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Music Industry Thriving In an Era of File Sharing 174

Posted by kdawson
from the told-you-so dept.
levicivita notes ZeroPaid coverage of a recent study by the UK music industry's own economist showing that overall UK music industry revenues were up in 2008 (study, PDF). The study is titled "Adding up the Music Industry for 2008" and it was authored by Will Page, who is the Chief Economist at PRS for Music, a UK-based royalty collecting group for music writers, composers, and publishers. From ZeroPaid: "[T]he music industry is growing increasingly diverse as music fans enjoy a wide range of platforms to hear and consume music. Sales of recorded music fell 6% for example, digital was up 50% while physical dropped 10%, but concert ticket sales grew by 13%. In terms of what consumers spent on music as a whole last year, this surprisingly grew by 3%."
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Music Industry Thriving In an Era of File Sharing

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  • by sconeu (64226) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @02:35AM (#28848363) Homepage Journal

    The recording industry has lost [CARL-SAGAN] Billions and BILLIONS [/CARL-SAGAN] due to those Evil Content Pirates(tm)!

    • by maxwell demon (590494) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @03:08AM (#28848521) Journal

      Not to forget those who pirated non-evil content. :-)

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by davester666 (731373)

        And all those bastards that aren't buying all the songs on an album. Really, just buying what you like and not taking what you don't want is just stealing from hookers and coke dealers. How will they feed their families without the support of the music labels?

        • The Chief Economist of PRS was found dead in his home, apparently of autoerotic asphyiation, with ropes tied around his neck and completely naked.

          The UK police are stumped. "We did find a card with the word 'RIAA' on it, but we decided to ignore it and call this a suicide. A sex game gone wrong." Outsiders call this a case of corporatism - the government and the corporations colluding to cover-up a murder. "It be fascism, that's what it be," said a local man who refused to identity himself.

        • Won't someone think of the hookers?!
      • I thought they were more worried about the pirates contented with non-evil.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Hammer (14284)

      Come come... You are getting confused here...
      What on earth does the recording industry have to do with the music industry ???

    • by bonch (38532) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @03:23AM (#28848583)

      I like how both the article and the Slashdot submission completely ignore that file-sharing has dropped in the UK [arstechnica.com], especially among teens. Though I know this was posted on Slashdot to give pro-pirates the idea that sales are thriving in spite of piracy, this story doesn't disprove the effect piracy has on sales--if anything, it bolsters the idea that sales go up when piracy goes down.

      • by sortius_nod (1080919) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @03:59AM (#28848773) Homepage

        I don't know about that one.

        You're ignoring that there are better content delivery systems these days. Years ago you almost NEEDED to pirate if you wanted a digital copy (especially if you weren't a techie), these days you can buy from many online stores, DRMed or DRM free.

        I'd say you're putting the cart before the horse. Piracy has dropped because there's more choice for legal avenues. It's not that pirates have been busted therefore buy more legit downloads.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by master5o1 (1068594)
        I was considering moderating you as troll or flamebait simply because it was going against the traditional slashdot ideals. Good thing I already posted above.
      • by selven (1556643) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @05:41AM (#28849257)

        Slashdot (or at least the segment you are referring to) is not trying to increase piracy, it's trying to reduce copyright, and one of the desired reductions is to make personal file sharing legal. If the artists are doing fine without the draconian laws some people are proposing then it supports the (Slashdot-approved) idea that we do not need those laws.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Andy_R (114137)

        1) Correlation does not imply causality.

        2) Who paid for the survey? Take a look at http://www.theleadingquestion.com/ [theleadingquestion.com] and you'll find prominent Warner Music Group, EMI, Sony and Universal logos on the front page. Do you trust them to be unbiased?

        3) Even if the survey was fair, unbiased and accurate, it cannot distinguish between people who are aware of the RIAA's tactics and are no longer willing to admit to filesharing and people who have actually stopped.

      • by tcr (39109)

        Spotify is becoming quite popular at this side of the Pond.
        It doesn't involve piracy, or music sales either...

        • I reckon Spotify is one of the major reasons for the drop in file-sharing of music. On a personal, anecdotal basis, I used to use Limewire A LOT for previewing tracks from artists I'd been recommended. Nowadays, compared with Spotify, filesharing is just too much bloody hard work. If someone's not on Spotify (or YouTube) these days, it's unlikely I'll take the time to find out much about them, and consequently VERY unlikely that I'll actually get round to shelling out for a legit copy.

          How do you compete wit

      • by mcgrew (92797)

        Every study not commissioned by the RIAA labels show that so-called "music pirates" spend more money on music than anyone else. The major labels have declared war on their best customers.

        • by Andy_R (114137) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @08:51AM (#28850463) Homepage Journal

          The RIAA labels are well aware that file sharing is free advertising and it increases sales, the reason they are against it is that it breaks the monopoly on exposure that the RIAA labels had. Being able to try before you buy via P2P allows people to discover great self-promoted and small label music without making expensive 'stab in the dark' purchases. This means that although file-sharers spend on music is higher, the amount that ends up in the pockets of the RIAA labels is lower.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by NekSnappa (803141)

          Not to mention the way they're raking internet radio over the coals.
          I've probably bought $50-$80 worth of music over the last 2 years that I'd have never heard of without soma.fm's Bootliquor station.

          That's a combo of physical CD's, and downloads from both Amazon, and iTunes.

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by nine-times (778537)

        I think you have a decent point in that there is a pro-file-sharing contingent in Slashdot. On the other hand, there are a lot of us who just dislike the bullying tactics of the big record companies, which seem to abuse both the customers and artists that they depend on.

        So yes, if piracy is down and sales are up, then it seems reasonable to assume that those two are connected. But what's the cause? Are sales up because piracy is down, and if so, then why is piracy down? Are those RIAA lawsuits with mil

      • by wagnerrp (1305589)
        On the other hand, you could argue that a successful anti-piracy campaign has no effect on music sales, since those are still down 6% from the year before. While concert sales have gone up 13%, the bulk of the proceeds from a concert goes to the band, as opposed to recorded music sales where the bulk goes back to the record label.
    • by erpbridge (64037)

      Why have Billions when you can have..... MILLIONS?

  • by narcc (412956) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @02:37AM (#28848371) Journal

    How much greater would the reported growth be without losses due to piracy?

    I'm guessing it would be something like 3 billion percent.

  • no shock (Score:3, Interesting)

    by timmarhy (659436) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @02:41AM (#28848391)
    the number of consumers out there probably grew by more then 3%, so i'd be shocked if there wasn't an increase.

    recorded music is where the juicy profits are though, so profit wise i'm guessing they lost out.

    • by symbolset (646467) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @03:07AM (#28848513) Journal
      An album hasn't turned a profit in twenty years. Otherwise they would have to pay royalties to the artists, which would ruin their business model.
      • by Hammer (14284) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @03:27AM (#28848605) Journal

        Now would that be the same people who raised the price when the CD came "to pay off the investment"?
        When independent economists calculated the price of a CD, on the shelf in the store, being ~10 cents less than the LP. That included paying off investment in 5 years...
        Or is it the people who said that the prices would drop as soon as the market grew?
        I am still waiting for the CD market to take off so the prices will drop ;-)
        Or are we talking the guys who manage to set the price of a soundtrack CD higher than the movie DVD?

        • >>>When independent economists calculated the price of a CD, on the shelf in the store, being ~10 cents less than the LP. That included paying off investment in 5 years...
          >>>

          Yes but even more damning - when the U.S. Federal Trade Commission investigated they discovered that the record companies were colluding to prop-up prices, and threatening discount stores like Walmart, "Sell for $12 and higher, else we'll cut off your supply to all music-related items." The U.S. FTC filed charges of f

        • Well, you bought the CDs. So it worked, didn't it?

          At least until now. :)

  • Inflation? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hoarier (1545701) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @02:46AM (#28848419)

    The report does tell us:

    Make no mistake; the live music industry grew in 2008. More events, more bands, more tickets and importantly, higher ticket prices. Breaking it down to basic supply and demand economics, and given the scarcity embedded in its model, the live music industry is somewhere you really want to be right now.

    My emphasis.

    Perhaps the figures include all the tickets all those suckers bought for the triumphant London return of the "king of pop".

    Or maybe this year's new music isn't as boring as last year's (I pretty much gave up buying CDs when I found they were all bland and soporific).

    That's quite a report, in its gushing marketingese. I note with delight that "heritage act" has supplanted "senior citizen" as the euphemism for "old age pensioner" or "old geezer".

    • by xaxa (988988)

      Perhaps the figures include all the tickets all those suckers bought for the triumphant London return of the "king of pop".

      The report considers 2008 revenue, so that's before the Michael Jackson concert in London was announced.

      I go to lots of gigs, and I've noticed ticket prices seem to have gone up slightly.

      Or maybe this year's new music isn't as boring as last year's (I pretty much gave up buying CDs when I found they were all bland and soporific).

      About 2% of the CDs I own are stocked by a normal record store. You don't have to limit yourself to the most popular stuff.

  • This is bullshit! I am sure file sharing and the free exchange of information represses interest of anything if not everything... hold on..

  • by KneelBeforeZod (1527235) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @02:53AM (#28848455)
    The money flow is going the way it should. More about the artists and less about the publishers. And at better prices. To gain recognition, artists aren't required to sign away all their rights to a giant publisher anymore.
  • What's the Cause? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by brit74 (831798) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @02:54AM (#28848463)
    Wow. I guess piracy really doesn't hurt the digital content industries.

    Oh wait. Two caveats:
    (1) "Sales of recorded music fell 6%" (which means other digital industries that don't involve giving concerts shouldn't expect comparible results).
    (2) A recent (July 13, 2009) study of UK piracy says "The analyst firm published a study on Monday that showed the numbers of those who regularly file-shared had dropped by a quarter between December 2007 and January 2009. The trend was particularly pronounced among 14-18-year-olds -- at the earlier date, 42 per cent were file-sharing at least once per month but at the latter date only 26 per cent were doing so."
    Source: http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/content/jul2009/gb20090713_439306.htm [businessweek.com]
    • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @03:25AM (#28848591)

      My guess is that the kids just got smarter. You don't brag about filesharing anymore. No matter how much a study is allegedly "anonymous".

      • by xaxa (988988)

        I wouldn't be surprised if filesharing is down. A few years ago if I heard something new that I liked (e.g. in a nightclub) I'd find out what it was, and at home search for a torrent.

        Now, I just type the name in to Songza.com (or Last.fm).

        • I'm more a YouTube person. Yeah, I'm not hip anymore, I go with the masses now.

          • by xaxa (988988)

            http://songza.com/ [songza.com] is a music search engine that indexes YouTube and Imeem. You can search for a specific track, but it's also useful to search for an artist and let it play through a load of their songs (I do this at work sometimes, as I limit myself to legally purchased music on my work PC).

    • by Draek (916851) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @03:36AM (#28848643)

      So you're saying that, when illegal file-sharing dropped, so did actual sales?

      • by dirk (87083)

        So what you are saying is that in an anonymous survey, you believe those that responded to it lied in the section about downloading, but then were completely honest everywhere else? You can assume the responders were truthful for the entire survey or lied for the entire survey, but it is just silly to assume they were truthful for all of the survey except for the portion you don't agree with. Either the entire thing is legit or throw the whole thing out because you think the results are false, don't try t

    • by sjames (1099)

      So 'piracy' is down and sales are also down? If the problem had been piracy all this time, why aren't sales up?

      The most charitable interpretation is that the problems from piracy are swamped by other problems.

      It could also mean that piracy really does INCREASE sales. Less piracy=less sales.

      Next interpretation: The quality of their releases has gone down so less people are interested in it, even when it's free. Since they still like music, they spend it on concerts instead.

      Finally, it could mean that their h

    • by mmaniaci (1200061)

      I see this as the first indication that we pirates won! I only downloaded music illegally when I did not have a choice, or my choice was so expensive and temporary that it was a smarter move to pirate. Now I don't find myself needing to download music when prices are dropping (on the music I like at least) and I can quickly get a digital album for a decent price, quality, and without DRM. We forced the industry to begin changing and I can't wait to see where it ends up. Hell, there might actually be some de

  • by Repossessed (1117929) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @03:01AM (#28848481)

    Ticket sale money doesn't line the same pockets as CD sale money (for one, the artist gets a cut).

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by PerZon (181675)

      When you can fit a million people into a concert then you can compare figures. Its good to see artists sweat n work for their millions. Almost anyone can spend a week in front of a modern PC and bang up a reasonably audible production.

      • Its good to see artists sweat n work for their millions. Almost anyone can spend a week in front of a modern PC and bang up a reasonably audible production.

        I'm finding it a bit of a struggle. Perhaps if you'd supply a link to your magnum opus it would inspire me...

      • by JAlexoi (1085785)
        That is the rason I believe that the , currently, over privileged artists should get their money mainly from 2 sources:
        A) Commercial music usage
        B) Live concert ticket sales
        And movie "stars" should get to do real work, like acting in a theater. I mean, anyone can whip up a good scene when you have 200 takes, but when you're in a theater, that is the place where you have to really work.
      • by EzInKy (115248)

        Absolutely. I was pretty impressed by this video [youtube.com] that my son created, the music all recorded in his basement.

    • Finally, the system is starting to return to balance. Less money to greedy executives pushing Brittany Spears, more money to creative artists.
      • by physburn (1095481)
        Absolutely music has been a hideous corporate game with big publisher, deciding the style and message of music, and marketing to the young, for far to long. Any step away from that has to be a good thing.

        ---

        Indie Music [feeddistiller.com] Feed @ Feed Distiller [feeddistiller.com]

  • AGAIN? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PerZon (181675) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @03:04AM (#28848497)

    From what I remember, the same increase was seen throughout the industry when Napster was at its peak.

    The industry should be thankful for being able to reach a larger audience without having to pay the giant advertising costs!

    • by Waccoon (1186667)

      Back when I tried Napster, only popular artists has songs listed under their own names. Everyone else was "unknown".

      One of the points of copyrights is to ensure credit. Credit does not necessarily mean profit. I would be plenty pissed if my art was circulating around the Internet, everybody liked it, and I had a ton of fans, and... nobody actually knew who I was. Don't even get me started about mis-credited works.

      Napster was bad. Period. I couldn't find anything from my favorite obscure artists with t

      • by Locklin (1074657)

        Very true. Being that Torrents are easily linked on websites, they are much better for promoting a band or festival. For instance, the giant (mostly indie rock) festival South by Southwest released 1267 mp3s from bands at their 2009 festival, available via Bittorrent [torrentfreak.com].

      • by PriceIke (751512)
        What Napster were YOU using? I could find anything and everything I could think up to search for, and some of my musical tastes are quite remote. I used to be able to bet my co-workers (and win, typically) on attempts to stump Napster. THOSE were the days that had record industry executives spending their nights trembling beneath sweat-drenched sheets.
    • by mcgrew (92797)

      The industry should be thankful for being able to reach a larger audience without having to pay the giant advertising costs!

      The fight against file sharing is the cartel fighting their competetion, the indies. The RIAA labels have radio and don't need P2P. The RIAA isn't interested in keeping Metallica out of your ears, it's interested in stopping the indies from ever being heard.

      The RIAA is probably guilty of antitrust violations, but as long as they keep "campaign contribution" bribes going to our corrupt

  • Physical Media (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jbfalek (1606989) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @03:16AM (#28848567)

    Interestingly it looks as though even though the physical products are not selling well people are returning or atleast partially embracing vinyl records

    From Wikipedia -

    "Figures released in the United States in early 2009 showed that sales of vinyl albums nearly doubled in 2008, with 1.88 million sold - up from just under 1 million in 2007."

    • by z0idberg (888892)

      Furthermore from the same wikipedia entry

      "If these trends continue... eyyyyyy! "

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mcgrew (92797)

      Well, CD's upper limit is 22khz, vinyl used a 44khz carrier to encode the rear channels of quadrophonic. The closer you get to the 22khz Nyquist limit imposed by CD's 44khz sample rate, the greater the aliasing. A 15khz tone has only three samples per trough, how can you possibly reconstruct a complex waveform with three samples?

      Plus, audible frequencies are colored by supersonic waveforms. You don't have them with CD. However, you would have to have a higher sampling rate with your digital master for the v

    • by mmaniaci (1200061)
      Not that it adds much, but I recently stole my dad's old record player and have been buying vinyl for about a year. I like the sound quality, I feel somehow "closer" to the music/artist, and the album sleeves make for AWESOME wall decorations. And CDs remind me of the beginning of a terrible age of music. Vinyl reminds me of the end of the best.
  • by defireman (1365467) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @03:17AM (#28848571)
    The RIAA et al. is screaming about piracy not because money is not lining into pockets. The money is only being lined into the wrong pockets, and they don't like it.

    Executives only exists to protect themselves. The facts don't lie.
    • The Music Industry is NOT the Recording Industry. As recording has become almost trivially easy, just about any performer who wants to can buy, rent, or borrow a suitable studio, and reproduction has become as simple as copying a file, the industry is becoming more focused on the performer. Which is probably what the fans prefer.
  • Interesting statistic. I am all for pushing digital content out to the masses and being able to pick songs you like. I'd much rather buy a couple of songs that I like off an album and not having to fork out the bucks for the rest of the dross. It also creates competitive drive for artists and makes them dig deep into their creative juices or shell out the money for people who know how to produce stuff that sells better (whether of better quality or not).

    But it would be interesting to do a follow up statisti

    • by rdebath (884132)

      ... recession being blamed for it ...

      The problem with that theory is that it would result in attendance dropping, in half empty concerts because there aren't enough people willing to pay the price hike. That isn't what's happening, the venues have been able to raise prices and still get the full house needed for people to come back to the next concert.

      The only way that can happen, in a recession yet, is if even more people want to go but can't justify the cost.

      So where do all these people find out about the concerts? I don't see any incr

    • by mcgrew (92797)

      I'd much rather buy a couple of songs that I like off an album and not having to fork out the bucks for the rest of the dross.

      I'd rather not give any money at all to artists who have one good song on a dross-filled album. If your band only has one good song, your band sucks.

  • by KarlIsNotMyName (1529477) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @04:56AM (#28849033)
    All money that's not spent on what is supposedly downloaded instead (rather than in addition to), is still there to be spent on other things. Other media, even.
  • by DomHawken (1335311) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @05:28AM (#28849193) Homepage
    The PRS is the '_Performing_ Rights Society'. As the article says - 'Consumers spent less on recorded music, down 6% since 2007, but concert ticket sales have grown by some 13% as the industry as whole slowly evolves and adapts to digital distribution.'. They collect royalties for performances, not physical sales of CDs, or royalties from downloads, which are collected in the main by the MCPS (Mechanical Copyright Protection Service). The music industry in terms of the main labels remains slow to adapt, and the ridiculously high percentages charged by download services like iTunes (50% for smaller labels/bands in the UK, plus another 10% to go through a broker if they refuse to deal direct) means that bands are forced to play live as the only sensible source of income.
  • The guy works for a group whose business is *collecting royalties* for artists. Of course he's going to say that sales are up, and his clients deserve more money. If he were saying that sales were way down and had less than 7 degrees of separation from the RIAA he'd be flayed alive. When his position supports the /. mindhive it doesn't matter what his credentials are.

    I should know better by now, but I'm disappointed by you, /.ers.

  • ... who blamed all those previously reported drops in sales on loss of quality will surely attribute this spike similarly: as a rise in quality? Surely they weren't just coming up with excuses to justify their illegal behaviour, right?

    Seriously though, this is all a non-issue. It's up to the copyright holder what they do with their works. Whether sharing is beneficial or not, it's still not up to us to dictate to artists how they should market their product. If the statistics say that sales with sharing are

  • Even if their "mainstay" of physical media continues to tank, this just goes to show that they'll make it up elsewhere. They'll likely continue to increase the price of concert tickets to offset the revenue loss (and to continue the modest increase reported this year), but that will only be sustainable for a limited time. Music remains an overpriced product through most outlets.

    I find myself buying a lot of Amazon MP3s when I see album specials for $3 (USD) or less. Sure, I'm not picking up the newest a
  • by Shads (4567)

    The simple reality is: most people who pirate aren't going to buy anyways. It's not a loss if someone downloads your content and tinkers with it 5m and then never touches it again and that is what happens with *a lot* of content. Nor is it a loss if someone downloads your content (because they can't afford it) and likes it and 5 of their friends go out and buy it even though the original person never does.

  • I still contend that 90% of all illegal downloads comes from people who weren't going to buy the music anyway. The problem for the music industry is that piracy opens the world up to a larger variety of music. As a result, it's almost impossible for the industry to dictate the music trends. In this modern world it's much harder for the industry to ram "She Bangs, She Bangs!" down our throat. My cousin was so happy when he got a six record deal ten years ago. Then they promptly shelved him for the duration o
  • digital was up 50% while physical dropped 10%, but concert ticket sales grew by 13%

    Isn't this exactly what the entire geek community has been saying for over a decade ? We don't give a fuck about the shiny discs, we give a fuck about the music and the artist.

  • When you buy music, make sure to check http://riaaradar.com/ [riaaradar.com] [riaaradar.com] to see if the album is from a company that funds the RIAA. If they do, don't buy it and stick it to them a couple dollars of lost earnings at a time.
  • Paging New York County Lawyer. Here's another brick for the wall you're building on how the recording industry lies and lies and lies about all the harm that evil filesharing perverts are causing them.

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