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Record Store Owners Blame RIAA For Destroying Music Industry 586

Posted by Zonk
from the should-have-thought-ahead dept.
techdirt writes "It's not like it hasn't been said many times before, but it's nice to see the NY Times running an opinion piece about the RIAA from a pair of record store owners which basically points out how at every opportunity, the RIAA has made the wrong move and made things worse: 'The major labels wanted to kill the single. Instead they killed the album. The association wanted to kill Napster. Instead it killed the compact disc. And today it's not just record stores that are in trouble, but the labels themselves, now belatedly embracing the Internet revolution without having quite figured out how to make it pay.' It's not every day that you see a NY Times piece use the word 'boneheadedness' to describe the strategy of an organization."
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Record Store Owners Blame RIAA For Destroying Music Industry

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 06, 2007 @04:46PM (#18639595)
    It's all over but the lawsuits.
  • by Sneakernets (1026296) on Friday April 06, 2007 @04:48PM (#18639623) Journal
    The fat lady is practising her lines.
  • a little anecdote... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Yold (473518) on Friday April 06, 2007 @04:50PM (#18639651)
    I go to the second largest undergraduate university in the country. Within the last year, both record (CDs) stores near our campus have closed. The one that closed last week had a sign on the door that said

    "to all the people that download music, if you think you are only hurting big companies you are wrong. There are two working people with families who no longer have jobs because of music piracy."

    I don't know who is to blame for the major decline in CD sales, the RIAA's stupidly clutching to the old music business model, or the students with 3000+ stolen songs on their ipods. I admit that I have pirated music, but I just listen to SIRIUS now and don't even own an iPod.

    • by antifoidulus (807088) on Friday April 06, 2007 @04:54PM (#18639717) Homepage Journal
      Did they actually stock cds that weren't mainstream? Did they try to make that the thrust of their business? Myabe it's just me, but most record stores try to make the process of buying music(or hell, discovering new music) as bland as expensive as possible. If I want a bland environment with tons of mainstream music I can go to Best Buy and get better prices. If record store owners want to survive, they are going to have to move to where iTunes/Best Buy/WalMart doesn't tread because there is no WAY they can compete with them on price. They need to actively encourage local bands and make sure they have plenty of indie artists and staff who actually listen to the music and can talk enthusiastically about them. Otherwise, what is the point of paying the premium for the record store?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Lane.exe (672783)
        If the GP is talking about the University of Texas (my alma mater), then no, at least one of these CD stores was no different than your average record store. Same music, higher prices. It was actually cheaper to go to Best Buy to pick up the CDs you wanted, although the Tower Records was much closer. AFAIK, the actual "record store" stores in Austin are doing just fine. I buy most of my albums off iTunes these days, but that's only because I tend to do my music shopping late at night and from home.
      • by plover (150551) * on Friday April 06, 2007 @05:39PM (#18640303) Homepage Journal
        Our local music store did exactly that. They had lots of indie bands that came through the city stop in for a lunchtime performance or a record signing. They were in a pretty centralized location that had a lot of walk-by traffic (at least at lunchtime.) The people who worked there were cool, they knew their bands. They always had some new disc from some band I'd never heard of playing in the store. If you wanted to hear a disc, they popped it right into a CD player (behind the counter) for you. They were within walking distance of some of the best local concert venues. They specialized in hard-to-find stuff, they carried vinyl, they catered to all the special interests they possibly could. They sold DJ equipment. They sold used equipment on consignment. They did everything you suggested above and far more. They even had prices competitive with the big box retailers.

        They shut their doors a couple years ago.

        What you're asking for sounds great -- on the web. The simple truth is it is no longer profitable.

        Like it or not, those store owners were being truthful. Piracy is killing the music industry. Not that the RIAA labels don't need to be put down like the lampreys they are, but the days of the giants are waning fast.

        The real problem is the industry was entirely constructed on what is no longer a valid premise; that recording and duplicating quality music was expensive. And the labels have tried to make their money in different ways, mostly at the expense of the stupid bands who sign their livelihoods away for half a million dollars up front (you try organizing a nationwide tour for half a million $$ and see what you have left at the end.) The recording industry will soon die, and eventually the only survivors will be the indie bands singing for the love of music. They'll end up as 21st century minstrels wandering from pub to pub, settling for a meager income and drinks on the house, regardless of their talent.

        There will be no more profit in the music industry. It will die, and soon. The EMI anti-DRM move is a great attempt to capitalize on the huge anti-industry sentiment, but it's not going to change the behavior of people willing to climb over DRM to copy music anyway. And EMI won't have anything special once the other RIAA members see how profitable it is to not piss off their customer base.

        The only question mark remaining is: how far away is the MPAA from this scenario? Movie theaters and HDTV may be their only saviors, in that it takes enormous (by current measure) amounts of bandwidth and storage to copy a quality movie. Music is quite compressible, and too many tin-eared fans are willing to settle for crappy-but-tiny MP3 recordings. But as long as people want to share the experience of a movie on the big screen, and as long as HDTV requires a relative firehose of a network connection for high quality, AND as long as they can convince people that quality matters, they'll be able to keep making money on TV and movies.

        • Bandwidth (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Dobeln (853794) on Friday April 06, 2007 @05:55PM (#18640503)
          "Movie theaters and HDTV may be their only saviors, in that it takes enormous (by current measure) amounts of bandwidth and storage to copy a quality movie."

          100 mbit pipes are growing common in these parts - personally, I'm on a 24mbit pipe, and frequently get over 1/Mbyte (8mbit) per second download rates on the good DC++ hubs. The movie industry can't be resting easy here - they're next.
        • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday April 06, 2007 @05:57PM (#18640535) Homepage Journal

          Like it or not, those store owners were being truthful. Piracy is killing the music industry. Not that the RIAA labels don't need to be put down like the lampreys they are, but the days of the giants are waning fast.

          This is an unsupported statement. What about online sales of CDs? What about sales of other types of media? What about the fact that the majority of the RIAA crap is just that, crap, and the majority of non-RIAA music is underadvertised? Etc etc.

          A lot of retail businesses are closing their doors, not just record stores and other media purveyors, due to the influence of internet retail.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by zoney_ie (740061)
          I buy more music on CD than ever these days (rip it then and do what I like with it). HMV, Virgin Megastores, supermarkets; constantly have a changing selection of CDs for under €10 (for comparison rather than exchange rate, iTunes is 99c a track here). If you want a new release, get it in the supermarkets (or sometimes the record stores) on marked down price of maybe €15, or else just buy for about €11 from online places like CD WOW (I don't care where they import the CDs from).

          Seriously - a
        • by myowntrueself (607117) on Friday April 06, 2007 @06:20PM (#18640805)
          Piracy is killing the music industry.

          The de-industrialisation of music?

          Sounds good to me.

          Industrialisation has caused so many problems for the world. Aside from the benefits of mass production of consumer items such as cars or refridgerators, industrialisation only brings dehumanisation.

          The industrialisation of warfare.

          The industrialisation of education.

          The industrialisation of music.

          All three have been distanced from reality; warfare has become so preposterously easy that nations walk into wars with their eyes shut and no idea what they are getting themselves into.

          Education has become a process of (attempted) mass production of nearly identical minds.

          Music? Music has become a process of mass production of bland repetitiveness.

          Will the likes of Britney or Metallica be able to survive in a post-industrial music world? I doubt it. And the music stores which pander to this kind of rigid, unimaginitive pap? I doubt it.

          There will be more live music and improvements in software and technologies which today contribute to 'piracy' will only help to return control over production to those who actually *create* music.

          Its becoming easier and easier for 'ordinary' musicians to produce and distribute for themselves; music becomes a 'cottage industry' again.

          Next on the de-industrialisation hit-list: education.
          • by Brandybuck (704397) on Friday April 06, 2007 @07:19PM (#18641371) Homepage Journal
            What has industrialization brought you?

            • Cheap computers, the internet, Slashdot, the ability to have millions of people hear your whine

            • Radios, televisions, iPods, and cellphones

            • Books. Cheap affordable books

            • Affordable and available medicine. MRI, ultrasounds, EEG, stents, bypass surgeries, artificial knees, safe childbirth, etc

            • Modern dentistry, healthy teeth

            • Cheap eyeglasses, hearing aids

            • Bicycles, automobiles, airplanes, and the ability to travel the world

            • Cheap clothing and shoes. Underwear affordable enough to wear a clean set every day

            • Central heating and air conditioning

            • The elimination of extreme poverty and destitution

            • The elimination of slavery


            And much much more. Industrialization has given us longer healthier and richer lives. It has made us, in real terms far wealthier than the kings of only a couple centuries past. Don't be blinded by a false nostalgia for the past. The lives of our ancestors were nasty, brutish and short.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Incadenza (560402)
            Ivan Illich, is that you?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Dirtside (91468)

          The recording industry will soon die, and eventually the only survivors will be the indie bands singing for the love of music. They'll end up as 21st century minstrels wandering from pub to pub, settling for a meager income and drinks on the house, regardless of their talent.

          You really think that all the big concert venues (e.g. Universal Amphitheatre) are going to close because the record companies can't sell CDs due to piracy? I don't follow your logic here. People will still be able to find music and g

        • by rolfwind (528248) on Friday April 06, 2007 @06:28PM (#18640879)

          The recording industry will soon die, and eventually the only survivors will be the indie bands singing for the love of music. They'll end up as 21st century minstrels wandering from pub to pub, settling for a meager income and drinks on the house, regardless of their talent.


          I think the Grateful Dead were one of the highest grossing bands on tour of all time yet they never had that many mainstream hits. They also allowed people to copy their music like crazy.

          Even if the death of the CD and record industry comes, there will always be stadiums/concerts/etcetera that have to be filled. Artists of greater talent (or popularity) will fill the bigger venues, as it is now, and make their money this way. You have not really explained why this will die - people will always want to go to events.

          I cringe to bring this example up, but the ratings of American Idol still show music is very much a profitable business (even if that is mixed with drama and whatnot).
        • by ucblockhead (63650) on Friday April 06, 2007 @06:42PM (#18641011) Homepage Journal
          It's not piracy that is killing the record store. It's downloading that is killing the record store. It's iTunes that is killing the record store. The record store is dying because people would rather pay $0.99 for a song than $12.99 for an album.

          If piracy were the problem, then you wouldn't seen iTunes music store sales doubling every year.
        • by morcego (260031) on Friday April 06, 2007 @06:48PM (#18641069)

          Like it or not, those store owners were being truthful. Piracy is killing the music industry. Not that the RIAA labels don't need to be put down like the lampreys they are, but the days of the giants are waning fast.


          Lemme tell you why I started downloading music.

          A few years back, I still used to buy CDs. Then suddenly I noticed that I buying a whole album to get a single music. So I was paying (in USA prices) US$ 16,00 for a single track.

          I really don't mind paying $16 for a whole album is I want every single song on that album. I do mind, however, paying $16 for a single track, or even 2 or 3. (And Albums around here cost, taking in consideration both currency exchange and general cost of living, about $40).

          Would you, how are saying they are right that piracy is killing the business, pay US$ 40 for a single song ?

          I'm not even mentioning the fact that you would have to carry 100 or more CDs in your car to have the music you want, in the moment you want (instead of 1 or 2 MP3 CDs). And you can't even rip the CDs you legally own these days to listen in your car.

          The only full albums I've got in the last 5 years are oldies (Eagles, Bettles etc). Those are still worth it, since you can get a album where you are willing to pay, if not for all, for most of the tracks.

          Now, tell me again, how is killing the music business ?
        • by sjames (1099) on Friday April 06, 2007 @07:47PM (#18641597) Homepage

          The RIAA's killer is twofold. First, they failed utterly to fathom what was important to their customer. In an era where their customers were happily using lossy compression and cheap earbuds, the RIAA was spending huge wads to get just exactly "the sound" which was lost on their market. Let's face it, Britney's audience WILL NOT NOTICE that you used the nifty ribbon mikes from 1956 or that you spent $10,000 in studio time just to perfect the accoustics. If you just want to record like that, save it for a band that's more popular with audiophiles. All that expensive studio equipment and time (plus generous quantities of coke) costs money, so they raised prices.

          The second killer was the RIAA itself. They thought they could dictate preferences to their customers rather than the other way around. They didn't like the idea that they might actually have to give the talent a fair deal if/when they hit it big, so they pushed the interchangable pop-tarts instead. Not exactly the genre that calls for the ultimate in recording technology.

          Demand for music didn't go away, it just didn't exist at that pricepoint. Since supply of music at the appropriate pricepoint didn't exist, like any other underserved market, a black market sprung up. The RIAA now claims p2p is what's killing them. However, I'll bet that if they waved a magic wand and made it all go away, they wouldn't gain much. On the other hand if they would re-taylor their product to meet demand (scale back the big production costs for disposable albums and cut the retail price for example) the p2p would be largely irrelevant to their profits.

          • by AeroIllini (726211) <aeroilliniNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday April 06, 2007 @09:42PM (#18642447)

            Let's face it, Britney's audience WILL NOT NOTICE that you used the nifty ribbon mikes from 1956 or that you spent $10,000 in studio time just to perfect the accoustics.
            They sure will. Without all that equipment, Britney sounds like a banshee in a blender.

            They spend all that money on equipment for exactly one reason: to manufacture talent. The record companies are no longer scouting for good bands who will make music people want to hear; that's been relegated to the indy labels. Instead, the RIAA chooses some jailbait pretty face who knows how to shake their hips and expose just the right bits of skin on camera, and then feeds them through all that fancy equipment to sample, clip, modulate, adjust, downmix, blur, airbrush, and edit them into a product. Then they mass market this product to the segment of the population that, while having the most disposable income and highest impulsive purchase rate, also is the most likely to pirate music: teenagers.

            The member companies of the RIAA are not distributors; they are factories. Of course, there are always a few artists who emerge unscathed and with their artistic integrity intact, but they are the special ones.

            The irony of all this is that if the RIAA companies simply did what we all expected them to do, i.e., scout and discover actual, honest-to-goodness good bands and help them sell records the market wants to buy in a way the market wants to buy them, they would be making more money than they know what to do with. But that's not "the way we've always done it," so first they are going to fight inevitability.
    • by (A)*(B)!0_- (888552) on Friday April 06, 2007 @04:56PM (#18639731)

      ""to all the people that download music, if you think you are only hurting big companies you are wrong. There are two working people with families who no longer have jobs because of music piracy."
      Adapt or die. Even if piracy wasn't a problem at all and everyone was honest, digital distribution is the future - not cd sales.
      • by mumblestheclown (569987) on Friday April 06, 2007 @05:07PM (#18639895)
        Fair enough, but the point was that they couldn't get into this business, even if it existed, because piracy (and I doubt that their claim is substantively false) intervened. It doesn't matter what you have for sale - if somebody is giving it away for free and there are no consequences, you will lose. I see nothing wrong with the subway going out of business because somebody invents a faster and more comfortable bus. I do see a giant problem with the subway going out of business because massive numbers of people decide that using fake tokens or jumping the turnstile is morally ok because the subway pollutes, is occasionally late, and is a giant impersonal organization that pays its drivers only a relatively small percentage of its total revenue.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Kingrames (858416)
          The business MODEL is a failure. You can't make a profit selling mainstream CD's anymore. The system does not work.

          DO NOT BLAME THE CUSTOMER.
          The customer buys what they want/need. If the customer isn't buying your stuff, you can't just blame them and wallow in misery. They are sending you a signal. You MUST ADAPT YOUR BUSINESS.

          You CAN'T RELY ON THE LAW to do your business for you.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Dirtside (91468)
          Your subway analogy is bunk. Music can be duplicated at essentially zero cost and with no specific loss to the producer (they still possess all the same objects and money they did before you made your illegal copy). Subway service is a limited resource; everyone who hops a turnstile to ride the subway is taking up space that could have been used by a paying customer.

          This says nothing about whether any of these activities are right or wrong, merely that your analogy is bogus. When will people like you lea
      • by OakLEE (91103) on Friday April 06, 2007 @06:06PM (#18640639)

        Adapt or die.
        You know, any time someone uses the "adapt or die argument" in the context of the RIAA or MPAA, it gets modded insightful. Yet, when the same argument is used in conjunction with outsourcing, it gets modded as flamebait. Could someone explain the slashdot community's priciple or consistency on this issue. Or are we just all selfish assholes with selective morality?
        • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Friday April 06, 2007 @06:54PM (#18641103)
          Or it could be that the people who say "adapt or die" and those who say "outsourcing is wrong!" could be different people. And that the Slashdot community is not a hive-mind. Just a thought, you know.
          • by OakLEE (91103) on Friday April 06, 2007 @07:03PM (#18641203)
            I was not questioning the comments themselves. You are probably right, they are different people. What I was questioning was why the community as a whole (i.e., the comment moderation) has two completely inconsistent viewpoints on two very similar issues.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by TempeTerra (83076)
              I think it's because people are more likely to express, and mod, viewpoints that they feel strongly about due to of a gut feeling or moral outrage. The common theme between the up-modded opinions is that they're simple and negative. It's easy and cathartic to express strong opposition, as in "I hate the music industry" and "furriners are stealing our jobs". On the other hand, moderate and nuanced opinions like "Existing music licensing business models are outmoded, and we need to achieve a smooth transition
        • by Watson Ladd (955755) on Friday April 06, 2007 @07:29PM (#18641473)
          There is a big difference between a big company serving its educated customers better, and skilled engineers working for peanuts.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Trillian_1138 (221423)

          You know, any time someone uses the "adapt or die argument" in the context of the RIAA or MPAA, it gets modded insightful. Yet, when the same argument is used in conjunction with outsourcing, it gets modded as flamebait. Could someone explain the slashdot community's priciple or consistency on this issue. Or are we just all selfish assholes with selective morality?

          I think it's a couple things. First, as others have responded to you and suggested, it's partially a result of two different groups saying thin

    • by Kawolski (939414) on Friday April 06, 2007 @04:59PM (#18639787)

      "to all the people that download music, if you think you are only hurting big companies you are wrong. There are two working people with families who no longer have jobs because of music piracy."
      $18-$19 CDs containing 1 good track and 10 other tracks of crap vs. a $.99 single at iTunes might also have something to do with it too. But, hey, must be the pirates...
      • by Khaed (544779) on Friday April 06, 2007 @06:03PM (#18640589)
        This is a lot more true than a lot of people who want to blame piracy realize.

        Every time I go into the local record store, there's some really crappy music playing. The CDs cost $18-19, sometimes $21 or so if it's a double CD.

        The selection sucks. The RIAA is putting out a ton of the same. I'm sure this is a hit with certain people, but I don't need five different CDs by five different dyed-blond pop starlets, or five CDs from the newest country hit guy with a mullet, or the black guy with a ten pound gold chain, or the Aryan looking guy who wants to be that black guy and hates his wife, or all the clones of all of these people. Sometimes some of them have a good song or three, but usually, not so much. The goth/punk/emo clone bands are the same.

        I can go to a store like Walmart, or Target, or Best buy, and get these same CDs for $14-16. Or I can get them at Amazon.com for a similar price (and if I get two, it's over $25, and I can get free shipping). Or there's iTunes. Which now offers some tracks without DRM.

        And the local record store? It isn't local. It's a chain of overpriced music. This isn't a family owned business, and I'm sure there are tons of places where the record store isn't the "two working people with families..."

        The RIAA pisses people off. DRM and Sony's rootkit actually did get the attention of non-techie people, at least some that I know. The atmosphere kind of sucks, and the prices definitely suck.

        Further: Book stores that aren't chains are also taking a beating because there are cheaper offerings elsewhere. As far as I'm aware, there isn't a huge problem with book piracy.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by dj42 (765300)
          The only thing I'll buy from these dyed-blond pop-starlets for $22 is either porn or (age depending) illegal. So I agree with you there.
    • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Friday April 06, 2007 @04:59PM (#18639789) Homepage Journal
      I understand why the people who owned the store near your campus were bitter, but I think TFA provides a good counterargument. The downloaders didn't drive them out of business; the sickness in the music industry did, and a good portion of that sickness can be traced directly to the RIAA. If it hadn't been for the RIAA's stupidity, downloaded music and music bought on CD could have found a way to peacefully coexist. Now, it's too late.

      A whole hell of a lot of working people with families, throughout the music industry, are going to lose their jobs over the next decade or two until this shakes out. The Recording Industry Association of America could have prevented this. Instead, they've done -- and continue to do -- their best to make it inevitable. Yeah, the store owners' anger is understandable, but it's aimed at the wrong target.
      • by Simonetta (207550) on Friday April 06, 2007 @05:43PM (#18640359)
        If it hadn't been for the RIAA's stupidity, downloaded music and music bought on CD could have found a way to peacefully coexist.

        I must disagree. Downloaded music is free. It is easily copyable without loss of quality between copys.

        There is no way that the RIAA can or could compete with this new model. It has driven them insane and they are just thrashing away dangerously in their madness. Woe to the people arbitraily caught in one of sweeps. The RIAA is acting like a mad grizzly bear trying to claw every salmon fish passing by it on a stream in Alaska. But eventually the RIAA's madness will cause it to run out of energy and then just roll over and die.

            However, this pattern of behavior will manifest itself as industry by industry fails to adjust to the new conditions of the modern age. One by one they will go insane and try to take out as many people at random that they can as long as they have the resources to do so. Smart people will recognize the signs of an industry in the grips of a 'death dance' and avoid being sucked into the malestrom of its fury while it dies. More on this way of thought can be found at www.kunstler.com and other sites like this.
        • by Khaed (544779) on Friday April 06, 2007 @06:08PM (#18640661)
          Downloaded music is free. It is easily copyable without loss of quality between copys.

          But there are a lot of people who don't want to break the law, even if it is copyright law. I'm friends with a fair number of them. They just won't pirate anything, at all, ever. Even if it means going without music.

          It's kind of a bitch, because they're hesitant about anything that is free on the internet -- free software makes their brains hurt. And the weird thing is, most of them are in their 20s and right at the age where you'd think piracy would be more common.

          And they're also the people who the music industry annoys with DRM, because people who want to pirate something will and nothing will stop them.
        • by quanticle (843097) on Friday April 06, 2007 @06:21PM (#18640813) Homepage

          must disagree. Downloaded music is free. It is easily copyable without loss of quality between copys.

          There is no way that the RIAA can or could compete with this new model. It has driven them insane and they are just thrashing away dangerously in their madness.


          As another poster pointed out, the availability of free alternatives hasn't been a problem for the bottled water industry. In fact, it could be argued that the water industry has it tougher: they have to pay for the distribution of a physical good. The RIAA just has to distribute information. The distribution costs of digital data are nearly zero. At worst, they have to pay for a server farm or two.

          I place the blame squarely on the heads of the record companies for failing to recognize the revolutionary nature of digital distribution and sticking to their old (physical) distribution model even in the face of overwhelming evidence that it was obsolete. Right after the shutdown of Napster, the record companies could have co-opted the pirates by offering high-quality digital downloads. By refusing to do so, they allowed other music piracy sites to become an acceptable place to get music.
        • major p2p services were reporting billions in ad revenue before they were sued into oblivion, but did the music industry get the hint and "out p2p" the p2p providers? no, they continued their rediculous demands for iron control over what music i'm allowed to listen to, how, in what format, and where, even in my own house!

          welcome to the future of the music industry, scorned and rejected for their rediculous demands for control over our stuff.
    • Bullshit. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Friday April 06, 2007 @05:01PM (#18639825)

      "to all the people that download music, if you think you are only hurting big companies you are wrong. There are two working people with families who no longer have jobs because of music piracy."

      Bullshit.

      I do not own an iPod. I buy CD's. I rip the CD's and listen to them on my computer.

      But I rarely buy any newer artists. And as was mentioned in the article, I don't buy ANOTHER "greatest hits" collection CD. If I buy something now, it is probably directly from the artist or at a used CD store.

      There is too much crap and not enough substance coming from the RIAA now. They've done this to themselves. And it is the RIAA that is killing the smaller stores.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by geekoid (135745)
        ACtually, your complaint(in this matter) is with the labels, not the RIAA.

        Nitpic, but it is important to remember the difference.
    • by bersl2 (689221) on Friday April 06, 2007 @05:06PM (#18639879) Journal
      Here's the problem with your assessment of this anecdote.

      Technology has increased the efficiency of distributing information. Music is information too. Because the old model based on physical media transfer is being overtaken, there's less overhead. Of course, this means that there's less pie to go around. People and organizations by necessity need to leave the industry or to accept the fact that they're going to get a smaller share if they remain in. Or, like the RIAA, they can try to maintain their share at the expense of everyone else.

      This is the same issue that the Luddites could not come to terms with. Greater efficiency means less work to be done. Less work necessitates fewer employees and/or smaller wages. Instead of coming to terms with the reality and exploring other lines of work, they decided to resort to destruction of property to maintain the status quo.
    • by owlnation (858981) on Friday April 06, 2007 @05:09PM (#18639921)

      "to all the people that download music, if you think you are only hurting big companies you are wrong. There are two working people with families who no longer have jobs because of music piracy."
      That's actually very unfair, and not necessarily correct. While I think this is a great article and agree with their assertions about the RIAA, there are other factors that have had a massive affect on record shops - e.g. Amazon, and iTunes. Perfectly legal, but many record shops (and book shops, in Amazon's case) haven't adapted to face that challenge.

      eBay is also a massive factor in the collector's market.
    • by qwijibo (101731) on Friday April 06, 2007 @05:13PM (#18639975)
      A business who didn't know its market and felt they were entitled to a constant flow of profit went out of business. I have a hard time finding any more sympathy for a small business that doesn't understand its customer base than I do for the RIAA.

      I occaisionally buy CD's, but I generally just cycle through the 300+ CD's my wife and I already have. If I find a new artist that I like, I want them to keep making good music, so I buy their stuff. There's any number of reasons for the declined in sales, but most of them come down to not catering to their audience. I don't buy music online because I don't like the idea of DRM. I can bypass the copy protection and make MP3's from the CDs I buy, so I have no problem putting stuff I want on my MP3 player. I haven't downloaded music as a mooch for many years. If I'm not willing to support an artist, why would I waste my time listening to their crap?

      Better quality subscription based radio stations are probably also a notable contributor to this trend. If I cared enough about my commute noise to want something better than the 6 stations and 5 CD's in my car, I'd probably do the same as you.
    • by TheLinuxWarrior (240496) <aaron.carr@aaroncar[ ]om ['r.c' in gap]> on Friday April 06, 2007 @05:14PM (#18639995)
      "to all the people that download music, if you think you are only hurting big companies you are wrong. There are two working people with families who no longer have jobs because of music piracy."

      It's not *just* music pirates responsible for the closure of stores such as this one.

      People like me, who see no value in having a CD, but legally purchase their music from online sources contribute as well.

      Why should I pay $13+ for a CD, when I can spend $10 and not have to waste gas going to the store, fight traffic and crowds, and risk the possibility that what I want may not be in stock anyway?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Yvanhoe (564877)
      That's sad. That is called evolution. You can blame piracy on it, you could also blame iTunes. The former is illegal, the latter is legal. Are both immoral ?
    • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Friday April 06, 2007 @05:28PM (#18640175) Homepage

      Unfortunately it's not illegal downloads that killed that store. My reasons for not going to a music store:

      1. The prices are too high for what I want. Not much the store can do about that. But whatever the reasons are, whatever the store can or can't do about it, it simply isn't worth it to me to pay the price of a full CD when there's only 1 or 2 tracks on it that I actually like. I want to pay, but given the other demands on my wallet I can't justify paying that much per song.
      2. What I want isn't on the shelf. I want individual songs. All the store can get are albums. When again exactly was the customer expected to buy what they don't want just because the RIAA doesn't want to sell what the customer wants?
      3. What I want isn't available. I want my music in digital form, in a format where I can not have to worry about whether or not it'll play on all my equipment, where I won't have to worry about headaches moving it between places I've a legal right to use it.
      4. I can't take the risks legitimate stuff exposes me to. From incompatible DRM modules to Sony's flat-out rooting my machine and exposing it to every black-hat out there, too many legitimate CDs are an unacceptable risk to the stability and security of my computers for me to be able to risk putting them into my drive. And if I can't play the CD where I most often want to, why bother buying it?
      That's more than enough reasons for me to not bother patronizing a music store anymore, and we haven't even gotten to the lack of variety in what many stores carry. Try finding KISS's original albums, let alone albums from the 40s and 50s.

      Oh, excuse me, I don't seem to have mentioned piracy anywhere. Maybe that ought to be a hint?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Simonetta (207550)
      I don't know who is to blame for the major decline in CD sales, the RIAA's stupidly clutching to the old music business model, or the students with 3000+ stolen songs on their ipods.

      Blame the RIAA. The people with 3000+ songs on their iPods are really librarians. They are creating vast banks and quasi-public reservoirs of the cultural products available from the "turn of the 21st century" era. They are ensuring that that music of their generation can not be arbirarily destroyed or removed from general ci
    • by greginnj (891863) on Friday April 06, 2007 @06:41PM (#18641001) Homepage Journal
      Here's a record store that is near a much smaller university; it is not only surviving but doing well:

      Princeton Record Exchange [princetonr...change.com]

      Note that they also buy used albums, so they are not bailing out on their stock. In fact, "...Please Note: We do not currently handle mail orders, list our inventory or sell online mainly because our inventory changes greatly from day to day."

      So it's a hardcopy music store that buys stuff back and refuses to do mailorder/online. Tell me, RIAA Cassandras, how are they managing it?
  • by the_wishbone (1018542) on Friday April 06, 2007 @04:50PM (#18639653)
    FTA:

    "Meanwhile, the recording industry association continues to give the impression that it's doing something by occasionally threatening to sue college students who share their record collections online. But apart from scaring the dickens out of a few dozen kids, that's just an amusing sideshow."

    Threatening to sue? Has the NY Times not noticed that they actually ARE suing a bunch of people? I think the amount of time and money that has been spent in courtrooms over actual lawsuits is a little more than "just an amusing sideshow."

    I dislike the RIAA as much as the next guy, but I just couldn't help noticing that this article downplays the RIAA lawsuits quite a bit...it's not like they're not doing anything, they're just doing the WRONG things.
  • by ackthpt (218170) * on Friday April 06, 2007 @04:51PM (#18639659) Homepage Journal
    Hi, I'm looking for a song. I think it's called Ozymandias.
    • Re:Hello, RIAA? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Andy_R (114137) on Friday April 06, 2007 @05:00PM (#18639807) Homepage Journal
      That's a great example. "Ozymandias", CD only bonus track on the single "Dominion" by the Sisters of Mercy, rights owned by RIAA member Warner brothers.

      Not available on iTunes, the only way to get it is via a torrent, or by spending about $50 for the original 3" CD secondhand, $0 of that $50 goes to Warners, $0 to the artist.

      Have a pat on the back for a job well done, Warner Brothers, I'm sure your shareholders are proud of you.
      • Re:Hello, RIAA? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Tackhead (54550) on Friday April 06, 2007 @05:59PM (#18640541)
        > That's a great example. "Ozymandias", CD only bonus track on the single "Dominion" by the Sisters of Mercy, rights owned by RIAA member Warner brothers.

        Someone up there made a point about "the guys with 3000 files on their iPod are the librarians of the early 21st century", and he's right.

        The people with 3000 files on their iPods viewed music as a valuable resource. Get that $18 LP or CD this year, because it won't be on the shelves in 5 years. Get that limited release LP or CD wherever you can, because only 500 were ever pressed. Play it once, record it to DAT, and because you'll never find another copy, put the original in a safe place, and listen to it from first-generation analog copy (or high-bitrate MP3, or lossless compression :) forever.

        Today's generation - raised under the RIAA-sponsored business models of "listen for 5 times then forget about it", or "listen to it until you upgrade to a new cellphone in 6 months", or "listen to it until you're tired of spending $15/month" - views music as an ephemeral good, a disposable commodity.

        RIAA's business model of music as an ephemeral commodity is good in the short term - keep 'em paying $0.99 for whatever's coming out of the sausage factory, or $15/month for listening to radio.

        But it's a disaster in the making for the long term. RIAA has made fortunes selling "Greatest Hits Of The Beatles" with every format change (LP, cassette, CD) and every discovery of a lost tape in some recording studio manager's attic. But you can only make those kinds of repeat sales to people who still want to listen to the Beatles 40 years later. How many of today's kids - raised on a diet of music as a disposable "listen-once-throw-in-trash-can" commodity - are going to be interested in "Britney: The Lost Tracks" from a bunch of .WAV files on a hard drive found in a surplus store in 2028, let alone "Titney's Pears, 2031 Edition" when he uses a sector editor to piece together a sixth track out of a FAT full of lost file chains?

  • last.fm.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sri Ramkrishna (1856) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .anhsirkmar.marirs.> on Friday April 06, 2007 @04:54PM (#18639709)
    I don't know. Websites like last.fm which not only can expose you to unknown music but it can also tell you when they are coming to town, let you meet up with other people also attending the concert. Last.fm is what the record store used to be. Even though RIAA probably killed the industry, last.fm is showing how online music can be done and done correctly by keeping things open.

    On that note, I hope they don't get bought out by some record label. I think it is important that they use their market power and grow themselves into a force for change in the record industry similar to what Apple has been doing with iTunes.

    sri
  • by HaeMaker (221642) on Friday April 06, 2007 @04:57PM (#18639755) Homepage
    This industry had to die. [salon.com]

    If the record stores are not controlling the market, and the radio is not the place where music is heard, then the artists win. If you find a new artist via MySpace, the artist wins.

    The artists should stop signing slave labor (or worse, pay their employer for the privilege of working for them) contracts and sell their music directly; either online or they can burn a CD as easily as a record company can press one.

    A band can play a small joint, record the show to a Notebook and burn a CD to sell to the patrons for $5. Profitable gig. DONE.

    Yea, it won't sound like a studio job, but the music loving community doesn't really care that much.
    • I've said it before, I'll say it again. the distributors of choice now are electronic on-demand outfits like iTunes and the rehabbed Napster.

      if you're doing music, go to them. get a certificate of incorporation for "all legal businesses, including but not limited to music production and distribution," at most a couple thousand bucks in most states, see your lawyer. get on the books at the harry fox agency for licensing. then go to the online guys, get their sample contract, check it out, get your stuff
    • by 808140 (808140) on Friday April 06, 2007 @07:55PM (#18641665)
      I lived in China from 2002 to 2006 and there, you have a completely different dynamic. Whereas in the US it's generally understood that copyright infringement is illegal and maybe even wrong, in China, there is absolutely no respect for copyright whatsoever. Large, legit companies offer mp3 search engines that directly link to popular music. The discman and walkman were never common in China -- the mp3 player is ubiquitous, and no one really buys music. Even if you wanted to buy a CD, finding a reputable vendor that isn't just selling you a pirated copy is difficult.

      So what's the deal? Why isn't the music industry dead in China, as so many analysts in the western world are predicting will happen here because of widespread "piracy"? Maybe they're just freeloading off of us? No, western music is not particularly popular in China. Much of their music comes from Taiwan and Hong Kong, but there's no respect for copyright law in those places, either. And the mainland market is growing, fast. A few years back one of the most popular songs ever on the mainland was a silly song some college kid recorded in their dorm and that spread on the internet like wildfire (Laoshu ai dami). So in a market where any artist can record their own song and make it big by word of mouth and "illegal" copying, what value-added services do the labels offer?

      The answer, simply, is fame. Nowadays, recording your own music and distributing it on-line is no longer difficult. Making it sound really good might be hard, but let's be honest: the top 40 hits aren't exactly classical music. They sound just about the same on shitty iPod earbuds as they do on a 20 thousand dollar audiophile setup. So, given how much you give up to have that producer do the recording for you, maybe signing with a label isn't such a great deal anymore.

      But the one thing a big label can give you is fame. Instant fame. If you want to be famous, if that's your goal -- and for many musicians, their goal is not so much making music as living like a rock star -- then the RIAA and its ilk can give that to you. In China, this seems to be their only purpose. They don't just make you into a famous musician, they make you into an idol. You sell products. You act in films. You go to fancy parties, appear on TV shows, you do all that stuff. All the bagua gossip magazines talk about you, all the kids want to either sleep with you or be you, depending on their gender. This is their value-added service: fame.

      That kid who did "Laoshu ai dami" -- I don't even know his name -- produced the most played song on the mainland (and in Taiwan, too, if memory serves) for like a two year period. His song was instantly covered by all sorts of label-sanctioned teen idols, who's versions went into heavy circulation. The kid, well, I don't know who he is or what became of him. That's the difference between having a label at your back and not.

      People will always want to be famous, and we unwashed masses will always want celebrities to gossip about, envy, and emulate. In a world like ours, becoming super-famous can be easy if the corporations are backing you, and without their help, it's nearly impossible to have sustainable fame.

      I don't see the labels and their ilk disappearing anytime soon. But like China, they may simply have to accept the fact that people are not going to stop copying music. Regardless of whether you think it's wrong or not, understand: it's not going to stop. Trying to keep it from happening is like passing prohibition, or trying to convince kids not to have premarital sex. You might win a few hearts and minds, but not enough to matter.

      The only answer is changing how your business model works, and what it emphasizes. Perhaps the Chinese model is worth a look.
  • by RichPowers (998637) on Friday April 06, 2007 @05:00PM (#18639797)
    After all, they're the ones who choose not to purchase music from record stores...

  • by pb (1020) on Friday April 06, 2007 @05:02PM (#18639829)

    It's not every day that you see a NY Times piece use the word 'boneheadedness' to describe the strategy of an organization

    So you're saying that they don't write nearly enough about the Bush administration? Or Congress? Or the justice dept? (or government in general...)
  • by poliopteragriseoapte (973295) on Friday April 06, 2007 @05:06PM (#18639887)

    I used to be a music lover - I still am, in a way. But 10 years ago, one of my standard weekend occupations was a trip to Tower Records. There, I would buy 5-6 CDs of classical music. I would listen to them all, return a couple of them or so (I often bought the same piece played by different interpreters / orchestras, returning interpretations I found less interesting), and get 5-6 more CDs, and so on and so forth, a visit every other weekend on average.

    Then came mp3's and copying. But I didn't do it. I liked having the albums - for some classical music, the booklet is interesting - and more than that, I didn't have the kind of time required to copy all the CDs I wanted to have. It was beautifully simple - buy, listen, return a few and buy many more. Money was not a problem, as I worked and I didn't have kids at the time. I didn't (and don't) have a TV - what harm there was in spending $40 / week for something I loved? It was below my threshold of attention.

    But then Tower started to decline returns. That very day, I stopped buying CDs, and in the intervening years, I must have bought 10 of them in total - mostly folkloristic music I bought while traveling. I simply could not put up with the idea of plunging $18 to try a new interpretation of a Missa by Bach - and not being able to return it if I didn't like it.

    So I stopped buying music altogether. I don't copy it either, because I still don't have a lot of time. Rather, other hobbies - digital photography, then kids, then other things still - gradually replaced the space music had in my life.

    It is sad, but I am still young, and who knows, perhaps I will live again through an era where I can easily browse through all the interpretations of the Zauberflute, listen to them, and buy them at top quality.

    So in my case, the music industry lost a customer, due purely to their fear of piracy.

  • by gurps_npc (621217) on Friday April 06, 2007 @05:10PM (#18639927) Homepage
    I have to say that I don't think we can really blame them for what happened.

    Both the music store and the RIAA were SOLELY in the business of music promotion and distribution. They made their money off of distribution, but used their promotion as a client getter.

    The internet is pretty much the best means of distributing information.

    Just like the Horse and Buggy, the RIAA and the music stores were pretty much doomed the second that the internet was created, it just took some time for it to happen.

    The only shame is they won't admit it what business they are in, trying to convince themselves and the rest of the world that they are in the production business, when they simply don't do that.

  • by Marrow (195242) on Friday April 06, 2007 @05:10PM (#18639933)

    Radio stations were so bad for so long that people stopped
    listening to the -primary- venue for new groups and songs and
    just listened to the old stuff. People stopped getting excited
    about new groups and new alblums and stopped buying.

    And now Radio cant come back because the quality is so bad
    compared with what they are used to listening to now.

    • by swschrad (312009) on Friday April 06, 2007 @05:40PM (#18640315) Homepage Journal
      back in the 20s and 30s, most labels would NOT license for broadcast, leading radio to set up their own studios, orchestras, and put out better stuff than the labels did.

      the record industry wised up, and started getting all cuddly with radio. which became its jukebox and top promoter. you know, "Now on The Big Zero, 86th caller wins free tickets to Screaming Babies in concert at the Echobowl, 86th caller, GO! With! The! ZERO!! -- here's Pap and the Droolers -- get Nulled!"

      here's a hint. those weren't row EE tickets bought that morning, no sir. they were front 5 row tickets the record companies reserved from sale for promotion purposes. you play enough Screaming Babies, you get the tickets and a box of free albums. give 'em out on air and at public events, push WZRO and the record, climb on the spiral and ride to the top of the charts....

      then the top 40 of the week on WZRO 860 became the top 20, and then the top 15, and another wave of "kill the payola" went through the bizz, and now it's all hate talkers on either end of the political spectrum spitting on the station down on the other end of the dial. "them silly Internets things" came along, and radio and physical records became almost irrelevant overnight.

      and this morning, there weren't any dinosaurs outside my door when I got up....
    • by OldeTimeGeek (725417) on Friday April 06, 2007 @06:05PM (#18640629)
      No, radio stations don't suck because of the music that they play, they suck because they all play the same music.

      When I was a teenager, almost all of the radio stations in my area were independently owned. They didn't have playlists, didn't subscribe to programming services and didn't play the same music. In fact, you were actually pretty lucky to hear your favorite songs more than once a day. The DJ played what they liked or what they felt like playing. Which made for some very interesting listening, especially at night. I swear some of 'em put on Innagadadavida just so they could slip out for twenty minutes...

      I guess radio stations figured out that they were supposed to make money 'cause they started playing just the top 10, subscribing to programming services or sold out to big media companies. Things went downhill from there.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hurfy (735314)
      hmm, you may have a point there.

      Up here one of the popular formats seems to be classic rock. At least 3 stations vs only 1 or 2 pop stations.

      However, at least 2 of the 3 (i just started listening to #3) slip in a fair amount of newer stuff including fresh releases. Especially the "80's,90's, and whatever" station. Intially "whatever" seemed to be 70's, increasingly it is 2006-2007.....

      Getting annoying, that and i want to strangle them for their ad: What playlist...we don't need no playlist. BS, would you li
  • Piracy? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Todd Knarr (15451) on Friday April 06, 2007 @05:35PM (#18640253) Homepage

    When I hear people talk about piracy, I think about one thing from long ago. When MP3s were brand spanking new, you could find tons of pirate FTP sites and Usenet newsgroups carrying illegal rips of music. And then there was one site, MyMP3.com, that had a different policy: you could download songs only if you could prove you physically had a copy of the CD at hand (by providing a hash of actual data off the CD). Now, if you're trying to drive out piracy, which do you target: the tons of completely-illegal sites, or the one site trying to insure it doesn't hand out illegal copies?

    The RIAA threw all it's resources into driving MyMP3.com out of business, putting almost nothing into tracking down and eliminating the completely pirate sites.

    • my.mp3.com (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Actually it was my.mp3.com :D

      You could also buy CDs from 3 different retailers (only 3 signed up before we got sacked).
      And INSTANTLY get access to the songs. Your cd would arrive days later. I had many an un-opened CD i purchased :D

      Here is a pic http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Mymp3com_screen shot.jpg [wikipedia.org]

      Thats my all legal (well i guess not after the ruling) music collection, i was a systems admin there.
  • by Tiger Smile (78220) <`james' `at' `dornan.com'> on Friday April 06, 2007 @05:44PM (#18640377) Homepage
    I knew some people here and there who were in the music business and allot that wanted to be. I'll be honest, not all were good. But surprisingly some were great, well beyond anything you hear on the radio. It's hard to get heard, played on the radio, and hit the right ear to get the record contract. I only know a handful that did that. Even then there are problems. Some ended up being pawns in the scheme to bilk money out of a large label. One band was hardly promoted at all, after recording great album. In fact the ONLY place I heard them played was at big name gym chain.

    Problems to beyond that. In one case a friend's band was to open for a well known band since they both had the same agent. It was a done deal, but at the last minute the big name band didn't want them to open. It appears to be out of fear that the opening act might be too good.

    I also know people who have made it and done well, but they are the exception. To date it's only 1 person out of the many many many people I met in the LA, San Francisco, and Boston music scene.

    Some bands I think people would enjoy.

    Tsar (fist Album if my favorite)
    Calendar Girls
    Lee Press-on
    Champion
    Ken Layne (kenlayne.com)

  • by TheGeneration (228855) on Friday April 06, 2007 @05:47PM (#18640403) Journal
    That's what this whole situation is. It's all about greed.

    You have the RIAA releasing TERRIBLE full length albums while abandoning the single. You have radio operators like Clear Channel only providing space for 2 or 3 new songs on their national playlists, and demanding that those 2 or 3 new songs be songs that appeal to the target advertiser's say are the most important (13-25 year olds.) 13-25 year olds, not having a lot of money, opt to pirate the ONE song they like rather than pay $20 for a CD full of terrible music. And the circle is complete!

    And let's not even get to how the music, radio, and retailers are failing people over the age of 25. When the hell is the RIAA going to realize that if 13-25 year olds aren't going to BUY the music, they should start making music for the people who will shell out the money (ie, people over 25.)????
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 06, 2007 @05:57PM (#18640531)
    IMHO, the reason the music business is failing is greed.

    Among other things, I'm an media producer. As such, I've had to get CD replication done for clients. Even small runs of CD's - we're talking 5000 and up - the cost for full replication, including artwork, shipping, printing, shrink-wrapping, etc runs well under 1.50 per disc. So the price point for CD's is just ludicrous.

    Combine that with the absolutely moronic state of A&R in the business, and you've got a recipe for failure.

    I'm also a musician. One who has his own album. And I couldn't afford to get mass replication, but I am replicating it on my own. And I'm charging folks just under 10 bucks for the CD, which has 19 tracks on it. When you do the math, that's a pretty decent deal.

    Lastly - I think we should be a bit cautious about tossing out the wheat with the chaff here. Just because you don't like every track on an album, doesn't mean it's not worth it in the long run to buy the album. Why? Because you are supporting the artist. Honestly, how many times have you bought an album on which you loved every single track? Me neither. But if the artist only gets the revenue from a single track, chances are they'll be working at Home Depot before too long. No one writes hits all the time, and part of supportin the arts is accepting that too.

    M.

  • by dylanr (455383) on Friday April 06, 2007 @06:08PM (#18640659)
    The Dead Kennedys said it best back in 1985:

    Forget honesty
    Forget creativity
    The dumbest buy the mostest
    That's the name of the game

    But sales are slumping
    And no one will say why
    Could it be they put out one too many lousy records?!?
  • by creed_nmd (1085055) on Friday April 06, 2007 @06:30PM (#18640911)
    Let's be clear about this. We keep talking about the RIAA like they are the baddies. They aren't. They are a smoke screen. They are nothing more than a trade group that represent the record labels, who are the real guilty parties here. EMI, Sony BMG, Universal and Warner hide behind this RIAA label so that they distance themselves from the lawsuits, dumb-ass decisions, etc. Up-and-coming bands still sign every day to these labels because they don't realise that they are the puppeteers pulling the strings of the RIAA. The RIAA itself has not one single artist on its roster. It's classic misdirection. Let this RIAA 'persona' take the flack while the record companies themselves don't get tarred with the same brush. Until people stop talking about the RIAA and its deeds, and starting laying the blame at the record companies themselves, nothing will change.
  • by spagthorpe (111133) on Friday April 06, 2007 @06:56PM (#18641133)
    I have no aversion to buying music. My entire life, I have spent many hours in record stores, and had over 1000 LPs at one time. Even once CDs became popular, I made the 90-minute trip each way to a Tower Records store, because they had the best selection around. Problem is, over time, my musical tastes changed, became more obscure, and the music became very difficult to find in retail stores. I had a small used shop near me with a knowledgeable employee on similar brainwaves as me, and through him I continued to fine tune my music. Later, I changed tracks again musically, but still wasn't going to find new stuff in stores. Online stores have all this. I don't need to re-purchase all my old ELP CDs, and there aren't any new ones coming out. The Sam GOody in the mall isn't going to carry a lot of Norwegian death metal either.

    Back when I first got on usenet around 90-91, and discovered progressive rock discussion groups, full of people with similar tastes in music, I was amazed. Now I could find out about things that I couldn't even buy. Tape trading was still popular among that crowd, as few of us could spend the $30 for a imported CD that you didn't even know if you liked. I did buy some that I really got into though, but it wasn't in B&M stores. Once the mp3s got going it was more of the same. I can guarantee that Napster got me to ultimatly purchase far more music than I would have otherwise, because I could find what I liked. I go to at least 20 shows a year as well, and continue to support my favorite bands. Often traveling to other countries to see them since they don't have much of a fan base in this country. Which kind of comes around to my main point. As my knowledge of the world grew, so did my music, and that purchasing could no longer be constrained to my local record store.

    I feel for the small B&M music stores, but just like hat makers, times are changing.
  • Root Cause? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jordipg (910826) on Friday April 06, 2007 @07:21PM (#18641389)
    I think it's worth noting that one of the only reasons that this controversy began in the first place is that we are all accustomed to large amounts of money being associated with the music industry. Ironically, the biggest amounts of money are associated with a very small percentage of the performers, and definitely not with the best music. In other words, CD's cost so much because we don't bat an eye at the thought of millionaire rock stars, multi-million dollar live performances, and billion dollar companies behind it all.

    Of course, none of that is really necessary for the production and distribution of good music anymore. Just look at the proliferation of internet radio and things like Pandora.

    Compare the music industry with the writing industry. No one thinks about famous authors as millionaires. There isn't a very substantial book piracy industry (in the US, anyway) because people that want to read books don't usually hesitate to pay for them. It's much easier to steal from someone you think is very, very wealthy.

    I realize that not all of the cost of a given musical product goes to the performer; in fact, I've heard that only a very small percentage does. Nevertheless, the perception is that most of the money goes in the pockets of people who have more money than you do.

    Fortunately, the information superhighway has the potential to mitigate this effect entirely. Let us hope the RIAA and the CRB do not slam the door on that, too.
  • by surrealestate (993302) on Friday April 06, 2007 @07:35PM (#18641525)
    The RIAA is really off base about piracy, when a major part of their decline is due to the demographic shift of the US population. The baby boomers are older, and have a disproportionate share of disposable income for entertainment. They tend to be less interested in video games, and not as interested in the fare which tends to dominate the movie theatres. In short, a wealthy group of people who grew up listening to music on the radio when there were fewer choices for their entertainment doller and inclined to choose it over most other forms of entertainment.

    So, what does the music industry offer this huge group of potential consumers?

    1) Music acts who have been marketed and chosen based on their appearance on videos rather than musical talent.

    2) Music acts consisting of people who are 18 to 24 years old. 30 year old musicians? Hell, they don't even play those on VH-1 any more. Oddly enough, musicians like Joan Baez, Ry Cooder, and others who were big in the 60s, when these baby boomers first started listening to the radio, can't even get arrested in the music industry.

    3) Music acts who are rehashing the same music baby boomers bought 30 years ago. Music trends are cyclical, and I've already got music from 3 discrete generations of bands that sound like the Stones.

    4) An opportunity to re-buy our record collections yet again. It's bad enough that the RIAA complained when we wanted to tape our vinyl LPs so we could listen on portable devices and our cars. No, they wanted to sell us cassettes. Then CDs.

    5) Reduced choice in an ever-expanding universe of choices. Catalogs are clogged with mediocre music, and the labels are simultaneously taking lots of things out of print. In the meantime, the digital world and business models like Amazon.com are trending towards the infinitely deep catalog, and the RIAA just doesn't get it. I understand that there isn't enough potential business to justify a CD re-pressing of the Fabulous Poodles record from 1980, that's probably at least $2000 in costs, plus the distribution, etc. However, encoding that record from the CD and distributing it digitally is probably less than $2 of labor. I guarantee they'd get a much higher return on investment than they get from letting it die.

    One of the quiet successes of iTunes is its deep catalog of jazz, classical and baby-boomer-friendly acts. For someone like me who is technically quite capable of encoding music from my old collection, but far too busy to bother, 99 cents is a very fair deal for the one song I recall from an old album. I buy new music, too, but so much of what is pushed by the major labels is just not even aimed at me.

    If the RIAA was actually courting customers rather than suing them, they would be much healthier. As it is, their pursuit of the shallow teen dollar is biting them in the ass as their audience continues to skew older. Meanwhile, the teens they are actively pursuing have a completely different outlook about their entertainment choices. Hell, who ever thought that a whole genre of music would ever appear based on cheesy videogame soundtracks from the 80s?

The test of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts. -- Aldo Leopold

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