A new London School of Economics study suggests that the music industry needs to stop complaining about the deleterious effects of illegal file-sharing. Why? As so many people have been saying for so many years now, it’s not that file-sharing (both legal and illegal) has caused people to stop consuming music, but it’s that file-sharing has changed the way people consume music. The days of the music business being a case of “band releases album, people buy album” are pretty much over.
And what’s replacing that? Again, you already know the answer: people are now consuming experiences, and not simple shiny plastic discs. You support a band, and you’ll buy their album from iTunes or stream it from Rdio, or hear it on Sirius XM. But you’re also far more likely to see them the next time they come to town, you’re much more likely to walk away with a bunch of t-shirts and other merch. You’re going to tweet the drummer after the show “great set~!” and he’ll tweet back a secret code for, I don’t know, a free download of the set, or maybe exclusive video or whatever. You’re going to play their songs in Rock Band or DJ Hero.
There’s more stuff involved, in other words.
The music business’s problem is that it doesn’t have its finger in any of those pies. It won’t make money when the band goes on tour. It won’t know that the lead singer is hosting a “secret show” in the next town over for free. The only thing it has it the ability to sell either A) shiny plastic discs, or nowadays, B) iTunes of Beatport.
So when the labels say “the industry is dying,” well, perhaps their tiny slice of the industry isn’t what it once was, but that doesn’t mean people are going to stop listening. Right?
(Let’s not forget the extent to which the labels have tried clinging onto their business model, at one point contemplating charging someone like Apple for the 30-second clips it uses in iTunes. Madness)
Oh, and let’s also not forget that the global economy had all but stopped working not too long ago; people are still losing their jobs left and right. So the idea that people still have the ability to pay x-amount for an album that sounds like the every other album currently available…
Again, this is much the same that has been written since, I don’t know, 2002 or so, but it’s nice to see a proper LSE study behind it.