Friday, January 26, 2007 : News : Nashville Skyline : That Gurgling Sound? CD Sales Down the Drain : News : Nashville Skyline : That Gurgling Sound? CD Sales Down the Drain

More people are listening to more music than ever before.

Contrast 2007 in the music biz to 1983. In 1983, the music industry was introducing the CD - "Perfect Sound Forever." The CD was released to replace the LP, then the high-quality music distribution format (cassettes would remain for convenience and low-price). Within a few years, most titles weren't being released on LP, lower royalties were negotiated for artists to support the emerging format, returns were still paid-for by the artist yet retailer returns were ended or curtailed and defective CDs were far less common than defective LPs. The music industry profited from a boom (as did the home electronics industry), from the novelty of CDs, replacing of old LPs with catalog CD reissues, etc.

Now, the consumer has spoken - they want to access music via computers (and cell phones, gaming devices, etc.). They want a broad selection, available now. The music industry didn't invent this, sue their best customers for doing this, and didn't fashion a way to derive revenue from it, so guess what? Music sales are down!

As Flippo points out in the article, there is much great music out there that few of us will hear. We have lost the great filter provided by people passionate about music who ran record companies, replaced by a perpetual motion machine of new music provided by millions of artists, and we have to construct our own filters, or adopt hodge podge structures like MySpace.

This is all good, but we are at the beginning of a rough ride. We need to find a way to appropriately compensate people for creating art, and to pay them or others for distributing it (licence the ISPs!). The changes needed to compensate artists for their music will involve large conflicts that strick at the core of our Culture, our Commerce, and our Constitution.

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