So this piece the New York Times ran a few days ago just came to my attention and while all of you should take the time to read it (it’s probably shorter than some of my wordier posts) I’ll basically sum it up for you:
Sales of digital music on rose 6% in 2010. The overall music market shrank between 6-8%. In each of the past two years increase in digital revenue has halved.
If that trend continues, digital sales could top out at less than $5 billion this year, about a third of the overall music market but many billions of dollars short of the amount needed to replace long-gone sales of compact discs.
“Music’s first digital decade is behind us and what do we have?” said Mark Mulligan, an analyst at Forrester Research. “Not a lot of progress.”
“We are at one of the most worrying stages yet for the industry,” he continued. “As things stand now, digital music has failed.”
Y’see that? The music industry’s ready to call it fucking quits because it’s not going to make more than five billion dollars. You know what even funnier? If you go on to read the article, the only way anyone seems to think they can resolve this situation is to put legal pressure on internet service providers, much like South Korea and France have, to choke the connections of illegal downloaders, forcing them to to turn to legal alternatives to purchase music.
I’m glad that bullshit flies over in cheese/kimchi-eating country, but I like to believe that since they haven’t really done it yet, we Americans will be keeping our god given right to steal from hard working artists and the companies that support them.
Yeah. No. This isn’t going to turn into an argument in defense of piracy, because, regardless of what someone may tell you, it’s pretty much indefensible to steal anything, even if you think it’s an overpriced, overhyped, piece of shit consumer product (which you’d think would mean you wouldn’t want to steal it in the first place, right?)
Still, isn’t it sad, that the only option the industry feels it has is to figure out how to stop people from stealing? To be fair, they really have done everything they could to (for the most part) to adapt to the digital age. Buying music digitally is easy, cheap, and can pretty much be done from any god damn device you carry around with you on a daily basis.
But, to be fair, I’m not going to blame the record companies. Like most businesses, the interent still scares and confuses them because they can’t figure out how to make shittons of money from it (I’m looking at you News industry) and here’s the big secret they haven’t really figured out yet: You can’t.
They’re lucky to even be making $5 billion dollars this year. The only reason musical sales aren’t lower is, and this might be shocking to some of you, because there are a lot of stupid god damn people in the world. You want to know what the two biggest reasons I’ve heard for not downloading music are from most people since the age of piracy begun? 1) I’m afraid of getting caught. 2) I don’t know a good place to find it.
That’s it. I’d honestly say those are the two biggest reasons most people don’t pirate music, fuck all this “support the artist nonsense.” Some people really are dumb enough to think the RIAA is watching them and some are just the kind of dumb where they’re so bad at the internet they can’t steal from it. And as time goes on both of these contingents is going to get smaller and smaller and smaller.
Buuuuut, I’d be a terrible blogger if I didn’t offer the music industry some outs to their growing woes. Wipe away your tears, coke-sniffing and whore-mongering executives, Jules is here to save you.
1. Stop making god damn CDs. Nobody who matters to the market still buys that shit. Plus, if you drop them for a while and then do special print runs of some in the futures, CDs could become the new kitsch, like vinyl.
2. Give singles away for free, digitally/Don’t include them as part of the complete album. Whet people’s appetite for their favorite artist’s new record and when they do buy the album, don’t give them shit they already have and have been hearing over and over for months. Hit ’em with something new.
3. Charge five dollars. Yeah, I’m fucking saying it. End this .99 cent a song/15 dollar album bullshit that iTunes inspired. You want to sell albums? Charge five dollars, bottom line, no discussion. No one can really argue with that price. It’s cheaper than the movies and it’s certainly cheaper than a concert. I bet you if iTunes sold every album for five dollars, for a week, revenue would god damn skyrocket.
4. Get radio stations to play popular song less. Why the hell would I buy a song I’m going to here twice on every station during my twenty minute drive to and from school? Before noon, before noon, most days, I’m already sick of all the shit you’re putting out.
5. Make your artists get on a damn stage. You’d be surprised at how inaccessible many popular acts concerts are. Most people cannot drop 50 bucks to get a shitty seat at the Wells-Fargo Center. Make concerts cheaper, do more, do them in smaller venues and offer some incentives – give a a code for an exclusive EP with concert ticket purchases, show your fans you give a shit about them.
6. Waste less money on shitty musicians. The average “shelf-life” of a celebrity nowadays is 15 months. The industry’s fallen into this terrible habit recently of not treating musicians like the disposable commodities they truly are. Why the hell are you going to pump millions of dollars into someone who most people aren’t going to want to look at in six months? Don’t spend money on a motherfucker until they actually start making you money. Produce a single or two, see how much airplay they get. If they do well, a video, some late night appearances. I there’s buzz, let do some shows in bigger markets (NY, LA, etc) Then and only then, when people give a shit, do you pump the money into a big album or something ridiculous like that.
7. Open up the means of production. Polow Da Don makes, what, like 20 grand a song or something obscene like that? Not only is that ridiculous because he’s a shitty producer, but it’s even more ridiculous because there are people, and you and I know them, who could do what he does, better, cheaper and faster. Seriously recording industry, start hitting up music colleges and tech schools and see how many motherfuckers you could get to come work for you way cheaper and far less hassle. You could literally have a team of 10 Polow’s and not even have to play them all 20 grand.
And the sad thing is, even if all my ideas are terrible and I’m wrong, I’m still trying harder than the people’s whose livelihoods actually depend on something, anything, to save their dying industry.