Oh Gosh: How Dare People Want To Listen To Music

from the how-dare-they dept

It looks like we've found the new evil bogeyman for the recording industry: people daring to listen to music for free online. We mentioned it earlier this month, when there was a report about how all the various online streaming services were taking away from sales. Apparently, the record labels are passing around statistics claiming that such streaming services hurt music, claiming (incorrectly) that "there's nothing left to promote."

This morning, at the Leadership Music Digital Summit, Russ Crupnick, a music industry analyst at the NPD Group, gave a "state of the industry" talk, where he pointed out (good) that p2p file sharing isn't as big a problem as the industry makes it out to be, but then dove into the "problem" that more and more consumers of music are "only listening to music," using these various online sites and services, rather than buying the music. It seems to be quite a strange world where the idea that lots of people are paying attention to your product and it's seen as a "problem." He even noted that folks who do buy (such as concert tickets) tend to spend a lot more on music-related goods (beyond just concert tickets) but seems to brush over that.

While it's good to see that folks are starting to get beyond just blaming P2P (though, Crupnick did repeatedly refer to it incorrectly as "stealing" music), this industry has a serious problem: it looks at every single opportunity as a "problem" or a "threat" and never as an opportunity. I would argue that's a much bigger problem than fans daring to listen to and share music.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    MeMeme, Mar 24th, 2009 @ 5:59pm

    Any excuse...

    Just another excuse. Why buy it if it's not worth the money?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    uhmno, Mar 24th, 2009 @ 6:11pm

    In related news, last.fm is soon going to charge $3.00/month worldwide except 3 countries.

    Why aim for the foot when you can shoot yourself in the face, I guess.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Tyler!, Mar 24th, 2009 @ 6:30pm

    I've never paid for a "Death Cab for Cutie" album...

    ...But because I was able to listen to them for free on Pandora I decided I liked them enough to buy tickets for myself and three friends for an upcoming concert. I suspect that while we're there we'll buy food and drinks and, if the concert's fun, we'll buy souvenirs. And all because I had free access to the infinitely replicable music.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2009 @ 6:47pm

    Definition please...

    Seems like the definitions of "stealing" encompass copying music on the internet.

    2. To get or effect surreptitiously or artfully: steal a kiss; stole the ball from an opponent.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    mattyk, Mar 24th, 2009 @ 6:48pm


    Remember how people used to listen to music for free? It was called the radio. The corporations' real problem with P2P is that they no longer have control over what we listen to,like they always have on corporate radio.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    LMR, Mar 24th, 2009 @ 7:00pm

    Re: I've never paid for a "Death Cab for Cutie" album...

    Couldn't agree more. And because I saw videos on youtube taken at various concerts, I realized I was missing some really good shows and decided to plunk down some $$$ for tickets to see artists I might not have thought to go see otherwise. Yeah, this here Internet thingamajig is baaaaaaaaaaad for the music bizness....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Simon, Mar 24th, 2009 @ 7:03pm

    Music Industry is the problem with the Music Industry

    You buy a CD for $30, how much of that actually goes to the Artists that you're trying to support?

    From what I've heard of iTunes, you buy a song for around $2, the Artists get less than 20 cents of it. I cannot stand the crap associated with the Music & Movie industry, they cry poor & that these "theive's" are taking away their lively hood. Heaven forbid they should have to drive a normal car instead of a luxury model & live in a less than 40 squares home.

    Provide me with a option that rewards the people that create the great music that enriches our lives, & I'll support it. For now, I prefer to pirate the CD's, & donate on the bands website, & go see them live at every oppertunity.

    I do buy CD's of bands I listen to a LOT, or if they're a small band trying to get started that I like. Music should be about the Art, not profits, bottom lines, bureaucracy & how the fan's that don't pay for it shackled & whipped in a dungeon at the MIAA's disgression.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Terk, Mar 24th, 2009 @ 7:10pm

    online streaming services . . .

    If you realize that radio could be characterized as "offline streaming services" this seems remarkably silly.

    Oh wait, it seems really silly even without that realization.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Gary H, Mar 24th, 2009 @ 7:19pm

    Are any indie labels doing it right?

    So, which labels are actually doing things right? Yeah, Trent Reznor is embracing opportunities, but are any labels? Not a token effort, but really jumping in and using a new business model? I only hear about how screwed up the big labels are.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    John Duncan Yoyo, Mar 24th, 2009 @ 7:25pm

    Re: I've never paid for a "Death Cab for Cutie" album...

    The problem with that is the money goes to the band and the tour not the record label.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Weird Harold, Mar 24th, 2009 @ 7:38pm

    He even noted that folks who do buy (such as concert tickets) tend to spend a lot more on music-related goods (beyond just concert tickets) but seems to brush over that.

    I guess the real question would be: Are significantly more tickets being bought? We know that concert revenue is going up, but we also know that ticket prices have skyrocketed in the last few years.

    The record labels are in the business of selling music, not really in the concert business. The potential if they aren't selling as many records as that they may have to go Live Nation on their acts and ask for percentages of more of the pie to make it worth bringing these newer bands along.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 4:45am


    "The record labels are in the business of selling music, not really in the concert business."

    Once again, therein lies their problem. They're too geared up to selling one potential good within their marketplace. This is why "change your business model" is the repeated mantra - more diverse middlemen are not having any problems. So far, all the majors have done is put people off buying their products.

    (and again the LiveNation references.... why do you hate them so much and why do you seem to think they're the only possible alternative?)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 5:20am

    The record labels are just one giant hype machine like "American Idol." They've forgotten how to actually make a quality product because it's easier to make a quick buck exploiting some flavor-of-the-week no-talent singerbandgroup than actually find real talent and develop it. After all, some record company executive actually gave Kelly Osborne a record deal.

    Agree with Mattyk: we used to call listening to music for free "listening to the radio."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    R. Miles, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 6:35am


    The record labels are in the business of selling music.
    This is where your defense breaks apart.

    Never once has the label been interested in selling music. It's about selling plastic disks.

    If this industry had been about selling music, there wouldn't be any piracy issues it keeps harping out. It would have opened its arms to the this thing called the "internet" and provided useful platforms for people to buy music.

    But none of this happened, did it? Now, they're scrambling, screaming the sale of plastic disks are down because of piracy.

    Doesn't sound like the industry knows what the hell its purpose is other than to bend consumers over while taking their wallet content.

    If you want to defend this industry, can't stop you. But don't try to pan off it's their business to sell music.

    All *FACTS* point to the contrary.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    SunKing, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 7:04am

    OMFG STEALINGZORZ !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I couldn't even begin to debate this with someone who refers to copyright infringment as stealing in order to inflate it's seriousness. Why would they do that? It's already illegal. Isn't that not bad enough? Why do these people feel they need to be more dramatic, more sensational, more ILLEGAL?

    Is it because, perhaps, copyright infringment on the individual level is simply not seen as something to be THAT bothered about by the general public (and rightly so) and therefore they need to attach a bit more wieght to it, in order to make people give a shit?

    Whenever the industry dickheads (and people like Weird Harold) refer to copyright infringment as stealing/theft they are implicitly agreeing that, in the hierarchy of illegalites, copyright infringement is at the bottom, next to using a foreign coin in the coke vending machine.

    You'll NEVER, EVER have a rational discussion on this topic with a single one of them. It's a keyword. It's like drawing the sign of the fish in the sand. It's the dickhead identifier.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    wheatus, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 7:40am

    Re: 180

    Harold...look up and read about 360 deals and don't post anything about the music industry until then 'cause you sound like a flaming idiot when you blow uninformed mud out your internet hole.

    brendan b brown

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    wheatus, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 7:45am


    They created this...people have always viewed radio as free, because it's economic model, based on adds, was always for the most part hidden from the public.

    The Major Labels missed the boat and the free market has adapted to their incompetence. If their only strategy is to sue the free market then they will fail...just like Harlod does when he tries to sound like he knows his subject.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    batch, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 10:28am


    If it weren't for YouTube, I would not have found out that I very much like Depeche Mode. If the RIAA has their way, many people will never find out they like bands that otherwise they would have.

    Try before you buy is a good idea. People trying to sell you food or drink give you samples for that very reason.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    SteveO, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 1:21pm

    You're missing the point, the Dolts in the industry don't give a shit how many people are listening. Only that the ones that are listening are paying multiple times.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Weird Harold, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 2:05pm

    Re: stupid!

    ...but they don't give you a full meal.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Weird Harold, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 2:12pm

    Re: Re: 180

    Dude, seriously - read my posts - 360 deals are exactly what I have been saying: If the labels can't make money on selling of music (as CDs, online whatever) then they are going to want a cut of tickets, mechandising, and anything else they can get their fingers on.

    Live Nation tends to do deals that are more like 360 X 360 deals (all directions) because they also buy into the artist's image rights and things like that. Think of them as spherical deals, where everything is everything and they want a part of it.

    Live Nation is even more dangerous because they are attempting to take over other parts of the food chain all for themselves. I dread the idea of a system where live nation has all the best venues in each city blocked out for LN artists only, which appears to be where they are heading. If they can get their paws on ticketmaster, they will be one step closer to a true music monopoly.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    tanuki, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 11:41am

    the thing is that labels are afraid of people getting to know new artists.. because for every band they have in stock they have to do all the promotion stuff, and all the other buisness stuff, like contract, phonecalls..

    --> so what they are most interested in is a high ratio of listeners per band.. well they avtually care for buyers.. but listeners will leed to that..

    so if its hard for you to get to know the music you really like.. you will more readily listen/buy the stuff they present you..

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    Joe Chapman, Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 8:37am


    Just a note to remind people that not every band on these sites is part of some corporate thing. We live in a system which has enabled people to have free music and better quality of life, now people expect those things as if they are a right, they are not. When things are going well and people get stuff cheap they don't bat an eyelid and speak out against those on the left of politics, when things aren't looking so good everyone's a socialist.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    C., Apr 19th, 2009 @ 8:36pm


    ... I think I can confidently say the record industry is, collectively, completely and utterly insane.

    This really is like saying radio hurts music sales. The only difference between traditional radio and streaming services is with the latter, you can usually listen to a song on-demand. This shouldn't in any way be seen as a threat, but something that allows consumers to wade through all the music out there and get to try the music they are curious about. The services are not only powerful promotional tools, they pay royalties to the artist and presumably license fees to the labels.

    If they can convince themselves this hurts the music industry, they are truly INSANE.

    They are continuing to prove themselves not only preposterously out-of-touch old dinosaurs, but bad business minds as well. They hold onto a business model that has long been irrelevant simply because they believe things should work the way they WANT them to - i.e. that people should only get music by paying high prices.

    I would never consider listening to a song on a streaming service a substitute for owning it. It's a way to listen to music I'd like to buy. If it's ever my primary source of listening to a particular song or album, it's because those are prohibitively expensive to buy.

    So many of their problems could be solved if they lowered CD and mp3 prices. But they won't as long as they can convince themselves everyone in the world still wants to pay a lot for music and therefore not be able to buy very much of it, and only listen to music that commercial radio and TV decides we should hear.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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