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May 1, 2006
More Follow the Money
Is the music business up, or down? Seems like a simple question, but the answer depends heavily on where you sit and what your vested interests are (shocking, I know).
For years now the RIAA has been banging the drum of declining CD sales. We're told it's all that illegal downloading by those naughty college students. And for years, annoying armchair quarterbacks like myself have been pointing out that if the consumer isn't buying your product maybe you should offer a different product. So, reluctantly, kicking and screaming and suing, the Cartel has finally been dragged into the download age. Blame Steve Jobs.
What does this mean for the numbers, though? Well, CD sales continue to fall. Nobody with two neurons to rub together should be surprised by this. Price pressure from discount retailers, decline of big chain music stores, competition from $10 DVDs all mean that the $18 CD is going the way of the dodo. But if we broaden the picture slightly, as Eric Bangeman did on Ars Technica, we find a different story to be told.
In a few short paragraphs, and using the RIAA's own data, Bangeman shows that the advent of mass consumer digital downloading has begun to fill the gap left by spiraling drops in sales of physical media. As of last year, digital product sales accounted for nearly 9% of recording industry revenues.
Since it only took them about 7 years longer than it could have to get to this point I figure it'll be at least that long before they stop frothing at the mouth over the death of last century's hot product.
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