Some Good News

>As was recently reported on Sound Opinions (footnote 3), a UK study has been researching the actually financial impact that music downloaders have on the Music Industry. The narrative that has been spread by the Music Industry has been consistent since downloading music even became possible: downloaders are killing the Music Industry, costing the labels millions of dollars every year. I have always been highly suspicious of this argument, as personal experience has proved that, when you have the ability to listen to a lot of music for free, you actually tend to spend more money on albums you actually want to own. For those who don’t have access to free music like this, they tend to be more cautious with their record buying dollars.

Well, the results are in, and it appears that I was right. According to the research, downloaders spend 75% more money on music (physical records as well as digital sales) than people who do not. The access to free music online, according to the research, creates more music fans who are more dedicated to the bands and genres they love, who then go out and buy the albums they become fans of. This behavior injects into the Music Industry four times the amount of money than your average, non-downloading music consumer does. So, downloading isn’t actually a lost sale, but rather, much like radio exposure to music that a fan might not get to hear any other way. Well, duh. I could have told you that. And did, many, many, times before.

My question, now, is: where does The Music Industry get the $330 million figure that they say they loose in sales to downloaders? In light of this research, it seems that the figure in question has to have been completely fabricated in order to gain sympathy for new Internet Legislation, and other means of keeping huge Media Entities in power. Plus, labels have to account for the lagging sales from Mainstream Media, so they don’t get in too much trouble from their stockholders.

Yes, new records are not moving in the same numbers that they did in the old days. Boo hoo. But overall sales, new and used, are up, and spread out among small bands, labels, and in other areas of the Music Industry that are not easily controlled by big Media companies. Yes, U2 and Brittney Spears are not the cash cows they used to be. But the number of fans that are spending their money on a larger number of less-famous artists and albums is going up. Fans are diversifying, and you can’t just expect a new Springsteen or Mariah Carey album to cover your ass. If anything, rather than blame downloaders for causing you to loose money (which is not true), here’s a suggestion for big Media that will benefit everyone, CEOs, stockholders, bands, and fans alike:

Only release good albums by good artists, and make the records affordable (and accessible) to fans.

I know, I know. I must be crazy to even suggest it. Sorry to interrupt your morning. Now, go back to playing Second Life and reading Yahoo. Thank you for your time.

2 thoughts on “Some Good News

  1. >Very nice post! Really, Austin, this is great and more useful and interesting to me than most of what I read on the front-page of Salon or Slate. Maybe it sounds off-the-wall, but you might consider turning this into a magazine story for Slate, if they haven't already covered it. They like stories with links embedded. If you have a moment, take it to Paul Collins and ask him about it. He's a very helpful man.


  2. >There was something Dave Grohl said some time ago about how people getting free music online was kick ass and that for most of history, musicians have had to work for their living. I agree wholeheartedly that music should be free, and if you want to support the people who make the music, do it directly.This was really nicely written dude, strong work.


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