It may sound strange or conspiracy minded, but look at the way most of their press releases are written. Their releases make liberal use of the words, such as "piracy" and "illegal."
    The RIAA is not just looking for the courts to shut down any site that they deem a danger to their continued profitability. They are looking for the government to give them to the power to do something about it themselves.
    • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @12:18PM (#3077895) Homepage
      • The RIAA continues to harp on declining profits and the disasterous effects of Napster and other P2P sites because their agenda, I think, from day one has been to get some sort of legislation that gives them the power of a Federal agency, while maintaining their for-profit status [...] Their releases make liberal use of the words, such as "piracy" and "illegal."

      You forgot to mention that they are protecting the National Economy (ergo, the Free Market, ergo the Free World), and (in the case of the MPAA) they're beseiged by filthy foreign pirates flooding the country with stolen DVD's and such.

      I agree with you absolutely, and have done since about 1995, when them DMCA was just a glint in a crack addled lobbyist's eye. Back then, this was crazy talk. When the DMCA passed, we gasped and laughed and thought it would never stand, and largely missed the point that the DMCA was never the final goal, just a means to generate very public failed attempts to stop the Evil Pirates. We couldn't imagine anything worse than the DMCA, so we (largely) assumed that this was as bad as it could get, and that we could beat the DMCA by fighting it.

      Then the SSSCA arrived, put a toe in the water, and slunk off to wait for the propaganda to soften us up. I think that was the catalyst that prompted a lot of people to realise the long term plan.

      Hear this clearly: the music industry lobbyists aren't stupid. Greedy, ruthless, soulless. But not stupid. They know they can't control the market given current technology. They know they can't stop street corner swapping by making street corners (P2P services) illegal. The goal from day 1 has been to demonstrate that they can't control it, because of that pesky old assumption of innocence thing.

      So, here comes the SSSCA. While we debate whether the DMCA was too far, the lobbyists whisper in their bought politicians' ears that the debate is really how much further should we go?. If we let people have hardware that allows them to copy data, of course they're going to copy it. I mean, politicians are corrupt and greedy, record industry lobbyists are corrupt and greedy, so everybody must be corrupt and greedy. Offer a roofied starlet to a Senator, and the question isn't "Should I fuck her up the ass?", it's "Can I fuck her up the ass without getting caught?". Why should Joe Public be different?

      I personally think that the RIAA must be really pissed off with P2P figures right now. I mean, they never intended to win the case against Napster. The whole idea was to show that it was unwinnable, that they needed extra powers. Their lawyers got out of hand, and forgot the goal. And now we see that P2P figures match CD sales. They can't spin it otherwise. They want to show P2P taking off while sales plummet, but we just stupidly keep on buying the CD's when there's anything decent to buy, and only sharing music when it's worth sharing. Damn our honesty!

      Oh, what's the use? We've been over this so many times. Our politicians are so endemically corrupt that we've stopped even caring. The SSSCA will be bought and forced on us before Joe Sixpack knows what's happening. A small core of us will say "Told you so," but that'll be cold comfort.

      Hey ho. Buy the biggest drives you can, while you can. Stock up on blank CD's and DVD's. Enjoy our brief Golden Age of being given the choice of "easy and cheap but criminal" or "restrictive and expensive but legal" music purchases, before it becomes a choice between expensive crippleware or nothing. Hey fucking ho.

  • by e-gold ( 36755 ) <jray@martPERIODincam.com minus punct> on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @09:59AM (#3077087) Homepage Journal
    Go *around* the RIAA quintopoly. Scott McCloud's cartoons "I Can't Stop Thinking" five [scottmccloud.com] and six [scottmccloud.com] have some ideas (which for some reason REALLY anger [penny-arcade.com] some folks). I have worked for tips before, it's not always the best living, but it pays the rent and tips of a reasonable size are a lot more palatable than overpriced CDs to consumers, and a lot better than nothing for musicians.

    Anyway, lots of technology exists that could easily stop the bottleneck that limits feedback between consumers & the music business. I know, because I sell (some of) it for a living...

  • maybe download coresponds positivly to album sales?

    maybe more people are using gnutella/morpheous (the hard core thieves are anyway probably not the most average consumer. everyone i knew who downloaded music during the napster days is still downloading via other methods. hell, lots of people d/l'd tons of music pre-napster on usenet.

    maybe having a $13.74B revenue stream gives the RIAA a little money to pay teams of lawyers to do some creative shit to get them publicity and keep the business alive

    or maybe, mariah carey isn't really worth $28M. an over 30 wacked out singer like her should be at most a club singer.
  • Classical Music (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wiredog ( 43288 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @10:00AM (#3077091) Journal
    In the past year I've "discovered" Mozart, Listz (sp?) Beethoven, Copland, and other composers of orchestral music, and I'm listening to some opera. There's hundreds of years of differing styles and composers. I listen to DC101 or WHFS for about 1 week every three months to see if anything new or interesting is on (usually not) and then go back to WETA.

    Thank God for NPR.

    • You're obviously in the DC area. I highly recommend WGMS 103.5. Best commercial classical station in the country (one of the only that is not a public station!)

  • by Shoten ( 260439 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @10:00AM (#3077092)
    I don't know about the rest of the world, but I know that I'm not buying much music these days because I'm so busy duplicating DVDs left and right. Well, that and exporting strong encryption :)
  • Business Plan (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ronc_LAemigre ( 465190 ) <ron@colvin-deweese.com> on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @10:02AM (#3077105) Homepage
    Let's see you keep raising prices even though costs of production are declining (particularly the switch from LPs to CDs years ago) even when everyone knows what the real cost of raw materails is. You cheat all of the artists on royalty payments. You try to stop or price out of existence every streaming radio station. YOu insist upon a tax on all blank recordable media in Europe, and try the same in the US. Shutdown Napster and half-heartedly have some of your members set up bad "replacements". Effectively kill the singles market, insisting that everyone buy full albums from one-hit wonders.
    And, then you are shocked and apalled that everyone is sharing Digital copies?
  • by sdo1 ( 213835 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @10:02AM (#3077109) Journal
    Congress passed the 1996 Telecommunications Act which, among other things, deregulated the airwaves. That put control of a majority of the big-market radio stations in the hands of a small number of companies. DJs are no longer DJs, they're "radio personalities". Playlists come from corporate and they're narrower than ever. As a result, the music that gets played is homogenous in the extreme. Oh, by the way, one company in that mix controls the majority of concert promotions too (Clear Channel Communications).

    So why are CD sales off? Maybe because music that's on the radio is so weak and generic. Because the bands that get promoted are done so from on high in a corporate boardroom. The record companies have always managed things from above, but before the great airwave merger-fest started in 1996, they still had to work with local DJs and concert promoters and that invariably meant more variety. Now they all work in a harmonious corporate union and the result is music that more or less sucks.

    They want a scapegoat? They need to look at this slick machine they've created.

    • by SamMichaels ( 213605 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @10:12AM (#3077171)
      Oh, by the way, one company in that mix controls the majority of concert promotions too (Clear Channel Communications).

      One thing to add is that since Cheap Channel bought SFX Entertainment, they've been choking out "competitor" stations for concerts (I work for a Cumulus Media station).

      Isn't it in the best interest of the artist to get as much exposure as possible? Too much corporate scandal and politics...we exist FOR the artist..not BECAUSE of the artist.
    • Oh, by the way, one company in that mix controls the majority of concert promotions too (Clear Channel Communications).

      Clear Channel controls a lot more than just concert promotions. Check out a list of all the Radio Stations, TV Stations, and other things they own here: http://www.cjr.org/owners/clearchannel.asp [cjr.org].

      It's really quite scary. No wonder smaller artists cant get played on the majority of radio stations...
  • second hand CDs. I get most of my music from a local branch of CD Warehouse [cdwarehouse.com] (A cutting edge site - their Y2K testing report is on the front page!) for between $8 - $10. My local and other stores like it are always busy, and not a penny goes to the RIAA! It's a damned outrage!
    • They tried this a while back, I can't remember the exact artist, but an artist and his RIAA bed-buddies tried to prevent people from selling music second hand.

      The courts pretty much affirmed once and for all that sellers of most stuff including music only have the "right of first sale". I only hope that the ruling gets extended to cover software.
  • I download loads of music but only songs that I already have on vinyl records.
    (or also GPL'ed music [gnuart.net])
    I spent a lot of money on these records years ago so I don't accept being called a pirate.
    Am I wrong ?
  • by wazzzup ( 172351 ) <astromac@fastm[ ].fm ['ail' in gap]> on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @10:05AM (#3077126)
    Back when I was in college in my 20's I bought a lot of CD's. Now I'm in my 30's and I don't buy near as many CD'sas I did when I was in my 20's. There was, however, a brief increase in my CD buying when Napster was around. I hate all of our local radio stations so I'd look at the playlists of websites that played music I did like. I couldn't hear the music though. With Napster, I had the ability to preview the songs which usually then meant going on to Amazon.com and buying the CD's. Now, for one reason or another, Napster is gone and I just don't buy CD's anymore. I know I could use Limewire or some other sharing program but I don't. I can say for a fact that Napster caused me to buy more CD's. My friends have similar testimonies.
  • why does the same cd cost 13$ in the us of a, 18$ in belgium, and (not kidding) 30$ in the uk? ...
  • vinyl! (Score:3, Informative)

    by pinghels ( 100038 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @10:12AM (#3077173)
    The reason why I am not buying any more cd's -- heck, fewer and fewer! -- is that I have a very nice record player. (Used) vinyl is far cheaper and sounds even better, so why bother?
  • by psxndc ( 105904 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @10:15AM (#3077189) Journal
    Similar to the one I posted about the "only 2 out of 10 movies are profitable" comment Valenti made about movies:

    Make less crap. [slashdot.org]

    I'm not going to buy an $18 dollar CD dammit. I'll buy two $12 dollar ones though. Make less crap, drop the cost of the CD, and I'll buy more. As a finger to the man, I'll just use etree [etree.org] for now (though the RIAA get kickbacks for CD-R sales so I lose either way). I've bought all the CD's of the artists I want to buy for now. Nothing appealing has come out lately.


    • This is especially true since there is no return policy on opened music in most stores, such as Best Buy. You're absolutely right, I can see myself bying a ton more music if it was $8 per cd or even less and I could return if I didn't like it within let's say 10 days and exchange for another cd.

      Now I'm sure some people would choose to use this for piracy, but I know lower prices would be a great incentive to try new stuff, and be less likely to regret and return something not quite good if I didn't spend as much money on it.

      It's hard to justify spending $15 when you really only know one song, and there is no listening station for that artist. So you go, ok, I'll go home and download this album, and see if I like it. But then if you do, you already have it downloaded so there is less incentive to go _back_ to the store and buy it. Lower prices would greatly increase impulse purchases of music.
    • &gt I'm not going to buy an $18 dollar CD dammit. I'll buy two $12 dollar ones though.

      Maybe they would sell more if record companies sold those "various artists" CDs a little sooner in the marketing cycle.

      Think of it this way: How do bands get popular?

      Opening for other bands

      playing local shows

      Press releases

      Radio Play


      Limp Bizkit (arguably) became popular by opening for Korn Shows. They had direct exposure to the market they were targeting.

      Now, Try applying the same philosophy to CDs. Maybe have a subscription service where every week I get mailed the latest Aerosmith / Beastie Boys hits and mix in a few new bands I've never heard of. (Same philosophy as: Customers who liked AC/DC also liked &lt Band Name&gt )
      Give your customers more choices or their wallets will make their own.

  • by mystery_bowler ( 472698 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @10:16AM (#3077193) Homepage
    The mass market of consumers owns a CD player and likely has one in their car. The mass market consumers do not own MP3 players that they use over their home stereo or in their car or even as a portable device for that matter. So despite the large number of "casual" Internet users that became proficient at downloading a few MP3s via a file sharing service (re: Napster), most people still bought CDs.

    I think what the RIAA is missing here is that the people who really download lots and lots of MP3s are never going to spend the money to buy this music in the first place. Case and point: I really wanted Tenacious D's album so I bought the CD. A good friend of mine kinda likes Tenacious D, but not enough to buy the album, so he downloaded the MP3s he likes. Since he never would have bought the CD in the first place, you can't really count him as lost revenue. He would have never bought the CD.

    It would be interesting to me to find out how many people who used Napster (and still use Morpheus, et al) that never intended to buy the CDs in the first place. Removing them from the equation would provide a more accurate look at what the RIAA lost/gained.
  • CD Prices (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Captain Large Face ( 559804 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @10:16AM (#3077194) Homepage

    In the UK, it is not uncommon to find some newer CDs retailing in record shops for up to 17GBP (24USD).

    Since the average wage in the UK is approximately 18000GBP (25500USD) per annum, the average worker has to work two hours to be able to afford an album.

    At this rate, not many people can afford to buy a CD unless they know they're going to like it. P2P services allow people to listen to music before they buy it, to ensure that what they're buying is to their taste.

    Perhaps if CDs didn't cost so much, people would make more impulse purchases of popular music, rather than relying on Napster and it's relatives.

  • Just Maybe..... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by 101010 ( 84878 )
    Yeah it's a slow economy, CD prices are too high, but who else is tired of listening to cookie cutter "bands" of every shape and size. We've got boy groups, girl groups, angry rap groups, angry teenagers, angry old guys, "serious artists", and the plague of all plagues, Yoko Ono, but mostly we've got spoiled celebrities with more money than talent producing CD's that maybe, just maybe might have 1 decent song on it. All this so they can get together at least once a month at an "awards show" and tell eash other how wonderful they are and remind the rest of us poor saps how stupid, pitiful, and wrong we are because I don't want to give up more of my paycheck to the government to support some "program" they think is the scourge of the planet. This concludes our rant for today.
  • The RIAA has to do something even if it is the wrong thing because if the courts ever accept the claim that people freely violated the copyright on a recording and that RIAA or the artist knew about it and did nothing, the recording goes into the public domain with no copyrights.

    If that happens even once, the RIAA will get dropped like a fresh turd by everyone in the industry. (It's really an old crusty turd)

  • CD buying frenzy! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ender Ryan ( 79406 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @10:25AM (#3077244) Journal
    When music was easy to find online, I could hear about a new album, find and download it in under 15 minutes.

    If I liked it, I would usually go and buy it just to have a nice hard copy of it, even better if it has lyrics and band pics etc. Everyone I know with the money to spare would do the same.

    Now that I can never find music anymore, I simply don't buy CDs anymore. I haven't bought a CD in months, and the last one I bought was a Christmas present for my fiancee.

    Someone please tell me, just how the fuck am I supposed to find music when I have no interest int he type of music that gets radio play? Even if I was interested in that type of music, most stations play the same 20 songs 10 times every day, for months and months at a time.

    Abso-fucking-lutely ri-fucking-diculous!

  • I for one don't use the music sharing software like I used to. I have an MP3 player in my truck, and routinely make trips that are 11 hours each way. MP3s are a Godsend for that. But when I am at home or at work, I listen to streaming music from Live 365 [live365.com] which is so much better then my MP3 collection. Don't get me wrong, I have nearly 20 gigs of MP3s (owning about 70% of the respective albums with most of the rest being songs you just can't buy), but the streaming music has a broader selection, *I* get to pick what I want to listen to, and I don't have to lug around my MP3 collection.

    Good luck getting me to buy a CD. I would rather pay for a streaming service that has that variety anyday.

  • As much as people may want to believe this, there's a pretty obvious flaw with the argument that file swapping = CD sales - namely, that even though Napster is shut down, new file swapping services are bigger than Napster ever was [wired.com].
  • by Tom7 ( 102298 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @10:29AM (#3077264) Homepage Journal

    Seriously, who cares if the RIAA is making more or less money as a result of Napster? I would actually prefer that they make less money...

    Either way, they are going to be raising CD prices and chasing down the file sharing services. They are scared, and they want to remain in control.

    For context, I have over 300 CDs... most are from independent labels. (I've recorded a *ton* of music myself; over 15 albums and a thousand songs...)

    I like to think that I am listening to music made by people who do it because they love music, not because they want to make money. In fact, I typically think that artists shouldn't be selling CDs at all. It seems to me that if they want people to hear their music, they should make it as widely available as possible! To me, that means putting it on the internet, or at least giving a license for others to do so for you. (An exception is these low-run CDs that people sell at their shows, which typically cost only about $5 to $10; this is often more convenient for the purchaser than trying to find obscure songs on the internet.)

    Some people will say stuff like, "artists deserve to be paid!". I say, artists deserve to be paid for live performance, or for commissions, but nobody deserves to be paid for duplication (essentially free) of a recording that already exists. Furthermore, if music is primarily a *job* for an artist, then his work is more craft than art, and I say that's a good reason not to care about it as much. (Do you think of yourself as a consumer or a fan? Do you purchase products or appreciate their beauty?)

    So my solution is to buy music when it's most convenient (rarely), to download lots of free music by amateurs at mp3.com and other places, and to make my own free music. If every music lover did this, boy, would the world be a better place!

    Living in a RIAA-free world is good; it feels moral (even if it is not always legal), and it pisses the right people off.
  • Costs? (Score:5, Informative)

    by bjorky ( 78181 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @10:39AM (#3077341) Homepage Journal
    People are precisely right on CD costs. Whenever you look at a breakdown of the costs on a CD, companies throw in all these extra costs, like marketing/promotion, record company cut, and artists cut....

    Here's how the marketing budget is being wasted: 1) On an average of at least once a week, the music shop where I work receives an OVERNIGHTED package of promo materials for us to put up in our store... usually consisting of 1 poster, and usually of someone mostly obscure, or of someone who would not move in sufficient quantity for us to warrant putting up a poster 2) We received probably 3-7 promotional packages a day containing posters, promo flats, giveaway CD samplers, value-adds and other things that cost the store $0, but instead come out of the marketing budget 3) Additionally, we also receive promos of a lot of things that usually go into a nice box to never be heard, or sold to another store for their used stock. All of these materials contribute to your higher CD costs, but you don't even like these bands.

    Another question that's been on my mind for a while is: Well, once the CD has gone out of its initial print run, why don't prices drop because they don't need to promote it anymore, it's part of the back-catalog then? Well, not really... manufacturers are more keen on cutting-out and dropping from the catalog older releases by an artist rather than moving them to mid-price.

    And one more thing: There are great artists out there on nice independent labels that know how to manage their money and don't squander it on useless promotion nor to line the executive's pockets. Case in point: The White Stripes, on Detroit's Sympathy for the Record Industry label... Releases ~$13, excellent rock reminiscent of early Zeppelin... Hell, there are a whole litany of these artists featured in Coalition of Independent Music Stores stores... find your local store at www.cimsmusic.com
  • by Jon Shaft ( 208648 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @11:00AM (#3077465) Homepage Journal
    I guess I have a different perspective than most people on Slashdot. I work for a student residence hall helpdesk at a large University. Part of my job is to go on appointments to students rooms to work on their systems. There are people here who can barely turn their computer on and operate it, yet they're downloading like crazy on morpheous and kazaa. Just last week a sorority girl told me - " I love downloading music, I haven't bought any cds since I got the computer" ... you have to remember Slashdot is geared towards the geeky type. Many of us like buying the cds to support the artist and just to get the nice labeling and pamphlet inside it.

    Things are very different. My school had to implement and upload/download limit on internet1 traffic whlie they go over the options on how to control this problem. (Most likely they'll be using a packateer...) The problem has been caused due to music/movie etc transfers on morpheous and kazaa. Becasue of our schools privacy policy and unrestrictive content, the school doesn't want to censor or block any incoming material or outgoing. They don't monitor content. Into the first couple weeks of the semester, before the bandwitdh restrictions, the network was soo saturated to the point that i1 traffic was .39k/sec. Most of the dormitory lans here (Yes, in the process of being upgraded though) we're saturated with traffic just because of the sheer file transfers on the LAN itself... I used to think the p2p thing was a great tool in finding music, but like many other good things... a lot of people abuse and it makes it lose it's appeal...

    Hell, if Sorority Sarah can burn the new N'SYNC album on her Compaq, she's not going to buy it.

    • by droleary ( 47999 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @11:56AM (#3077764) Homepage

      Hell, if Sorority Sarah can burn the new N'SYNC album on her Compaq, she's not going to buy it.

      The negative consequences being?

    • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @11:57AM (#3077773) Homepage
      • Just last week a sorority girl told me - " I love downloading music, I haven't bought any cds since I got the computer" ... you have to remember Slashdot is geared towards the geeky type. Many of us like buying the cds to support the artist and just to get the nice labeling and pamphlet inside it.

      Fully fledged bastard of a good point. The amazing thing is that there is any debate about this at all on fora like Slashdot. For the majority of people, it's simply not wrong. If it were wrong, it would be hard to do, or there would be a threat of punishment. It isn't and there isn't, so it must be OK, right? Or, like, The Authorities would stop it, or something (assuming they even get that far in their thought processes).

      And yet... and yet... the metrics don't support that. We see P2P use and CD sales rise and fall in unison. We (being geeks) assume that the P2P sharing drives enthusiasm for buying CD's. The RIAA selectively misrepresents the figures to "prove" that sharing kills sales.

      Is there a simpler answer?

      That there is no cause-effect from sharing to sales? That it's all the other way around, just like it's been for the past fifty years or so? When there's a lot of good music around, CD sales go up, and that drives extra traffic in P2P sharing. When the music sucks, sales drop, and people don't even care enough to share.

      Both the RIAA and the geek brigade have agenda to show that P2P drives sales (down and up respectively), but (anecdotes aside) there's no direct evidence to support that. Perhaps CD purchasers are buying music using the same criteria that they have for the past fifty some years: does it suck? How much does it cost? Do I want my own good quality CD, or a shitty MP3/analogue tape/reel to fucking reel copy from my friend?

      Anecdotes aside, copying has always been extra to shelf sales. The figures seem to indicate that's still the case. People who are going to buy music are still buying it, even though they don't have to.

  • by schnitzi ( 243781 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @11:15AM (#3077554) Homepage
    I'm a little befuddled by the tack that free music advocates are taking against the RIAA -- denying that song swapping will cause a decline in CD sales.

    Of course it will cause a decline. It may not have yet, but the CD's days are numbered. Why? They're an obsolete technology. They're clunky. They require packing and shipping. They hold a limited amount of music. They're prone to loss and scratches. If you think song swapping won't accelerate the decline in sales, you're fooling yourselves.

    The record companies see the writing on the wall, and are trying to milk as much money out of CD sales before their collapse. Of course they're going to whine about everything that can even be perceived as a drop in sales; it's just part and parcel of doing everything they can do to receive court decisions sympathetic to their financial interests.
  • by nanojath ( 265940 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @11:35AM (#3077647) Homepage Journal
    "This strange doctrine is not supported by statute or common law."

    The problem with this Heinlein quote is that the RIAA's beef, however much we may vilify them (and they are unquestionably vile), IS supported by statute and common law. There are few people less supportive of the Content Kings than me but if I have to say it a million times I will: as long as all we're doing is trying to justify the violation of copyright law, which is what downloading copyrighted music or burning a copyrighted CD that you do not own UNQUESTIONABLY is, we will NEVER make progress in changing things to a better system.

    Legitimate consumer and legal beefs with the RIAA are plentiful:

    * Do the Content Kings REALLY own the copyright to specifc recordings, or should many have reverted to the authors?

    * Does the way the "legitimate" online music businees operates qualify as monopolistic practices?

    * Is the DMCA constitutional, or is it in fact an example of "prior restraint," illegalizing the POTENTIAL uses of legitimate tools?

    * Copy-protection schemes that produce "CDs" that do not follow CD specs, do not play in the range of equipment the consumer has reasonably come to expect, and reduces the versatility of the product.

    * Treatment of artists, overpricing, the endless extension of copyrights... All these and more are totally valid points of attack. You wanna burn CDs, download free music? Be my guest. Hell, I speed. But stop this nonsense that somehow the courts and corporations should recognize our "right" to violate copyright law. Every argument like this just strengthens their case and makes the further legislation of information tools that much more likely.

  • Simple question... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @11:40AM (#3077670) Homepage

    Why do we get defensive every time the RIAA trots out the "falling sales, evil pirates, end of civilisation as we know it" line?

    Why don't we respond with: "Yeah, sales are down, and it's your fault, you soulless reptiles. What the fuck are you going to do about it? I hate your over engineered muzak, and the dead eyed meat puppets that mime to it, and your old fashioned distribution system, and the fact that most of the cost of an album goes to weaels in marketing and legal, up the noses of desparately unhappy borderline morons in G-strings, or in <strike>bribes </strike> campaign contributions. Fix it, and fix it now, or get the hell out of the way and let someone else have a go at supplying the demand rather than trying to control it through an abusive monopoly."

    Oh wait, I just said it.

  • Stop Buying CDs! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by oneself ( 104209 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @12:14PM (#3077874) Homepage
    The sad truth is that the artist are the ones who can really change
    things in the music industry. The main reason is that they ARE the
    music industry, they create the music. The problem is that they are
    too use to using the record companies to sell their music. I think
    that we was music fans and consumers need to explain to the artists
    that they need to find a new way of selling their music. They are not
    going to do this if the current method is generating $13B a year.
    They are, however, going to rethink things if sales drop let's say
    %90. Then they will have no choice but to come up with an
    alternative. Not to mention the RIAA won't have any more money to pay
    high-waged lawyers to harass companies ushering in the new era.

    The important thing to remember is that artists will always make art
    and art fans will always adore it. Anything else is just packaging,
    it is replaceable, and will be replaced.

  • by c=sixty4 ( 35259 ) <armalyte@hotmail.com> on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @12:39PM (#3078049) Homepage
    I went into a record store yesterday, and saw a record I actually wanted to buy. The conversation with the clerk went something like this:

    "Is this CD copy protected?"

    "I don't know. They don't label all that are."

    "The only CD player I have is in my computer. If this is copy protected, I will not be able to play it. I will have bought what is for all intents and purpouses a shiny piece of metal. Can I at least try this to see if I can play this?"

    "Sorry, but if the case has been opened, there are no refunds."

    Yes, that will encourage more record sales.

  • by El Kevbo ( 81125 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @12:43PM (#3078078)
    I am frustrated by people who use the "fact" that Napster and other file-sharing apps strengthen CD sales as moral justification for using file sharing apps against the will of the artists. The fact that you're more willing to buy their music doesn't mean that you (should) have the ability to completely ignore their wishes with regard to distribution of said music.

    Let me try to give an example to clarify my frustration with this argument. Let's say that I decide to break into your house one day while you're away. I discreetly pick the lock and walk right in. I don't take anything, but I've still violated your privacy and the sanctity of your home. When I'm arrested for breaking and entering later on that day, I can't complain to the police, "But dude, I vaccumed! Look, I even washed your dishes!! C'mon man, I did something good for you! You ungrateful lout!"

    I see that as the same as people violating the copyrights of musicians and then telling those same musicians, "Shut up about your damn rights. We're buying your albums so that gives *us* the right to decide how to distribute your music!"
    In essence, the artists are being told to not worry about their rights because they're making more money. I hope that we can all see the foolishness of that.

    Please note that I'm not accusing the RIAA of actually representing the artists or their wishes. I find them as morally repugnant and repulsive as most Napster users.

  • by Sargent1 ( 124354 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @01:13PM (#3078313)

    I've seen this "analysis" before (that Napster boosted CD sales and that its shutdown caused the recent decline in profits), and I'm not sure I buy it. It smacks of the usual after this, therefore because of this [skepdic.com] thinking. It's like the hemline theory [optionetics.com]. Someone noticed that stock prices and the length of womens' hemlines seemed to track together. Look! The stock market is determined by how long skirts are!

    It's possible that Napster had a hand in both driving up revenues and then later driving them back down. But without more evidence other than "See! See! They happened at the same time!" I'm going to remain skeptical.

  • by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @01:24PM (#3078384) Homepage Journal
    Don't you find it odd that 20% of these people filled out a survey saying "I downloaded free music from the net."? Most of these people know it's illegal. I have a hard time imagining they'd fill out that survey.

    In any case, I bet the survey's question was more like "Have you ever downloaded music?", "Did you pay for that download?". And then, I think the RIAA said "every time somebody downloads a song, they don't buy a CD."

    This sounds like baloney to me. The reason I'm not buying CD's today is that I'm boycotting the RIAA. I suppose they could blame that on Napster, i.e. suing Napster and not providing a solution to fill consumer's desires.
  • by zerofoo ( 262795 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @01:25PM (#3078391)
    OK, unemployment is up, consumer confidence unexpectedly dove yesterday....what do these companies expect???? Infintely increasing market share and sales. RIAA let me give you a clue....the world economy is in a RECESSION! These dopes haven't even considered the macro-economic state of the world.

    I guess it's easier to blame napster and the terrorists and whoever else they can think of.

  • by Laplace ( 143876 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @01:26PM (#3078398)
    Just a sampling of music from indie labels that I have bought and liked:

    * Appleseed Cast, "Low Level Owl Vol I,II", Deep Elm Records
    This has to be one of the best recordings of last year. This band reminds me of Radiohead, yet with an earthy tone drawn from their subdued vocals and natural samples.

    * Morton Feldman/Ives Ensemble, "String Quartet II", Hat Art Records (limited pressing of 3000)
    The first complete recording of the 4-6 hour string quarted by the legendary composer. Takes a bit of will to listen to, but well worth every second.

    * Boxhead Ensemble, "Two Brothers", Truckstop Media
    A string ensemble. Not pop, but a great spin.

    * The Notwist, "Neon Golden", import (forget the label)
    A german band, singing in english, which fuses electronic and acoustic music very well. The inflections of the lead singer can be a bit confusing at times, but soon grows on you.

    * Unisex, "Stratosfear", Double Agent.
    Good pop/electronica music. Catchy with only one poorly executed track on the album.

    * Mirah, "You Think It's Like This But Really It Is Like This," K Records
    Low fi, post punk, female vocals that tug at your heart.

    I've been searching out obscure and hard to find music for the last several months now, and I feel good about supporting the indie music scene and I've enjoyed the music to boot.
  • Here we go again... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by prototype ( 242023 ) <bsimser@shaw.ca> on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @01:36PM (#3078466) Homepage

    This drives me nuts. Everytime there's a flux in the economy, the RIAA uses it as a scapegoat to blame falling sales etc. etc. blah blah blah. Gimme a break.

    "the study found that ownership of CD burners has nearly tripled since 1999"

    Again with the analogy that more CD burners mean more piracy of songs. Again they fail to notice that the number of computers in the world is growing, operating systems and applications get larger, more people are backing up data to CD than before, etc. True, I think the number does contribute something but put it in perspective people.

    "Global piracy on the physical side costs the recording industry over $4 billion* a year"

    I still fail to see how anything except under-estimating production expenses or over-estimating demand will "cost" the recording industry money. So they're saying that $4 billion dollars worth of music *might* have been purchased instead of downloaded? Where do they get these numbers?

    "DVD Video Continues Steady Increase"

    Yeah, no shit. And DVD player sales continue to increase. Is piracy to blame because people can't rip DVDs very easily? So once DVD burners are the "in" thing, is the RIAA going to blame piracy on lower sales? No. DVDs will continue to flourish because more production companies are now seeing the need to create good quality and content DVDs. VHS sales are way down not due to piracy but to the fact that I'd rather spend my money on a DVD with commentary and extras than half that on just the movie. As more players get out there and more quality DVDs are released, the sales will increase. I don't need to be JoJo to figure that out. And yes, even when DVD burners outnumber CD burners, I predict that DVD sales will STILL increase each year (providing that studios don't stop making good content DVDs).

    "Cassette Popularity Sharply Declines"

    Oops. Guess we should blame piracy again here. Sales are down. Oh no! Sorry, just peeved at how they blame everything on piracy as usual, like how parents blame game companies on how they corrupt youth or something. When will the real players accept their own responsibilities. Silly, silly, silly.


  • by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @01:41PM (#3078507) Homepage Journal
    I'd like to see some usage statistics on Morpheus. I'd be willing to bet that most people look for specific songs, not whole albums. If I'm right, then the RIAA's case weakens.

    They claim that 'Napster like downloading of music' is hurting their sales. I think what's really happening, in most cases, that people are downloading songs that they're interested in, particularly the older ones. I got to peak in a couple of people's MP3 lockers from way back when, and most of their songs were made at least 2 years ago, and date all the way back to the Beatles. I realize this isn't a very accurate slice of the world, but think about it, how many people do you think are saying "Hmm... I wonder what Pink Floyd is like?" and going and finding out? What are they supposed to do? Go to the store and try to find these albums? That's fine and dandy, but you don't know what you're buying there. Why pay $10-$15 for a CD when you only want one song?

    In any case, if somebody downloads a song, buying a CD still has value. Why? Because there are usually 10 or so more songs on it to listen to. What the person has actually downloaded is a teaser to go get the CD. In which case, it's even more valuable to the RIAA because if the user likes the song, they have more reason to go buy the album. If they don't buy the album, then it's likely that the content wasn't enticing enough. That's not the RIAA's fault.

    Part of me can't help but wonder if the RIAA is trying to protect themselves against sales lost due to customers really know what's on the CD. *Shrug*

    "But they can go download the rest of the album, if they like it!" -- this is what a RIAA rep would say in a Milhouse kind of voice. I think you can search for albums on the net. Who knows, maybe in the future Morpheus will get so good that all music is available. Until then, in the time it'd take me to get the album (i.e. searching for it, trying to find sources that are reliable, etc), I could have gone to the store and gotten it.

    If the day comes where entire albums are up for instant download on Morpheus, then the RIAA has lost their own battle. Today they could provide a means for people to legitimately buy individual songs in MP3 (or equiv) format. If they did that, then I could download any song I wanted from a fast server without having all the headaches of a p2p network. Every day they don't do that, more and more people wouldn't try it if it did materialize.

    In short, the RIAA's losses are their own fault. People want individual songs but can't get them legally without overpaying for them. File sharing is a result of a new market trend. A competent organization'd say "How can we make money here?" instead of fighting it like a bunch of spoiled babies.

  • Used Mp3's for sale (Score:3, Interesting)

    by loydcc ( 325726 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @04:27PM (#3079781) Journal
    Next thing they'll do is complain that used record stores bite into profits.

    If I buy an Mp3 do I have the right to sell it if I don't want it any more?

  • by dh003i ( 203189 ) <dh003i@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @04:57PM (#3080044) Homepage Journal
    Here's my basic plan:

    1. Download the songs you want. Don't buy them. Try LimeWire, FastTrack (i.e., Morpheus, Grokster, KaZaa), WinMX, whatever. And don't whine about the "spyware" in LimeWire, you have the option not to install it; and if ur really concerned, go to the LimeWire directory and delete the **** u don't want. Btw, since LimeWire is open-sourced, u can modify it to your needs.

    2. If you can't find the songs you want, go out and buy the CD. Make sure to check on the return policy. Preferrably, you want one of the new copy-protected CD's which they have to accept returns on. So, open up the CD try to play it on your computer. If it works on your computer, rip the music. If it doesn't work on your computer, play it on a CD-player, connect the output jack to your computers input, and rip it. In either case, after ripping it, return the CD to the store and say it didn't work. That way, you get it for free.

    3. But what about the artists, oh the artists the artists? Well, when you buy a 15 dollar CD by Britney Spears, how much of that do you think goes to her? Maybe 5 dollars? Probably less. But lets be optimistic and say 5 dollars. So get the music for free via step 1 or step 2. If you get all 10 songs on her latest CD, that's 5 dollars that would have gone to her. So send her the money; hell, maybe even send her 10 dollars. You still spend less on the music than you would've, and she gets more. It eliminates the middle man. Then the RIAA can't whine about "how the musicians are getting screwed." No, now it would be only the companies that were getting screwed.
  • by SomeOtherGuy ( 179082 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @06:59PM (#3081043) Journal
    Let me start off by saying that most of my life I have been a music junkie. My dealer was the owner of a small record store in my hometown. I would walk into the store and he (knowing my musical tastes) would peddle me some free samplers from the record industry with a few sample songs from the album --- or sometimes a pre release FULL album thrown in for a bone. I would be ever so greatful that I was getting this "special" service. In retrospect he could set his clock by the fact that I would be marching in his store in a few days to purchase a full length album or two from the group of sample tapes he had given me before. I would leave the store with my new purchased albums and a new batch of sample tapes. Repeat and wash for 10 years and a tape collection over 500.

    5 years later...The "big" record stores laugh at me when I ask for any samples. Radio does not play "my type of music"....I have know way of knowing what music to purchase....Let alone where to hear a sample before making the purchase....Needless to say, I go the next few years with only buying a handful of CD's (mostly from artists who had released music I liked "back in the day" or to replace my favorite crappy tapes with CD's.)

    Fast forward to Napster....Much like the sample tapes I used to get when I was a kid...I can download a few obscure album songs from a band I read about and actually have a fair and partial decision making process....AND guess what -- I started to frequent the music stores like crazy, and started filling up my CD collection with FRESH music from new bands, and old bands I had somehow missed the first time around.

    Post Napster: I have not been back to the record store because even if I had a gift certificate for a wheel barrow load of free CD's, I would not even know where to start....I tried gnutella for awhile, but it was not the same....Napster represented the WHOLE (by the numbers of people using it), everything else is just scattered pieces -- and if I was looking for top 40 or greatest hits records then maybe that would suffice -- but I am looking for obscure music from bands that may have never sold any more albums than I have fingers, never made the airwaves of radio, no MTV, yet still managed to get a record contract.

    Bottom line: the industry has failed. And until I can walk into a record store that has all of the trappings of my former "dealer" OR can easily SNARF music samples from an endless pit of obscure recordings such as Napster -- then the recording industry will never see another red cent from me thank you.

"An organization dries up if you don't challenge it with growth." -- Mark Shepherd, former President and CEO of Texas Instruments