Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Times, They Change, Yes?

I was at university studying Computer Science the year that Napster fell. It was such a giant event that the lecturer of my favourite unit (Internet Computing - anyone surprised?) allowed us to use it as an essay topic.

A decade later and the record companies are still fighting but now we have a few intelligent people writing papers outlining the futility of such a fight. One such paper outlines the ways the record companies are exaggerating the effect of file-sharing on the music industry.

What? You mean file-sharing didn't cost the recording industry $40 billion? No, no it didn't. Let me break it down for you.

First up, those estimates are based on the assumption that every album downloaded illegally would have been purchased if file-sharing had not been developed. Oh recording industry, when will you learn that when you assume, you make an ass of u and me? In fact, the majority of downloads are done by people who simply wouldn't have bothered hearing the album without file-sharing. Which means they probably wouldn't have decided to buy those tickets to see the band live.

Which brings me to the second point. With ticket prices rising yearly, we have hit the point where people are forced to choose between buying the album or seeing the band perform. Research apparently shows that people prefer to pay for the experience of a live concert. Increased cost of living and higher unemployment means that people just don't have the spare cash to buy as many CDs as they used to, but they still put money away for gigs.

I bring this up because all those estimates sounding the death knell for "the music industry" (specific, huh?) don't include income from gigs. Nor do they include income from legal downloads, nor license fees from sites like Last.FM.

When it comes down to it, the industry is currently spending more trying to fight the inevitable than they actually would be able to recoup if they were somehow successful. If they are going to survive, they really need to stop burning cash in the courts and start finding ways to embrace the technology.

Coz it's not going away, kids.

1 comment:

  1. I saw this post a few months ago (when it was first posted), but I've been too busy to post a reply. I would like to say thank you for a great post in regard to the recent shit-storm overturning the music world this past decade. I think it's reached a high point in recent years with people targeting torrents specifically.