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London School Of Economics Study Shows, Yet Again, That The Music Industry Is Thriving, Not Dying

from the how-many-more-times? dept

As you may recall, a few years ago, we published a report called The Sky is Rising, which showed how -- contrary to the claims of some -- the entertainment industry was growing (and even thriving) over the past decade or so. More content was being produced, more money was being spent, and artists were able to make more money. We did note, however, that there was a lot more competition, since the barrier to entry was much lower, and the avenues from which the money came were often shifting. That meant that overall, the industry was thriving, and in terms of cultural richness, the public was much better off. However, for some artists, things were certainly a lot more challenging. For many other artists, though, things are much, much better. We weren't the only ones to come to such a conclusion. In many ways we had built on earlier research in the UK (done by PRS for Music), Canada, Sweden and Norway that all showed the same basic thing: if you actually added up all the revenue in the music world, it had continued to grow, not shrink. Yes, recorded music revenue was down (often significantly), but that is only one part of the industry.

It's great to see yet another report make this point, and this one coming from researchers at the prestigious London School of Economics. In many ways, the report covers similar ground, highlighting that the overall music industry continues to grow, that copyright infringement isn't killing the industry, and that policy recommendations -- especially things like the Digital Economy Act -- need to look more closely at what's happening, rather than listening to the moaning and whining of one particular group of special interests in that community. The report includes the following chart:
Which looks remarkably similar to other charts we've highlighted in the past -- like this one from Canada:
Or this one from Norway:
Or this one from Sweden:
Point being: the data have been shown over and over and over and over again and yet we still have people insisting that copyright infringement is decimating the music industry. It's not. It may be making it difficult for record labels who focused exclusively on recorded music sales for revenue, and it may be making it challenging for musicians who aren't used to competing in this market. And those are legitimate questions to raise and to think about. But, we still hear people -- often entertainment industry execs/lobbyists and politicians -- insisting that copyright infringement is somehow decimating these industries. It's not. It's changing them. Sometimes in ways that are challenging to certain parts of that industry, but not in a way that harms the public, or the creation of content. Instead, it's quite the opposite.

The report from the LSE goes even further, highlighting what a disaster policies that focus on ratcheting up enforcement have been in terms of actually having an impact on the overall industry. It also points out that the industry tends to rely on studies it created itself. The report also highlights the growth of things like Creative Commons, and how tools like Soundcloud have resulted in massive output in creativity as people build new works. Its key recommendation is as follows:
We recommend a review of the DEA and related legislation that strikes a healthy balance among the interests of a range of stakeholders including those in the creative industries, Internet Service Providers and internet users. Fitting the digital sharing culture and new forms of cultural production into a copyright enforcement model that is out of touch with today’s online culture will only suppress innovation and dampen growth.
It further suggests "broader fair use/fair dealing provisions, proposals for private copying exceptions" and a focus on targeting businesses, rather than individuals for any enforcement actions.

While there may not be much new in this report compared to other reports (including our own), it's great to see this point being highlighted yet again, and from such a prestigious university. Hopefully the point will finally start to sink in with policy makers.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Oct 2013 @ 9:51am

    It can't be decimating them - 10% of all recording industry execs haven't been killed by rampaging pirates.

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