Harold Feld has made a very
important point that has been totally ignored in the debate over the state of the recorded music business. In Cary Sherman's diatribe
about how the evil tech industry is destroying the music industry, not only does he pretend that recorded music is representative of the wider music industry's situation (it's not... at all), but he seems to have carefully chosen the date of 1999 as his starting point for the supposed "collapse." Why? Because in 1999 the major record labels (i.e., exactly who the RIAA represents) were charged with illegal price fixing
... a practice they then agreed to cease. And, of course, when you stop price fixing, generally speaking your revenue goes down:
This is important because in 1999, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the major labels were engaged in an illegal price fixing scheme. The major labels agreed to discontinue their price-fixing practices as part of settlement decree in May 2000. Not surprisingly, once the major labels stopped violating antitrust law, their artificially inflated profits declined and independent competitors saw a significant rise in profits.
This is a pretty important point. The "high point" for recorded music sales was completely artificial, not just because of a "legal" monopoly right, but because of illegal
antitrust activities in the form of price fixing.