BEATVIZION is here for a purpose!! I am a purist @ heart but I also know that even I must change with the times… Digital is where it’s @!
For tens of millions of people listening to digital music, there is no going back.
David Hollevoet drifted away from new music after college, but he logged into the file-sharing program Napster in the late 1990s. From there, it was not long before he became a fan again and, eventually, broadcaster of his own award-winning Internet radio station — 80’s Obsession — from his kitchen.
“The whole digital music thing just clicked for me,” said Hollevoet, a web designer from Palo Alto, California. “I loved having as much music as my hard drive can hold.”
As music transforms to ones and zeros from physical albums, the way in which it is produced, sold and heard is changing forever. The consequences for musicians, fans and businesses are profound.
Millions of songs are now available — for free or for sale, legally and illegally — over the Internet. The emergence of this audio landscape has delighted music fans but undermined the business model of the music industry. Major record labels are squeezing less profit out of fewer bands and attempting to ward off losses by a frenzy of mergers.
Four corporations — EMI Records, Vivendi Universal, Warner and Sony BMG — control about 80 percent of the shrinking $32 billion global music market, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. That is down from five since Sony Music and Bertelsmann AG’s BMG merged on August 5.
“There is a major disconnect between the music industry and the reality of the way most Americans relate to music,” said Michael Bracy, lobbyist for the Future of Music Coalition, a nonprofit group advocating political and technological reform for digital technology. “There is an effort to commodify music which is fundamentally impossible to do.”
CD sales have steadily declined, as consumers like Hollevoet have been reluctant to pay up to $17.99 per CD, often only to get one or two songs.
“One thing that really angers you is the way you feel really stifled. They don’t sell the things you want to buy,” said Hollevoet. “I do respect the artists. I do think they should be paid, but at the same time, I want to know who they are.”
But musicians and distributors are tapping into the consumer anger to rewrite the rules of the business amid financial turmoil.
GarageBand.com is one of them. Once just an online community of musicians, it is now becoming the Internet’s answer to a record label as well, one that leaves much of the power — and the selection process — in the hands of musicians.
“We think a big part of what’s wrong with the music industry is while the trends over the last 10 years have reduced the cost of music production, the music industry has not figured out how to change their model,” said Ali Partovi, CEO of GarageBand.com, who describes the formula as, “Invest first, test later.”
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) acknowledges that most of its new releases — about nine in 10 — fail. That means much of the cost of a new CD covers albums that never took off. (An example in the Wall Street Journal described a $2.2 million marketing campaign for an Irish singer whose album sold 378 copies in its first few months).
Global industry numbers are also dire.
Recorded music sales dipped 7.6 percent world wide in 2003 following three consecutive years of worldwide declines in music sales, according to the IFPA. At the same time, pirated music boomed. Global sales of illegal music discs rose to its highest level at 35 percent in 2003. According to the IFPI, one in three CDs sold is an illegal copy.
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