A 21st Century History of Music Industry Profits – Digital Economy Bill

As the British music industry lobby hard for the roundly hated Digital Economy Bill to be passed before the next election, it begs the question: why the rush? I’m fairly confident the industry will NOT collapse if a proper debate takes place over the next two months.

In fact, the more I looked into it, the more the cries of industry destruction (which have been going on for most of the decade) seem strangely detached from reality. Here’s a quick reading list, going back to 2002:

2010 – The demise of the music industry is visible everywhere but in the facts
2009 – UK music industry’s own economist says revenue up 4.7%
2008 – How the music industry garnered record profits in 2008
2004 – BMI posts record year, despite music industry doom and gloom
2002 – RIAA’s (Recording Industry Association of America) statistics don’t add up to piracy

Of course, this is a patchy history at best and I don’t claim to be an expert on the subject. However, since the whole piracy issue was first raised, I haven’t seen any convincing figures showing the alleged ‘end of days’ style decline. Most of the genuinely negative figures I’ve seen look bad in isolation but don’t show the bigger picture. For example: CD sales may be down, but digital sales are up; album sales are down a bit, but single sales are up more; ticket sales, ringtone sales, merchandising sales have all increased, as has sponsorship. More people are listening to music than ever before.

If there is undeniable demand out there, why is the British Government taking undemocratic actions to punish consumers while protecting the bad business decisions of a billion-pound industry?

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One thought on “A 21st Century History of Music Industry Profits – Digital Economy Bill

  1. Dan Bond says:

    Downloads and piracy seem to be affecting smaller record labels more than larger labels. They are certainly taking the hit, seeing record sales drop. This article with Fat Wreck owner Fat Mike is pretty cool and covers how they expect to survive in this digital era and still put out records: http://www.dreamnotoftoday.com/?p=2559

    More people are listening to music then ever before, but the amount of music they listen to versus the amount they spend per song has almost certainly dropped. Concert ticket prices have gone mental and most bands make fuck-all from merch and sponsorship.

    Digital sales are up, but are artists royalties going up? I don’t think so due to most contracts being written pre-digital era which actually means they often get LESS for digital sales. Artists also make almost nothing from spotify if this article is even close to accurate:

    http://torrentfreak.com/lady-gaga-earns-slightly-more-from-spotify-than-piracy-091121/

    The Digital Economy Bill is bullshit and piracy is only likely to increase, but I think theres a clear issue and labels and artists should be able to protect their copyright if they choose to.

    This article is also really interesting, its about why viral-video superstars OK Go left their record label:

    http://mashable.com/2010/03/10/ok-go-say-bye-bye-to-emi/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Mashable+%28Mashable

    Sorry to link-dump.

    Dan

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