This year is the end of the record business as we know it.
It's pretty sad when you think about it. CD's have been overpriced for the longest time. Napster and Kazaa and Limewire all provided a way to subvert the system, albeit illegally, and to get the music you wanted for free by people willing to provide it to you. These people that used these services were the PEOPLE THAT BUY CD's! What's the Recirding Industry of America to do? Here's an idea, let's start suing all of the people that buy our product. Sounds great on paper. Wait a minute. No it doesn't. It really doesn't even sound good on paper. What was the RIAA thinking? Not only are you going to alienate your core audience of CD buyers, you're going to alienate your occassional CD buyers. The problem is that although the Internet is not as anonymous as users would like, the user data that the RIAA receives is anonymous. Case-in-point: 12-year-old girl gets sued by the RIAA. Well done. Anyobody that said any media is good media really hasn't had horrible media.
Oh, and by the way, does it seem a little bit convenient that as the RIAA starts it's attacks, Universal music group announces that they will be discounting the price of CD's? Maybe that's a smart play for Universal, but all your artists are part of the RIAA.
Also, today, Senator Sam Brownback expressed his concern for the RIAA's exploitation of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (the Act that the RIAA is using as its basis for these suits). Check out what the Senator had to say in this Wired.com article.
The one's who are really going to win? Try the I-Tunes Music store by Apple. What? You don't have a Macintsoh? Neither does the vast percentage of the rest of the population. But if you're looking for proof that the model of $0.99 per song works, simply look at the volume -- 1 million songs per week. So you don't have to get out your calculator, that's about 1 million dollars per week, of which Apple gives about 65% back to the record company. Seems easy right?
Maybe not for Buymusic.com. Seems that, as usual, the simple and elegant Apple solution is just a little too hard to imitate. Not to belittle what Buymusic is trying to do, after all they are after the vast majority of us with Windows PC's. The problem is that there are different prices and different digital rights management issues and . . . see can't even easily explain it. Much easier to say $0.99 a song -- Apple wins again.
So if on-demand is the wave of the future what's that leave for CD's. In my opinion, CD's should go after a niche. Why not pick the audiophiles? You know the people that claim to be able to tell the difference between a MP3 or AAC-encoded track and a CD version of the same. Market your SuperAudio and DVDAudio stuff to these guys. They'll pay for it, most of them are used to paying $25.00 a foot for speaker cable.
Oh, and by the way . . . DVD's should look out as well.