The Recording Industry's Whine List
By Tracey E. Schelmetic, Editorial Director, Customer Interaction Solutions magazine
The recording industry is whining again. After spending zillions of dollars to hire lawyers to sue small children for downloading "If You're Happy And You Know It Clap Your Hands" from sites like KaZaa ( http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0EPF/is_6_103/ai_109665827 ), the industry has managed to put a rather large crimp in online file sharing. Ventures like Apple's wildly successful iTunes have given a huge boost to the recording industry, as people who were former peer-to-peer file sharers are now getting used to the idea that they must pay for the music they download.
So what's the next dragon to slay? CD burning, or the practice of taking a purchased CD, ripping the files onto your PC, and either copying the disc whole for your own use or giving it to a friend. Sure, in some instances there are "entrepreneurs" burning CDs and selling them at flea markets for a few dollars alongside the guys who sell "Fendi" handbags for $20. Probably not nearly as many as the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) imagines, however.
According to that organization's chief honcho, Mitch Bainwol, "'Burned' CDs accounted for 29 percent of all recorded music obtained by fans in 2004, compared to 16 percent attributed to downloads from online file-sharing networks."
The solution is, apparently, to implement technology that eliminates or limits the number of times a CD can be copied. That must mean that the recording industry is seeing plummeting profits? Not at all.
According to an Associated Press report, "The recording industry has seen a lift from online music sales, which when factored in with album and sales of CD singles increased overall music sales through July to 21 percent over last year."
Simon Wright, chief executive of Virgin Entertainment Group International, expresses enthusiasm for the release of more copy-protected CDs, even if it angers customers.
"If, particularly, the technology allows two to three burns, that's well within acceptable limits and I don't think why consumers should have any complaints," stated Wright.
Got news for you, Simon. Some of my favorite CDs are going on 20 years old. Every few years, I make "car copies" so I don't have to bring the original into the CD-chewing environment of the car. I've been past two to three burns on these CDs already, and no, I'm not duping them to "sell them in bodegas" like you and everyone else in your very paranoid industry seems to believe.
Still, all I have to do is make a master burn when I buy a CD, and make future copies from that. The lack of generational degradation in sound quality that comes with digital recordings is great for reasons more extensive than listening pleasure.
But I guess bitching and moaning become habit-forming, and the recording industry has been doing it for so long that it would put scores of lawyers and professional hand-wringers out of business if it settled back, enjoyed its profits and acknowledged that no industry can be completely free of theft.
Of course, it has nothing to do with the fact that most of the mainstream recording companies are pumping out nothing but processed-cheese-style crap; the musical equivalent of reality television shows.
I've got news for the recording companies: I've been buying music, but not from you. As I'm not a 13-year-old bubble-gum chewer with the musical sophistication of a fruit fly, I don't want your Cheez-Whiz music. In many cases, I've been buying music directly from the artists.
It makes me smile to think the thought of that makes record company executives break into cold sweats at night.
Tracey Schelmetic is editorial director for CUSTOMER INTER@CTION Solutions. For more articles by Tracey Schelmetic, please visit:
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