back to article The music biz's digital flops - a short history

Since the record industry first noticed that some of the kids were using the internet in the mid-90s, it's flopped from one puddle to the next. Despite a desperate need to evolve - guys, the pond is drying up, do try to breathe - recording industry strategy has flopped from one muddy puddle to the next, and a muddy puddle is …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    How 'bout advertising between music tracks?

    Sigue Sigue Sputnik already did that? Oh, okay, forget it....

    Paris, because she has about as much musical credibility as Sigue Sigue Sputnik.

  2. Mark

    Why is this never brought up?

    All the ideas have been ways that the recording industry thinks that we, their customers, should accept their product.

    But they have NO IDEA.

    Remember when the early recordings of Elvis was about to come out of copyright? "This will KILL the music industry! Continue Copyright 4 EVAR" was the shortlist version of the industry of what this meant. The end of music being produced.

    Well, when the copyright passed out on the recordings, I never heard so much Elvis on the radio. So what happened? People still bought CD's. Hell, two Elvis compilations (including the tracks OUT OF COPYRIGHT!!!) were brought out in the UK and guess what? PEOPLE BOUGHT IT.

    Huh? So the End Of Copyright didn't kill the money from music?

    But you never hear that being brought up as a counter to the continuing expansion of copyright powers, do you.

    Why? Because the execs Have No Clue.

  3. stizzleswick

    Re: Advertising between tracks/ad-financed music

    We already have that. It's called "Radio."

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Problem with music.. that you listen to it. You don't watch it, so advertisement cash is lower. Also most people listen to music as a background service not as something they're preoccupied with. How can advertisement be put into something you don't really pay attention to?

    Only way forward is to open "eat-as-much-as-you-like" shops and get cash from there. Choice is obvious: to have 0 or (let's say) 20%. Illegal free P2P or affordable legal shop? Most people will pay just for a convenience - you don't get poor quality or fakes in legal shops.

    Another thing is that longer they wait - better P2P becomes. And easier. And more entrenched in hearts and minds, especially of young generation. I grew up in Central Europe where piracy even now is rampant. Getting everything for free is a nature for many people there, just because we got used to it. Heck, we had radio transmissions with games for Atari, Spectrum and Commodore back in the days!

  5. Fake Fiftyone

    Pandora and their problems

    Reading offers a different take on why they closed down the UK access to the service - And note that, should they have had major problems generating revenue, that would likely have been the case globally, not locally (if they had problems getting listeners and thus ad-income in the UK they could have tried for a better market presence. Instead they shut down).

    Also, if memory serves me right, Pandora didn't so much have problems generating revenue as they did have with generating revenue to match the crazy costs that were put upon them by the body that decides the cost of playing music on the internet or by satellite - have a read at

  6. Captain! I cannae hold her any longer!

    How curious

    ... highly critical of *most* proposed business models, but what about the proposed tax on ISPs/mp3 players/writable media? No comment?

  7. TeeCee Gold badge



    Do you actually understand what copyright means? The fact that the early Elvis recordings ended their copyright period meant that world+dog was then free to copy / recompile / play publicly the recordings without paying anything.

    Now it would have been surprising if there *hadn't* been a shed-load of compilations and massive radio play of 'em. But there was, so it was business as usual in an industry that's always prepared to take a free lunch when one's on offer. More fool the idiots who bought the compilations in question as they were paying for something legally available for free.

    The only difference was that the money went not to the estate of Elvis, nor to the record companies that had previously owned the recordings, but to those who leapt on the bandwagon to make a quick buck or two.

    However, had there been no copyright at all in the first place, Elvis would never have made any money out of his recordings, that honour would have gone to anyone with a record pressing plant and a few hours to spare. He'd have made a bit from live performances, but the heavy grease is in the records and selling the tunes as ad jingles and such. Those expensive suits would never have happened and Graceland would not exist. The world would probably be a poorer place for it - I'm not an Elvis fan, but even I can see the popularity of the whole "package" must have something in it.

    This doesn't change anything. Find a better analogy.

  8. DrXym

    AOL Radio

    Spinner / AOL have been quietly offering a free set of music channels for years now. They must be making music off it somehow because its still going. Most recently they put up ads while you play and allow you to purchase the music you're hearing. It's not a bad service for nothing.

    The funny / sad part for AOL is that they were in an absolutely unique position to make a grabass load of money from music sales. They owned Nullsoft, and a record label too. Remember it was Nullsoft who popularized MP3 players, and also gave birth to P2P with Gnutella. AOL had all the ingredients for a media service on their hands. They could have partnered up with MP3 player makers such as Creative and become THE PORTAL for music.

    So what did AOL do? Nothing. Worse than nothing, they pissed on all creativity emanating from Nullsoft by forcing out the innovators and turned Winamp into bloatware. It's too late now of course, but AOL could have been Apple if they had the vision to see it through.

    Ho hum, at least there is AOL Radio.

  9. socialmediamojo
    Thumb Up

    Qtrax may not be the best example...

    After all it's ad supported downloads, at least pandora/ are streaming only and have a possible revenue stream from upselling users to paid for downloads from itunes/amazon/napster.

    But pretty much someone at pandora/ is going to have to figure out how to do deep analysis of user patterns and correlate music taste with non-music product purchases. I know it's possible, and these sites are probably going to be better at it than Google since they really are close to the music data, although they might have trouble getting the other half of the equation. All those sites should just hire some people who really understand statistics and good music (a rare person going by the music tastes of the few statisticians I've met in my time.) and throw data at them until they figure out what music sells which products.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    sod the execs

    Execs really have no clue. One of the reasons I'm a militant torrenter/p2p is because I have been waiting for, count in, 10 years for the music industry to catch up, and they have either purposely or stupidly ignored or mucked up any straightforward system.

    If I could simply choose an album I like (as minimum 192kb/s mp3) , pay a fiver for it, and use it how I wish, they would have easily had £100 off me for the last 10 years. When given a choice of a) Type in album name, download album, play, or b) Drive to a shop, eventually purchase my CD, bring it home and rip it, bin the original CD, then play, I chose a).

    They've squandered the market. Screw them. When a) is a proper option I'll play ball. But it's taken 10 years and we're still only 3/4 the way there.

    (Good article)

  11. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Who Cares

    Not me. Their greed and stupidity got me looking for other sources of entertainment.

    There is now some very high quality music available under CC license. I download this, and for the stuff I like I make a contribution on the artists website (if there's a button for it)

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Why Do The Music Companies Hate Me?

    Music has been an important part of my life for a long time. I learned a couple of instruments as a lad and when I hit adolescence, I started playing professionally. I did live performance and studio work for 30 years as a second career. I have large collections of vinyl and CD's and I've ripped them all to digital for my convenience - 29,000 tracks at last count. I have paid good money for every track on my hard drives and I wouldn't have it any other way.

    The short version of this story is that I've been a good customer to the music business for a long time and they've rewarded that loyalty by treating me like I'm a thief. At every opportunity, they've failed to recognise the distinction between their good customers and the thieves while they employ one further restrictive ploy to "protect" their music and monetise it to the detriment of their loyal customers.

    Is it any wonder why they flail about trying scheme after scheme, each a larger failure than the last? They don't seem to know their customers well at all - they've made the simple act of buying and enjoying music into an expensive nuisance.

    Sell me an unencumbered product at a fair price and I might continue to support you. Failure to do so will result in your demise and no one will cry on your passing.

  13. phat shantz

    Re-invent the wheel

    1) Broadcast personalities

    2) Broadcast personalities who tell people which music is good.

    3) Broadcast personalities who tell people which music is good and to what they should be listening.

    4) Broadcast personalities who tell people which music is good and to what they should be listening and who play "for-pay" commercials between the music they play.

    5) Companies who sell the music that the broadcast personalities play and tell their audience to buy.

    6) Contests.

    7) Promotions.

    8) Concerts.

    9) Payola.

    10) Performers who will come on the broadcasts of the personalities and talk about themselves, their lives, their new releases, their new concerts, and even take questions from the listening audience.

    11) Which presupposes a live audience and a live broadcast.

    12) No pre-recorded junk.

    Now there are no personalities. Everything is pre-recorded in Akron by disenfranchised tech-school dropouts. There is no music. There are no promotions. There are no concerts. Performers only appear when their publicist (or prosecutor) suggest it. It's all junk.

    No wonder nobody wants to pay for it. Who in their right mind would think it had any value?

    The Phoenix Rover landed on Mars. NASA says they're looking for life. I think they're looking for the Next Big Thing. I think they'll find it and I've got five VCs all lined up to fund it....

  14. Martin Usher

    I sill buy CDs..

    ..just not the ones that are being sold by the major labels. Its partly that I want a high quality reference recording, partly a vote for the people making the music.

    The biggest danger the Internet posed to the media companies wasn't file sharing. It was the loss of control over the 'product'. Without that control they are faced with competition from thousands of recordings and, of course, the entire back catalog of the world. This means that their new product has to be very, very, good to stand out. It usually isn't.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Bigger issues

    One of the things I found hardest, when I was growing up, listening to niche music, heavy metal, all I had was my mates word of mouth and a couple of monthly magazines, so my view on my music was a little blinkered. I simply couldn't afford to take too many risks and buy something new, I didn't have the money to waste on a duff product, so I would make careful choices, but would still every so often simply try something out, why I now have boxes of vynyl and cassettes in the loft I will never listen to again! A lot of dirt to sift out a few gold nuggets.

    Some 20 years later I have a massive amount of information at my fingertips. I can do a Google search and find bucket loads of reviews on sub-sub-genres in my favourite music, try out a few free samples and make very, very selective choices. I am not easily swayed by ad's and I am not taking chances anymore, hence I am wasting a lot less money on taking financial risks.

    There's my argument, while I accept that "music theft" does happen in heaps, lots of us are now very careful how we invest in music and video, we spend less and we ensure we get our moneys worth. That my dear record company execs is your answer, it's not that we are all ripping your music-slaves off, we are simply a lot smarter now than ever before. The only market that you are still taping into is that 7-10 year old girlie, boy-band, Brittney and the 35+ Saturday-Supermarket bargain compilation shopper, buying yet another Love/Soft Rock collection, market.

    I don't buy MP3s from online music stores, I buy CDs because I still want "own" what I paid for some 25 years or more, down the line, not "rent" 300 quids worth of music, then watch the store go down the pan in 3 years time, taking my DRM'ed music with it. When I buy, I spend time searching for cheap stores, who will fight for my attention over £1 reduction to get my business these days, much like everything I buy online. I read up on what I want, then being the rate whore I am, I will search out the cheapest deal I can find.

    (Paris, description of myself in the last paragraph!)

  16. Glenn Gilbert

    Music rental?

    What about music rentals? Sign up for, say, a tenner a month and you can listen to whatever you want from whatever source you got it from.

    Maybe the maths doesn't quite work out at that figure, but if things carry on as they are, the music industry won't have two ha'penny's to rub together.

    Isn't it strange that there's thousands of radio stations pumping out all that music and yet it doesn't appear to adversely effect music sales.

  17. Chris G

    Rippit! Rippit!

    I love the amphibian analogy, the music companies are just like cane toads which are ravaging other amphibians in Australia. Big, ugly, voracious and aggressive. And doomed unless they are able to evolve to suit their new habitat .

  18. Dave
    Thumb Up

    Cake is not a dual-use food stuff

    On Monday 26th May 2008 a new phrase was added to my lexicon.

    Cake is not a dual-use food stuff ranks up there along with "Bucket of Sunshine" to describe Hiroshima.

    Gief Moar Brillyness!!!

  19. Ian Ferguson

    Full circle?

    So we're back to the new equivalent of radio stations... complete with ads. If I recall correctly, radio stations survive, and indeed profit, from selling advertising space between tracks.

    And now the equivalent, completely customisable streaming music, is so much more tempting to people's ears - I don't blame the industry from trying to monetise this the only way it knows how, through advertising.

    They'd better be quick, while there's still people who aren't sufficiently tech-savvy to know better. And while people's moral perception is still against listening to music for free (although to be fair they might be too late on this one).

    To be quite honest though, the industry claiming that technology will kill music is very shortsighted. The radio didn't kill concerts, the TV didn't kill radio, the internet didn't kill newspapers, home taping didn't kill music, video didn't kill the radio star. Media formats change; public requirements change; technology changes, and commercial interests will all change to fit.

  20. Stephen Thair
    Paris Hilton

    So what's the answer Paul?

    The article is interesting as far as it goes... hopefully there will be a part two that has some answers. It's easy to poke holes, but harder to come up with solutions.

    Why Paris? She's all about poking holes.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lots of CAPITALS and exclamation!! marks!!

    ... can only mean one thing. Mark has lost his meds again.

    "Hell, two Elvis compilations (including the tracks OUT OF COPYRIGHT!!!) were brought out in the UK and guess what? PEOPLE BOUGHT IT."

    Yes, and when the copyright on a work has expired, you can be 100 per cent sure the money goes to Del Trotter, or your friendly neighborhood Russian mafioso - not the artist (dead or alive).

    "The end of music being produced."

    Er, I hate to break the news Mr Excitable, but Elvis is dead, so we won't know either way.

    But we do know that if the artist is alive, and Del Trotter trousers the profits, you can have just removed the incentive for music to be produced.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Why Do The Music Companies Hate Me?

    "I've been a good customer to the music business for a long time and they've rewarded that loyalty by treating me like I'm a thief. ... Sell me an unencumbered product at a fair price and I might continue to support you."

    That's it in a nutshell. I feel rather insulted by the whole industry attitude that I'm a thief, especially when I've just forked over $40 for the latest Sarah McLaughlin CD and I wonder if maybe $1 of that actually gets to her.

    People "steal" music for the same reason that cocaine is $500/lb, because it's an artificially restricted supply of something people want.

    Why do they make it so damn hard to actually give them my money? I'm obviously not going to buy something tied to a particular computer or OS or music app, but that appears to be all they want to sell me. I just want "buy once/play anywhere" like a CD. That's all I ask.

  23. Fuzzy


    The music industry for me has the same appeal as Lamewood.

    Only a little effort is required to find great music that is freely avaialble, if you wish you can send a small donation via the authors website to show them that you appreaciate the music and effort they put into making it. I find this more worthwhile then having to pay $30 or more for a CD to find out most of it is crap.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Music rental ??

    "Isn't it strange that there's thousands of radio stations pumping out all that music and yet it doesn't appear to adversely effect music sales"

    you hear something you like and you buy it, simple, record companies should be paying radio stations to play this stuff.

    its a bit like shareware with the nag screens

    (pay for the product and you don't have to listen to some dim **** wittering on over the beginning, middle and end of the song you like)

  25. Bill Coleman

    underpants gnomes

    Step 1. Screw Everybody (customers, artists, supply chain...)

    Step 2. ???

    Step 3. Profit

    without the need for a physical conduit for music disks, the business model of the record industry looks very much like that of the underpants gnomes. They are left to relying on (a) the sweet nature of a few morally upright souls who will buy the product for the artist's sake (b) people who are scared by lawsuit propaganda (c) people who can't use a computer (d) "audiofiles" who don't believe FLAC, OGG, WAV etc are accurate enough (muppets!). All are in dwindling supply.

    time to give up selling music recordings and find a new route to step 3. I hear westlife's new album will be available for free download - sponsored by coca cola under a multi million dollar deal that includes promotional material at live events, logos on album artwork and product placement in music videos. (that's not true by the way... but think of the possiblities people!)

  26. George Flecknell
    Jobs Horns

    Its over

    The cat has been out of the bag now for many years. If you dont have "that" album then someone else will. All music released up to this point IS now freely available, whether it's FTP, HTTP or simply people swapping drives. It might be illegal but it's rife.

    If all the major P2P services closed overnight, there would still be a million private sites hosting music and already many thousands of people with hard drives bursting with pirate material. The internet isn't required for that to spread, a simple USB flash drive or iPod will do.

    The major problem faced by the record labels now is that they have created a climate where the single song is king. There is a twofold effect here:

    1) Musicians aiming only to make successful unit-shifting songs and miss the trick of becoming artists, capable of deep and complex albums. A single song is unlikely to get played too many times by a listener and hence the band will not create a sense of identity or instill any loyalty in the listener. Hence, consumer interest dwindles.

    2) Single sales (eg: from iTunes) generate far less revenue than physical album sales. An mp3 has no tangible physical reward for the consumer(cant be waved in the faces of friends, or lovingly rediscovered in a cd case). Less value attachment to product = profit level declines.

    Up to this point in time, record companies may as well kiss goodbye to revenue generation on previous releases (for aforementioned reasons). Current and future music is really going to have to drive sales. Their big struggle is going to be how to generate interest in new artists with no fan base, very small repertoires and diminished consumer interest and value attachment to their product.

    I enjoyed your article. Thanks.

    Evil steve because he killed the album. The great big rotter.

  27. Matt


    @TeeCee: I think you've misunderstood. If Elvis or any singer wasn't getting royalties they could always ask more to make the original recording or ask more from live performances.

    I don't get royalties from most of the code I write, but I still write it. There are other ways for music to work. Elvis could have become an employee of EMI, just as you may be an employee of IBM. He then gets a salary for live performances, product endorsements etc.

  28. Steven Raith

    I've mentioned this before

    Can't be arsed retyping it properly with the extra thoughts added in, so here it is in it's cut and paste glory with notes added, marked as 'edits':

    "There's definitely a model that can be exploited in here with regards to ultra-low cost 'teasers' in MP3 format [edit - maybe an all-you-can-eat low bitrate streaming/suggestion service, a la Pandora?], and then paying a one off fee [say, min £3] for a FLAC version [edit - with artwork and shiz - NIN style] or going out and getting a hard copy.

    And if they only include the 'full' versions [FLAC/high bitrate MP3/hard copy] in the charts, then all the schoolkids paying £1/album of 128kbps Pete Waterman/X-factor toss might not control the top 10 all the time - and that would put a completely irrelevant, but fun, smile back on my face."

    Just reflecting upon my comment from the other month, with the edits, I do wonder if anyone has done something like this yet with uncompressed [important - I'm not paying full whack for substandard copies] DRM free files, and whether it got anywhere?

    Listen to a tune on a £5/month Pandora-style subscription, and get full quality FLAC downloads of the tunes you like as a top-up service - maybe linking to an iTunes equiv with a back-cat 'o FLAC?

    Or am I just mad?

    I may be a dreamer...

    ...but I'm not the only one ;-)

    Steven R

  29. Anonymous Coward

    P2P vs Whatever the RIAA/MPAA comes out with

    Since the industries and their methods are so closely related, I'll deal with them together.

    RIAA/MPAA (and their members) are too busy trying to control the markets, the media and the consumer.

    They limit the available content: Each site has tracks limited to whichever corp sponsors them.

    They limit the quality of the tracks: How often do you see downloadable FLACs?

    They limit the usability of the end product: DRM + Rootkits. Not to mention non-playability on various different platforms (Linux).

    They narrow the end user/customers choice in where to access media.

    They price differently depending on your location

    They stagger release dates between regions.

    They deliberately cripple the formats to enforce these draconian measures.

    They limit the back-catalogues that are available.

    They (at least WRT Digital products) aren't providing a physical product/stores/sales-persons, and yet they charge the same for it - even though it is usually of a sub-standard to the physical original!

    They constantly shift the Copyright term in their favour by wheeling out Peter Pan and Great Ormand Street Hospital (Think of the Children!!!) or Sir Cliff Richard.

    It's like being told you can only buy a car with a third-rate 2-stroke diesel engine (but still pay Mercedes prices) and that you can only fill the tank from approved petrol stations that are owned by the same manufacturer!


    P2P (Bit Torrent etc) Don't have any of the above limitations/restrictions/problems/nonsense involved.

    So why should anyone want to play by rules of the RIAA/MPAA?

  30. paul

    @Mark and Elvis

    I must have got confused - I thought they HAD extended copyright to protect elvis and the beatles. Or was that only in the USA or was it only over the pond?

    Marks example was bad - but i think he was trying to highlight the bad legislation. When Elvis first made his records - what was the copyright term? 20-30 years? Not the 70 it is now.

    When they change the copyright term - surely all older music should be automatically go into the public domain? Had Elvis known they would change the term - he MAY not have recorded the music in the first place.

  31. Wayland Sothcott

    Hear it, tag it

    When listening to the radio sometimes you hear a really great song you want to hear again. It's hard to make notes whilst driving and usually the DJ does not back announce it. I could press a button on my radio to TAG the song. This could mean the radio downloads it and the DJ gets instant feedback on the popularity.

    The tagging could be via text message to the station. So the button might simply be a preprogrammed TXT messge on my phone. Providing I send the message during the song to my radio station, then they can TXT me back with the song itself. Sending text messages is a revenue stream.

    I believe the radio is the first point of contact for a listener, from there come downloads and CD purchase and going to gigs and becomming a fan (marrying a band member, having children...). If you make that process more convenient then people won't bother trying to get stuff for free when they can get it more easily for a few pence.

  32. Vladimir Plouzhnikov


    "The only difference was that the money went not to the estate of Elvis, nor to the record companies that had previously owned the recordings, but to those who leapt on the bandwagon to make a quick buck or two."

    So why is this a bad thing? Isn't this what open enterpreneurship is supposed to be? The capitalism?

    When you buy printed music (if you every buy it, of course) the money goes to the publisher, not to the Mozart estate, doesn't it?

    If music creates value after expiry of the copyright period that is good for the economy because it attracts capital to that business, which in turn generates jobs and makes more people willing to create content. The latter because they may see there are more ways of making money from their work then just receiving royalties.

    The copyright in itself is a necessary tool but it is undoubtedly being abused. Even Gowers review said that the optimal copyright term is 14 years. A longer term does not benefit either society or the artists.

  33. Mark
    Paris Hilton


    But the compilations were of recordings that had no copyright. According to the pigopolists and paytards, WE DO NOT PAY for music unless forced to by copyright law.

    So how come they were *selling* LOTS of copies of this uncopyrighted work???

    Because the loss of copyright, unlike the pigopolist doom-and-gloom mongering talk to get copyright on those elvis songs extended, DOES NOT stop people buying music.

  34. Mark

    Sweet Zombie Elvis!!!

    "The only difference was that the money went not to the estate of Elvis, nor to the record companies that had previously owned the recordings, but to those who leapt on the bandwagon to make a quick buck or two."

    He's dead. He isn't interested in money any more. If he'd worried about his inheritors being destitute, he could, like I do, invest in a pension. If he'd pissed the money up the wall instead, why should I care if his descendants get the dosh either?

  35. James Summerson

    All you can eat services.

    Napster has relaunched, again - as one such service. I was an original 'member' of Napster back when it was evil, but I thought I'd give the new one a go as it promised no DRM etc. I used their webpage to check on the availability of my favourite obscure artist. Yup, lots of tracks available, it said, join up and we'll tell you all the details.

    I went for the 'Light' version, i.e. no credit card details on start up and 79p per track. Sounds good, right?

    Downloaded the software and set it up - what a feckin' mess the whole thing is.

    Ran it - didn't work. Told me I needed to enable cookies - did so but no joy. Penny dropped, I needed to use Internet Explorer. Which I don't have...

    OK, take 2. Put Napster onto laptop, which has IE on it. Start it up. Geez, so this is what life is like without AdBlocker / FlashBlocker. Ugly, ugly, ugly! Anyways, typed in the name of my fave obscure artist.

    The few results came back quite quickly, but were seemingly random and not one album included, even the ones considered 'hits'. Now I know that this is an extreme test, given the artist isn't a big name, but the hype did lead me to believe that I would get some joy out of the search.

    There is no incentive to me, as a middle aged bloke, to subscribe to a service which doesn't cover the edges of music or the 'back pages' if you will. I would spend good money to own CD copies of music I like, which isn't the new boyband / X Factor winner / 1 hit wonder, but mostly old and out of print.

    Ironically, I can get lots of the stuff via music 'blogs' etc., who can provide copies for free, but then again they do have a sense of music outside of an industry or money making machine. Hell, if Metallica, the bete noir of the original Napster, can get on the bandwagon providing MP3 and FLAC versions of shows...

  36. Mark

    re: @Mark and Elvis

    No, the recording is still 50 years in the UK. Sir Cliff "living twonk" Richard tried to use his contacts with fellow god-botherer Tony Blair to get this extended to 95 years (the same as the copyright in the UK and more than the US's version, so they can "harmonise" to 125 years in the US...) but this didn't work.

    Some of Cliff's earliest recordings are coming out of copyright as well as some early beatles, rolling stones and other well ancient works.

    And the example is, as far as I can tell, exactly right. Despite there being no copyright, people paid over good money to buy the music in a convenient format, rather than buy one copy and put it on P2P for people to find, copy and rip to CD.

    Copyright wasn't NECESSARY in that case. So how necessary is copyright for longer than, say 5 years? Anyone who wanted it will have bought it by then and anyone willing to wait 5 years to get it "free" wasn't really interested in paying for it in the first place.

    50 years? Well, unless it's advertised, nobody knows it's available.

  37. Mark

    An idea for all programmers

    If/when copyright is extended, demand greater salary. After all, you don't own the copyright but that copyright has now gotten more valuable to your company who DOES own it.

    And you deserve some of that value, else you are being ripped off.

    Those piratical companies, stealing your work!!!

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Loss of control

    What is worrying the record execs is loss of control, read this must scare the living daylights out of them, shock horror a charting record with no cut for the middle men. Bands can now go direct to the public and make more money even with people copying their downloaded tracks, just by cutting out the middle men. The record industry is going the way of buggy whip salesmen.

  39. Maty


    As I recall, the film industry went to court to try to kill the video player, because they thought that it would hurt their revenues. They also thought TV would 'kill' cinema.

    In the same way the music industry is cocking up a huge revenue opportunity because its management can't pull their heads out of their own arses. Most people don't want to fish around bit torrents to find the music they want, and then worry that someone has found a way of adding malware to whatever they have pulled down. Many people even feel uneasy downloading pirate music.

    But the blasted industry gives them little choice. More than once(hrrumph!) a friend, had ended up getting a pirate version of a disk he already owns (sorry, has a license to use) because Vista + DRM makes the legal version unusable. In short, the music industry is teaching people how to become pirates so as to use material they already own.

    If there was somewhere I could just go, and legally download an mp3/divx I'd happily pay to do it. I don't want special software to access it, or play it, or DRM making it unusable if I don't use it their way. And if the music industry don't like it, they can shove it. There's other ways of getting music.

  40. Dakos San


    Good article, but I can't believe there was no mention of AllOfMp3. As far as I'm concerned it was the perfect music service. A huge catalog of music available in any format (Including FLAC and OGG) at very sensible prices that depend on file sizes.

    Given that it was second only to iTunes in the UK at its peak, with marketing by word of mouth ONLY.. surely someone should be learning something??

    (The fact that AllOfMp3 was a shady Russian outfit who seem to have given my email address to every spammer on the planet isn't directly relevant!)

  41. Jamie Kitson
    Paris Hilton


    erm, surely "fridge" comes from "refrigerator", no?

    Paris, cos she is also too cool for school.

  42. alphaxion


    That's not forgetting that nothing is stopping the original copyright owner from launching their own compilations and charitably giving a cut to the estate of the artist - surely putting that on the box would make you willing to to spend the money with them rather than with "el delboy" if you knew the creator and/or their family were getting some money back.

    But then, the word charity only means "money for us" to the music labels.

    trumped up artist: "Just £2000 will provide this village will clean running water"

    anyone with a braincell: "then why don't you give it to them?! you're not exactly destitute now are you??"

  43. Steve

    @ Tee Cee / compensating artists

    "He'd have made a bit from live performances, but the heavy grease is in the records and selling the tunes as ad jingles and such."

    This is patently untrue. The average artist makes far more from live shows and t-shirt sales than they will ever make from record sales. The reason being that the first thing the record labels do with a new artist is to make them sign over all publishing and performance rights to the label.

    The lion's share of any sale will go to the label and most artists will have to wait until all of the advance and advertising money has been repaid before they'll see a single penny.

  44. Paul Sanders



    I think the origin of 'fridge' is disputed, but comes either from refrigerator as you say, or from Frigidaire, which I prefer, possibly for sentimental reasons.

  45. Paul Sanders

    Re: AllOfMp3

    I was writing about recording company strategy - the only strategy record labels had towards AllOfMp3 was to try to get the US Government to put pressure on Moscow to kill it. It might have been a very good model, but neither the company behind it, the local society it claimed to have a licence from, nor the Russian Government did anything to counter the idea that Russia is a lawless zone.

  46. Paul Sanders

    Steve: re @ Tee Cee / compensating artists

    You need to distinguish between advances and royalties when you are discussing the money artists receive from record labels. Advances are cash up front and non-returnable which shifts the risk of a record release firmly onto the label. Few artists would trade their advance for royalties given the choice.

    Publishing tends to go to a publisher rather than a label, often for another advance. Public performance carries a remuneration right which can't be waived, and anyway live performance until recently has remained with the artist, though labels are now often trying to do far broader deals in return for their investment.

    Arguably if you do end up recouping - paying back the advance - it's just a sign that you did not ask for enough up front, therefore a business failure and time to get a new manager! OK - perhaps a flippant point, but you get the idea; money now at no risk versus a possibly thin and risky revenue stream in 12-18 months time and having to find another way to finance the recording and promotion.

  47. Chris

    This is terrifying

    "I don't get royalties from most of the code I write, but I still write it. There are other ways for music to work. Elvis could have become an employee of EMI, just as you may be an employee of IBM. He then gets a salary for live performances, product endorsements etc."

    A world where artists live on product endorsements (Radiohead advertising Cillit Bang perhaps?) and are *owned* by a record company is so incredibly backwards that it beggars belief. We're always told the internet gives opportunities for artists to become individual, to do it themselves, to cut out the middleman. Your proposal really doesn't sound attractive to anyone other than 'the man' if you ask me.

    Quite frankly, I don't think there is a 'way around'. If artists are told they can't make money from a music recording, then the crusts around the edge are not going to make up for it, which means sad times for *musicians* (as an audio artform anyway; the dancing monkey endorsing performers who look pretty stand a much better chance in "the new model")

  48. sleepy


    Despite the fact that many call Apple the new monopolistic control freak, they have done 3 innovative and adversarial things that have goaded the music biz forward:

    1. the original Rip Mix Burn campaign inciting digital copying was a bold step. Apple is a litigation target with a decent payoff. This was a stand on behalf of the consumer as well as an advertisement for Apple.

    2. the iTunes store forcing all songs to have a fixed price. Once you accept the price, there is no need to consider it again; if you like a song click and buy.

    3. Steve Jobs letter publicly committing to DRM free content, sacrificing the supposed iPod content lock given by Fairplay in in favour of an open market for transferrable content. Again putting the DRM issue squarely onto the music labels who demanded it.

  49. alphaxion

    @this is terrifying

    why should a music artists earning be any different to any other creative job?

    Why can't they be salaried? Why can't they take a leaf out of the freelancing/contracting workers books instead of relying on living off of a single successful song/album?

    If you want an example, how about 3d artists working on computer games. They work for a salary but produce amazing works of art.. are they any less of an artist because they take a salary instead of demanding royalties every time their model is used in a game?

    Time to stop promoting musicians as some form of higher human and bring them back down to earth. If you can't make a living out of your performances (as it used to be before the recording of music happened) then why not contract themselves out and earn a chunk of cash for creating something for someone else..

    why should they be special and retain rights to their creations for the rest of their lives when many other people who create reproducable works of art but yet are not afforded the same kind of expectation of rights that musicians appear to have in peoples minds? (and this can include photographers, novellists etc based on however their industries work, since copyright laws cover their works too, though you never hear about their plight even though their work is often "reapropriated" far more than music is.).

    If you can no longer make money this way, look for other ways instead of bitching about the world and society changing.

  50. Andy ORourke

    @ Maty

    "More than once(hrrumph!) a friend, had ended up getting a pirate version of a disk he already owns (sorry, has a license to use) because Vista + DRM makes the legal version unusable."

    I'm using Vista and have ripped every CD I own to a NAS box, I can create playlists to burn onto CD or my Generic MP3 player so whats the DRM issue?

    I also don't buy new CD's, I wait a couple of months after the release, buy a used copy off Amazon, rip it onto the NAS box and put the disk back on Amazon the next day, sometimes made more than I paid for it too......

  51. Paul M.
    Jobs Horns

    Jobs DRM

    "Steve Jobs letter publicly committing to DRM free content"

    Steve can talk the talk, but he can't walk the walk.

    If Amazon can sell DRM-free music from the major labels, why can't Apple Couldn't be anything to do with Apple's proprietary iPod lock-in, could it?

  52. Paul M.

    Maoism, alphaxion-style


    "Time to stop promoting musicians as some form of higher human and bring them back down to earth ... why should they be special and retain rights to their creations for the rest of their lives?"

    What a surprise, another tight-fisted nerd.

    Your argument is fine, but we'll get a lot less really great stuff made when the people who could be making it must work in a call centre, or paint lines in the road. Copyright just provides an economic incentive so that if the art is popular enough, they don't have to.

    "look for other ways instead of bitching"

    I agree - and the same equally applies to you, my freetard friend. Instead of whining about why artists should be paid (the cheek of it, eh?) you could look for new ways of paying them.

  53. Anonymous Coward

    ok, so i'm really old

    But I recall reading that when cd readers were just getting popular on pcs and that people realized that they could play their music on their computers that IBM went to the music industry and suggested having kiosks in music stores so that customers could burn a cd that had the music they wanted on it and pay so much per song.

    Music industry turned them down flat. Cd ripping software came out, cd burners became common, people could rip and burn and make up their own; millions in sales opportunity lost by music industry execs cause of head up posterior disease.

  54. Mark


    Lots of artists do exactly that. However, they merely make a wage so aren't given any screen time because they aren't rich enough to be considered important.

    And that sort of work benefits the artist as much as the company salarying them, which doesn't let the middleman (e.g. Sony Music) take the lions share of the dosh and still keep the productive artist in line, so they don't try to advertise that. Expanding their copyright control on "art" gets them a more certain and extensive benefit than showing the other avenues of artist payment.

  55. Mark

    @Paul Sanders

    Paul, according to real artists (ones selling music in the mainstream), the advance is merely a loan. It is only swallowed by the label if the signed band does so poorly that they decide not to keep them. Unless they don't want someone else getting them. George Michael had to go to court to get out of his contract because the label kept rejecting recordings for his last contracted label. He'd either get a better contract or go to another label, so they just sat on him to deny any possible loss. Prince changed his name to poison his contract that his label wouldn't let him out of and because they owned the name prince in any case.

  56. Mark

    @Paul Sanders

    PS, Paul, All Saints went bankrupt because all appearances were defined by the label (to get the right "image" for them) but paid for by All Saints themselves from their profits.

    So, despite having platinum albums, they went out of business.

    The label is still running...

    My problem is that labels see their control and power as a right. They can't consider changing because a change may change their circumstances and (because their power is already great), there's more "down" available than "up". So they fight. Occasionally, though they lose, they find they actually win (cf VCR's: "the boston strangler of the movie industry" then turning out as much revenue as the cinema shows).

    Fear rules them.

  57. Brian


    "We are not evil"

    These guys: appear to have a working model for this marketplace. Only problem is, that they don't have any huge acts to ply....

  58. Anonymous Coward

    Comment from a thief

    I do steal music, I steal alot of music. Things like Kylie Minogue, Sugarbabes, Fergie, You get the idea.

    I do purchase music, I purchase alot of music. Things like Bloc Party, Jack Johnson, White Ghost Slivers, Gorgo Bordello, You again get the idea.

    I download MP3's and purchase vinyl and CDs (When vinyl is not available).

    I pay nothing for the MP3's and a small fortune for the unique and expensive Vinyl.

    I love vinyl sound, its brilliant, soulful, interesting and full. I enjoy mp3's (320kb CBR or VBR) thats good, rounded, exact and flat.

    I hate most of the big music publishers, but love some of the bands that are attached (The good ones to my ears anyway). I adore independants that you can find on sites like thesixtyone.

    I understand that music is good to the beholder, not everybody will like the same thing. I also understand that a teenbooper will buy the single of a new release and not give the damn about the album, DVD or vinyl, but of course to the big publishers its about the now and not about the future.

    I have bought Led Zeppelin, The Who, Rolling Stones, Doors, Edgar Broughton band, Warhorse and Cream over the past five years. I will, in the future, buy classic albums like The Black Keys, The Arcade Fire, Muse, Razorlight and CSS. I will not, in the future, buy Kylie Minogue, Sugababes, Anything from Pop Idol Winners, Westlife and Britney Spears.

    If I was in power, I would still make everything that publishers still do, but I would stop chasing the quick buck and start encouraging talent, yes that horrible word, Talent.

    When was the last POP song created that still inspired somebody to purchase it a year after release?, Im guessing sometime in the 90's, possibly 80's...

  59. Paul Sanders


    Thieving Coward: Kylie Minogue's 'Can't Get You Out Of My Head' is a great pop song - worth buying for the next 30 years I'd say. I'm sure there are other pop gems too that will last, the ones that show great arrangement/production quality and have a decent performer up front.

    Mark, re Advances: The advance is not a loan; it has no interest rate, no repayment schedule, and no default hazard. It is an advance against earnings from the recordings. If artists could get loans they might be willing to take them instead of advances, but the fact is that record companies have been in the main the only way artists could get funding. Banks, quite rightly, will not touch them, and just about everyone else requires them to be successful BEFORE giving them money.

  60. alphaxion

    @paul m

    heh.. amazing how you try to tar me with the "freetard" brush when I hold a differing opinion - I have between 300 to 400 dvd's, all store purchased. I buy all my computer games (countless PC titles, about 14 or so DS titles, 4 psp, about 10 wii, used to own in excess of 30 mega drive games as well as a big back catalogue of PS1 and xbox titles before I gave away or sold those consoles).. I have a hefty collection of CD's too and a nice bookshelf brimming with books.

    If I like something I will buy it - simple as. Don't *ever* try to claim that I'm a freetard without even knowing anything other than my opinion. It shows you to be the arrogant tard instead.

    And yes, I agree fully with "we need to find another way of getting them paid" sentiment because that's what my post covered.

    If you noticed, I didn't say "we shouldn't pay artists" I actually said that they should look at other methods instead such as contracting themselves out in order to make something for someone (you know, how pretty much every other trade works.. are builders allowed a cut of your profits when you sell on a building they put together or worked on?) rather than expect to milk a single bit of work they might have done at any point in their lives.

    Artists are human too!

    A short term copyright period would allow for the recouping of initial investment and helps to stop the hording of of creations and allow many generations to get to know the full extent of our species creative thrusts.

    If you want to look at a great example of how copyright abuse (note, not copyright in its entirety, but abuse of copyright to take a deathgrip on something) denies people the ability to get to know the creativeness and genius of the creations of some humans, just look at the way Disney handles its properties. "available for the only time this decade" promotions that do nothing but feed the pirating circles as those who wish to see it are stopped from handing their money over.

    And I produce my own podcasts so I also release my own works into a plagerising world. Yet, I don't care if others redistribute my work and if others make money from it as long as I get a credit and my name is kept in association with it.

    @mark: it's a method I promote in an article I wrote on my site:

    Recorded music is a relatively new market... it was a bubble that was bound to burst at some point.

  61. Shabble


    The earliest 'modern' musical instrumants date back 10,000 years. Copyright law dates back just over 300 years. Now, can someone suggest why music lovers do not take kindly to being told by music company execs (who usually have no musical talent themselves) that it is the music industry and not the fans who 'own' music?

    Music is an intergral part of human culture - more so than sport, literature or even religion. Allowing a small group of wealthy, largely white, largely middle class, largely middle-aged men determine how we experience music is as unethical as it is impractical. P2P isn't popular because many people ignore the law, it's popular because, on a fundamental level, many people simply cannot accept that access to music should be unecessarily and significantly curtailed by the State to protect the vested interests of the economic elite.

    Historic accident has led to the situation where many people are fooled into thinking music companies have a right to control music. What society has yet to realise is that the music industry is not the moral guardian of music creativity... it's simply the middle-man - a distribution channel no different to Amazon or Virgin Cable. Unfortunately for society, the Reagan / Thatcher obsession with market forces has allowed the money-obsessed distribution network to borg the creative production network. Now it is impossible to seperate the motivation behind investing in music from the maximisation of profits made from that investment.

    The current system is broken, but can probably survive as it is for a while yet. As technology becomes more advanced and as the internet matures, the real artists will move away from money-grabbing distribution channels to ones where the focus is more on promoting variety and innovation, or focuses more on using expert knowledge to reach certain target markets (Web 2.0 in action). Money will come from live performances, film, radio and advert placement royalties and from consumer determined contributions. However, as long as there are people who don't want to break the law, musicians who want to be popstars rather than artists, and music listeners whose tastes are dictated by fashion rather than artistic merit, the big labels will survive. In other words, unless governments act, millions of music lovers will be criminalised simply for adhering to their cultural heritage.

  62. Mark

    re: Paul's follow-ups

    I think the only difference we have is in how this is a loan and the definition thereof.

    When the recording is done, if any money is made from selling the recording, ALL of it goes to the label. That's why I call it a loan. Though that isn't much different from an advance, I would not use it where the work the artist is selling it is taken by the label. Just personal preference based on connotations I use the word "advance" on. I guess if you're going to say loan is just an agreement to give money back at rate X, then this deal for new signing artists isn't a loan: they take 100% of your money first, you don't get to say how much money they get to take.

  63. heystoopid
    Paris Hilton


    Sweet , an industry where if any one cares to notice is that the top executives and CEO's in the big four are claiming pay packet rises at a rate faster then the industry is declining within the market place itself so in a sense they are stealing off the cream so as to leave the stockholders an empty container before they leave the sinking ship called "The Record Label" , who be the pirates and thieves then(obviously all stockholders are asleep at the wheel along with their equally evil Wall Street pension fund managers who are currently stuffing their posterior with every dollar they too can scam or steal in that line of business) !

    Choices , it has been pointed out that much of what is claimed to be modern music or popular released in the past twenty plus or so years is just uninspiring rubbish and noise many would rather not hear again , which probably explains why a lot of high street volume market sellers are now busy closing down their audio CD line of business too and utilise the wasted floor space for something that sells !

    What most overlook is the simple fact as big four have lost the market share from a simple combination of self choice , basic stupidity SONY-BMG style(by the way guess who was billed for that rootkit fiasco too) and absolute greed !

    Further , the vast majority of bands either signed with the big four or independent labels makes the bulk of their income from touring and have always done so even in the past centuries with minimal income that has been derive from your average fat entertainment leech who knows how to extract blood out of stone !

    The simple fact is that all industries come and go in cycles of time as technology advances and are not a permanent fixture on the landscape for that is life !

  64. Ian Michael Gumby

    Talk about being old..

    You want old?

    Lets talk about vinyl records. Lets talk about spending the extra bucks on a Digital Master Recording because it was a better copy than plain vinyl. Instead of ripping, you copied the record to a high end grade tape on a good tape deck. You dreamed about nice hi end stereo equipment you'd love to own, but alas, its out of your price range.


    The quality of the music you rip to your ipod or mp3 player just doesn't cut it.

    Back then, you enjoyed sitting down and really listening to the music.


    You listen to it while you run at the gym, on your daily commute. Its background noise so you don't have to communicate.

    If the record companies were smart, they'd take more of their cut from the live performances than the cds. Or rather than promote shitty bands via money to play and marketing, they should just produce the music, and put it out there.

    That would be an interesting concept.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Salaried artists.

    >Lots of artists do exactly that. However, they merely make a wage so

    >aren't given any screen time (...)

    Steps and SClub Seven spring to mind, oh, SClub had a TV series going didn't they?

    Without copyright, why would anyone hire them?

    Once your CD hits the market another company would produce it for about 10p, having none of the recording overheads would mean they could always undercut you so you'd get one day of clear sales (maybe). Of course no-one would buy on day one because on day two the copies come out for 10p.

    I guess there'd be better advert jingles.

  66. alphaxion


    this is where a short term copyright could protect the initial investment.. and encourage others to invest knowing that their work would be protected for a short period, after that time they are then forced into offering added value instead of lazily releasing material at inflated prices - think about how many DVD's you have bought that don't take advantage of the format by never including any extras and yet were priced quite highly.

    Say the original publisher who spent the money initially and recouped it thanks to, say, a 10 year copyright term, after said term expires they could then pitche their wares as demonstrably sharing a percentage (with the percentage stated on the box) of the sale to the creator. Would that encourage you to spend money with them rather than the cheaper "coat tails" version?

    After the short term copyright has passed, that work then enters public domain and can then be enjoyed legally by anyone who wants to do so instead of being locked away because they view it as "not commercially viable".

    Or would you prefer it if the countless creations that sit in companies vaults never get aired and make you a criminal for seeking out alternative ways of being able to enjoy them where ever and when ever you wish?

    As an example, I've been waiting for years for shows like crystal maze, knightmare and gamesmaster to be released on DVD so that I could revel in some nostalgia... they aren't coming any time soon, so I had to find other ways of being able to enjoy them (which mainly included recording them from challenge TV).

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    >Say the original publisher who spent the money initially and recouped it thanks to, say, a 10 year copyright term

    Why 10 year? Your 10 is just as arbitrary as 50 or 70.

    I agree that copyright shouldn't be used to block distribution entirely, but I suspect that anything done to stop that would result in £500 box sets.

    You also effectively restrict the amount of time they can spend recovering the money, that is you restrict the amount of money they can make from it. That may have the side effect of making fringe products less viable. It certainly increases the risk associated with taking on a new project.

    The risk might make the producers averse to high budget productions as well.

    >crystal maze, knightmare and gamesmaster

    My god, they should just be destroyed, what if some future generation finds them? What will they think of us?

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    What about the ISP being at fault?

    They complain the BBC is clogging up their bandwidth and now people think that streaming/downloading MP3's (or whatever format) is a good idea. Don't think so. Isn't it Carphone Warehouse who limit you to 5 Gig download a month. What happens when Kylie releases her new track and you can't listen to it on the computer ? You get annoyed and look for other ways to get it. Yes, you can wait until next month but by then you hate everyone on the internet and in the music industry and decide just to pirate it rather than keeping up your £5 month subscription to listen to streamed music. Afterall, why pay for something you can't listen to? Then the rot starts.

    Personally I think a music tax on harddisks would be appropriate since everyone knows a 1Tb disk is only useful for containing music and films.

    Paris because she makes such sweet music

  69. Mark

    Re: Salaried artists.

    Well, the CD is just promotion, isn't it? After all, the ART in a poster is given away freely to advertise your latest gig, isn't it. Ads on TV *paid for* by the owners of the art. Why? To advertise the product they are selling.

    And when you have a salary, all you lose by recording is your time, which has been paid for in any case.

  70. W

    Once upon a time, there used to be a sheet music chart...

    A) Artists used to tour in order to promote their singles. Maybe the more lucrative album sales would come too... (eg: Chuck Berry / Diana Ross / Elvis).

    B) Then singles became non-profit propositions in order to promote albums. Maybe the more lucrative tour ticket sales would come too... (eg: REM / U2 / Nirvana).

    C) Now it's difficult to sell albums at a profit, they're being used more as a promotional tool for the tour. Maybe the more lucrative mp3 sales will come too...(Madonna / Prince / Nine Iinch Nails / Radiohead / The Charlatans).

    >>>OK... so the games up? Music has come full circle. It's the end of the line for the Major Record Companies now that they can't coin it in by selling £2.50 CDs for £15? Now what? Let's draw some lines and identify some categories of artists at risk...

    I) Notice that all the artists mentioned above are/were mostly "Record Business Names". They're more at the mercy of the changes in 'the market' but probably have enough of a "brand" to be able to go it alone.

    II) Less at the mercy of the whims of 'the market' are artists who don't break into the massive "Record Business Names" category but who nonetheless make healthy careers thank-you-very-much by way of talent, exhibiting a USP not found elsewhere and/or by cultivating a loyalty amongst their fans. (Mansun / Belle & Sebastian / The Cure / Kirstin Hersch / The Breeders / etc). Some take a bit of time, but they catch up and come good eventually (Seasick Steve).

    III) Some will might never be heard of outside of the venues they tour, but will still keep at it because they straight up love what they do and can sacrifice the dreams of an MTV "Crib" for the sake of intergrity, a roof over their head and food on their plate (Dave Arcari / Mr David Viner / Buck 65 / C.R. Avery / Copter (check 'em all out on myspace, btw!)).

    IV) There has always been throwaway commercial music too. Then when their replacements get wheeled out, they go back to working in Asda. The music is a side issue. The important thing is that they can forge a symbiotic relationship with the tabloids and/or license the logo to Kelloggs or McDonalds or whoever. (S Club / Steps / 5ive)

    V) And then we come to the tat that only gets there - or thereabouts - due to an unsustainable marketing push. (Busted / Dannii Minogue / The Kooks / Menswear / Bananarama / Pigeon Detectives / Katie Melua / Jamie Cullum / all Supermarket Indie / all runners' up of TV talent series' / and on and on and on and on...).

    VI) Then of course there are the nameless session musicians. (A Non)

    Category I) will be fine without record companies. We might not get to see any graduates from Category V) though. And for that we should be thankful.

    Category II) & III) acts might find that there becomes less and less of a gap between them but they'll always exist around because they rely on a talent and loyalty that has nothing whatsoever to do with major record companies.

    Category IV) has everything to do with the promotional department of the major labels. The promo opportunities still exist but music ain't the foil for their shite anymore. A 10 week primeitime saturday night TV series *might* be enough to shift a few units of aural blandness these days, but it's no guarantee. Your audience might be playing on the Nintendo Wii. Prediction: keep an eye out for the first Big Brother 'housemate' to be groomed for a quick buck #1 single.

    Category V) will be first against the wall.

    Category VI) are the jobbers. There'll no doubt be a need but it might not be what it was.

    Just for the record (arf!) I'm 29. I've got 1000+ paid for CDs (+ plenty of vinyl) and still counting. But the record companies haven't made a penny out of me lately. I've only ever bought a few tracks from (half decent, but gone). downloads are almost a decent set up (but only a narrow catalogue). And nope, I've never p2p'd (too much faffery and chaff).

    For me, it's all about Amazon's marketplace and wishlists. There's little that I absolutely *must* get on the day of release. So it goes on the wishlist with all the other wants. I keep a check on the list now and then. Most stuff hits the agreeable fiver mark within six months. And there's loads stuff that drifts into sub-£2.50 'scoop 'em up' territory.

    Maybe the seller thought it just wasn't worth the original price they paid for it and wants some of their dosh back.

    Or maybe the seller has taken a rip of the disc before selling it on.

    Whatever. Some folk want CDs. Some are happy with just the mp3s. But the RRP for CDs and mp3s is twice the price it should be. And so the market is levelling itself.

    But let's not take my word for it. Let's take a look at some facts:

    "78 million CD, tape and vinyl singles were bought in 1999 - the height of the physical single's popularity - but this fell to only eight million CD singles in 2007." -(

    "Meanwhile, there were 72.6 million single downloads, which have been growing massively since the first legal sites were launched in 2004." -(

    Digital album sales at "6.25 million albums"

    Woolworths commercial director Jim Batchelor says, "CDs are alive and well for album sales" - (

    UK album sales are up approx. 40% over the last 10 years (after a 2004 high point), according to The Official Charts Company. (There's a nice graph here:

    So...CD album sales "alive and well". 72.6m single downloads + 8m CD singles = Up (3.3%) 2.6m on 1999s *best ever* sales.

    Methinks the industry and media - doth protest - and worry - too much.

  71. Christian Seidel

    Stagnancy is regression

    Damn, I'm really old, too.

    Those were the days, when any "Internet" startup was funded beyond sense.

    Everybody thought they were Rockefeller giving away lamps to sell oil.

    That was the time when everybody "learnt" that everything is free on the internet.

    The music industry dropped the ball by the time BMG bought Napster - latest.

    That was the last chance to simply set up a toll booth and get money from people looking to download music. Heck - even the work of hosting the files would have been done by the customers.

    So time to wake up, Content Industry. Your customers already started to move on several years ago. Go for them with a deal, not a writ.

    And when I mean deal - things like "ovi" with WMA + DRM only don't count.

    Otherwise - see the icon.

  72. alphaxion


    Yes, the 10 year number was just a figure I pulled out of my arse, but the key difference between 10 and 50/70 is that 10 years is long enough to give them time to monetise it (if you can't make your money back after 10 years, you made a duff) but short enough so that knowledge of it remains in the public consciuosness and so isn't bound to be forgotten as easily compared to if it was produced 50 to 70 years ago and you were charged an exorbitant fee to simply play it.

    how often do you hear and/or see some of the old 40's and 50's songs and movies beyond the few well known titles?

    And to those who say nothing will be produced or that the incentive to produce will be gone without stupidly long copyright periods, just look at how podsafe music network is brimming with people.

  73. Mark

    10 years

    "short enough so that knowledge of it remains in the public consciuosness"

    But only the good stuff. Who remembers the mediocre crap more than that season? I mean, Sig Sig Sputnik were so bad, at least people remembered them. Nothing that terrible gets out today so it's all beige pablum.

  74. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Salaried artists.

    >Well, the CD is just promotion, isn't it? After all, the ART in a poster is given

    >away freely to advertise your latest gig, isn't it. Ads on TV *paid for* by the owners

    >of the art. Why? To advertise the product they are selling.

    You don't sit down in your living room to watch a poster though do you?

    >And when you have a salary, all you lose by recording is your time, which has

    >been paid for in any case.

    But the person paying the salary is losing something aren't they?

    >if you can't make your money back after 10 years, you made a duff

    So what if it is duff? If you could sell for 20 years maybe you'd break even and so would then risk another fringe prospect.

    Would you kill off Trout Mask Replica because (maybe) it takes more than 10 years to turn a profit? (Capt Beefheart is an acquired taste)

    On the duff angle, you could argue that if you haven't turned a profit in a year then it's duff or 6 months, or 70 years. You have to justify the number, it's like the idiots that want everything to cost £X./ track/ album whatever with no justification other than it being a lower number.

  75. Mark

    Re: Re: Salaried Artists

    The artist has only lost time they could have done something else on. But then again, if they'd done an advert for TV, they would have spent time doing that.

    Yet artists still go on telly and do adverts.

    Am I speaking Andromedan?

  76. alphaxion


    But you're assuming that they will stop selling it after that time period.

    That's one hell of an assumption (so is my assumption that they would continue to sell it after that period, copyright or not), all I'm saying is that they get, in effect, an "x" year exclusivity deal, after which they can either sell it as they always have done or try to offer something different to the clones out there.

    You're asserting that people wouldn't sell their wares after copyright expiration, which is patent nonsense. Would you rather spend your money with the originator (they might even offer a sweetener in the deal by promising a % of the sale to the creative talen behind it) or with a clone? no one seems willing to answer this question.

  77. Anonymous Coward


    "You're asserting that people wouldn't sell their wares after copyright expiration, which is patent nonsense.Would you rather spend your money with the originator or with a clone? no one seems willing to answer this question."

    This question has already been raised and answered by history. This is why copyright exclusivity exists and it's a good thing for the ordinary guy who wants to put stuff out.

    OK - suppose you made a few albums in your day, and now the copyright has expired on The Alphaxion Band.

    You're now in a marketplace competing with Del Trotter, who can cut corners, churn out an inferior bit of tat, and doesn't have Mrs Alphaxion or the Alphaxion family to feed. So many bambinos - and they're hungry all the time!

    Then along comes a punter - and sees Del boy offering the same thing as you (no exclusivity, remember) cheaper.

    Which do you think they are going to buy?

    Sentiment doesn't work here - so you lose the sale, and it's back to the Pizza Parlour for you, Mr A. Tell the little Alphaxions how you were scammed. Maybe they'll write a blues song about Poor Papa Alphaxion some day?

    That's what copyright is for, not to keep fat dumb record company execs in cigars. Maybe you'll learn to appreciate it one day, once you've created something worth copyrighting?

  78. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    >But you're assuming that they will stop selling it after that time period.

    No, my assertion is that there will be very very little profit in selling it after that time, because some nobody living in a basement stuffed with CD dup boxes will churn them out for less than the people who made it all happen in the first place.

    I'm asserting that that is wrong.


    >The artist has only lost time they could have done something else on.

    >But then again, if they'd done an advert for TV, they would have spent

    >time doing that.

    >Yet artists still go on telly and do adverts.

    The artist is getting a salary dumbass, someone pays the salary THEY have lost something for unproductive time.

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