In recent months there’s been a plethora of articles across the Internet, also the print media in reference to why the “Music Industry” and “Artists” alike are suffering from the loss in sales … here’s a in depth perspective from the folks at MediaShift/PBS.The pioneers of the music industry couldn’t have seen this coming in their wildest dreams. When publishers were selling sheet music in the late 1800s, the idea of people privately sharing their product, independent of location and physical constraints, would have seemed ridiculous. But now record labels have been decimated by the digital shift, and are rethinking their entire business model to survive.
Even as recently as the 1970s, the thought that consumers would be able to bring the industry to its knees by circumventing the existing structure and barriers seemed ludicrous. Large companies solidified vertical and/or horizontal integration across almost all elements in the supply chain; this practically ensured a stranglehold on consumers.
Then, as the infamous “home taping is killing music” warning inside record sleeves indicated, the music business (record labels and trade groups in particular) became concerned that blank cassettes were eroding profits. The ability to record songs from radio, a record, or via another cassette meant that people could acquire music cheaply or even for free.
It’s worth noting that not all people saw this as the beginning of the end. In 1981 the Dead Kennedys endeared themselves to a legion of anti-corporate youth by printing this message on one side of a cassette EP:
“Home taping is killing big business profits. We left this side blank so you can help.”
As anti-establishment as the Dead Kennedys and their label Alternative Tentacles were, I don’t think even they could have dreamed up the situation most record labels would find themselves in during the following decades.
Bonus material to read: “Why We Steal Music” from AllAboutJazz.com!!