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Music Downloading not Entirely to Blame 538

Outlyer writes "A recent article in The Economist discusses the proximate causes for the decline in music sales. Of some note is this quote in the article: "According to an internal study done by one of the majors, between two-thirds and three-quarters of the drop in sales in America had nothing to do with internet piracy. [...] Other explanations: rising physical CD piracy, shrinking retail space, competition from other media, and the quality of the music itself. But creativity doubtless plays an important part." The article discusses in some depth the short-term viewpoint of the majors and why that is likely to be the dominant problem, not the internet bogeyman."
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Music Downloading not Entirely to Blame

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  • fp (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jucius Maximus ( 229128 ) <> on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:01PM (#10756384) Journal
    I switched from buying new CDs to buying used ones. It saves money and puts dents in the RIAA statistics.
    • Re:fp (Score:5, Insightful)

      by creep ( 150035 ) <aarontbell@gmail.cPARISom minus city> on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:08PM (#10756459)
      Right, but it does nothing to help the artist. Even for musicians and bands who're on RIAA-represented labels (who receive next to nothing for album sales), new album purchases serve as an important popularity gauge. The *only* entity you're helping when you purchase used music is the store you're buying from. Might as well just download the music for what it's worth.
      • Re:fp (Score:5, Interesting)

        by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:11PM (#10756494) Homepage Journal
        I don't listen to music anymore (I can say for about 1.5 years now.) On radio I only listen to talk-shows (good ones in Toronto area.)

        BTW. when I buy blank CDs I am forced to pay a tax on it to 'help the artists'. Shit, I don't even care about any artists anymore, why am I forced to help them?

        • Re:fp (Score:5, Insightful)

          by superpulpsicle ( 533373 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:27PM (#10756707)
          Ever since I started buying music on iTunes, I have yet to buy an entire album. What does that suggest? There are too many junky tracks on every CD. There is no reason to make consumers pay $12 for CD, when I can download the track I want for $0.99.

          The sad part is the consumers are being blamed, when the record company execs steal the most. They don't need a promotion everytime an artist successfully go mainstream. If anything they should be fired for the lack of promotion of new artists. So many good artists out there are invisible under the radar unless you sample on iTunes or something.

          • Re:fp (Score:5, Insightful)

            by harlows_monkeys ( 106428 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:42PM (#10756877) Homepage
            Ever since I started buying music on iTunes, I have yet to buy an entire album. What does that suggest? There are too many junky tracks on every CD. There is no reason to make consumers pay $12 for CD, when I can download the track I want for $0.99

            It could also suggest that you no longer are interested in stuff that you don't like right away. Looking back at all my CDs, I find that it is very common for my favorite tracks to be ones that I initially did not think much of. They grew on my after many listens, as I came to appreciate things I hadn't noticed on the first listen.

            • Re:fp (Score:4, Insightful)

              by PriceIke ( 751512 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:54PM (#10757009)

              That's very true with me. I will buy a CD for one or two songs, then over the course of listening to it, I will grow to love other tracks on the CD that I didn't pay much attention to at first.

              That's why when I hear something new that I like, I will download a few tracks by the artist, and if I like him/her, I will buy their CD. I will first look at my used store for it though. I'd happily buy it new from Streetside if the RIAA weren't being such assholes about suing people who share music. If the RIAA would just leave file sharers alone they'd see their sales increase [] rather than decrease.

            • Re:fp (Score:4, Insightful)

              by shotfeel ( 235240 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @03:25PM (#10757362)
              That's true.

              Maybe I'm missing it, but it seems like more and more albums are just a collection of random songs -not a group of songs that were made to go together.

              OTOH, I wonder how many here are old enough to remember buying music before the LP? The music industry seems to have forgotten that they used to sell just singles in the form of the '45. Yes, it had a "B" side, but everyone understood you were basically buying singles. Now the music industry in a tizzy because people only want to buy singles and they couldn't possibly survive if people only bought singles.

              Just wait, in another 10 years the album will be back in style.
          • Ever since I started buying music on iTunes, I have yet to buy an entire album. What does that suggest? There are too many junky tracks on every CD.

            I don't know what sort of music you listen to, but I like a lot of albums as a whole, as they've been produced by the artists and the producers. The promoted singles sometimes get my attention, but I usually prefer to play the album completely.

            After all, would you be satisfied watching a 10 minute slot out of a movie or half an act in a play? Those

        • Re:fp (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Jucius Maximus ( 229128 ) <> on Monday November 08, 2004 @03:45PM (#10757674) Journal
          "I don't listen to music anymore (I can say for about 1.5 years now.) On radio I only listen to talk-shows (good ones in Toronto area.) BTW. when I buy blank CDs I am forced to pay a tax on it to 'help the artists'. Shit, I don't even care about any artists anymore, why am I forced to help them?"

          "Why I am forced to pay taxes into healthcare even though I don't get sick very often?"

          "Why do people have to pay taxes into the public school system, even if they send their children to private school?"

          Because that is the way things are spun in this country. Social responsibility and social subsidising are facts of the way the country has chosen to run itself. It's a facet of the way Canada works and it has its advantages and disadvantages. It's not perfect, but it's a lot better with what many other nations put up with.

          • Re:fp (Score:4, Insightful)

            by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @04:28PM (#10758414) Homepage Journal
            Yes, I realize this is the way things are done in this country, however I don't see music as a necessity of life, do you? When someone can't afford a surgery, they die, well I guess the society somehow figures it's better to put the money to help these bastards, but when someone can't make a living by running a business that is not essential to anyone, the society decides to do the same thing....
            Are you telling me that this makes any sort of sense? If it does, I am off to my accountant, I am going to register a few corporations as a musician, then I am going to produce some crap I will call music (noone has to like it, or buy it even,) and then I will be waiting for my check from the government, who is collecting those taxes for me.

            Now how does that sound?

      • by CrudPuppy ( 33870 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:16PM (#10756562) Homepage
        I have bought 2 cd's in the past 3-4 years, not because I am pirating or downloading, but because I firmly believe the RIAA are the biggest crooks in this picture and refuse to support them.

        I believe the RIAA will rape their artists every which way they possibly can, and cheat them out of their royalties at every chance. Given this, I find it more than a little ironic that the RIAA campaigns against piracy by boldly proclaiming that downloaders are cheating the artists.

        Here's to hoping that sales continue to decline until the RIAA crumbles entirely out of the picture.
      • what record company do you work for?
      • Re:fp (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Sleepy ( 4551 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @03:06PM (#10757127) Homepage
        The *only* entity you're helping when you purchase used music is the store you're buying from. Might as well just download the music for what it's worth.

        I would disagree. This was how it was for me a few years ago anyways.. I wasnt out to "collect" as many CD's as I can... my music tastes would change, and over the time I'd trade in less listened to CD's for something new.

        Yes, the artist would "sell more" if everyone only bought new, but then I would have offset my used-cd purchases by buying fewer. Fewer people buying used CD's helps deflate the price you would get trading in music, making the whole thing less attractive.

        Gray markets do have a positive impact on sales - it's just not as obvious an impact.
      • Except... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by debest ( 471937 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @03:31PM (#10757461)
        Buying used is guaranteed, no-doubt-about-it legal. No copyright violation possible: you're buying the same copy as was sold originally.

        In such a scenario, that copy has already benefitted the artist as much as it was designed to.
    • Re:fp (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Suburbanpride ( 755823 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:16PM (#10756564)
      I buy used CD's, I buy albums direct from the band at concerts, and I buy new LP's direct from my favorite independant labels like Saddle Creek [] and Jade Tree [] I have bought about 20 albums in the past year, and I'm sure none of them show up on the RIAA sales records.

      oh yeah, I have also purchased a dozen or so random songs on iTMS. IIRC, legal digital downloads aren't counted are album sales, so they can bitch about how cd's don't sell, but millions of albums a week are selling on iTMS.

      Its time for the record companies to stop fighting the future and adopt a new business model.

      • Re:fp (Score:5, Interesting)

        by sconeu ( 64226 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:58PM (#10757053) Homepage Journal
        Its time for the record companies to stop fighting the future and adopt a new business model

        Is it time for the traditional Heinlein "Life Line" quote?
        There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or a 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 public interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute nor 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, for their private benefit.

        --The Judge in Life Line

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:02PM (#10756402)
    Well, at least we can be reasonably sure that the RIAA higher-ups will read it. Not that they'll listen, but they'll at least read it.
    • by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:08PM (#10756467)
      Of course they won't listen to it. It says that they are the cause for most of their ills. They are the ones that are recruiting shitty music, pushing it to shitty/controlled radio, not embracing the Internet, wasting time on lawsuits instead of their original purpose, and not buying up the independents that they used to get some of the best fringe talent from.

      The Economist just blew away their views on how their little corner of the world works.

      I have a feeling that the music industry will claim that this article is nothing more than a conglomoration of Internet forum non-sense and that their business-model is acceptable and will continue. Afterall, they can claim whatever they want, the media/controlled-radio will distribute it, and the public is stupid.
      • by lifeblender ( 806214 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:26PM (#10756692)
        They will listen, but they will still respond as you suggest. The article will be ignored, and when record labels are asked for comment they will downplay its accuracy and relevance.

        However, the labels will take notice. Now the people in the recording industry who have wanted to alter the course of industry have something big to point to. They will slowly attract the attention of the executives to alternatives, and eventually, the recording industry will be prepared to handle the current state of technology and science.

        Right before the world changes out from under them again.
  • Not in Korea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Daengbo ( 523424 ) <daengbo AT gmail DOT com> on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:03PM (#10756405) Homepage Journal
    Where I live, everybody downloads, the internet service advertize showow much faster you'll get your music, and the teens don't even think of buying music.

    Retailers are in bad shape in S. Korea.
    • by EvilTwinSkippy ( 112490 ) <[yoda] [at] []> on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:06PM (#10756433) Homepage Journal
      When I was a boy, (back when computers lacked hard drives and we had to write our own games in BASIC) we had this music swapping system called casette tape. If that wasn't enough, rogue elements of the music industry were simply broadcasting these songs over the radio for free.

      Heck, I remember that some of the stuff was so good that I actually went to the music store to buy the album. (Which was subsequently copied and distributed to friends...)

    • Re:Not in Korea (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Zorilla ( 791636 )
      I'm actually stationed overseas in Japan - where CDs regularly go for 2000-3000 yen. 2 CD packs go for up to about 4500 yen. No thanks.

      Even in the base exchange, their choice of music makes Wal-Mart look like iTunes. I'm going to go nuts if I hear Usher's "yeah" or one of Metallica's white trash anthems again.

      This definitely puts me far outside the market in offline music purchasing.
      • As for me, I'm an old fart at 30 when it comes to my musical tastes. I REALLY would like to give record stores my business. But even going to a Tower records, with thousands of square feet of inventory, I can't find the albums I'm looking for.

        Even if I can find the artist I'm looking for, all they have is their "Greatest Hits" album. Now, If I'm looking for a (c)Rap album, I can find 8 different mixes of the same album. But trying to find Devo, The Beloved, or even The Beatles and the Doors is a futile ef

  • Well... (Score:5, Funny)

    by MP3Chuck ( 652277 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:03PM (#10756406) Homepage Journal
    May I be the first to say ... "No shit!"
  • I don't buy music (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fawlty154 ( 814393 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:03PM (#10756409)
    I don't buy music because it all sounds packaged and the same to me. I'll buy a CD when something good ocmes out. I'm sick of the labels blaming the internet for their crappy products not doing well.
    • by Pope ( 17780 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:08PM (#10756458)
      Maybe you should expand your horizons beyond the top 40 then. There's plenty of good music out there, almost always has been. You just have to do the legwork to find the stuff that'll keep you interested.
      • Re:I don't buy music (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Wordsmith ( 183749 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:13PM (#10756517) Homepage
        And to that end I'd suggest your local college radio and/or NPR station as possible sources, depending on your tastes.

        If they don't scratch your particular itch, trying some of the small-time indyish stations that have webstreams - you can find music of just about any genre being streamed over the net, and a small or academic radio operation is more likely to weight musicianship in its playlist building than it is to weight billboard chart position.
    • by FlimFlamboyant ( 804293 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:14PM (#10756540) Homepage

      (The boardroom of a major record label)

      "Guys, we have a major problem. Sales are at an all-time low, and if you all want to be able to pay for your BMWs and 2-million dollar mansions, we need a new strategy!"

      "Now, our attorneys and marketing boys have been hard at work, attempting to pass th blame for this dilemma for months on such things as piracy of all kinds. However, these conclusions just haven't explained the numbers, and we have just recently uncovered a shocking statistic that cannot be ignored. Please consult the chart on the wall to see how the numbers break down."

      Internet piracy: 9%

      Media piracy: 7%

      Any other kind of piracy that we couldn't pull out of our asses: 2%

      We sign crummy bands and try to pass their music off on people who actually have taste, despite all of our really expensive research: 80%

  • by _PimpDaddy7_ ( 415866 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:06PM (#10756430)
    According to an internal study done by one of the majors, between two-thirds and three-quarters of the drop in sales in America had nothing to do with internet piracy.

    OMG, like I am..sooo SHOCKED to hear that!

    These people will never "get it"....

    Did they ever think their current business process and ATTITUDE towards its customers could be the problem????
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:07PM (#10756439)
    Other explanations: ...and the quality of the music itself.

    Obviously "Tainted Love" was the pinnacle of musical creativity in the world, and CD sales were bound to decline.

    "Tainted Love ... oh, oh, oh, don't touch me please"

  • Make a difference? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Deflagro ( 187160 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:08PM (#10756462)
    Question is, will this really make any difference at all? Not likely... these companies have their minds made up that the internet(s) is(are) the cause. It's interesting that someone had the balls to write it up especially in an economical media outlet but it won't change anything.
    Not a real shocker but nice to be higher profile.
  • by nyekulturniy ( 413420 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:08PM (#10756468)
    I am not a big music buyer, mostly because I can't get the music I like to hear (classical, folk and Celtic) at local stores such as Wal-mart, and the local folkie store is off my beaten path and has little parking. I would use a service such as this eagerly. And yet, everyone seems to focus on the indie rock scene and the big rock/pop/hiphop acts, and don't think that online distribution might mean the flowering of genres with smaller fans, such as folk, bluegrass, opera, choral, or whatever!

    Frankly, the best way for a business to thrive is not to have a radical change of the business model. Instead, incremental changes and continual improvement (hitting singles instead of homers) will get the job done. One incremental change can be to make sure that downloadable music isn't just for young listerners.

  • How come.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by armer ( 533337 ) <glenn.vander.vee ... .com minus punct> on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:10PM (#10756490)
    nobody points to the real reason music sales are dropping? Today's music isn't based on music, but on image and one hit wonders... Just look at Hoobaskank, one formulated bubble gum song, and they are headling big shows... what have they done since??? And don't forget about the eye candy... Jessica Simpson, Brittany Spears, couldn't sing their way out of wet paper bag, but with the volume down...
    • Re:How come.. (Score:4, Informative)

      by thebatlab ( 468898 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:26PM (#10756690)
      Hmm. I'd agree on the Jessica Simpson and Britney Spears but Hoobastank? What's the problem with them.

      They a good CD a couple years back with some strong tracks on it and it was one of those CDs that I could listen to all the way through and not want to change the song.

      The same with their new release. Sure, that song is a bit cheesy but it's got a catchy beat to it. Have you listened to the rest of the album? It's again, very solid. Every song almost builds on another telling a story throughout the entire album.

      And as for what they've done, that CD just came out recently. You want them to pound another one off within 6 months? I think you expect a bit too much there.
    • Re:How come.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by GMFTatsujin ( 239569 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:59PM (#10757061) Homepage
      Then you get bands like Chumbawamba who, after decades of singing subversive anti-corporate rhetoric, manage to prove their point most eloquently by writing a single album designed to be a one-hit wonder -- as a JOKE.

      Now it's tough to find their good old albums because the stores only stock the sucky one-hit wonder album. Seems that the older stuff just doesn't fit the band's image anymore.

      Irony is lost in the free market.
  • But... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:11PM (#10756495)
    According to an internal study done by one of the majors, between two-thirds and three-quarters of the drop in sales in America had nothing to do with internet piracy.

    So, one-quarter to one-third of the sales drop is due to internet piracy? I can see why companies might be worried about this. (And everyone who votes me down because I won't subscribe to their "waaa waaa waaa! I want my music for free!" is a wanker.)
    • Re:But... (Score:3, Informative)

      by jimicus ( 737525 )
      More likely it means "we have no idea about the remaining 25-33%". But the chances are the record companies won't mention any percentage terms - they'll turn it into cash and spin it that way:

      "$500 million lost due to the Internet!" (they won't mention that this is in a $multi-billion industry).
    • Re:But... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Penguinshit ( 591885 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:31PM (#10756755) Homepage Journal

      The point you're missing here is that, apparently, file-sharing isn't the major cause of the downtrend in sales. If the recording companies would focus on the real causes, and embrace the Internet in the way in which their customers demonstrably want it fashioned (as shown by the popularity of the old Napster and other peer-to-peer technologies), then they could stabilize the sales numbers and see a huge profit from opening up a new revenue stream.

      The current download facilities, while popular, still fail to address the real issues presented by peer-to-peer. The RIAA already imposes a "CD Tax", why couldn't it have imposed a "Napster Tax"? The issue isn't really about free music, but rather about unfettered access to a wide variety.

      Of course, the record companies fear decentralized distribution because it removes some of their current complete power over the industry, which is what this issue is REALLY all about.
  • Its the... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by night_flyer ( 453866 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:11PM (#10756498) Homepage
    Its the economy stupid! obviously those at the top didnt see that millions of jobs were lost because of the economic downturn that was accelerated thanks to 9/11...

    hmmm, food or the new Britny Spears CD... tough call
  • NEWSFLASH!!! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:13PM (#10756519)
    The CD boom was people format shifting to CD media, many people own legit vinyl, cassette and CD copies of the same album. I'm not in a real hurry to switch formats again and the great thing about digital music is that I can make unlimited copies without the sound quality degrading, this is the ONLY reason I re purchased on CD's, and if they want to make it hard for me to do that I'll stop buying.

    The drop in sales has fuck all to do with filesharing, and everything to do with the witless commercial pop that saturates the market; everybody except the RIAA knows it!
  • Innovationless... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Chordonblue ( 585047 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:13PM (#10756524) Journal
    I think the main reason why music sales have declined is indeed an innovation problem - but it may not be the record company's fault (for once).

    In every decade you had technical innovation - whether it was 4 track recording in the 60's, the emergence of prog rock and sophisticated recording techniques in the 70's, synthesizers in the 80's, or rap/rock fusion in the 90's.

    Question: What has the 2000's offered that previous decades have not? Answer: Not too much. For the first time, there's no real innovation in the sound itself - there's simply nothing that hasn't already been done, no tech that a generation can call their own.

    If the music seems lame, it's because it is - it's all been done before.

  • by jxyama ( 821091 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:14PM (#10756545)
    ...that this still does not legitimize music piracy.

    no harm != legitimate in many people's opinions.

  • by travisco_nabisco ( 817002 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:16PM (#10756565)
    The article mentioned that large retailers, such as Walmart, are dedicating less and less space to CDs due to the increase in other entertainment media, I would suggest that an easy way to get around with would be to develop terminals that allow you to browse a library of CD's, sample a portion of each song, and then if you choose to buy the album, burns and labels the CD for you on the spot. This would eliminate the need for shelving for CD's, as well as allow retailers to have a much wider selection of music available.
    • by frank_adrian314159 ( 469671 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:38PM (#10756831) Homepage
      This would eliminate the need for shelving for CD's, as well as allow retailers to have a much wider selection of music available.

      But at a much higher cost. Not only do you have to pay for the burner machine, but you also have to deal with issues like what to do about inserts, cases, etc. Also, a listen/burn machine is a serial use item, while shelving is parallel use. Finally maintenance, content updating, etc., all raise the cost even more.

      Anyway, it's non-viable when I can just sub in another rack of DVD's at a higher margin. If we end up where DVD's are the only thing available, who cares. People will generally spend their entertainment income on what's promoted and available. Which bits happen to be on the plastic doesn't matter to the retailers. Nor does it matter to the conglomerates who are just as happy (if not more so) to sell a crappy DVD as opposed to a crapy CD.

  • by FortKnox ( 169099 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:16PM (#10756566) Homepage Journal
    This is a study, just like the other studies made. Because this one says what you want to hear, doesn't make it 'truth.'

    The fact of the matter is that unless we can relive history and remove music piracy, we will never know for sure if it was 'the cause' of the decline or not.

    This is another study and should be treated just like the ones that 'say piracy is the reason for the decline' are.
    • by gorbachev ( 512743 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:40PM (#10756846) Homepage
      " This is a study, just like the other studies made. Because this one says what you want to hear, doesn't make it 'truth.'"

      It wasn't just any study. It was made by one of the major music publishers. Not by an pro-consumer group or the lobbying arm of the consumer electronics manufacturers, but by the VERY people, who have been claiming Napster killed the CD star.
  • by killbill! ( 154539 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:19PM (#10756603) Homepage
    TFA mentioned a reason why CD sales were dropping is that CDs are competing for shelf space with other, higher-value forms of entertainment.
    Which is true (that the OST CD is worth almost as much as the full DVD is puzzling at best), but missed a more important point.

    Two words: Cell phones.

    Here in Europe most basic plans cost EUR 40 a month. That's a sizeable share of a teenager's allowance. That's at least 3 CDs a month they won't buy.
  • Alternatives (Score:5, Informative)

    by Zorilla ( 791636 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:20PM (#10756610)
    This isn't exactly a head-on solution, but here's some particularly nerdy outlets for non-RIAA music:

    Nectarine Radio [] - streaming C64, Atari ST, Adlib, etc. music
    OC Remix [] - huge repository of submitted video game remixes
    Streaming radio of above []
    Metroid Metal [] - Surprisingly well done
  • Price did it for me. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sylver Dragon ( 445237 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:20PM (#10756616) Journal
    Personally, I find that CD's are just too expensive for me. I don't care that much about music, and can better spend that $15 elsewhere. Also, I just haven't found anything I really like in a while, though unlike most /. I blame this on my own narrow mindedness, and not the new music sucking. If the new music sucked so much, why does it sell so many copies? Most people tend to get stuck in a certain era of music, don't like the new stuff? Don't act suprised about it, you're getting old. Every generation tends to think that the next generation's music sucks, that's not going to change for you, you're not special, get over it.

  • by Morpeth ( 577066 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:20PM (#10756618)
    I don't think I'm too old (I'm a 30-something) to be interested in new sounds and genres, but man - the stuff out today does nothing for me. I'd say 90%+ of hip-hop/rap is utter garbage, and the alternative stuff isn't all that alternative.

    H-H is horrid imo - endless, short, electronic loops of intensely annoying sounds, weak and/or stupid lyrics, bad singing (if they even sing at all), it's overly produced, etc. etc.

    Any new CDs I buy now are established artists who've been around for a while and have a new CD out; or I'll just buy some 'classic' stuff.

    Once uninventive, regurgitated hip-hop took over, the industry pretty much lost me.

    • by snoig ( 535665 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:43PM (#10756888)
      I'm someone who is to old and I really like a lot of the new music I hear today. The problem for RIAA is that none of it is published by them. There are so many alternative sources for music these days that I haven't purchased any RIAA stuff in years. I have purchased cd's from bands at live shows, streamed Internet radio, purchased music from, downloaded from bands websites, downloaded live shows from sites like All legal alternative ways to get quality music these days. RIAA just needs to wise up.
    • I am in the 40+ range and I agree. I also go out at times to venues that have live local bands playing and I enjoy their music a lot better than the packaged garbage the big companies try to get me to buy. These are not always the R&B & classic rock, but, bleeding edge bands and music. I don't always like the music, but, it is not boring. Also, their CDs are MUCH cheaper than the ones in the store and I know where the money is going to!
    • by SheepHead ( 610180 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @04:03PM (#10757949)
      I'd say 90%+ of hip-hop/rap is utter garbage

      I listen to hip hop and I agree. But 90% of music I hear on the radio is garbage and that's probably where you're hearing your hip hop.

      H-H is horrid imo - endless, short, electronic loops of intensely annoying sounds, weak and/or stupid lyrics, bad singing (if they even sing at all), it's overly produced, etc. etc.

      If the hip hop you know is "endless, short electronic loops" then - in my opinion - you're not listening to hip hop. The definitions get nit-picky, but in my mind if the MC (the guy with the microphone) doesn't have a DJ backing him up doing the music, it's not hip hop. It could be called rap, though. (Hip hop as a genre, to me, would have to embody more than one of the aspects of hip hop culture - MCing, DJing, breakdancing, and graffiti.) So music with a DJ is what you're looking for. The music should be as good as the lyrics.

      Now, beyond the instrumentals - if the music you know has weak and/or stupid lyrics, we have to find you new music. The reason I listen to hip hop is because of the lyrics, not in spite of. Because the lyrics are smart, because the rhymes are rhymes I've never heard, etc.

      Without rambling on for days, let me list a few albums or artists you might like to check out. Jurassic 5 - any album. Blackalicious - any album, but check out the newest one Blazing Arrow. Lyrics Born - Later That Day. Maroons - Ambush. Zion I - any album. Dilated Peoples - any album. Mos Def. The Roots. Talib Kweli. All of these groups have smart, generally positive lyrics. If you find someone you like, visit [] and see who they've worked with on other songs, and check out those artists too.

      If you're interested in turntablism (creating music with other records as the primary source) check out some of the great turntablists - The X-ecutioners, Rob Swift, Cut Chemist, DJ Z-Trip, DJ Shadow. (Rob Swift is in the X-ecutioners, but he has a few solo albums.)

      It will be different music than what you're used to, probably, but it'll also be different than the overproduced "blazin' hip hop & R&B" trash they play on the radio. Give it a chance, and listen to the lyrics and pay attention to what the DJs are doing - maybe you'll find something you like.

  • Good news (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lord_Dweomer ( 648696 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:22PM (#10756637) Homepage
    While this story is nothing new to us, and while it won't affect the decisions of anybody on the labels' side, it gives me a small amount of hope since it is the Economist writing this story.

    The economist reaches a very broad audience of VERY intelligent people, and also people who tend to have a lot of money, or be in positions of power. Hopefully they can recongize the situation for what it is, and I think the economist will give the position some credibility.

    We have to start somewhere with educating the people in charge, and I'd say the Economist is a hell of a source to have touting this position.

  • by jfengel ( 409917 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:23PM (#10756646) Homepage Journal
    It's often beem said on Slashdot that the real reason for the decline is the decline of the quality of the music. That's possibly true, but I'd like to know how a reliable study could report on it objectively.

    Music tastes are extremely subjective. If anything, the objective measures would tend to suggest that the music is getting better, in the sense that it's been focus-grouped to death. Somebody out there is saying, "Yes, we like it. We like it so much we want to copy it off the Internet or from a friend's CD."

    It seems likely that in fact the focus-grouping and hit-promoting have lowered the quality of the music to a least common denominator, but I'd love to know how this industry report went about measuring that. In the end that measurement will describe how the music changes from here. The executives who make the decisions aren't artists and don't use artistic judgment to decide what to produce. They look at numbers and poll likely group members to see what will sell. They know that people will only buy what they like, so I'd love to know what measure of "like" they're using for this study that's different from the ones they're already using.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:27PM (#10756709) Homepage
    That made it to the Wall Street Journal.

    The music industry has a hard time accepting that they sell an elastic good - when prices go up, sales go down. That's really happened to concert tickets. $60 tickets for second-tier bands went unsold all summer. Several major tours were cancelled. Lollapalooza was cancelled due to slow ticket sales.

    The endless reissue of "oldies" is self-limiting. By now, everybody who wants any Beatles/Stones/Doors CD presumably has it.

    But the fundamental problem is much simpler. The outlets that sell audio CDs don't just sell music. They also sell movie DVDs, which provide more entertainment content at a lower price. Audio CDs ought to sell for about $3.99 to $5.99. There's no excuse for audio CDs by mediocre bands costing more than DVDs of major, big-budget films.

  • by BortQ ( 468164 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:33PM (#10756773) Homepage Journal
    I get really pissed off when big corporations have the facts, but then spout an entirely different view to the public. The music industry knows that piracy isn't the biggest cause, yet in public (to congressmen) they are screaming bloody murder.

    It's the exact same thing with the pharma companies withholding the results of studies that are damaging to them. Ditto for the tobacco companies. I wish there was something that forced big companies to tell the truth when they have it.

  • No more Boomers (Score:3, Insightful)

    by urmensch ( 314385 ) <ectogon < a t a > h o t mial> on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:34PM (#10756775)
    I think that the biggest reason that music sales are declining is that the largest demographic in this contry has finally stopped buying lots of music. The boomers have finally repurchased all the music they have owned on vinyl, eight track and cassette. They are not interested in Ashlee Simpson, Usher, Coldplay or Creed. Most of their children have grown up, so they aren't spending a lot of money there either.

  • by reallocate ( 142797 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:38PM (#10756832)
    It's my contention that people buy less entertainment of all kinds as they grow older. Hence, as a country's population ages, music sales will decrease.

    Are there studies that bear on this?
  • by UnknowingFool ( 672806 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:38PM (#10756837)
    The news from the industry is that sales are in decline since the 90's. One thing that isn't clear is the relative sales of new material vs newly released material. During the early 90's the CD player became affordable to the masses, and many people started to replace their older cassettes and records in addition to buying new CDs. The music companies started raking in sales, but after a decade, most of the old albums have been replaced.

    Sure there are re-releases today still but the numbers dwarf in comparison to the beginning to 90's. This was a point brought up during PBS Frontline "The Way the Music Died" [] documentary on the troubles of the music industry. I seem to remember that Frontline pointed out that sales relative to new albums have actually gone up. But the overall sales have gone down because older albums sales have decline greatly. This Economist report doesn't address this point.

  • Quality (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bretharder ( 771353 ) <bret DOT harder AT gmail DOT com> on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:41PM (#10756858)
    Today's music ain't got the same soul
    I like that old time a-rock 'n' roll
  • by bani ( 467531 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:41PM (#10756866)
    the one thing that gives them nightmares and keeps them up at nights.

    it's not p2p or theft or piracy or even used CD/DVD sales.

    their biggest fear is that you tune out and stop watching/listening altogether. that would mean not only no sales, but no advertising revenue either.

    if this happens on any scale, i expect the mpaa/riaa to push through 1984/maxheadroom style legislation requiring a TV in every house turned on 24/7, and make it illegal to turn them off.
  • by bushboy ( 112290 ) <> on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:49PM (#10756958) Homepage
    Time Warp ...

    Hey, wow, what am I doing here !

    Last thing I remembered, I was reading the inner sleeve of my Madness 7 album which said "Home Taping is Killing Music" while recording it to cassette tape for my buddy.

    Now it's 20 years later and Music isn't dead !

    Arghgh ! - what's going on !
  • by ewg ( 158266 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @02:49PM (#10756963)
    The article doesn't mention satellite radio, but in the USA subscriber bases for both XM and Sirius satellite radio services are growing rapidly.

    Don't know what the net effect of growth is. As a one-year XM subscriber, I listen to CDs less, but have purchased a couple a CDs from artists I never would have discovered without satellite radio.
  • by Java Ape ( 528857 ) <> on Monday November 08, 2004 @03:08PM (#10757151) Homepage
    I agree with the sentiment that mass-marketed music has declined dramatically in quality in recent years. However, the cloud has a silver lining that is becoming rapidly more apparent. As commercial music becomes increasingly unpalatable, niche markets for creative local groups become available.

    We are experiencing a Renaissance of locally-produced music, from street performers to small bands. Music is no longer the exclusive domain of a handful of mega-conglomerates, but is being taken back and revitalized on the micro scale. Seattle/Portland (near me) support a thriving community of small indepenent musicans producing truly excellent music. It's like the 60's all over again. Not so much "new" sounds, but new takes on the folk/rock/celtic traditions and a resurgence of interest in vocals and acoustic instrumentation rather than synthesized, reprocessed top-40. Complex, muti-layered arrangements that depend on real musicians, not 20 year old pinups with digitally-enhanced vocals supporting their silicon-enhanced figures.

    Personnally, I'm excited by the trend, and am actively building a large and varied CD collection with very little help from the RIAA.

  • The Way Music Died (Score:3, Informative)

    by Aqua OS X ( 458522 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @03:12PM (#10757187)
    For anyone interested, Frontline produced a very nice documentary about this topic.

    Record labels were once small and not very profitable. However during the 80's and early 90's the music industry saw the introduction of CDs, which compelled people to purchase many of their older albums again, as well as the introduction of new genres of pop music ( HipHop, Rap, Grundge, etc). The combination of these events brought a LOT of money to record labels, and that compelled larger corporations to start investing in the music industry. Unfortunately, CDs and new genres of music became mainstream, and now we have corporate labels who are concerned about quarterly profits... not long term investments. All in all, it's a recipe for disaster... and crappy music.

    But... any who... watch the Frontline piece to see what happens. si c/view/
  • Evil Economics (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Toby The Economist ( 811138 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @03:28PM (#10757419)
    I wrote about this a while ago. l

    The major distributors are now in a situation where their product is having to compete with a free rival (P2P). It's hard to compete with free. In fact, all the major distributors have to offer are ease of access, breadth of catalogue and guaranteed quality. This is not worth 15 UKP a CD and 25 UKP a DVD! this painful adjustment is currently what the major distributors are in denial about, and have attempted to perform a minimum-effort resolution, lawsuits, and via DRM.

    Our culture is accustomed to copying, because of the VCR, and it is not possible, a la prohibition, to legislate out of existance an act which is widely culturally accepted.

    DRM is a brittle solution, since the P2P networks provide immediate and universal distribution of material; if a DRMed product is broken *just once*, then it's gone - it goes public, and that's that. Since DRM is a major investment, and since these companies have a long habit of choosing proprietory security implimentations, I think they're on a burning plane with no parachutes.

    All in all, I think the heyday of the major distributors is over.

  • New music (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Shant3030 ( 414048 ) * on Monday November 08, 2004 @04:05PM (#10757980)
    I strongly feel that new music is just awful. These new musicians are horrendous, and shoved down our throats by huge media marketing campaigns. Throw in the fact that hip-hop has become the mainstream and its driven by no-talent ass clowns (Lil' John, Birdy, Chingy, Nelly, etc), we won't see any good music for a while.

  • by joeaggie ( 530447 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @04:33PM (#10758488)
    Four years ago, if you had said that my favorite style of music would be a genre of country music I'd have probably decked you and told you to never speak such blasephemies. But now I love country, I'm not talking about your run of the mill radio-country/Nashville country, I'm talking about "Texas country" or "progressive country". In an era where rock and roll is composed entirely of people with annoying whiney voices and no musical talent whatsoever and rap/hip-hop artists are starting to remind me more and more of the way 80's heavy metal bands started acting with their excesses of everything, Texas country has filled my musical gap.

    I know, I know... most of the people on Slashdot are probably thinking I've started smoking crack or something, but I can honestly say I can't remember the last time I bought a new rock album. Try bands like Cross Canadian Ragweed or Reckless Kelly, they are more southern rock than country. Pat Green is the godfather of the Texas music scene, although I think he's starting sound more and more "Nashville", check out his older albums. There are too many other names to mention here but i'll put a link on the bottom of the page.

    Of all current styles of music this seems to be the only one that doesn't have completely innane lyrics, i.e. the lyrics aren't about how much their life sucks like most current rock songs, doing drugs and having sex like most current rap songs(remind you of 80's metal?, hehe), and finally the lyrics aren't some lame patriotic theme or a corny love song like "Nashville country". Not to mention that the artists actually write their own songs, which can't be said about alot of forms of music popular these days. If you still doubt me, then by all means check out some of these bands. I don't think anyone outside of Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana even knows they exist. At the universities here in Texas I don't think I know a single person who hasn't at least heard of these guys. I hope I helped you find alternatives to the RIAA's list of crap....


    Links: [] [] [] [] []

  • by AdrainB ( 694313 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @05:28PM (#10759329)
    I believe the major reason for lackluster sales of CDs is that MTV doesn't play videos anymore and radio is payola, playing the same crap over and over. I think a lot of music buyers have also been alienated by the rise of hip-hop.
  • Nothing new here? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mikers ( 137971 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @06:41PM (#10760324)
    Not too long ago, there was a slashdot article []of an interview with David Crosby on Frontline.

    He talked about how at some point the tone and attitude of big music changed from being supportive and developing of young talent for the long term to being adverserial and short term profit minded.

    I think this economist article is the conclusion and proof of what he was talking about, his thoughts were mostly anecdotal without concrete evidence. From the interview:

    "When it all started, record companies -- and there were many of them, and this was a good thing -- were run by people who loved records," he says. "Now record companies are run by lawyers and accountants. ... The people who run record companies now wouldn't know a song if it flew up their nose and died."
    SRC: PBS Frontline []

    The result of this commercialization and 'selling out' resulted in companies the likes of Sony, BMG, EMI, etc. run by lawyers and accountants. Of course, their first instinct when faced with new technology and a threat is to sue the pants of grandmas and 12 year olds. Way to go corporate America!!!

    I'm gonna apologize for my attitude, for this next part but... I got karma to burn.

    Evidently, having some lawyer or accountant run a business may just well run it into the ground. There is apparently no substitute, no matter how ivy or expensive your degree may be, for heart and really appreciating the business you work with or work in. Being in it for money will eventually sink the ship. It's love of music that brings out the great music, and brings it to the people, not lawsuits, not cheap thrills turned into overnight successes with the help of Payola (to radio stations -- ahem Clear Channel), over promotion and slick advertising (ahem -- MTV).

    I hope Elliot Spitzer rips these companies and the lawyers who run them a new one with his Payola investigation.


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