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Music Piracy

Despite Drop In Piracy, French Music Industry Still In Decline 272

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the everybody-loses dept.
New submitter Hentes writes "France has one of the strictest anti-piracy laws. After 17 months of operation, Hadopi has released a report, claiming that illegal P2P downloads have been reduced significantly in the country: the studies they cite measured 43% and 66% decrease in copyright infringement. But that huge amount of 'lost revenue' doesn't seem to show up in the French recording industry, as the overall recorded music market has decreased by 3.9% in 2011. Even more interesting is that digital music sales have skyrocketed in France. Could it be that it's not piracy killing the traditional recording industry but digital distribution?"
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Despite Drop In Piracy, French Music Industry Still In Decline

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  • Simple Answer: (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CanHasDIY (1672858)
    French music sucks.

    NEXT!
  • by sandytaru (1158959) on Monday April 02, 2012 @05:27PM (#39553643) Journal
    Of course it's the digitable distribution model that is killing traditional music sales. Every week, I get 10 hours of free music in the form of podcasts from my favorite DJs. Why would I go out and pay for music when I can legally get it for free? And the DJs rake in their big bucks not from CD sales, but from their world tours.
    • by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday April 02, 2012 @05:44PM (#39553839)

      ...digitable distribution model that is killing traditional music sales.

      The industry shouldn't exist today period. There is no 'killing', it is dead, and the music executives are corpse camping.

      Why do we make art? It's not for money. It's not for social prestige. We make art as an act of self expression and as a way of passing the time when we're not engaged in activities necessary for our own survival. Art has no survival value -- and yet it has persisted since before recorded history. Cave paintings and such, jewelry, etc.

      The recording industry couldn't exist until it was possible to capture audiovisual events. When the technology was first invented, it was expensive to record, duplicate, and distribute it so that people could observe the art of others. Music didn't start with the invention of the phonograph, anymore than acting started with the invention of motion picture.

      But what has happened is that the technology has gotten cheaper, and cheaper, to the point where audio-visual recording equipment only costs a few dollars and reproducing those recordings costs nothing. The industry's raisin de etre is gone.

      The advent of digital technology is what killed the recording industry -- they are no more relevant today than horse shoe manufacturers. The only reason they still exist is because they are sitting on massive piles of cash garnered because the technology decreased the business cost, and they pocketed the difference; They can afford to spend millions, even billions, convincing countries worldwide to rewrite their laws to create artificial markets and monopolies under the guise that if their industry disappears, the art will too.

      • by s0nicfreak (615390) on Monday April 02, 2012 @05:58PM (#39554003) Homepage Journal
        Horse shoe manufacturers are still pretty relevant. It's just that we now use horses more as pets and luxury items than as tools. Horse shoe manufacturers evolved to meet current customer desire. The recording industry did not, and that is their problem.
      • Art has no survival value -- and yet it has persisted since before recorded history. Cave paintings and such, jewelry, etc.

        Art in the form of cave paintings can be seen as a form of record keeping directly related to major events and hunting rituals, that would seem to have a relevance to survival.

        Jewelery can be seen as both a method of making yourself seem more physically attractive increasing the chance of sexual success and as a method of storing and displaying wealth which would also seem to have su

      • by rve (4436)

        Why do we make art? It's not for money. It's not for social prestige. We make art as an act of self expression and as a way of passing the time when we're not engaged in activities necessary for our own survival.

        Speak for yourself. Self expression and artistic merit are just a means to an end. The end being prestige, money and girls. Sometimes the 'self expression' thing is the best way to achieve that (maybe you're not terribly charismatic or skilled), and sometimes the artistic angle is the way to get there (maybe you like college girls with glasses) but only in so far as they get the job done.

        • by shaitand (626655)

          People who love music are going to make music regardless. Yes they usually take artist stance to get laid, but that's the reason anyone takes up any stance. People can and do make music every day knowing they have no real chance of becoming a rockstar or seeing rockstar cash and they will continue to do so if there is no recording industry.

      • by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Monday April 02, 2012 @06:25PM (#39554321) Homepage

        This.

        Big music is in decline because local, unsigned bands are enjoying a surge in popularity. This isn't specifically a French thing, it's happening all over. A lot of young adults and wise teens are fed up with the current state of commercial music and are looking elsewhere for their entertainment. Bands themselves often prefer to DIY, many feel the big label's distribution network no longer justifies the loss of freedom and control over their own work, not when the internet is right there and all their fans are on Facebook, MySpace, Reverbnation, SoundCloud and it's all free.

        Perhaps the French are being hit harder as the result of public backlash against the harsh laws, but I'd bet they're going out more to see live acts, playing music that is actually made for enjoyment rather than profit. Big Music has lost its advantage over the everyman, they have little to offer that can't be bootstrapped with the take from a few gigs at local bars.

        The big gap now is in studio recording. This is where the indies have some catching up to do. I work a lot with local bands and my biggest beef is that their recordings are poorly mixed. A lot of indie studios out there are shitting all over their clients' work. They boast impressive gear which lures people in the door, but lack the experience and critical ear to use that gear to its full potential.

        • by blueg3 (192743)

          I think it's more DIY than "fed up with the state of music". The Internet has done a lot more than make it really easy to pirate music at a large scale. It's also made it really easy to produce and publish your own music and create your own "brand" without ever dealing with a corporation that's selective, expensive, and difficult to work with. It's also made it really easy to discover, discuss, and promote bands through this whole "social media" thing.

          • by shaitand (626655)

            "without ever dealing with a corporation that's selective, expensive, and difficult to work with"

            Feeling the traditional recording entities are selective, expensive, and difficult to work with is probably what he meant by "fed up with the state of music" most people still think of the state of music via the recording dinosaurs as "the state of music."

            The whole social media and file sharing thing is the real reason the recording industry fights piracy so hard. They don't want to lose control of distribution.

            • by blueg3 (192743)

              Ah, but that's a problem from the creator's side. It's not really a problem from the consumer's side.

      • by lennier (44736)

        Art has no survival value

        The more I learn about wildlife (ie, the more episodes of BBC documentaries narrated by David Attenborough I watch), the less I'm convinced that this is true. Art - storytelling - is among other things a way of passing on learned survival knowledge, and many animal species seem to have some form of non-genetic information transfer. And as we all know from history, manipulation of society's stories can lead to huge changes in behaviour.

        So I think we should be more worried about the commercialisation of art,

      • by NIN1385 (760712)
        Perfectly said. I wish the mod points went higher than 5 for your post alone.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Sheik Yerbouti (96423)

        "Why do we make art? It's not for money."

        Wow, just wow, you basically just precluded the idea of someone creating art for money. What horse shit. As a person who has worked in the arts and tried to make a living let me just say it's bad enough without this attitude. I don't know what your chosen vocation is but imagine if someone said the same of your vocation.

        Take for example IT. Why do we do IT? It's not for money." both are monumentally dumb statements.

        • I think there's a difference between making art for the purpose of amassing money, and requiring money in order to do art.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Easy there, Yerbooty, there are plenty of people writing code not for money. They arguably do a better job than the people who *are* in it for the money. Not everyone is motivated solely by money, no matter what the field.

        • by Sique (173459)

          We do IT because it increases our productivity. IT is not an means to itself. IT is a tool. Don't mix up tool making with doing art!
          There are art forms, that are tools too, like design or typography. Also music can be a tool, like the elevator muzak or the music in commercials. But this art is not a means to itself.

          But l'art pour l'art is something different.

          I do IT for a living. I am a toolmaker. I expect the guys who buy my tools to make heavy use of it, and I don't expect them to pay me everytime they us

      • Why do we make art? It's not for money. It's not for social prestige. We make art as an act of self expression and as a way of passing the time when we're not engaged in activities necessary for our own survival. Art has no survival value -- and yet it has persisted since before recorded history. Cave paintings and such, jewelry, etc.

        I have to disagree on that. Art as an act of self expression is a very modern viewpoint, not older than 100 years or so. For the vast majority of human hi

      • by Nikker (749551)
        It's kind of ironic but I believe very strongly that the music industry will eventually spend all of their money in hopes to remain relevant. Quite a fitting end. I will have to remember this post in 5 or so years when it really starts to happen.
  • Or maybe... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 02, 2012 @05:27PM (#39553655)
    Or maybe it's simply crappy music that's killing the traditional recording industry.
    • by danomac (1032160)

      I'll add to that: apparently if people can't get the crappy music for free they won't pay for it. Who would've thought...

      Those execs are probably going "What the hell happened??" right about now.

    • Re:Or maybe... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Burning1 (204959) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @02:12AM (#39557149) Homepage

      Crappy music is nothing new. Sift through the top hits for any decade you didn't grow up in, if you don't believe me.

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Monday April 02, 2012 @05:32PM (#39553703)

    The reporting on this issue has been pretty crappy.

    What I want to see:

    1) Rates of sales decline for the previous couple of years
    2) Rates of sales decline for neighboring countries or otherwise similar markets

    Without information like that, we can't even begin to have a meaningful discussion as to whether or not HADOPI is "working" or not. So far its all just been hand-waving over half of an equation.

    • by openfrog (897716)

      Right on! and then, those numbers might be quite difficult to get, I mean, numbers we could accept as accurate. The recording industry, just like the film industry, is addicted to creative accounting (thus the name "Hollywood accounting", and for the same reasons.

      • by jamstar7 (694492)
        The 'wildcat' oil men used to call it 'poormouthing'. You could never get a straight answer from them on the subject 'How much oil, really, do you have onhand?' The numbers they gave might have been way higher than it was, or way less than what it was, but for sure it wasn't what they said it was. Same thing with any 'industry' numbers, whether music or movie. They're going to give you the numbers they think will show them in the best light for that particular situation.
  • The industry died over 30 years ago [youtube.com] with the VCR

  • by Eightbitgnosis (1571875) on Monday April 02, 2012 @05:33PM (#39553715) Homepage
    It's called Youtube
    • by Tom (822) on Monday April 02, 2012 @05:45PM (#39553857) Homepage Journal

      They already have. Many, many videos are blocked here in Germany because the GEMA or SME or whatever other crappy music-mafia content parasite organisation wants to be paid for every view.

      And it's not just music videos, including official band channels. It's also videos where you hear a song in the background.

      They probably held a brainstorming session on how to make the general public pissed off most efficiently as an April Fool's prank and then nobody noticed that the notes were found by a secretary and sent down the chain of command to be actually implemented. It's the only rational explanation I have.

  • P2P is so 1999 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Monday April 02, 2012 @05:34PM (#39553723) Journal
    Come to my house. Bring a few bottles of wine and a blank hard drive. You will leave with more music than you can listen to in decades. Heck - a decent sized thumb drive can provide months of musical amusement. Online is dead. Offline is the future. Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon filled with terabyte hard drives...
  • by alexander_686 (957440) on Monday April 02, 2012 @05:36PM (#39553743)

    I know that France had laws to push French content, so I can see a shift to digital distribution would undermine local content laws and hit French artist that way.

    But I would guess that young people are just not used to paying for music. I mean, more young people, if they were to buy music, would do it online. But a lot of them just won’t.

    Which makes the summary off. Who cares if there is a large percentage increase in digital music - from a low base. That just means people who are buying music are switching for one format to another. Maybe buying a top single track is more cost efficient than buying an album? That goes too for the monthly subscription / rental model. (For a bad analogy, after I got Netflix my movie going dropped, so my total dollars spent on “movies” dropped.)

    • by rhysweatherley (193588) on Monday April 02, 2012 @06:48PM (#39554589)

      But I would guess that young people are just not used to paying for music.

      Heck, OLD people are not used to paying for music. I've had access to thousands of songs for near zero cost my entire life. It's called a radio. And I've probably spent a few hundred dollars total my entire life on products advertised on the radio, of which only a tiny fraction in the millicents range made it to the artists that created all that music. I have a few CD's, but nothing close to the amount I've consumed via radio over the years while paying peanuts. Music has always been cheap, and the record industry has always tried to invent ways to pretend that it isn't. There may be a future in creating custom listening mixes and radio-like streams. But $0.99 per song? Get real. It would be a rip-off at $0.01 per song.

    • But I would guess that young people are just not used to paying for music.

      I'm not sure young people were ever used to paying for music. Way back when I was a young kid, you recorded it off the radio.

      • Why the qualifier "young"?

        People were never really used to paying for music. Talking to my parents about their music listening habits it becomes crystal clear that we're the first generation that actually spent quite a bit of money on music, with "we" being the 80s/90s generation. My parents listened to radio, and if one of them, once in a blue moon, actually bought a record, it went the circle of friends who all listened to it as long as they wanted and the few "rich ones" who actually had access to magnet

  • How could digital distribution kill the recording industry when they would still be getting all the profits from digitally distributed music?

    • Re:Confused (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday April 02, 2012 @05:48PM (#39553893) Journal
      Presumably TFA is referring to the fact that the de-facto bundling of physical distribution($15-$20 for 1 CD worth vs. $1/track) is much harder to push for digital product. The 'chart topper + 14 tracks filler' is now worth ~$1, rather than ~$15...
    • by jpapon (1877296)
      Yeah, I don't get it. Skyrocketing digital sales would seem to imply the law is working, as people get their music legally to avoid running afoul of the law.
      • by robot256 (1635039)
        If your ship is sinking, throwing cargo overboard won't make that hole in the bottom stop leaking. The anti-piracy law was never the solution to the problem they actually have, which is the replacement of CDs with digital distribution (monetized or not).
      • by Bert64 (520050)

        Not necessarily, those people now buying digitally may have previously acquired music from p2p, but they might also have previously bought it on cd...

        A lot of people who used p2p did so because they could not afford to buy music... They still can't afford to buy it, but also cannot run the risk of losing their internet access so they just do without. I know several people who fall into this category.

        Many people cannot afford to buy much music, but will buy some... The lack of p2p takes away an avenue by whi

  • doesn't it? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Monday April 02, 2012 @05:40PM (#39553785) Homepage Journal

    But that huge amount of 'lost revenue' doesn't seem to show up in the French recording industry,

    But it does. Right there in the decline. Check with a hundred of your closest friends if the following sentence is true: "The more exposure to new music I have, the more likely I am to go and buy some."

    Music isn't like food. You don't notice its absence much. If you go without your iPod for a month, you're not going to miss it all that much after the initial adaptation is over.

    If you reduce the amount of music that people have available, you reduce the demand for music.

    • by jsepeta (412566)

      Economists at Stanford demonstrated that other variables were responsible for 80% of the music sales downturn at the height of Napster.
      http://siepr.stanford.edu/publicationsprofile/379 [stanford.edu]

      And it was found that Napster users bought more music, because they were exposed to more music.
      http://news.cnet.com/2100-1023-243463.html [cnet.com]

      Nobody ever blames Clear Channel's tight control over US airwaves, and their limited playlists, as being a major factor in restricting new music to the buying public, but it is. And what abou

  • Ouch.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday April 02, 2012 @05:49PM (#39553905) Journal
    Sarkozy is going to be sleeping on the couch for a week at this rate.
  • This is simple to understand, the majority of torrent users would not buy the music if torrents werent around anyway, they download stuff freely to try stuff and often delete it. The music industry has changed, its not enough now just to sell music, its about getting embedded into the current cultural trend and doing tours! Artists need to work for their money now by travelling and giving a deeper experience to the fans! its as simple as that!

  • ZOMG! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Monday April 02, 2012 @05:56PM (#39553979) Homepage

    You mean the RIAA was LYING to us?

    I just cant believe that!

  • Interesting (Score:5, Funny)

    by systematical (1394991) on Monday April 02, 2012 @05:57PM (#39553985) Homepage
    You could almost say the French music industry is...retreating.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Colonel Korn (1258968)

      You could almost say the French music industry is...retreating.

      Lame. But also misguided in the same way that a lot of comments on this story have been. You seem to assume that this is sales of French music and not sales of all music in France, which is the actual topic. It's actually more apt of a metaphor to say that the French are driving the music industry out of their nation.

  • Is the overcharging for mostly pop garbage in a tough economy.

  • Could it be that it's not piracy killing the traditional recording industry but digital distribution?

    Or, maybe it's lousy music that's killing the traditional recording industry? If the only two choices are piracy or digital distribution, you have likely oversimplified.

    Unfortunately, the music industry doesn't seem to be able to believe that one of the reasons people are buying less music is because they're not as interested in it. They just think they should be able to extrapolate from 30 year old number

  • It's poor reasoning to think that a reduction of piracy will mean an increase in market shares, as though those two variables are causally linked and somehow have inversely proportional growth. I would be surprised in the rates of growth of these two variables are not causally linked, though. But that's because loss in sales in the music industry is calculated by estimating the total volume of pirated music, and then multiplying that by the music's marketable value. So 100,000 albums pirated at $10 a copy m
    • by robot256 (1635039)

      So the labels are still at a loss - they need people both NOT to steal the music, AND to purchase it.

      WRONG. They only need people to purchase it. People stealing the music does not affect their bottom line at all. If I buy one copy and download 50 copies, that is still one copy sold, not 49 copies stolen. They want people to not "steal" the music because they think that will make them buy it--any other motive would make them irredeemably evil. But since that link is not at all causal*, it should come as no surprise that reducing the number illegal copies does not automatically increase revenue. * The

      • They want people to not "steal" the music because they think that will make them buy it--any other motive would make them irredeemably evil.

        That's IMO actually the case, but it doesn't make them "evil". It just makes them greedy.

        The point here is control. If you do not control what you create, its value plummets. I had a lengthy discussion with someone from a "special interest group" (not wanting to go into detail here, but I have dinner with the devil from time to time) and he tried to explain it. I can't really follow his logic, but that's the way these people seem to think.

        If you control the distribution of your content, you can control its

  • Check The Math (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bob9113 (14996) on Monday April 02, 2012 @06:13PM (#39554167) Homepage

    From Rob Reid's TED Talk (http://blog.ted.com/2012/03/20/the-numbers-behind-the-copyright-math/ [ted.com]):

    "I used it to compare the industry's revenues in 1999 (when Napster debuted) to 2010 (the most recent available data). Sales plunged from $14.6 billion down to $6.8 billion - a drop that I rounded to $8 billion in my talk."

    Let's try a quick run-through on the "switch-to-digital" math:

    iTunes sales in 1999 (the first year cited above): $0.
    iTunes songs sold in 1999: 0.
    iTunes songs sold in 2010: 6b.
    Music Industry Sales in 1999: $14.6b
    Music Industry Sales in 2010: $6.8b
    Track Cost in 2010: $0.99
    Album Cost in 1999: $14.00

    Now suppose that people only bought the good tracks, instead of whole albums -- the new iTunes way of buying music. Suppose also that piracy had zero impact on sales. What would the above sales figures imply about the number of good tracks (tracks that sell) per album?

    Albums Sold in 1999 = $14.6b / $14 = 1.1b
    Tracks Sold in 2010 = $6.8b / $0.99 = 6.8b
    Tracks sold in 2010 per album sold in 1999 = 6.8 / 1.1 = 6/1.

    So, what that says is that if all music sales had become digital single tracks, we would now be selling 6 single tracks for every album we used to sell.

    Bear in mind that this is an upper bound case, assuming all sales have become digital. That is not realistic, but it gives us our first measurement. Let's see if we can refine it a bit with some estimates from iTunes.

    iTunes is the single biggest seller of music and sold 6 billion tracks worldwide in 2010. Suppose iTunes sold 2b of those tracks in the US and all digital vendors other than iTunes sold another 1b combined in the US. In that case:

    Album Spending 2010: $6.8b - $3b = $3.8b
    Album Price in 2010: $16
    Albums sold in 2010: $3.8b / $16 = 237m
    Tracks sold in 2010: 3b
    Albums sold in 1999: 1.1b
    Missing Album Sales: 1.1b - 237m = 0.9b
    Tracks Sold per Lost Album: 3b / 0.9b = 3 / 1.

    These numbers are still estimates, but that calculation shows that one reasonable estimate is that we are now selling three digital tracks for every one album we used to sell, if we assume that Internet piracy had exactly zero effect.

    It is within the reasonable bounds of the data I could find quickly that the entire reduction in US music sales is due to migration to digital single tracks.

    • These numbers are still estimates, but that calculation shows that one reasonable estimate is that we are now selling three digital tracks for every one album we used to sell, if we assume that Internet piracy had exactly zero effect.

      It is within the reasonable bounds of the data I could find quickly that the entire reduction in US music sales is due to migration to digital single tracks.

      Why would you "assume that Internet piracy had exactly zero effect"? It has had a huge effect.

      People hate to buy entire albums for only one or two good songs, so as soon as an alternative was available they took it. Some people pirate music, some buy tracks from iTunes. But ignoring piracy is ridiculous.

      • by Bob9113 (14996)

        Why would you "assume that Internet piracy had exactly zero effect"?

        The purpose is to test the hypothesis that Internet piracy had a net effect on music sales.

        It has had a huge effect.

        Yes, that is the hypothesis I am testing.

        In this case, I did so by observing empirical data, analyzing it quantitatively, and showing my work. It seems your approach is more based on a gut check and appeal to ridicule [wikipedia.org]. I do not believe your way is a beneficial part of a healthy discourse on public policy.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Monday April 02, 2012 @06:51PM (#39554621) Homepage

    They have lied about everything since the beginning. With every new technology, they fought it and lied about it. They have lost here and won there. We lost out on consumer DAT (a huge loss) but won big with the CD. The ability to burn perfect copies of CDs, for example, was supposed to destroy the industry. They made profits in the "worst of times" enough to pay all of their politicians as much as they wanted, wrote and funded the DMCA.

    They continue to walk a fine line, but without exception, the publishing industries have made fantastic claims which have invariably failed to come true. It's time for this story to be told and retold over and over and over again until people accept the **AAs for the liars and cheats they are. If the politicians are told the truth, repeatedly and enduringly, they can't claim to have not known. And if they continue to accept the **AA's money, their corruption can be without a doubt.

  • could it be? piracy drives music sales up?!?!?!

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/illegal-downloaders-spend-the-most-on-music-says-poll-1812776.html [independent.co.uk]

    let's also ignore increase in concert/merchandise revenue from new fans who didn't pay for the music they tried out. i'm not sure that money even goes to the labels.
  • .... accordion music one can take.

  • There seems to be a big problem with the French trying to overmanage this situation.

    On one hand, there is SNEP which is in charge of the enforcement of the French language quota (mostly on radio for this argument), but apparently is having many issues with this. The number of albums produced in French is declining precipitously [thedrum.co.uk] from 718 releases in 2003, to 158 in 2011. Also many radio stations struggle to fill the quota with songs that are of similar programming format and thus repeat top rated songs many

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