Apple Archive

The Music Industry Needs to Embrace the Digital Age, Reduce CD Prices, and Avoid Copy Cat Artists

- 2003.01.31

While browsing the Internet, I came across the headline "Kazaa sues film and record industries." I had heard about several companies attempting to sue Kazaa, but I hadn't heard about this. Kazaa's claims are that the music industry "doesn't understand the digital age and is monopolizing entertainment."

None of this really surprises me. After all, the music and film industries tend to be afraid of new things.

Cassette tapes come to mind. When double cassette decks became popular in the 1980s, the music industry was afraid that people would purchase tapes and make copies for their friends. They were afraid this form of piracy would cut into their profits - but there wasn't much they could do about it. In 2003, with our advanced digital technology, the music industry has decided to do something - but what it's doing isn't really going to help.

The major mistake the recording industry is making is putting the blame on file sharing services, such as Napster and Kazaa. Yes, their profits may be down, but is that the result of people downloading albums instead of buying them - or is it something else?

There are a couple of things I blame, and they tie into each other. I'm disappointed at the quality of much recent music. It really seems to be "made to sell," not made to convey a message. I think other people have realized this as well and have simply decided to not buy it.

The other problem I see is the record companies overcharging for CDs. I was listening to a program on the radio last night where a caller was explaining that they had just spent $16.99 on a CD. Immediately afterward, another person called in and said they had just spent $18.99. Those prices are absolutely ridiculous given that I can buy a new LP for $9.99.

I don't see how record companies can complain about lost profits when it's their own fault that they're losing money. I think that most consumers want the artists to get paid - but if the music isn't any good, what's the point in buying the CD in the first place?

Record companies need to be even more selective when signing artists. Most of the pop singers they seem to be signing sound the same - as do many of the "alternative" bands.

Why are they signing these types of artists? Well, simply put, it's been tried and proven.

At one point, people were buying the Britney Spears type thing. That seems to be over now, but record companies are still signing similar artists.

These "no risk" deals are obviously so that record companies won't lose a great amount of profit - but they also aren't generating much profit. Just like record companies like to stick with a medium once it's been proven to sell, they like to stick with a fad of music. A couple that come to mind are the "R&B influenced pop" music in the late 90s and the fairly recent "watered down pop-punk comeback"? (if you dare call it that. Believe me, | I can't complain enough about this incredibly poor excuse for punk rock music).

The problem is that they stick with these too long. The record companies need to move ahead with the times if they want to sell CDs.

This brings me to digital music. As many people have said before, record companies could take advantage of the digital era in many ways, but before they do so, they need to lower the price of CDs. $18.99 is simply too expensive for a CD with 12 (or maybe 13) songs. At most that CD should cost $12.99.

When CDs are once again priced reasonably, more people will purchase them.

But for those who want to do it digitally, record companies have been offering 99 cent per song downloads for some time. What if music retailers were to set up stations where people could legally download, burn, and pay for mix CDs? I think it could take off and bring the record companies some profit.

They have so many opportunities open to them when it comes to music distribution - but they've been focusing on shutting down file trading services and copy protecting CDs.

Let's hope they wake up and figure out what they really need to be looking at.

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