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How can the music industry do itself a favour?

Someone recently asked me how the music industry can deal with piracy and make money out of online downloads. I had a few ideas about it (mainly centred around the idea that you just can’t lock down music copying completely). Revenues are falling in the industry, from around $38 bn to less than $30 billion in  a few years and that’s without taking inflation into account. But I thought I’d throw it out there –

  • what concrete steps can the music industry take to stop, or at least slow down piracy?
  • how can the music industry make money from peer-to-peer and music downloads?
  • how could they trial this?

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  1. 1. they could provide a good alternative. Note that files downloaded via piracy may take a long time to download and are a bit of work to find, but they work everywhere, can be copied to all the listening devices/players in the house, and don’t expire after 2 weeks — these are key features and tradeoffs I think. it appears that most people find the usability of piracy much better than that of many of the legit services…

    One key feature btw is that most of the legit download services (Rhapsody, Yahoo! Music etc) provide you with music downloads that are *inferior* to even buying a CD; the downloads expire with Rhapsody iirc when you cancel your contract, whereas mp3s from a ripped CD will not.

    2. I’m sure Apple and eMusic are both making money from music downloads. (I know I’ve given them both lots of my money 😉

    3. get Steve Jobs to do it for them. 😉

  2. Release music as 96 kbps MP3 files. Anyone with a brain knows tasters sell main courses and once you have the track playing in your head, you’ll want to buy the 192 kbps sample if you can find it for sale.

  3. The music industry still has woken up and realised that their once monopoly of entertainment and pocket-money has gone, and been gone for past 10 years. They now have to compete with computer games, DVDs, mobile phone credit, amongst other things. I also have too many music channels to count on Sky so I can watch and listen to music all day too for free. All this results in less people purchasing music, not mention free newspaper cds.

    They really need to sit down a create a new business plan that works. The hooks are already there, music in video games, ringtone downloads, music in movies & tv shows.

    As for DRM, I buy some tunes on iTunes and just burn it to CD-RW and then rip back to MP3, which removes the DRM. Also look at the trouble Apple is having renewing the contracts with the record labels for legal downloads!


  • » Blog Archive » What’s so wrong with giving people what they want? August 20, 2007

    […] The challenge for these companies is to find a way to co-exist with both the advantages and disadvantages of digital content, without losing customers. As Antoin recently demonstrated, however, they are not meeting this challenge very well: Revenues are falling in the industry, from around $38 bn to less than $30 billion in a few years and that’s without taking inflation into account. […]