I read this interesting article which says that in 2008 95% of music downloaded on the internet was not paid for. This doesn’t really surprise me, and as it happens, we recently got a letter through the door from Virgin and the EPI warning us that someone had illegally downloaded music through our internet connection. Not long after reading the letter, I investigated the topic of BitTorrent Encryption.
What does surprise me, is that even though the internet was born through the need to share files, the music industry was amazingly slow to move into this market. The EPI, and similar bodies around the world, should stand up and thank Apple for bringing it into the mainstream. Without iTunes, I estimate that over 99% of music downloaded last year would not have been paid for.
While it’s no secret that I fundamentally disagree with the charging structure employed in the music industry today, I am not against paying for music. On the contrary, I look forward to the day when record labels loosen their protectionist grip on their artist’s media and finally catch up with the obvious raging demand out there today. While iTunes, Amazon, Play.com and some other big boys are now offering music for sale, it’s essentially the same defunct business model in a new marketplace. Apple recently announced that they will now sell all their tracks DRM Free (allowing them to be played on more than just a single iPod linked to the computer they were downloaded on), but quite simply this isn’t enough.
For change to really happen in the way society acquires and uses music, and other media, there need to be some big changes led by the industries involved. Slowly responding to customer demand isn’t going to cut the cheese, they need to look forward with new ideas and new business models if they really want to reduce this figure in 2009. Sites like justhearit allow you to listen to virtually any song in the world, free of charge, whenever you like. I believe this is a powerful insight into the way music is going. I would much rather manage my playlists online, than spend time downloading and managing music on my hard drive…and I would pay for the pleasure.
Cloud computing is poised to be the next big thing, and it would be great to see the people behind some of the world’s most creative songwriters doing something a bit different in the year to come.
PS feel free to ignore my last post…i don’t expect anyone to read it…me included!