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Music Media Businesses The Internet The Almighty Buck

Study Finds P2P Has No Effect on Legal Music Sales 294

MBrichacek writes "The Journal of Political Economy is running the results of a study into P2P file-sharing, reports Ars Technica. The study has found that, contrary to the claims of the recording industry, there is almost no effect on sales from file-sharing. Using data from several months in 2002, the researchers came to the conclusion that P2P 'affected no more than 0.7% of sales in that timeframe.' 803 million CDs were sold in 2002, according to the study, which was a decrease of about 80 million from the previous year. While the RIAA has been blaming that drop (and the drop in subsequent years) on piracy, given the volume of file-sharing that year the impact from file sharing could not have been more than 6 million albums total. Thus, 74 million unsold CDs from that year are 'without an excuse for sitting on shelves.'"
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Study Finds P2P Has No Effect on Legal Music Sales

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  • by nickyx ( 897989 )
    Is this not what people on slashdot have been saying for years!?
  • The Original Report (Score:5, Informative)

    by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn@ g m a i l .com> on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @10:19AM (#17996502) Journal
    The paper that The Journal of Political Economy [] is citing is The Effect of File Sharing on Record Sales: An Empirical Analysis [][PDF Warning!] which I found hosted on Koleman Strumpf of UNC Chapel Hill's school homepage although it is also available via one of my favorite (though not very comprehensive) research sites, Citeseer [].

    Something interesting to note is that this paper is dated March of 2004 (not too new as Ars Technica reported) and it causes me great wonder why I've never come upon this before (or why it's never been cited in the news). I recall reading tons of reports from one of the Associations where piracy is proven to hurt record sales but several years after this one is published, I finally see it.

    For those of you interested in the data, pages 34 on contain some very interesting data whereby downloads are broken down by song, album, country & genre (in case everyone was trying to pin illegal downloads on those damned teeny boppers).

    For those of you who wish to question the sample size, see Section B. "File Sharing Data and Album Sample" of the paper. You will also be interested in reading Appendix A in which they call into question their own sample sizes and weigh in on how accurate they might or might not be. To quote the paper for some more detail on the downloads samples,

    Over the sample period we observe 1.75 million file downloads or roughly ten per minute.10 This is about 0.01% of all the downloads in the world. A significant majority of the downloads were music files. U.S. users accounted for about one third of the downloads (and the data contain about 0.01% of all music downloads by U.S. users).
    To quote the paper on album sales samples,

    The mean of sales for these albums during our observation period is 151,786 copies, ranging from 71 copies to 3.5 million copies.
    Don't kid yourself, this is a difficult study to do. Both the downloads and album sales must be sampled and modeled correctly to draw correct conclusions. In the end, it would be hard to verify/discredit any studies done on this topic since A) consumers are human and therefore erradic & B) macro economics still isn't well understood.

    Now, for those of you who just want the bottom line at the end of the paper,

    We find that file sharing has no statistically significant effect on purchases of the average album in our sample.
    And, from the very end of the paper,

    If we are correct in arguing that downloading has little effect on the production of music, then file sharing probably increases aggregate welfare. Shifts from sales to downloads are simply transfers between firms and consumers. And while we have argued that file sharing imposes little dynamic cost in terms of future production, it has considerably increased the consumption of recorded music. File sharing lowers the price and allows an apparently large pool of individuals to enjoy music. The sheer magnitude of this activity, the billions of tracks which are downloaded each year, suggests the added social welfare from file sharing is likely to be quite high.
    Yeah, that's right, the research concluded that "file sharing probably increases aggregate welfare." I'll bet if we all got drills & augers, we could get that into the brains of the people running the RIAA & MPAA.
    • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @10:41AM (#17996746)

      Yeah, that's right, the research concluded that "file sharing probably increases aggregate welfare." I'll bet if we all got drills & augers, we could get that into the brains of the people running the RIAA & MPAA.
      That's been one of the main facets of those opposed to the xxAA camps. However, this study mentions some symptoms without delving into them.

      File sharing enables more acts to be exposed to a larger audience. File sharing is probably hurting radio more than it is artists, as it becomes increasingly difficult to cater to the growing diverse tastes of what used to be their audience. Basically, I pose that file sharing is taking the place of radio to promote artists. Why do I say promote? If you've ever heard an MP3 or other compressed format played at a reasonable or louder volume on quality equipment, you wouldn't be asking.

      Control of musical output is being taken away from large conglomerates, and is actually being put back into the hands of the people. Over the course of the last 20 or so years, the FCC has allowed the independent radio station to become extinct as they were gobbled up mainly by one of 2 corporations: Infinity and ClearChannel. These corporations, namely ClearChannel as I have personally seen them destroy the selection of radio stations in my city, have attempted to create a one size fits all set of stations to pump music and [lack of] talent through to the chumps, um, audience. Via this control, and payola, for which I have no direct proof other than the absolute crap on the radio that has driven away large portions of their audience, they thought they were setup to just print money by promoting talentless acts with crappy contracts that would "sell" just because they promoted them.

      What happened instead is this internet thing and P2P, wherein people started sharing music, music that wasn't promoted, wasn't on the local airwaves, and thus not in the RIAA members's maximized profit model. It got even worse when sites like MySpace (yes, I have to give it some props) started serving as an alternative promotion source for bands.

      So there's much more to P2P and music sales than what these or any statistics show. Falling sales are not related to increased P2P. I'd argue that sales haven't fallen any more than they have explicitly because of P2P. Why? Take a look at the last 6 months of album releases. Can you name more than 2 albums of note? I can't. I haven't seen a single Rock/Alternative/Pop album I wanted in the past 6 months. Is it because there aren't any musicians out there? Naah, it's because tripe has been promoted and is all that's for sale.
      • by Danse ( 1026 )

        File sharing is probably hurting radio more than it is artists, as it becomes increasingly difficult to cater to the growing diverse tastes of what used to be their audience.

        And what's more, they don't even try. For the most part, they simply play what the recording industry pays them to play. This is to further the industry's continuing goal of promoting the hell out of a few artists to create a few bajillion-selling albums instead of getting a wider variety of music out there and making less from each a

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by CastrTroy ( 595695 )
          A little analogy to help this along. I've met a lot of Americans who say that they like Nickelback. Most people from Canada can't stand Nickelback. And do you know why? Well, Canadian content laws say that a certain percentage of music on the radio has to be from Canadian artists. So, because Nickleback is Canadian, and they are popular, you hear them about once an hour. They get way overplayed, and people stop wanting to listen to it. Even if Nickleback was replace with (insert best band ever), it wo
          • It is the same here (Portugal). I don't listen to radio anymore because i hate listening to the same half a dozen hits the whole day. But it's not because of protectionism, nobody respects the quotas for national music, 90% of what plays in our radios is anglo-saxon pop/rock.

            If the quotas were enforced it would actually be an opportunity for many national artists that can't pierce through the anglo-saxon corporate machine and the puppet radio stations.

            Not that I don't like anglo-saxon music, but I wo

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) *

            I don't think the radio has ever been that good, but once file sharing came along as a way to find new music, the radio lost 98% of any appeal it had.

            No kidding!

            Q: What's the only advantage radio still has compared to my iPod?

            A: Traffic reports.

      • Basically, I pose that file sharing is taking the place of radio to promote artists.

        One problem here. To hear an artist on P2P, you need to search for them, either by name, or song title. While this is great to find other artist's covers of a favorite song, a new artist with a new song title doesn't have an easy road to being discovered, downloaded, and listened to.

        Radio, OTOH, will play stuff you never knew existed until you heard it there.

    • It amazes me how this is news at all. This has been all over Slashdot, and repeatedly referred to. I got into an argument with someone who claimed that because this article was cited by people who pirated, it somehow wasn't valid data (!?) Somehow the oldness of the news also meant that people stopped treating the data as compelling, as if old data loses accuracy. Besides the pro-piracy lobby wanted to say "(intellectual) property is theft", which, you'll have to admit is a lot more dramatic.

      The argum

      • Notably, the music industry "hit back" with a paper called "Piracy on the High 'C's", who's central contention was that students did spend less on music. A barely mentioned acedemic paper that I discovered when researching the issue mayself had a response to that: older people who pirate buy more, and younger people buy less.

        In unrelated news, the Beer Brewers' Association of America (BBAA) announced that there was a correlation between filesharing and a steep drop-off in sales of premium beers. "We are aligning ourselves with the RIAA and the MPAA because it is clear that filesharing has far reaching effects in our economy and must be stopped," announced BBAA chairperson Miranda Stone.

        In other news, the makers of Bud, Miller, Coors, Pabst Blue Ribbon and Mickey's Big Mouth withdrew from the BBAA today, citing record prof

  • by Anonymous Coward
    That means they should give back some of the money they've confiscated in lawsuits over their 'losses'.
    As if the world were fair.
  • Exactly (Score:4, Insightful)

    by omeg ( 907329 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @10:20AM (#17996516)
    I never believed that P2P would have a significant effect on the sales of records. Let's face it: most of us will simply go out and buy a record if we really want to have it. If we don't really want to have it, we may still pirate it. But we would definitely not go out and hand over a hunk of cash for it. Most of the music that we warez, I believe, would be the music that we wouldn't otherwise buy. Same goes for movies, games, everything.

    It's easy for the large publishers to complain and act as though their sales are declining due to the increasing amount of P2P networking, but you might as well say that global warming is the cause. Afterall, neither have ever been proven to have a huge effect on record sales...
    • Re:Exactly (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Mad Dog Manley ( 93208 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @10:31AM (#17996626)
      I believe the reason for CD sales declining is far more simplier than "P2P caused it" or even "all new music sucks". Maybe the real reason is simply that the format is starting to die. I own dozens of CDs but I don't even play them anymore. I play MP3s on my computer or on a portable device (that conveniently connects to my home and car stereo on demand), or the very least listen to the digital radio stations on my digital cable (which also carries 15 local radio stations from the city where I live). 15 songs per cd? That's *so* 90's.
      • Re:Exactly (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Robber Baron ( 112304 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @10:48AM (#17996850) Homepage
        Another factor is there is more competition for that $20 burning a hole in your pocket. Let's face it: You have more choices now: a $15 CD with one or two good songs (total entertainment duration 10 min), a $20 DVD (total entertainment duration 2+ hours), or you can put a couple of $20s together and by a game and have many many hours of entertainment. Well guess what? More often than not, the lackluster music CD is probably going to lose.
        • by Gonarat ( 177568 ) *

          Don't forget you can also rent movies either from a store or via Netflix. If you rent a movie that sucks, you are only out the amount of the rental, so it is not a big deal. If it is a movie you want to keep, then you can go down to the store and pick it up for around $20. The music industry in their infinite wisdom, got the laws changed to make renting CDs illegal, so that eliminates one way of previewing music. In addition, radio is so lame that it is almost useless for finding new tunes.

          The RIAA keep

    • If we don't really want to have it, we may still pirate it.

      Yeah? Do people really listen to music that's not great? I can't imagine any reason to do that with the amount of great music that can be had.

      After ripping my CD collection and throwing out all the tracks that are just bad, I'm still left with *days* of music. I'd no sooner download a crappy song on p2p than listen to some low-grade track from Tunnel of Love when I can listen to Born to Run again.

  • Blah blah blah. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SatanicPuppy ( 611928 ) * <Satanicpuppy AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @10:26AM (#17996574) Journal
    If god himself passed down this information on gleaming tablets 20 miles on a side, the RIAA and the MPAA wouldn't believe it for a second. Likewise the reverse; downloaders don't believe that piracy hurts legitimate artists, and they won't no matter what the evidence says.

    Frankly, it's obviously somewhere in the middle. I doubt that p2p does much damage to music sales, but it has to have SOME impact...I mean, when I get some stupid pop song stuck in my head and I download it instead of buying it, that's a few bucks that won't go to the damn RIAA, and I have enough disposable cash that I might have bought it, if I had no other option.

    On the flip side, I tend to download songs off CDs I already own, so I don't have to get out the sharpie to scribble over the stupid data track, so I can rip it. That's the definition of a no damage situation.

    Neither side is ever going to compromise on this; the **AA's are as convinced we're screwing them as we are that they're screwing us. Eventually they'll just wither away and die due to changing distribution models, and that will be the end of that.
    • when I get some stupid pop song stuck in my head and I download it instead of buying it, that's a few bucks that won't go to the damn RIAA

      When you get some stupid pop song stuck in your head, are you really thinking about purchasing the entire CD knowing that the remaining tracks are probably garbage? I doubt it. You downloaded it because you never intended to buy it. And you probably only downloaded the single track, not the entire album. Besides, there's no difference between downloading the song and
      • If you read down, I admit that yea, I might buy it. Might not, but I tend to impulse buy music, and have some really embarrassing stuff on CD.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by aussie_a ( 778472 )

      downloaders don't believe that piracy hurts legitimate artists

      Of course it hurts legitimate artists. The people it doesn't hurt are the people's work you're pirating.

      If piracy became impossible tomorrow and ever more then people aren't going to suddenly go to music stores and buy lots of music. Instead they'll find someone who offers them a price they're willing to pay, which will be an indie artist (who may use ads on their website to make money). If they have a choice between the pirated works of the latest RIAA shill or an indie artist whose offering their work fo

      • Or maybe I would just say "fuck you all" and pick up my guitar and amuse muself. Or I might just go play outside...

        You have to face the facts: Digital copies made by people who never would have bought the music in the first place have no relevance whatsoever, and do not hurt anyone, be it the RIAA or "indie" musicians. You might as well assume for the sake of this discussion that for all practical purposes, neither the copies, nor the copiers even exist, because the effect they are having is the same as
        • People seek entertainment in one form or another. If they won't go to indie musicians then they'll go to television or they'll go to whores. They'll go somewhere for their entertainment. Very few people are willing to be bored for no reason in particular.
        • However, I know people that have never bought a CD in their life, have 8000 songs, and spend over 3 hours a day listening to music? These are people who make more than enough albums to buy a couple albums a month. Are the artists that then listen to getting hurt by them not buying the album. You can argue that well, they weren't going to buy it anyway, but then what would they be listening to? If people spend that much time listening to music, then they should be buying at least some of it. 15 years ago
    • Downloading may have a POSITIVE impact on purchasing, as people that download music get into the habit of getting new music, and they know what the offerings are.

      I personally have never bought anywhere near as much music as when I was downloading like crazy (Napster period), and I've seen the same pattern in others for downloading other things: The people I know that download tons of films also buy a bunch - the guy I know that download most films also has about 2000 legitimately purchased movies.


      • I probably know just as many people who download tons of music/movies and never buy a single thing. I think that things go both ways, and that some people do buy more because of file sharing, but don't pretend that there isn't a lot of people taking a free ride, downloading everything and buying nothing.
  • by MartinG ( 52587 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @10:27AM (#17996592) Homepage Journal
    The people who base their opinions on available facts have suspected this for years.

    Most people prefer supposition and believing what's "obvious" and they will continue to ignore the facts anyway.

  • by robably ( 1044462 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @10:36AM (#17996688) Journal
    You know what would shift those 74 million unsold CDs? Robot monkeys. A free robot monkey with each CD. Ones wearing little black leather jackets for the rock CDs, pink tutus for girl bands, green hair for punks. You could call them Andy The Happy Robot CD Monkey & His Fab Monkey Pals if you like.

    My pleasure.
  • by LibertineR ( 591918 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @10:37AM (#17996702)
    I dont mean that current music is bad, I'm talking about having to shell out 14-18 dollars for a CD with maybe 2-3 decent song titles. I wonder when anyone is going to take notice on how much Apple is making selling individual song titles?

    The music consumer has wised up, and many of us sample music we are interested in on MP3, WMA, whatever, and find out what is good and what sucks BEFORE spending our money. When I find good music, I generally purchase the CD, but I'll be dammed if I am going to part with money for a disk full of B-sides.

    Record companies got greedy, when they could have made a fortune selling CDs for 7-10 dollars.

    Right fucking NOW, some stupid record exec is reading the report, and in his mind, sees it as another opportunity to RAISE prices.

    Fuck um.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Now that people can buy individual songs, there's no excuse for a record company or artist to put 2 or 3 good songs and then fill the rest up with crap. And they're slitting their own throats doing so.

      But if the RIAA would get their heads out of their ass and realize that the majority of the population doesn't want to hear the crap they put out they might turn things around. First off they're marketing to the wrong bunch. They're marketing to the decling population of teens to twenties. This worked in the 6
      • I agree with most of what you said, but I dont agree with you on babyboomers not downloading warez. I am in a group of folks sharing high quality FLACs of some of the best stuff out there. Warez is actually keeping music alive for new generations. How many kids can afford the CD Set of Rossini's Barber of Seville with Peters and Merrill? That bitch was $70 at the now-deceased Tower Records.(yeah it hurt so much, I'll never forget) Young people cant afford that stuff, but there are sites where you can get th
  • Study is Wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phoenixwade ( 997892 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @10:38AM (#17996704)
    Filesharing HAS caused a drop in CD sales.

      A. File sharing has caused RIAA lawsuits
      B. RIAA lawsuits have pissed off customers
      C. Pissed off customers look for other things to buy instead of CD's.

    A->B->C so A->C

    On a more serious note.... This reminds me of the global warming debate.. First you have those that say it's happening and those that say it isn't. Then enough studies come out that Global warming happening becomes the prevailing idea. So the next debate is Well, humans are causing it/it's natural. and so forth.

    So we've seen the Cd sales are diminishing debate, CD sales ARE going down, now we're looking at why, the debate is File shareing / not file shareing / impact of file shareing.

    I will be quite happy when the debate turns to "Your artists are CRAP, CD sales is dropping because the consumer is moving to buy independent artists' work, where they can find decent music."
    • Re:Study is Wrong (Score:4, Interesting)

      by aussie_a ( 778472 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @10:51AM (#17996902) Journal
          A. File sharing has caused DRM (e.g. rootkits).
          B. DRM pisses off customers.
          C. Pissed off customers look for other things to buy instead of CD's.
    • I've just read an article a couples of hours ago saying that the song that Yahoo was selling without DRM seriously outperformed those with DRM.
    • Causality is flawed in most cases. The best thing to do is to look for evidence of NO chain of cause and effect, like this paper does. Otherwise...

      * The Internet is created from ARPA, CERN, and espresso.
      * Universities pick up the Internet.
      * Shawn Fanning gets bored, writes Napster.
      * RIAA shuts down Napster.
      * Nullsoft designs and releases Gnutella.
      * Neo-Modus designs and releases DC.
      * Kazaa is released.
      * Gnutella-style networks evolve into semi-anonymous brightnets.
      * The first open-source darknet client, DC+
  • by Elbowgeek ( 633324 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @10:39AM (#17996722) Journal
    That's the comment I got from various American youths. The music they are interested in has no long term value, unlike the Beatles/Stones/et al. Partly this has to do with the fact that most of modern pop is programmed on a cold computer and utterly devoid of real feeling; I get the feeling that while the kids are diggin' modern music at the same time they are unable to form a true connection to it, in the same way a human can't truly fall in love with a computer, because one knows it's an inanimate object at the end of the day. (And yes, I have read Isaac Asimov's robot story on the subject)

    When I listen to music I'm partly looking to be wowed by the performance of at least some part of the piece. Current electronically generated and produced pop has no real performances to speak of, or if there is one can't be sure whether it's a sample of some old record thrown into the mix.

    The point to all of this is that people now feel no reason to want to own the tracks they think they like (so that they can be listened to years down the road with fond memories) as music has become as commoditized and disposable as Gillette razors - only meant to be used for a certain period of time before being chucked in the bin.

    There's a lot more to the problem of course, but the above does play an important part. The record companies need to produce artists (and they are out there) who produce real music and do it well. Fiddling with MIDI settings all day isn't producing music - it's computer programming.

    • Mod parent up.

      You are so right. When I was growing up, we used to argue over who was the best guitarist, drummer, whatever. It wasnt just about the music. Today, I guess you could argue over who is the best sample-stealer, who lip-syncs the best, (sure as fuck aint Beyonce) and who can gyrate best on stage without losing their headset mic? There is very little talent out there to WATCH and inspire.

      You mention Jeff Beck to some teenager today, and they will ask what did he RAP? They would tell you that B

    • by east coast ( 590680 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @11:37AM (#17997540)
      The music they are interested in has no long term value, unlike the Beatles/Stones/et al.

      Come on. The 60s and 70s didn't have fodder music? Please.

      When's the last time you listened to your Soft Machine albums? When's the last time you listened to Wendy Carlos? Or how about Iron Butterfly?

      Every era of music has trash and time washes it away to expose what of value is left. The Beastie Boys are the Rolling Stones of tomorrow. Bands like Iron Butterfly and Canned Heat are only selling on Ryko comps today. In another 20 years we'll be seeing the commercials for comps that have crap on it like "Whoop! There It Is" and "Who Let The Dogs Out" and people who are the same age as you are today are going to buy them and say the same thing about the music of 2027.

      It always bothers me that people claim there is no good music "like the stones" because they can't be bothered to give other music a try. I know if I only listened to my classic rock station the newest good music I would be hearing is The Clash too.

      Fiddling with MIDI settings all day isn't producing music - it's computer programming.

      Really? How about telling that to Tangerine Dream or Kraftwerk or Ash Ra Tempel? This type of thing has been going on for over 30 years, don't act like it's new. And if "fiddling with midi" is all it takes to sell an album you'd be doing it too. Just because a music is made with electronics doesn't make it easy. Granted that doesn't make it good either but there are tons of guys that "just decided to pick up a guitar" too. Some of them did well (like The Ramones and BTO*) and most ended up playing a few gigs for beers. It's really no different.

      * Before anyone bitches, let's at least be honest enough to admit that bands like BTO and Grand Funk were simple "good times" music and not really the height of talent.
    • I agree with a lot of what you say, but I think you're blurring the line between Writing and Producing - as are artists these days!

      There is skill in writing and playing good music, music that gets you, but there's just as much skill in good production. Similarly, you can take the best actors, scripts and sets in the world, but with a crap production a film will be pretty unengaging. With none of the former but great production, it can be an impressively polished but ultimately unimpacting. They'd both be p

    • Hey old timer, let's slow down and put things in perspective for a bit... :)

      First of all, your observations about electronic music being "cold" and "sterile" are subjective, to say the least. There are plenty of electronic musicians who produce warm, beautiful and emotional music, and plenty who are just writing club hits with no real purpose or meaning. Consider disco -- there are a few disco "classics" that survived the test of time, and lots of crap that just entertained the cokeheads dancing on an ill
  • by JoeCommodore ( 567479 ) <> on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @10:42AM (#17996760) Homepage

    Thus, 74 million unsold CDs from that year are 'without an excuse for sitting on shelves.

    You mean besides the non-music industry perception that they contain music people are not really interested in or are at a price people are not willing to pay?

  • by krunk7 ( 748055 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @10:42AM (#17996766)

    Not much.

    I was never a huge music buyer or listener really, mostly I just relied on friends music collections to carry me through. Though I understand how some folks get completely wrapped up in their music collections, for me it was mainly background noise to what I was really focusing on. As such, a 1/2 decent radio station would suffice when no friends with massive music collections were around.

    Since the p2p downloading craze and the direct download craze that led up to it...though my music collection itself has increased quite a bit, my buying patterns are about the same. Essentially, I have my own personal perfect radio station.

    Conversely, I do directly attribute P2P with significantly increasing my spending in one area: live concerts.

    Though my effort/money put toward accruing music hasn't changed at all, my exposure to music has vastly increased with the ease of "collection" that p2p has brought. I've always loved a live show, so much so that it probably explains my aversion to recorded music. I love the little flaws in a live performance that gives the music a personality that is often stripped away by significant remastering at the recording studio.

    Since a show costs anywere from 10-60 dollars and I'm going to more then ever and in genres I never considered before.....I'd say the music industry is profiting form me more then ever.

  • They're garbage... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by faloi ( 738831 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @10:42AM (#17996768)
    Thus, 74 million unsold CDs from that year are 'without an excuse for sitting on shelves.

    That's the excuse. Sorry, people are buying less CDs because so many of the new CDs pushed by major labels are cookie-cutter copies of other CD's that sold well. Maybe I'm just getting crotchety in my old age, but all the music *does* sound the same to me.
  • 9 out of 10 CD's the RIAA is likely tracking contain crap for music that no one is interested in listening to, not to mention how overpriced CD's are now. When CD's were introduced they were about $17 each. During their prime the price dropped to $13 or so, now they are on the way back up. The Internet has made more music available to people than was ever available at any traditional "record store", and much of it is truly free. What CD's teens I know are buying are split probably 50-50 new music and music
  • There is an excuse (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bullfish ( 858648 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @10:45AM (#17996798)
    For all the CD's unsold and rotting on the shelves... they are assembly-line crap... like fast food for the masses, it is bland. Pay attention and you will see that a lot of what kids are listening to is... old fogey music! When I was a kid, I would never have listened to my dad's music because ours was so much better. Now, my son and his friends are hitting me up for ACDC, Led Zeppelin and many other old gems... in fact last night I turned him on to... the Cars!

    There is some good indie music out there, but the major companies shun it while pushing out their canned pap. This is what is on the shelves rotting (as it should). No wonder their primary source of funds seems to be lawsuits right now.

    No wonder the Police have chosen to reunite. The rockers with walkers are making a killing because the industry today is creatively bankrupt. Bring on Jagger, the Stones and their musical wheelchairs.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by east coast ( 590680 )
      For all the CD's unsold and rotting on the shelves... they are assembly-line crap...

      I ask you to go look at the charts and see what is selling. While I agree much of it is radio fodder the bottom line is that Justin Timberlake or 50Cent or whomever outsold Pink Floyd last year. Pink Floyd is timeless and will continue to sell long after Timberlake and his ilk are worm food but that still doesn't make it deniable that pop outsells classic rock. The industry had it good when we classic rock fans were busy
      • You raise some good points... and it is true that bubblegum or pop music will outsell the old classics in the short term (the Archies had a number one record once if you want to be a-feared), but the classic rock albums do sell. I think their sales figures might even be higher if my son and others like him didn't just walk over to dad's collection and pull some rips for his player. And at those old rocker concerts, there are not just old farts like us there, lots of young people.

        True too, I was broke as a k
        • I think their sales figures might even be higher if my son and others like him didn't just walk over to dad's collection and pull some rips for his player.

          This is true to a point but if it wasn't for us loyalist fans these kids today may never turn on to classic stuff. It's an odd paradox: either they get it for free from you and maybe fill in a few gaps in your collection with a real honest-to-God CD or they never find out about it and it never sells in the first place. I think the situation is pretty go
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        I would have loved to have seen Rush back in the 80s. I just didn't have the funds.

        I knew that you'd be kinda strapped for cash then, so I went out of my way to see several Rush concerts for your benefit during the mid/late 80's. They kicked ass then, as was to be expected. In particular, the Hampton, VA dates for the Power Windows and Hold Your Fire tours were quite good - Blue Oyster Cult opened the Power Windows concert, and Primus opened for Hold Your Fire.
        • I knew that you'd be kinda strapped for cash then, so I went out of my way to see several Rush concerts for your benefit during the mid/late 80's.

          And you didn't even get me a t-shirt? Man, I've been hosed.
  • contrary to the claims of the recording industry

    Remember, that is also contrary to the claims of almost everyone on slashdot too... So many times I've heard that P2P increases sales. Since everyone has an "I found this band and bought the album" story.
    • To me it, realy worked in both way. I bought many CDs from artists I wouldn't have considered purshassing without a free trial, and almost as often, I could avoid to buy a CD when I discovered that the "artist" could only produce total crap without the backup of the seasoned writers, composers, producers, techies and additional musicians called in to have a semi-decent single (I sometimes however check other works from these backup guys).

      As a french, I'm also faced with a similar issue with TV series: many
    • Well - the argument in the summary is that P2P can't possibly lose more sales than the number of downloads made. Hence the remaining portion of the decline (74 million CDs) can not be blamed on P2P. This still allows for the possibility that P2P itself generates sales, but that this benefit is offset by other factors (e.g. poor quality and high price). It would theoretically be possible that these other factors cost 90 million in lost sales, while P2P would enable 10 million sales which would otherwise not
  • Rots Your Brains (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @10:45AM (#17996810) Homepage Journal
    Their record sales plummeted because the music they're selling sucks. And because the music sold before is now available in much greater amounts, whether on "classic" (rock/R&B/80s/oldies) radio, much less destructible (than vinyl/tape) CDs, and even downloads that don't get lost as much.

    The music biz used to be mainly in the business of finding artists coming from the mass of people, trying them out before "focus groups" (live audiences) who selected themselves from the cultural word of mouth, and cultivating them for a decade or more. The artists getting the most continuing investment were those most successful in either a live audience, or record sales even in a regionally highly varied market, feeding back with radio play. A natural coevolution of the artists and the audience, when mediated best by the music biz people engaged into both.

    Now the biz thinks it's smarter than the market. Creating fake "artitst" who are really just spokesmodels in videos for a recorded product tied in with cobranded products like so much anime breakfast cereal. The model is to create as many products that can be most controlled as possible, within a narrow range of those styles best "understood" by the marketers, pushing more money than brains through the network of middleman connections, and maximizing the profit from anything that looks like it's "hitting". Meanwhile, these "smarter than the market" marketers are dumber than ever before, especially about music and the mass of people in the market, because the smarter ones have already fled the sinking ship a decade ago.

    It's like the factory farms that breed mad cow. No wonder the music sounds like a soundtrack to the cows' death dance.
    • by RyoShin ( 610051 ) <tukaro@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @11:24AM (#17997354) Homepage Journal

      Their record sales plummeted because the music they're selling sucks.
      Not only that, but it is now easier than ever for an indie band to get sales and fame. So now the big labels are not able to force their usual 2/3s of the pie on them, since newer bands have a lot more leverage. Observe:

      RIAA company: "We'll distribute your CD and songs on iTunes, but we get 70% of the take."
      New band: "Whatever, I can use something like CDBaby [] and do the same for only a 20% take."
      RIAA company: "Buh... uh... won't you think of the children? And by that, I mean our children. How will they ever afford a new Hummer?!"

      Songs from (good) indie bands that do a lot of exposure are then picked up by the indie stations, and eventually make their way to the various ClearCrap stations who don't want to lose listeners to the stations that play more than the top 40s.
    • "Creating fake "artitst" who are really just spokesmodels in videos for a recorded product tied in with cobranded products like so much anime breakfast cereal."

      But think about all the boy singing acts in the 50's/60's such as Fabian ( r%29) These were modestly talented singers who were pushed by the record companies to be stars and sell records to pubescent girls. Or in the 60's all the girl singing groups that came out. Or closer to the present, Brittany
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Doc Ruby ( 173196 )
        That's mostly true. Except that Fabian and the girl groups were themselves real musicians, if only "modestly talented", who survived the evolutionary pool of "the streets" to get "discovered" (and then promoted, as you say). And then developed - they all were cultivated for years, especially if they had any success, even regional, especially live. And their success was based on their music, even if it was pablum supporting their "image" in teenybopper magazines. Not how photogenic they were on video, even c
    • The music biz used to be mainly in the business of finding artists coming from the mass of people, trying them out before "focus groups" (live audiences) who selected themselves from the cultural word of mouth, and cultivating them for a decade or more. The artists getting the most continuing investment were those most successful in either a live audience, or record sales even in a regionally highly varied market, feeding back with radio play. A natural coevolution of the artists and the audience, when medi
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        It's a model for long term gain, not short term profit. There are still some people and small companies following this model, but I agree they are dying out.

        Market economics will quickly provide competition for short-term profit, but I suspect that markets don't innovate so well when the timescales are longer and the risks appear higher. The established market probably has to collapse in some way first, and some new bottom-up models emerge to fill the gap.

        Sort of like an ecosystem that has ecological nich
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Doc Ruby ( 173196 )
        The RIAA is a cartel. Cartels are anticapitalistic, like monopolies.
  • albums vs. songs (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bsomerville ( 1063638 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @10:46AM (#17996818)
    One possible flaw in the study is that consumers are often not interested in entire albums. If the data is being presented in album units, and most of the download traffic is around popular songs from those albums, that explains some of the discrepancy.
  • [ ]Because the Music Sucks
    [ ]Because collectors are mostly done converting their Cassettes to CD format
    [ ]Because the Industry is putting out less music
    [ ]All of the above
    • Because collectors are mostly done converting their Cassettes to CD format

      A real collector NEVER buys pre-recorded music on cassette. It was cheaper to buy the LP and a good quality blank cassette and make your own cassette copy while retaining the original quality of wax.

      Even when cassettes were half the price of CDs I never bought cassettes because the quality sucked that bad. Making my own cassette was always a much better deal even though the cost was much higher.
  • currently sucks hard. The reason for falling sales figures is because the stuff the they are foisting on us sucks. Stop trying to create music acts out of thin air with payola and hard sell promotion. The music acts that are worth listening to will emerge on thier own and if they are worth listening to, people will gravitate to them. The music will sell and everyone wins. I stopped listening to the radio since even the stations I like (WAAF in Boston for the most part) don't even play the stuf
  • The CD format isn't going to be here forever. How often do you pull out those 8-tracks or cassette tapes and listen to music? CD will eventually go by the wayside much like these have done. Also note that distribution is the right of the copyright owner. Consider a world without CDs and prolific, legal file sharing. Who's buying music now? MP3 files are free for the taking so why purchase another copy via iTunes? There is no correlation in this study between downloading files and actually going out a
  • by frankie ( 91710 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @11:06AM (#17997108) Journal

    If I like a song enough to want a local copy of it, my first step is to check iTunes. Usually I find the song (recent example: Yell Fire by Michael Franti) and its associated album. If I like the other songs enough, I buy the whole thing, otherwise just the one. However...

    If the song is NOT on iTunes (recent example: Justified & Ancient by Tammy & the KLF), I click the icon I keep right next to iTunes... Poisoned []. It's exceedingly rare not to find exactly what I want on P2P. As far as I'm concerned, I made a good faith effort to pay for it, and my conscience is clear.

  • OK, here's a shameless plug for local talent... There's lots of great music in the clubs, lounges, open mics and hundreds of other venues around your house (unless you live in Antarctica). Here's a couple videos from a local singer that was filmed in Coral Springs, FL just a couple miles from my house:

    Moving On []

    Original []
  • music sales are subject to the same economic highs & lows like anything else, even more so since music and video are (should be) on the lower end of people's priorities since food, shelter, paying the bills and other more important items comes first...

    if the MPAA/RIAA & music/movie industry can not figure this out then they should be going the way of the dinosaur (extinct)...
  • by mshurpik ( 198339 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @11:21AM (#17997308)
    Apparently what the RIAA fears from piracy is not direct losses. They've been shamelessly inflating those numbers for years. What they fear is that piracy allows users a greater preview, which makes them smarter, which makes them less likely to buy the crap that's on the shelves.

    Back when I was a kid, the way I "found" new bands was to go to the CD store and randomly buy something. Either that, or the radio. Nowadays I'd be ashamed to buy music sight-unseen (that is, unheard) but it used to be normal behavior.
  • I think one issue everyone's missing is the availability of non-mainstream music to almost anyone with an internet connection. Between Myspace, Wikipedia, affordable broadband, and the increasing hunger for new and exciting things, kids and young adults are finding increasingly numerous places to discover and enjoy music in amounts that they wouldn't have been able to find ten years ago. A lot of what we're seeing is the spreading out of disposable income, and the only people who are pissed about that are
  • by sherpajohn ( 113531 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @11:30AM (#17997450) Homepage
    I buy about 16 or so CD's a year. Generally 4 batches of 4 or so. But I have to order them online from Europe ( in Germany - great folks run it!), since no stores in Canada sell anything from the labels I buy. Now that's not 100% true, there is a couple of artists I listen to (Delerium, Conjure One) that are actually Canadian, and another artist (Toby Marks ala Banco De Gaia) who has distribution here (though I now buy CD's directly from him, get them sooner than waiting for the release).

    I pretty much stopped buying the drivel put out my the major labels in the early 90's, stopped listening to the radio ( FTW!), and most of the concerts I go to are old bands coming back for the umpteenth time - though I did see Coldplay's 2nd tour which was darn good!

    To my mind the music *business* has turned into just that - a machine designed to reap the greatest money from the consumer for the least amount of effort/talent/artistry. There are tons of fantastic artists out there, but the vast majority of them record on little tiny labels (, are two that I consider noteworthy).

    I admit to doing a bit of Nabstering in my day, but honestly all I was looking for were extended mixes of 80's tunes that are not available anywhere. I would not even consider pirating/downloading any of the music I listen to all the time if I can buy it on CD.
    • I'm not sure if this is the best place to post this, but you just listed two of my favourite groups, Sherpajohn -- Conjure One and Delerium. I like Banco de Gaia too. Any chance you can give me more recommendations? :) People with my taste in music are few and far between.

  • Like many in my age bracket, I was pretty into Napster back before it started getting mainstream press. I think I had, at most, a thousand songs at one point; I saw collections numbering in the 10s of thousands, though, so this isn't an impressive number.

    Before that, I never purchased media myself. I was content to listen to the radio, or the infrequent CD my parents would get as a gift.

    After Napster tanked, I moved with the masses to Kazaa, continuing to expand my music selection. Somewhere around the end
  • by mapkinase ( 958129 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @02:17PM (#18000210) Homepage Journal

    Study Finds P2P Has No Effect on Legal Music Sales

    The other study Finds Stealing Has No Effect on Wealth of the Riches.

Space is to place as eternity is to time. -- Joseph Joubert