OK, so this hasn’t got a lot to do with filesharing, but more to do with the other options that labels have failed miserably to embrace. You may or may not recall a little comment on filesharing I wrote. Well there was a good article in the old Grauniad about it this week and guess what, it had in it what has been missing from most of the rants from the music industry: facts.
Have a read it’s very enlightening. In short though, despite the downturn in physical album sales (128.9m in units 2009 against 133.6m in 2008), the sale of singles rose by 33%. That is an immense statistic. What has really happened is that the best model for record sales now lies not with the labels, but with the 3rd parties. iTunes for one, 7digital, eMusic, they all now have a loyal customer base. iTunes albeit through hardware tie-ins and preying Microsoft-style on the gullible, but that’s by-the-by. Then cue the new kid on the block. For those of us that don’t really care about owning media (not me I might add), we have subscription-based services like Spotify, check it out if you haven’t heard of it. It’s a great idea, albeit one that I can’t justify paying for personally, I can see where one would.
As I said before, the industry’s worst fear is coming to the fore, people are making and selling music and they aren’t involved. It’s about time they pulled their finger out and started looking at these models and other ways in which they can deliver stuff to the consumer. The most important thing to take into account though is ease of use. iTunes works so well because frankly it’s a piece of piss to use. I want a song, I search for the song, I buy the song, it’s now my song. Other vendors have slightly different methods, eMusic, one of the old guard work on a pay monthly basis, the more you pay, the cheaper your downloads become. That works beautifully for me (plus I don’t have to have any hateful software installed on my machine to use it).
You can tell the industry are getting their feathers a bit ruffled though as Warner have announced they will no longer license music to Spotify. Much to the somewhat hypocritical chagrin of prog-darlings Muse. They are saying that it’s “like taking your song off the radio”, which in truth it is, and also that “As far as bands are concerned you just want people to hear your music whichever way they can.” Now that’s a slight change of tack from the filesharing is wrong, we aren’t making any money out of it.
Conversely Universal are praising Spotify, probably because they have a large slice of the Spoti-pie (I am truly sorry for that horrific pun) being an investor. Again, what you have here is a case of Warner being scared of change.
Basically labels, your model doesn’t work, change it or die a slowly and drawn-out death. You already have a few massively successful choices, and apparently there are many more on the way if the Music 4.5 initiative is any gauge. As usual, we wait with baited breath…