From Wired: The industry that cried wolf


Peter Kirwan writes over at Wired (UK edition) on the surprisingly healthy state of the music industry.

It turns out that – surprise! – they can’t be trusted. The industry that exploited artists and ripped off fans for decades is – it seems – exaggerating when they whinge about how online “piracy” is killing them softly with its love of free downloads.

Just as they were, if you’re old enough to remember, in the 1980s, when they complained that “home taping is killing music.”

It turns out that sales last year were pretty damn good, considering the state of the economy. It also turns out that income from licenced “broadcasts” of music – in workplaces and retail spaces, online and on air – was absolutely huge, outstripping retail sales. And it turns out that legal downloads are still only 13% of revenues, which means that an awful lot of people are still buying CDs.

But it doesn’t suit this industry to talk about their actual health, because they’re busy trying to persuade governments all over the world to introduce reactionary and regressive extended copyright laws. Snip:

Proclaiming good news from the rooftops would go against the industry’s grain. As a spokesperson for PRS For Music told me: “At the time, there was a lot of other noise in the media about the extension of copyright and the decline of physical sales, so we didn’t want to clutter it with these figures.”

Ah yes: other noise. All of it depressive, and much of it required to wring further concessions out of governments.

For the music industry, acknowledging the existence of a brighter future will become inevitable at some point. That time may well be nigh.