(These are Phil’s words, not the lawyer’s):
According to the RIAA, the gross domestic revenue for the recorded music business was $14.6 billion in 1999, but it had dropped to $12.2 billion last year. That’s five years of pain. Perhaps it’s only human nature for the industry participants to seek a culprit; and given the pain, a culprit that can be demonized as well. Anyone who has not been living in a cave for the past five years knows that they identified P2P file trading as precisely that devil.
The industry sought legal remedies and pursued their devil with the single minded determination of a Tomcat during rutting season. But it has proven to be an obsession as damaging as Captain Ahab’s quest for the White Whale. It has distracted them from the potentialities of other opportunities in the Digital Domain where they have still made only half-hearted efforts that are generally overpriced. This was most recently demonstrated when Sprint launched a wireless digital download service to selected cell phones and priced it at $2.50 per track.
More importantly, the demonization of P2P has led them imagine conspiracies where none exist. For example, they apparently feel since digitized recorded music has stimulated demand for computers and devices like the iPod, that the hardware manufacturers are smugly satisfied with a habituated consumer practice of piracy. Thus, they have demonized the hardware makers as well.
Where will this bunker psychology lead them? More lawsuits? Copy protected CDs? Lobbying efforts for new legislation in Washington? Evolutionary adaptation to new technologies? Our guest on Wednesday was with Sony records for ten years and provides the record label perspective on the future of the music business.
You can hear the interview here.