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TinotopiaLog → Why The Music Industry Is Doomed ( 9 Jun 2003)
Monday 09 June 2003

Why The Music Industry Is Doomed

Today’s New York Post reports that the Apple iTunes Music Store’s sales have fallen off since its initial launch in late April. At the outset, the store was selling about a million songs a week.

Now the company is averaging about 500,000 downloads a week, sources say Apple executives told independent music label execs at a recent meeting in California.

“You don’t see them putting out press releases anymore” touting their numbers, one music industry executive said.

In what other industry would you see someone gloating about troubles for one of the channels for distributing his product? Isn’t it more usual to wish success on anyone selling your product, even if you believe that their plans are a bit daft? Isn’t the “Ho, ho, ho, our products only sell under certain narrow circumstances” reaction an indication that the industry has some problems?

One of those problems, of course, is utter contempt for customers:

But many big-time artists - including Madonna, the Foo Fighters and the Dave Matthews Band - still balk at making their music available to Apple because of the computer maker’s demand that the artists allow single tracks to be sold in addition to albums.

Make that, of course, customer’s demand that they be allowed to buy single tracks, rather than more-expensive albums full of garbage. But then why should that demand be taken into account? Those people are only customers, after all.

Music execs have been lobbying [Apple honcho Steve] Jobs to concede to the artists’ wishes and allow musicians to only sell full albums, without offering singles.

“We’re saying to him he should look at the artist issues here,” David Munns, the head of EMI Recorded Music North America, recently told The Post.

Though of course the artists’ main issue, if you believe the RIAA, is that too many people are pirating their music online, rather than trundling down to the record store and buying CDs. The Apple music store is a potential solution to that ‘issue’, one that offers an advantage both to the customers and to the artists and labels. But that’s not enough for them.

Imagine a world in which the record companies made cars, and where they’d discovered that 60% of all Corvettes were being stolen from dealer’s lots, with no real way of catching the thieves. Along comes Steve Jobs with a way to stem that tide of thefts somewhat — and further imagine that the record companies came back with a demand that everyone purchasing a Corvette (rather than stealing it, which involves about the same effort and risk in this thought-experiment) also be compelled to buy a Chevy Malibu or some other car that isn’t in demand.

If people still won’t won’t go for the deal now that we’ve made it even more unattractive for the customer, this RIAA-GM beast says, we’ll solve the Corvette problem by simply fitting the cars with square wheels and tires, which will make it much more difficult to steal them.

That this would also make it much more difficult to use a Corvette one has purchased legally wouldn’t enter into it, apparently. The customers should take what the record industry offers, in the form in which they choose to offer it, and like it, goddamnit. And any drop-off in sales, of course, is due entirely to those vicious pirates.

Posted by tino at 19:12 9.06.03
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