The Greed of Music Industry Executives and Declining Record Sales

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The Greed of Music Industry Executives and Declining Record Sales The music recording industry is in trouble. For several years now, sales of new and popular music have steadily declined and show no sign of changing. The record companies are quick to blame the growing popularity of the Internet; music is being traded in a digital form online, often anonymously, with the use of file-sharing programs such as Morpheus, KaZaA, and Imesh, to name a few. The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) succeeded in disbanding the pioneer Internet file-sharing program, Napster, but is facing confrontation with similar programs that are escaping American copyright laws. While there is an obvious connection between declining popular music sales and increasing file sharing, there is more going on than the RIAA wants to admit. I will show that the recording companies are overpricing their products, and not sufficiently using the Internet as an opportunity to market and sell their products. I shall begin by describing in greater detail the problem that the recording companies are facing, as well as the growing epidemic of online music trading. From there, I will show the correlation between the two and describe the other factors affecting record sales, and how these trends could be turned around to help the industry. “The Record Industry is in trouble,” says Jann S. Wenner in an editorial appearing in a recent issue of Rolling Stone Magazine. “Album sales are now down almost 20% from two years ago, and the record business is facing the biggest retail slide since the Great Depression” (Wenner). People are buying less and less products released by the recording companies. “Nobody doubts that the music business is in trouble. Last year, global sales of CDs were down by 5% from 2000, the first fall since the format was launched” (NAPSTER R.I.P). The Nielsen SoundScan, used to report final sales to consumers, revealed some of its figures in a September 2002 issue of Billboard Magazine. “Nielsen SoundScan reports that overall music sales compared with the year before were off by 12.6%…while album sales were off by 9.8%. Total first-half units sold fell to 317.7 million units from 363.4 million; the number of albums sold slipped to 311.1 million units from 344.8 million – an 8.1% drop” (Garrity). Even the number of albums that become hits is... ... middle of paper ... ...election and convenience of P2Ps. Because of consumer’s tendency to download single songs by many varying artists, many may wonder if increased Internet use will eventually exterminate the record album from existence. Personally, I do not foresee the death of CDs and albums as a product. The MP3 format is not quite CD quality, and the singles that are typically downloaded by consumers do not always reflect the talent or best product of a certain performer. Singles are what will make money, but B-sides, the songs that people do not buy the CD for, are also a culmination of an artist’s hard work. B-sides make an album good or bad, and consumers simply do not download B-sides. I fear that buying an entire album will become more rare as these new programs emerge that allow consumers to buy one song at a time, but the album will prevail. Newspapers and Magazines are now available online, but they still appear for retail in stores and by offline subscriptions. Online music purchasing shows no signs of dropping, and the consumers show no sign of listening to less music. The industry just has to take the initiative to make the music more accessible to music listeners at a fairer price.

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