Thursday, December 06, 2007

Will Streaming Media KILL The Recording Industry?

I was listening to CNet's Buzz Out Loud podcast the other day. During the show, they mentioned that Universal Music, hailed for releasing their library without DRM (Digital Rights Management), had placed restrictions on artists use of streaming media. I really really REALLY wish the recording industry would quit whining and get over themselves.

Around the turn of the century, there was this invention called radio and you could listen to music for free right out of the air. The music industry panicked, saying the broadcasting of music over the radio would kill the music industry because why would people buy records if they could get the music for free. History tells us that radio is, perhaps, the single greatest boon to the recording industry.

When cassettes gained popularity in the 80's, the recording industry panicked once again. They feared that cassettes would kill the music industry because people could make duplicates of their records on cassettes and give them to all of their friends. Turns out, it made the music portable and, once again, actually helped the music industry.

Then came CDs. CDs were good. They maintained the portability of cassettes but increased the fidelity of the recordings. But the CD revolution eventually gave birth to affordable, consumer CD recording. Time to panic once again. This time the contention was that recordable CDs would kill the music industry because perfect, digital copies of the albums could be created and handed out to all of your friends. Actually, this was a somewhat valid concern because, for the first time, the copy was just as good as the original. But did the music industry collapse because of recordable CDs? I don't think so.

Enter the MP3. Eh, that'll never catch on... Oh wait, it did... The toothpaste is out of the tube (and has sat on the counter and gotten crusty) but it's time to panic because the MP3 will kill the music industry because it will be so easy for people to copy the music en masse and album sales will plumet into nothingness! Not so! Turns out, MP3 sharing actually helped boost sales. Plus, when the recording industry finally caught on to the pay-per-track model, they actually started see direct revenue from this new fangled music format.

Now we've come full circle and they are complaining about streaming media just like they did the radio.

Give it a rest, guys. Instead of panicking and trying to fight new forms of distribution, can't you just once try to embrace it and see it for what it is - a way for you to make even more money... but only if you play your cards right.

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