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Saturday, October 17, 2009

What Is Wrong With The Music Industry (A Brief Summary)

I download music. Literally every person my age I know downloads music, and if they don't it's because they're not interested in music or are too retarded to use a computer. This is no excuse though, we should support artists, certainly those on independent labels. Major labels are a bit of a grey area; there are people making millions out of bands' music and yet some bands it would seem still don't see a penny of that. Something definitely is not right there. So for starters, there needs to be some kind of reform in the music industry, something that ensures that artists get their fair cut of money for the music that they make. In some ways, Radiohead do have a right to be bitter about record companies, after all, they wrote the songs, but now EMI (I think?) owns their music and released a Greatest Hits compilation without their consent, and much to the dismay of the band. They also proved this with the release of In Rainbows - despite most people not paying a single penny for the album, they still made more money from that than any previous album they released. Now clearly if a band smaller than Radiohead or Nine Inch Nails did the same thing then they would get fuck all for this, so Radiohead do have EMI to thank for their success in the first place. They clearly put a lot of money into advertising, allowing Radiohead to become the biggest band on the planet. However, considering people could pay what they wanted for their latest album and they received more money from that than any other album, surely there's something not quite right in the amount of money that EMI are dishing out to bands for their work.

The second (and in this day and age, larger) problem is that of illegal downloading. People are not going to stop downloading, if anything as internet speeds increase and there's less caps on speed and download limits, then people are going to download more and more. The music industry is trying to counter this by scaremongering - suing the fuck out of a few unfortunate individuals in the vain hope that it will stop the rest of us downloading. As has been proved by the fact that...well, people are still downloading, this didn't work.
The government has tried to do its part in this (as it doesn't just affect the music industry, but also the gaming and film industries too, amongst others) but they haven't been very successful. They want ISPs to ban customers who download illegal content, which, ignoring the large amount of people who will protest about their right to privacy, is the last thing the ISPs want to do. ISPs want more customers, not less, because obviously customers = money. What we may see in the future is now "educational letters" being sent out by ISPs, warning customers that they have been found to be downloading copyrighted content illegally, and they may well operate a "three strikes and you're out" policy. But in all honesty, I can't see this being very effective.

In short, the music industry needs to change and evolve. It needs to adapt to the new technological age, to embrace it, not push it away. Whilst the internet has decreased record sales, it's probably not as bad as they are making out. Would I buy all the music I download if I didn't download it? Of course not. Downloading music introduces me to so much new music and of course, being the gig-lover that I am, I shall always support artists by going to their gigs even if I don't buy their music. Indeed, the internet has had a positive impact for many bands. Take our good friend Patrick Wolf, for example. With Bandstocks he has led the way as a musical pioneer of this new digital age. The amount of money raised was impressive enough to allow him to produce and master the album in exactly the way he wanted to. However, I can't see this being a permanent solution. We shall see in the next few months, but I seriously doubt that Patrick will raise as many funds for the Conqueror, his next album which he is also releasing through Bandstocks. If only for the reasons that people got involved because it was something new and exciting last time. I know that he'll be getting £50 less from me, at least.

So with no clear direction, what can the music industry do? The gaming industry is being as forward-thinking as ever, introducing games at cheaper prices for audiences (Championship Manager was released last month for as little as £2.51) and then including downloadable content in game, which will cost as well. (In Championship Manager you will be able to purchase six updates for £5). However, obviously this will not work for the music industry; they need to think of a solution and they need to think of one fast. What it will be? Only time will tell.

Download: Patrick Wolf - Wolf Song (demo) [RS]

In response to Patrick Wolf & Lily Allen's blogs re: their stance on filesharing, found here.

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