from the good-summary dept
The other thing that I found incredibly telling was that the person who sounded most out of date and most in denial was not the RIAA representatives (who actually sounded at least somewhat circumspect on how the music industry was changing), but Rob Levine from Billboard Magazine, who still insists that it makes no sense to pay attention to "those who steal music." He brushes aside the band Ok Go for just doing "ok" as if you don't count unless you go platinum in record sales. He dismisses things done "as a hobby" as simply not mattering. He is, of course, defending Billboard's obsolete "charts" which are still based mostly on CD sales and radio play, but just comes across as someone who doesn't even realize what he's measuring (at 43:15 on the podcast):
"Right, okay, the one thing that does skew our ratings is that older people buy more music. They steal less music.... So like, you know, a Bruce Springsteen or a Madonna might overperform on the album sales chart relative to some more subjective measure of their popularity. But as far as like who's stealing what... I mean, what use is that?"And that, right there, is why Billboard has become so obsolete. It's lead by people who think that file sharing is "stealing" and that it's meaningless in figuring out where the money is in music. It ignores the studies that have shown that people who download also end up buying more music. It ignores the studies that show people who download are more likely to attend a show or buy merchandise (things that Billboard doesn't appear to think matter at all in the industry). It's as if Billboard wanted to judge the popularity of the transportation industry by judging how many buggy whips are sold. Yes, as automobiles became more popular, buggy whip sales declined. Sucks to be you if you're focused just on measuring buggy ship sales, but the problem is that you're measuring the wrong thing.
Instead, the guy who sounds like he's really looking to the future is Duncan Freeman, of the site Band Metrics, who shows that the really important thing is not figuring out how many CDs are being sold, but how much fans are devoted to an artist (disclosure: I've met Duncan a few times at events, and talk to him occasionally about the music industry -- he's also given me an account on Band Metrics to check it out, even though it's not yet fully public -- though, I actually haven't used it yet). The program shows how a band can actually figure out where their biggest fans are, where they're getting the most buzz, and actually helps bands better connect with fans in multiple ways -- not just on the old model of selling them more CDs.
Oh yeah, one other point. Some Hollywood lawyers were getting on my case earlier this year, every time I claimed that the RIAA announced last year that it was no longer suing end users, even though it did keep suing. Those lawyers insisted that the RIAA said no such thing (even though that's what all of the press reported). In this podcast, the RIAA's Jonathan Lamy repeats: "Last December, we officially announced that we would end the litigation program against end users." Except it hasn't.
Overall, the program is a really great hour's worth of discussion on the types of things we regularly talk about here, and well worth a listen if you're interested in these things.