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Music Media Businesses

CD Music Sales Down 20% In Q1 2007 544

prostoalex writes "Music sales are not just falling, they're plummeting — by as much as 20% when you compare January-March 2007 with the 2006 numbers. The revenue numbers are actually worse, since CD prices are under pressure. The Wall Street Journal lists many factors contributing to the rapid decline: 800 fewer retail outlets (Tower Records' demise alone closed 89); increasingly negative attitude towards CD sales from big-box retailers (Best Buy now dedicates less floor space to CDs in favor of better-selling items); and file sharing, among others. Songs are being traded at a rate about 17 times the iTunes Store's recent rate of sales. Diminishing CD sales means that you don't have to sell as many to get on the charts. The 'Dreamgirls' movie soundtrack recently hit #1 by selling 60,000 CDs in a week, a number that wouldn't have made the top 30 in 2005."
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CD Music Sales Down 20% In Q1 2007

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    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by BlueTrin ( 683373 )
      The music industry needs to understand that they need to renew themselves.

      Some suggestions:
      • Create rings of users and link the myspace fan websites/blogs all together
      • Organize chat sessions with artists
      • Regroup all of that in links/messages depending of your tastes in your profile (so you won't have to browse a bazillion sites to access what you are interested in
      • Provide a coupon in every CD to have access to clips (everytime you register your CD/have bought online a song), you can access special c
  • by TheDreadSlashdotterD ( 966361 ) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @01:20PM (#18445753) Homepage
    "You're not entitled to my money" is that lesson.
    • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @01:32PM (#18446035)
      > "You're not entitled to my money" is that lesson.

      The more things change, the more they stay the same.

      "There has grown in the minds of certain groups in this country the idea that just because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with guaranteeing such a profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary to public interest. This strange doctrine is supported by neither statute or common law. Neither corporations or individuals have the right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back."

      - Heinlein, Life Line, 1939

      • Darn it!

        I never have mod points when I need them...


        Mod this post up as insightful.

      • by Dr. Manhattan ( 29720 ) <[sorceror171] [at] [gmail.com]> on Thursday March 22, 2007 @01:46PM (#18446309) Homepage

        This strange doctrine is supported by neither statute or common law.

        Of course, that was before the DMCA and the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act, etc.

      • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Thursday March 22, 2007 @02:39PM (#18447393) Homepage

        There really seems to be a sense of entitlement here (by record companies). They made money once upon a time with their business model, and so they expect that their old business model must necessarily be enforced by law. Now, the truth is that they still do make money, and they can continue to make money, but just not as much money with the same business model.

        Anyway, people seem to forget that our population wasn't born to be disposable consumers for large corporations. We do not exist to be bullied and exploited for profit. Companies and corporations are a means to an end. They are artificial constructions so that we can organize ourselves into a society that can work efficiently to provide for ourselves. Record labels, for example, aren't entitled to money for simply creating a product; they must create a product we want, but more than that they must create a product efficiently enough that they can sustain their endeavor. Their endeavor is really our endeavor. The corporation is created and empowered by our society for the good of society, and if it fails to benefit us, if it fails to succeed in our endeavor, if it is so inefficient that they cannot sustain their own endeavor, then they've failed us. They are bad businessmen and their business has failed to provide us with what we, as a society, need.

        Believe it or not, I've been accused of being a "communist" for saying things like this. Listening to some people talk, reading some people's comments, you'd think "capitalism" was a moral doctrine in which companies are the true individuals and profit is the only true good. "Morals" should be outlawed from business practices, and all should be sacrificed on the alter of short-term gains and increased stock prices.

        Listen people, capitalism is just an economic theory that personal economic freedom will generally result in greater efficiency than an economy that is run by the government. What we're after here is efficiency in providing for society's needs, but the idea is that if you allow the system to provide benefit to the most efficient and productive, then you will see greater efficiency and more productivity. That's it. There's no moral component. There's still no purpose to it other than to order society efficiently.

        Giving unlimited artificial monopolies to large bodies and guaranteeing inefficient business models against obsolescence is *not* capitalism. Yes, it benefits large companies, but that's not what capitalism is. It's actually a form of communism in which the "government" is supplanted by a partnership between the government and the small number of large companies that run everything. I don't know what you'd call it, but if you ask me, it's not good.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by monkeydo ( 173558 )
        That's a very nice quote, but the only circumstance that has changed is that music is easier to steal. People still want to listen to it, but now they don't have to pay for it.

        But the thieving pirates will continue to rationalize. First it was the claims that you'd be happy to pay for the music, if you could only buy the songs you wanted. ITMS, Napster, et al put the lie to that. Then there were the claims that nobody was getting hurt because the labels were still selling plenty of CDs. Now we know tha
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by cc_pirate ( 82470 )
          I don't "steal" or more correctly, copyright infringe, ANY music. I buy all my music from iTunes. However, since I now can buy ONLY the songs that interest me and am NOT stuck with paying for an entire album of filler just to get the one song I care about, this has undoubted hurt the old RIAA "album" model. Even if EVERYONE bought the songs they wanted from iTunes or similar places, the RIAA companies revenue would STILL go DOWN since they no longer are forced to get the whole CD's worth of mostly useles
    • No the lesson that the music industry will take from this is they need to increase their heavy handed tactics in tracking P2P users. They will always feel that increased enforcement is the answer instead of recognizing that to a large extent, their product is not worth paying for.
  • CD sales down (Score:4, Interesting)

    by iminplaya ( 723125 ) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @01:20PM (#18445759) Journal
    It would be nice to know that all ??AA content was moving 20% less of their volume, including the P2P stuff. How is the indie movement going? Are their numbers up? Let's hope so. Give the artist less incentive to join up with the RIAA and their types.
  • by rednip ( 186217 ) * on Thursday March 22, 2007 @01:22PM (#18445803) Journal
    Only recording artists will be hurt over the long run. Those who are willing to sing for their dinner will do well.
    • by jfengel ( 409917 )
      Out of curiosity, have you ever been a professional musician?
    • by king-manic ( 409855 ) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @01:53PM (#18446441)
      The entire music industry is set up to abuse recording artists. Exorbinant marketting fees, a advanced based signing model, shady producers and a lot of very bad accounting that affects briteney spears as much as it does from . I had friends who had record promoters run up a 17,000 charges to book them in dive bars (within our own town). They never notified them of what was owed or outstanding until my friends demanded to know where they stood financially and the promoters handed them a 17,000 invoice for work and a bit of merch(a few dozen t-shirts, a few dozen logo'd props)... Most of the industry is crooked and sleazy and I won't cry a single tear if every studio that comprises the RIAA went banrupt and all the artists had to fend for themselves. It means the wolves have died and the lambs need to figure out how to get eaten without them.
  • by lawaetf1 ( 613291 ) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @01:23PM (#18445821)
    I wonder a bit about iTunes vs. peer-to-peer metrics. On iTunes one is liable to buy a single track or two whereas on file sharing services downloading the album is usually the only choice (even if you only want one track). This alone would account for some of why file sharing is so much more voluminous.
    • by cyclop ( 780354 )
      This doesn't make any sense. On p2p, AFAIK, it is often easier (or at least as easy) to find a single track (except probably BitTorrent). The SoulSeek network, for example, last time I checked offered practically only separate files (even if you can download whole directories, IIRC). The same holds for the eDonkey network.
      • Truth be told I don't eDonkey or the like but was referring more to torrents where I have seen compilations of every album an artist has done available as one big .torrent. You are surely right, though, about other p2p methods being more selective. I grovel before you and lick your toes.
    • What file sharing service are you using? Individual tracks are what's available on *most* services. This certainly isn't a factor.

      The next time Big Champagne or their ilk publish file sharing data, you compare the files traded number to soundscan sales data. The last few times I've done this, the pirated files for a single track have been more than double the total number of purchased music, even when you include physical and digital, and you include albums and individual tracks.
    • Many of the older p2p services have many options for individual tracks rather than having to download the entire album.

      I guess you're probably thinking of BitTorrent. But most BT clients these days, such as utorrent (which seems to be the most popular client now) allow you to easily choose which portions of a torrent you want to download. So if someone uploads an entire album, you can choose only the individual tracks you want to download.

      Not that I've ever done this before... *cough*

  • by Ctrl-Z ( 28806 ) <tim@ t i m c o l e m a n.com> on Thursday March 22, 2007 @01:23PM (#18445823) Homepage Journal
    This may have something to do with the garbage that the record industry keeps churning out. Seriously, the Dreamgirls soundtrack was #1? What does that tell you?

    It may also have something to do with a downturn in the economy, uncertainty about the future, record levels of consumer debt, and energy prices that take up an ever-increasing share of people's budgets.

    But, certainly, above all these factors, it must be the file sharing!!!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      For the most part, I agree, the stuff that most of the music industry churns out is just that - stuff the music industry CHURNS out. It's default, boring, rehashed stuff. Why even listen to it, let alone buy it.

      Places like iTunes, better yet, offer ways to buy just one track (how many times do people buy an entire CD simply because they like one, maybe two tracks?). Much cheaper.

      Maybe it'll force "artists" to produce somewhat decent quality music.
    • Plus ca change (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Silver Sloth ( 770927 ) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @01:29PM (#18445985)

      the garbage that the record industry keeps churning out
      But it has always been that way. If you're a boring old fart like me then 1967 was the great year for singles (Beatles and the Stones at their prime, the Motown glory days and the US west coast just beginning to wake up) and the top selling single in the UK in 1967 was Tears for Souvenirs by Ken Dodd, not exactly great music. Good (difficult term but I'll let it ride) music tends not to have mass appeal, the charts have always been full of mass produced pap.
      • by tool462 ( 677306 )
        You're crazy. Things are worse now than they ever were before. When I was a kid, things were great. Now I'm an adult--things suck. I didn't change, the world did.

        (sarcasm disclaimer for mods)
      • Re:Plus ca change (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Gr8Apes ( 679165 ) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @01:56PM (#18446521)
        Heck, the other "golden age" of popular music was from around 75-84, when Madonna and her ilk hit the airwaves. You had the punk/heavy metal revolution followed immediately by a revolution caused by MTV. MTV was so desperate for material they'd play anything anyone sent in as long as it wouldn't get them fined. Try to imagine someone like the Talking Heads coming out in today's world if you doubt it. Then again, you'd have to have a music channel on TV that actually played music.
    • Oh please, more people are listening to music than ever before, but there are fewer paying for it. If they can afford $300 ipods you think that they can't afford $.99 tracks? Do you know how many ipods sold last year? Do you seriously think that people don't have any music from the last few years on their ipods because it is all "garbage"?

      It's not all piracy, of course, store closings and more entertainment options have a lot to do with it. But sales have been down for years now, well before any of the
    • by kentrel ( 526003 )
      I know a lot of people who enjoyed the Dreamgirls soundtrack. I haven't heard it myself personally to make a sweeping judgement as to its "garbage" content as you have, but that's not the point. (Though I suspect you never even listened to it in the first place). The point is people like it. They don't care about the opinion of Ctrl-Z from Slashdot, whos opinion is irrelevant to the world, and always will be. Just because you think something is garbage does not mean its an explanation as to why CD sales ar
  • Artists have to be talented AND tour to make money, people not billboard charts determine whats popular ?

    Whatever is the world coming to?

    I'm having some problems with the math, however. If 60,000 cd's gets you #1, but would not have been on the charts in 2005, doesn't this indicate that the drop percentage is quite a bit higher than 20%? I know just one CD is not nearly a good enough sampling to determine this, but the math seemed odd enough to mention given the 2005 reference. TFA did mention Tower (and ot
    • The Billboard chart numbers are generated per week. 60,000 CDs translates to over 3,000,000 CDs if the same number sold each week. But that's way low compared with 2005 numbers.
  • No wonder (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dsginter ( 104154 ) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @01:25PM (#18445875)
    The other day, I was in a trendy clothing store. Embarrassment aside, I could not believe all of the innovative music that they were playing. There was one particular track that I wanted to buy so I queried the sales folk as to the artist name and title. They had no idea and were not provided with any resource to fine out.

    But that got me thinking: The ClearChannel monopoly on our radio stations is the source of this problem. They "pay to play" the same 40 songs all day.

    I remember back in the early 90s when the FCC allowed this sort of thing (it was previously not legal for a single company to own more than a certain amount of radio stations in a given market... I don't know the exact detail but I remember the discussion). I look back on the variety of music from pre-monopolization and it really illustrates the difference.

    But they can always blame the pirates.
    • There was one particular track that I wanted to buy so I queried the sales folk as to the artist name and title. They had no idea and were not provided with any resource to fine out.

      If you can remember 5 words of the lyrics, go to Google and search on: "quoted words" +lyrics. You should get pretty much only the song you want with even that few a number of words, as well as a list of various artists who have covered it.

      Of course, your next step is to try-before-you-buy, to find the version you enjoy mos

  • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @01:26PM (#18445897) Journal

    Jeff Rabhan, who manages artists and music producers including Jermaine Dupri, Kelis and Elliott Yamin, says CDs have become little more than advertisements for more-lucrative goods like concert tickets and T-shirts. "Sales are so down and so off that, as a manager, I look at a CD as part of the marketing of an artist, more than as an income stream," says Mr. Rabhan. "It's the vehicle that drives the tour, the merchandise, building the brand, and that's it. There's no money."
    That is exactly how things are in Asia, due to rampant physical CD piracy.

    Guess what.
    Asia still has a thriving music industry.
    They just have to make their money differently.
  • Prove It? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nbannerman ( 974715 ) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @01:26PM (#18445899)
    Songs are being traded at a rate about 17 times the iTunes Store's recent rate of sales.

    According to the article, this information is provided by BigChampagne LLC. According to their website blurb at http://www.bigchampagne.com/thedata.html [bigchampagne.com] ;

    "Like it or not, the vast majority of online entertainment media is now acquired for free on P2P file sharing networks, and BigChampagne is there."

    Cue lots of rubbish about network operation centres and live feed monitoring. Anyone want to throw out ideas about how they really monitor this stuff? Is there a way of downloading torrents with a client and finding out exact data transfers automatically?
  • by malsdavis ( 542216 ) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @01:26PM (#18445901)
    And the fact that Q1 of 2007 has had virtually no decent new music released couldn't have anything to do with it?

    This is a time when the R&B era is over and Hip-hop is on the decline. Traditional Pop music seems to have all but vanished, rock music has never recovered since the 90's and Punk for several years has been hit & miss.

    Is anyone surprised people are buying less music?

    • I would be surprised if most of the music that is stll being bought is old music: Beetles, etc.
    • Well I wouldn't say that. That is just Old Fogy Talk. Most people when they get over 20 years old normally have their preferred style of music fixed and the new stuff just isn't as good as the old stuff. Talk to your Parents or Grand Parents and they would say Music Topped during the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s. But what I would put more faith in is the fact that people have a much wider selection of music to listen to now, and with the Internet it makes it easy for them to explore these different types and with
    • by pandrijeczko ( 588093 ) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @02:07PM (#18446735)
      This is a time when the R&B era is over

      By all means refer to recent music by (predominantly) black artists as MOBO (Music Of Black Origin) or some other unique name but please DO NOT hijack the name "R&B" (Rhythm and Blues) when describing that kind of music alone. The term "Rhythm and Blues" encompasses a very wide range of music, from the likes of Atlantic Soul music from Otis Redding through blues music like John Lee Hooker, Buddy Guy, etc. and was in use many years before being used as a category for modern mainly-black music.

      Hip-hop is on the decline

      And who's loss is that? All it did was take pieces from earlier songs, tear them apart and have some bloke talking over it.

      rock music has never recovered since the 90's

      A true rock music fan has more than enough material to last him a lifetime anyway. But as someone traditionally into the likes of Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, not only are a lot of my heroes still wheeling themselves out on stage, I also have some good newer bands like Radiohead, Oasis, Kasabian, etc. that I can give a spin. I've been a rock fan (as well as some blues, soul and classical) for 35 years now and I'm still finding new and interesting stuff all of the time, stuff I missed from the early 70s through to new music today.

      The whole "rock is dead" thing is a myth - it just never needed to be particularly cool and fashionable and just got on with it...

      Is anyone surprised people are buying less music?

      I'm actually buying less because I'm enjoying music more. I no longer buy CDs that just turn out to have one good song on them - I read reviews and download it from Usenet or BitTorrent first. If it's good, I buy it (I genuinely have about 1000 legally bought CDs) and if it's crap I delete it.

      And I definitely don't buy from rip-off high street shops any more - much rather new or used online.

  • by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @01:26PM (#18445907)

    Na na Na na...
    Hey hey...

    I figured a song was in order. =)

  • They cost half buying them new, and I can find out of print stuff.
  • CDs are the only way to get some of the music, legally, DRM free. Not that much of it is worth buying these days.
  • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @01:29PM (#18445963) Journal
    Basically it boils down to kids only having a limited amount of money buying other products which are cheaper. Video games, cell phones, and consoles are becoming cheaper yet cds are remaining expensive. Add to deteriorating job market and higher fuel costs which hurt teenage consumers the most, and you will find they would rather spend money on other items.

    THe music companies have their price point figures off with supply and demand and should lower their prices like the game makers and cell phone companies are doing.
    • by Etcetera ( 14711 )

      Add to deteriorating job market and higher fuel costs which hurt teenage consumers the most...

      On NPR?? I'm curious... did they bring up the minimum wage increase (and its effect on the "teenage job market", namely: fewer jobs) or did they just blame it all on Bush and HaliburtonExxonMobile?

    • There are more efficient (in entertainment/dollar) things to buy than CDs. In addition to reducing the spending money people has, this also lowers their "demand" for entertainment. Even if money was not a factor, the emergence of "other stuff to do" results in people not wanting to consume as much music.
  • I wish (Score:3, Insightful)

    by teflaime ( 738532 ) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @01:29PM (#18445979)
    we could say it was the music buying populace engaging in a measured boycott of the industry fronted by the thugs at the RIAA, but sadly, I don't think that's it. And I can't even say that it's because popular music (you know, the kind that climbs the charts) sucks, because it has sucked for 20 years or more (I blame The Cherry Hill Gang). I know why I so rarely buy CDs anymore (there's little I like, and Pandora hasn't catalgued bands I do like yet), but I am considered a social deviant so I don't ascribe such simple and straightforward motives to the mass of the music buying populace.
  • Lots of reasons (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Thaelon ( 250687 ) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @01:30PM (#18446009)
    I have admittedly narrow tastes in music. As one of my friends pointed out I only like bands that released stuff between the years of 1994 and 2000, with a couple of exceptions.

    So the part of the reason sales are down is because I haven't heard anything I wanted to buy in years.
    • by cyclop ( 780354 )
      Just for curiosity: what do you listen, actually? My adolescence spans exactly those years, but I still find a lot of artists I like in 2007.
  • by chinard ( 555270 )
    Lets say for second that this happens, that there is no conceivable way to SELL music anymore.

    Does this mean that people will completely stop writing music, or does this mean that we might actually see some REAL music start to show up again instead of the "focus-group" marketed crap that the industry has been force feeding us.
  • News flash... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lendrick ( 314723 ) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @01:32PM (#18446045) Homepage Journal
    Consumers don't want to fund your lawsuits. Here are some things that the music industry may want to consider if it is to gain its customer base back:

    1. Stop suing your customers. Clearly it's not scaring people out of music piracy, but it's definitely pissing people off.
    2. Get rid of the DRM. You're just punishing your legitimate customers. Oh, that's right, if you sell music without DRM, people might pirate it. Because nobody pirates music now.
    3. People understand economics better than you give them credit for. Given extra middle-men and the cost of production and shelf space, the per-unit cost of a CD is probably fairly high. On the other hand, it costs very little to send a copy of a song over the internet. People know this, and they know the dollar per song price point is high. Lower it. Hell, try cutting it to 25 cents, and you may find that you sell more than four times as many songs. Call it a promotion and see how it works out for you.
  • by Smidge204 ( 605297 ) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @01:32PM (#18446047) Journal
    Music is one of those things that you just don't need a brick-and-mortar shop to sell, or even a physical item. I'm sure the established industry will do everything it can to blame illegal file sharing for this trend, but that is only a vain attempt to prop up a dead business and keep a whole lot of useless people employed collecting big paychecks.

    The simple fact: Their business model is obsolete. I would even go so far to say that the recording industry as a whole is obsolete now that the people who actually make the music have to power to self-publish and self-promote to the entire world.

  • by Slur ( 61510 ) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @01:33PM (#18446055) Homepage Journal
    I got it directly from the artist's web site, and I paid them directly using PayPal. Was that counted for these statistics?

    To give the artist even more credit, they put their *entire album* on their website inside a Flash player so I couldn't have downloaded it, but I suppose I could have hijacked the audio from my web browser. I bought the album because it's damn good, and I wanted to support the artist, and - of course - I wanted to be able to play the tracks in any order and on my iPod.

    Kudos to the band Winterpills for showing just how to sell a damn album!
  • by u19925 ( 613350 ) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @01:34PM (#18446063)
    There are just too many reasons why the CD sales are falling. Here are some of them:
    * Digital music sales
    * Satellite radio
    * Music channels on Cable TV
    * CD's last forever or can be archived on computer and once the media goes bad, you can burn again. This means no more replacement sales. In olden days people used to buy same album again because the media didn't last forever.
    * Lots of DVD/Computer/Games. People are spending their free times on these items instead of listening CD
    * You only need one CD for the entire family. Earlier, I used to buy multiple copies of same albums (for car, house, office etc). Not anymore.
    * Just a seasonal fluctuation with not too much of great music release. .....
  • This makes me really happy. It's pretty clear that the traditional record company business model is on the way out, their final whimperings and thrashings notwithstanding. I don't care what they try to do DRM-wise, because someone smarter than they are will probably break it. Most of you are worried, rightly, about their legislative influence - but this will start eroding rapidly once they are unable to afford the lobbyists. In sum, to the record companies, FUCK YOU - I don't need you.
  • I posted a link to this article in an IRC channel, and this short conversation resulted:

    [ShadowJK] TheSHAD0W, when they say "CD", do they mean proper CD, or the crippled variant that wont play in certain playeers...
    [kjetilho] at least in Europe, they've given up on copy control on CDs
    [kjetilho] even EMI
    [ShadowJK] I wouldn't know, the last time I purchased a music disc it was crippled CD and wouldn't play :-)

    Sounds like there are even more ways the recording industry has been shooting itself in the foot.
  • Wonder how those lower CD prices square up with the constant wail from some slashdotter about how the big evil music companies keep putting prices up because they're clueless, and that makes file-sharing ok.

    Oh yeah, they don't square up. Guess some people have been making stuff up they know nothing about in order to justify their own actions.

  • One of the factors TFA skips over is that there are a tremendous number of high-quality songs available legally, for free. There is so much talent out there that would never be heard under the old label-production-distribution model. The average Joe can now write some great stuff in his bedroom using just his PC and get worldwide publishing overnight, for free. My favorite example of this is Amie Street [amiestreet.com], where songs start out free, and ones that get popular rise in price until they reach a maximum of 98
  • by cosyne ( 324176 ) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @01:46PM (#18446305) Homepage
    there's an effort to make an independent artist #1 on iTunes today
    http://bumrushthecharts.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]
    (dunno if it's a scam or not, but it's an interesting idea)

    also, there was an interesting story on NPR a while back about recording technology, including some mention of the fact that some people were upset when it came along and changed the way people experienced music (from gathering around and playing/singing to just listening). Music will always be around. The Recording Industry won't.
    The Roots of Audio Recordings Turn at 78 RPM by Susan Stamberg
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?story Id=6645723 [npr.org]
    http://www.npr.org/rss/podcast.php?id=1019 [npr.org]
  • I haven't seen anyone mention this one yet: the music industry burns out their few talented people very quickly. Fame, drugs, parties, hip-hop shootings, paparazzi. I'm sure a lot of very talented people just don't want to deal with the problems that come with fame, and record companies really don't make any effort to protect their cash cows...any publicity is good publicity to them.

    Could you imagine if Fleetwood Mac were still together? Sure, they wouldn't be cranking out "Rumours" level success every y
  • by WidescreenFreak ( 830043 ) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @01:48PM (#18446351) Homepage Journal
    This is indicative of nothing. There are so many different aspects to CD/music sales and values that focusing on CD sales is somewhat ludicrous.

    In my personal opinion, modern, mainstream music sucks for the most part. I've been purchasing more independent music than ever before. Are independent labels included in these numbers? I download very little in way of illicit means. I like my CDs and I have no problems buying CDs, but most of the music out there from the major labels simply doesn't interest me any more. Why is the author not taking into account the "cookie cutter" mentality that dominates a lot of the mainstream music scene?

    I'm sure that there are other reasons that are not due to illegal means. It could be something like how Steve Miller was bitching about how his CD was on the top of the charts for years and years then suddenly plummeted. Uh ... ever think that maybe your market had reached its saturation point, Steve? In fact, did anyone stop to think that maybe the music market itself has reached a saturation point where the majority of people who wanted to get CDs of older albums has done so?

    And with more and more people learning about (and despising) DRM-laden, digital music, I'm not shocked at all to learn that on-line stores like iTunes are not offsetting CD sales drops. I refuse to buy music with any kind of DRM out of principle (yes, I know about analog loopback to strip off the DRM), but stores like eMusic and Magnatune don't have the artists that I'd like. If iTunes dropped the DRM, I'd buy a ton of songs from them, and I think that a lot of people have the same mentality.

    Oh, well. I guess it doesn't matter. If we're not following the greed-laden will of the record industry, we're automatically pirates no matter what we say or do, aren't we?
  • by TheDarkener ( 198348 ) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @01:48PM (#18446353) Homepage
    ...when the compact disc (CD) arrived.

    This is no different than the other evolutions of music distribution.

    GET WITH THE PROGRAM, RIAA, or die a shameful, greedy death.
  • With their usual fallacious strawman arguments.

    A common defense of piracy is: "music is terrible today, look at the Beyoncé album, etc etc so therefore its their own fault"

    Well I have news for you - old classic award winning albums are pirated too. Also, there's a psychological principle from Cialdini: that in any market, people value what they worked to get. If it was free they'll take it for granted or certainly value it much less. Performances of works by Beethoven, Mozart, et al are pirated

  • by flyneye ( 84093 ) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @01:52PM (#18446427) Homepage
    The sooner the industry fails,the sooner music is back in our hands.
    Music was here before the industry,it will be here afterwards.
    What will change is;musicians will have a level playing field to promote themselves.
    Listeners will not have talent arbitrarily selected for them by criteria of easy bulk promotion techniques.Instead we will get to decide what is good for ourselves.
    Money will likely go directly to the musician for performance rather than royalty.
    Open music and GNU like licensing will likely be the order of the day.
    Internet radio will thrive.
    Lets all do our part and quit giving the middleman money in exchange for continued abuse.
    Just let it die.

  • by Peter Trepan ( 572016 ) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @02:08PM (#18446743)

    ...but they help us too. For instance, I am a professional pirate, and my business faces ruin. I don't mean that I have an eyepatch and cutlass and go around robbing ships. I mean I have an eyepatch and cutlass and go around robbing record stores. My trade has survived for years, but I now face the prospect of bankruptcy. Every day I ask myself why this is happening.

    I inherited the title about 12 years ago from the Dread Pirate R0b3rtz. It was one of those practices that struck without warning, carried away as many CDs as possible, then scuttled the small, independent record stores as we left. I decided that to grow the business I'd need to aim for a different demographic, the family market. My practice specialised in aquiring family music - stuff that the whole family could listen to. I don't steal sick stuff like Marilyn Manson or cop-killer rap, and I'm proud to have stolen one of the most extensive Christian rock catalogues that I know of.

    The business strategy worked. People flocked to my illegal fencing operation, knowing that they (and their children) could safely purchase records without profanity or violent lyrics. Over the years I expanded the business and took on even more cutthroat and ruthless employees. It took hard work and long hours but I had achieved my dream - owning a profitable pirate fleet that I had built with my own hands. But now, this dream is turning into a nightmare.

    Every day, fewer and fewer of my stolen songs can be played. Why can no one play them? Do their players use proprietary formats? Are they not technologically inclined? I don't know. But there is one, inescapable truth - the RIAA is mostly to blame. The statistics speak for themselves - one in three song files world wide is encrypted with DRM. On the Internet, you can hardly find any music that hasn't been locked down by the RIAA. It has the potential to destroy the piracy industry, from buccaneers, to swashbucklers, to Dread Pirates like myself. Before you point to the supposed "social conscience of consumers", I'll note that the book store just across from my store is getting robbed daily. Unlike music files, it's harder to apply DRM to books.

    A week ago, an unpleasant experience with record industry executives gave me an idea. In my favorite bordello, I overheard a slick, ponytailed record executive talking to his rockstar friend.

    "Babe, I'm going to lock down your music so hard that if you play it with your windows down, you'll be able to sue the pedestrians."

    "Gnarly, man. I'm going to be coked up in the VIP room for life!"

    I was fuming. So they were out to destroy record piracy from right under my nose? Fat chance. I grabbed the little ponytailed, bluetooth-wearing flake by his shirt. "Arrr...you're going to lock down the piracy industry, eh?" I asked him in my best Blackbeard/Erik The Viking voice.

    "Uh y-yeh." He mumbled, shocked.

    "That's it. What's your name? You shall bear the mark of the Black Dot. Now take yourself and your greasy toothpick of a friend out of my bordello - and don't come back." I barked. Cravenly, they complied and scampered off.

    So that's my idea - give RIAA executives the Black Dot. If somebody cannot respect the superiority of pirates, then they shall die by my cutlass. If the music industry wants to exclude pirates, then pirates should keel-haul them. It's that simple. One strike, and you're out - one instance of DRM, and it's off the plank with you. If you want to play tough, you should expect the big dogs to take notice. It's really no different than the ATF setting Branch Davidians on fire.

    I have just written a letter to the pirates guild outlining my proposal. Impaling RIAA executives one by one isn't going far enough. Not to mention record executives use the fact that they're being drawn and quartered to unfairly portray themselves as victims. A national register of record executives would make the problem far easier to deal with. People would be encouraged to give the names of suspected record

  • by itsdapead ( 734413 ) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @02:15PM (#18446871)
    many factors contributing to the rapid decline

    How about

    1. Everybody over 20 has now finished replacing their vinyl and cassettes with CDs

    2. The only records you get to hear about are the handful of rubbish on the radio playlists that you're already sick of.

    3. Under 20s are now pissing their money away:

    • Buying DVDs
    • Buying expensive games for consoles
    • Walking around with a mobile phone glued to their ear talking about nothing in particular
    • Or, voting people out of the Big Brother house at HOW MUCH!? a minute
    • Buying Crazy Frog ringtones without realising that they're subscribing to a "we'll take your money away" service at $$/month
    • Getting legless every weekend on sticky drinks in little bottles sold for exorbitant prices in night clubs (of course, in the UK under-21s can buy alcohol without proving that they drive a car and own at least two guns).
    • Buying expensive clothes (sorry, buying expensive logos attached to clothes made in China for 10c per gross)
    • Buying expensive trainers (ditto the above)
    • Buying cosmetics (Even the boys, god help us - must be the chemicals leeching into the water supply)
    • In severe cases, still doing all the above while also having kids.
    • Paying huge amounts of interest having used a credit card for all the above
    • If boring, sensible and nerdy and NOT doing all the above, desperately saving money in the hope of being able to afford the downpayment of a small shoe-box nearly within a days commute from the city before they hit 30.

    PS: Kids! Get off my lawn!!!

  • by Cauchy ( 61097 ) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @02:23PM (#18447041)
    Perhaps the music industry should just give up on selling cd's, allow free download of music, and resort to making money from product placement. We could have lyrics such as the following: I love you baby, like Pepsi. Won't you let me take you to dinner at Micky Dee's. Then we can cruise to my crib in my car, Chevy---it is the heartbeat of America. Tonight is going to be hot cuz I took my Levitra.
  • WoW! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nom du Keyboard ( 633989 ) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @02:25PM (#18447083)
    Songs are being traded at a rate about 17 times the iTunes Store's recent rate of sales.

    Wow! I didn't realize that iTunes was selling that much.

    More seriously, these press releases always blame filesharing. It's a boilerplate complaint every time CD sales go down. In fact, it would be Man-bites-Dog news to read, CD sales rise while filesharing rates decline.

    What I think is happening is that there is a more informed consumer that doesn't buy the record industry's garbage any longer. Ever bought a CD that had only one track worth listening to? I have -- more than once. Or bought a song you only cared to listen to a dozen times, but you bought it anyway? I have -- more than once. How about a song you wouldn't have bought at all if you'd listened to it first?

    The record industry used to sell you a take-it-or-leave-it bundle of songs at a price of their choosing. If it wasn't on an overpriced single (relative to the cost per song when bought by the album), you bought the whole album album. Consumer cassette recorders came along and mix tapes arrived soon after that. The record industry responded with the higher quality of the never-wears-out CD. It took 15 years for affordable CD burners and blank media to arrive before you could reproduce a CD containing only songs you wanted to hear. All this time the record industry was able to bundle in a bunch of B-sides or worse on your only other choice of albums.

    Now, finally, consumers are thinking in terms of single tracks. Why? iTunes store sells them that way, iTunes on your computer rips CD's on a track basis, and iPods set playlists by track. The We'll-Decide-What's-Right-For-You albums are dead. The industry just doesn't know it yet. All its contracts with its artists are at the album level. The album will be completely dead when recording contracts specify a certain number of songs, rather than albums. And that's why sales are falling. Consumers want singles to mix and match as they please, and the became easily possible to get them for free via filesharing long before the record companies started selling them that way. The record companies are blind and stupid for not seeing, and reacting, to this when Napster first surfaced, and still haven't learned this lesson. As such, they are attempting to utilize fear (we'll sue you), guilt (think of the artists), the courts (we have sued you), and lawmakers (remember our senator from Disney?) to force you go consume your music their way -- which it not our way any longer.

    They will lose, but do a lot of damage on the way down.

  • by greyfeld ( 521548 ) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @06:01PM (#18450595) Journal
    I've been into music for a LONG time. And when I say into it, I mean I've dropped tens of thousands of dollars on 8 tracks, LPs, cassettes, CDs, DVDs, I've shoplifted as a teen, I've downloaded as an adult, I've swapped CD's with friends and borrowed from the library to make a tape or CD. That doesn't even count the thousands spent on audio equipment to play it on. I've just had to have it. It is a part of my life. I know I'm not alone.

    What I really want to share is a conversation I had with a mid-western independent record store owner last weekend. Whenever I happen to be in this little town where I was, I always try to stop in and patronize his store. He has got cool stuff you can't find anywhere else (read Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, etc) and it's organized so things are pretty easy to find. He also carries a large selection of smoking paraphenelia - try finding that at your local big box, lol.

    Anyway, I asked him straight up how downloads had affected his business. "Not much really. It's Target that's killing me", he replied. "Not Wal-Mart?" I asked. He told me that, "Wal-Mart doesn't carry the explicit versions, but Target does. They can sell it for less than I can buy it. We used to have a good crowd on release Tuesdays, but now they all go to Target."

    "So the downloaders aren't hurting you at all?" I asked again. "They don't have any money to buy CD's with anyway, so I really haven't seen much impact from downloading", he stated matter of factly. And you know, as he added up the total for the 6 CD's I was purchasing, I realized he was absolutely correct. The total was $105. Now I have a pretty good job and can afford to splurge on some CD's once in a while, but the average joe college, high school kid or even single mom could never afford what I just dropped on 6 CDs.

    It was then that I realized what I had bought and why. I bought one of my favorite LP's, Pretenders II which has been remastered and a live disc added. So now I have the LP, the CD and the remastered CD. Chrissie deserves my money though and it sounds much better, so I don't begrudge that one. But the point is, here we go again, they are selling me the same thing over and over in a different format. Next it will be some DRMd DVD thing that I won't be able to put on my iPod. It is really getting old.

    Three of the other CD's were stuff I had downloaded and wanted the CD. The other was actually the new Stooges CD. I guess the point here is that instead of prices going down, they seem to be going up (except at Target). The specialty retailer is a dying breed as price becomes a much bigger factor in the purchasing decision than selection, customer service and just having someone to talk to about music in general. Ever try to have a conversation with a Target or Best Buy salesperson about the time you saw the Scorpions and Iron Maiden on the same bill? Think they'd stand around for even a few sentences.

    So what's the inconvenient truth revealed here? It's that downloads aren't killing the retail music business. The music business is killing the music business. You want to sell more product, price it competitively. $105 for 6 CD's is outrageous to me and I only bought them because I want the store to be there when I come back to that town in a few months and pay them another visit. It was the least I could do. Now, I've got to go to the library and see what's on hold for me there. Thank god for the library!

  • by MtViewGuy ( 197597 ) on Friday March 23, 2007 @12:07AM (#18454475)
    Let's face it folks. The problem with declining CD sales is due to one reason: the retail price is too high.

    With prices going for US$15 or more per album-length CD even at Best Buy and Wal-Mart, the recording industry has priced their product in a cartel-like fashion that actually encourages ways to beat the system, whether it's piracy or buying music at a lower price through legal download sites. Why do you think the iTunes Music Store has done so well? Anyway, the RIAA should seriously consider setting a much lower price for a new album-length CD, probably more like US$12 per album maximum. At these lower prices, there is vastly lower incentive to pirate music, since more people can actually afford the real product.

  • by defile ( 1059 ) on Friday March 23, 2007 @12:21AM (#18454559) Homepage Journal

    Just last week I took down the CD tower that I'd had for the last 5 years. I threw it straight out, took all of the CDs in it, tossed their jewel cases and booklets, and just crammed the discs into a Caselogics book. Even that feels like a fantastic waste of space -- the binder-sized volume could all fit on a cubic centimeter of a disk in my computer, probably less if I were inclined to rip them all (which I'm not).

    It took awhile for it to sink in, but the idea of paying even $5 for an album on a disc strikes me as a reckless waste of money, actually worse than just burning the $5 because I'd be introducing the inconvenience of managing a baroque artifact into my life.

    Music albums are worthless and it's finally penetrating the popular psyche. It's no surprise their sales are dropping like a stone.

The moon may be smaller than Earth, but it's further away.