Since Napster first hit the scene in about 1999 just about everyone outside of the record labels immediately realized that it was a great place to market to music fans. After all, music's biggest fans would all be found there. However, for the past seven years, the recording industry has tried to deny this. While they may have known it, and even used the data from file sharing networks as market research, they continued to insist that actually using file sharing networks for marketing purposes would somehow "legitimize" file sharing. What they missed, by a long, long, long way, however, was that ignoring file sharing (or suing it!) doesn't make it go away. So it's almost funny to see the Wall Street Journal with an article about how record labels are finally admitting that file sharing is a way to market to the biggest music fans (found via Broadband Reports). While it's laughable that it would take the industry this long to even venture to admit what was obvious to most everyone else, it is a tiny step in the right direction. Combined with the recent admissions that DRM can be annoying, that you can make money without DRM and that you have to compete with free content, it seems like the entertainment industry is finally starting to put together all the little pieces that lots of other folks tried to tell them seven years ago. Of course, they're still not willing to make the big leap forward of embracing all of this, but perhaps it's at least time for them to acknowledge that many of the people who have been suggesting these things all along aren't just a bunch of kids who want free music, but people who had the industry's strategic best interests in mind.
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