Angry Robot

It's Transforming

Here’s a good, measured piece from Ars’ Nate Anderson: Is the music industry dying? The answer is: no. CD sales are tanking hard, but digital sales are skyrocketing – not just at iTunes but also eMusic and presumably others.

Convenience isn’t the only thing at work here; price is also a major factor. [eMusic CEO David] Pakman believes that the CD is priced “completely wrong,” and points out that hundreds of major DVDs can be had for $4 or $5. Despite the pressure that music labels have been under the last few years, CD prices have never approached this level (not counting those Beatles Greatest Hits! (as played by the Western Ljubljana State Radio Orchestra) discs you find in value bins).

Goddamned right. If CDs were $3 I’d be buying the hell outta them. But it’s clear that the major labels have had a big hand in their own downfall, and not just the suing-own-customers thing. They could have lowered prices on CDs to $3 and still made money, and they could have realized that albums full of junk filler tracks won’t sell like hotcakes in the era of single track downloads. And they could have ditched the DRM a lot quicker.

So given that, and thinking of the recently-announced iTunes movie rentals full of DRM and time limitations, what’s Hollywood thinking? Isn’t it clear that the DRM has got to go eventually? They should get out in front of that shit right now, and not cock it up like the labels did.