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July 11, 2011
Sandoval (CNET) Does His Homework
Since I took Greg Sandoval to task earlier this year for failing to do good reporting research
, I think it's only fair that I point out when he's done an excellent job. Case in point, his piece this past weekend for CNET, "What's driving rise in music sales?"
The hook for the story is the for the first time in the digital music age (since 2004) album sales are up. Admittedly it's only 1%, but when you reverse a seven-year trend even for a moment that's kind of news. So of course one wants to answer the question of how this happened.
To his credit, Sandoval doesn't just take the easy answer - oh, they shut down LimeWire - though he does touch on that point. Instead he delves into a variety of factors and possible explanations, looking at local phenomena such as the sudden rise of Adele, a Brit-pop star, and the recent release of a popular Gaga album. In addition, he notes that there has been some potentially disruptive pricing going on with Amazon selling an entire digital album at 99 cents, and standard catalog CDs selling for USD 4-8.
Remember the days when CDs cost more than DVDs? Yeah that was back in 2004-5, which is when the album business was last growing in profit. Those days are long gone, and I suspect the days when disruptive pricing can have a significant impact are numbered already, too. The impact of social networking on music sharing is only beginning to be felt - here's a Mashable by Ben Parr on how to use social media for sharing, for example.
In addition, as Sandoval's co-writer on CNET Lance Whitney wrote just a couple weeks ago, there's a huge rush on to move people to 'cloud' music services. Each service has its own spin on rights, uploading, and permissions but all depend on the notion that people no longer want to "own" music so much as they want to listen to it wherever/whenever they are. If the cloud services succeed it will make the entire past couple of decades worth of argument about rights and ownership seem as quaint - and as irrelevant to the masses - as a discussion of whether the fish fork or the salad fork should go on the outside. (Image nicked from homeworkshop.com - click through to see it in context.)
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