Maybe it's just me, but I coulda sworn they shut down Napster in its original form as a P2P file sharing site around 2002. I ask because it seems that whenever the music industry has had disappointing music sales since then, they continue to blame it on those damned illegal music downloads.
The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) has released its 2007 Digital Music Report, where it said digital music sales almost doubled in 2006, and were expected to account for a quarter of all sales worldwide by 2010.
But it also reported that overall music sales fell by 4 percent in the first half of 2006. Reason? The report says it's due to illegal music downloads, and 'competition for consumer spending'.
As always with the music industry, this is a control issue. In an era where customers are more empowered than ever to communicate online, thanks to social media, the industry continues to fight giving them the ability to share and promote music. Sales of digital music through iTunes continues to surge, but songs on iTunes still come with DRM, which is designed to 'stop piracy', but really stops users from listening to, and sharing their music with others as they would like. And as we all know, word of mouth is one of the most powerful forms of promotion, and DRM puts a serious damper on the ability of music fans to promote their favorite music to others.
Likewise, artists themselves can't control how their own music is distributed unless they own their own music, which many artists do not. This is another reason why I like what Terry McBride is doing with Nettwerk with his artists such as Barenaked Ladies. Terry is attempting to move as many of his artists as possible to their own label, which gives the artist complete control over their music, and how it is distributed. Artists like the Barenaked Ladies can then let fans promote their music via peer to peer methods such as email and IMs, or via podcasts like Mind The Gap.
But until the music industry realizes that the average music fan isn't the enemy, and instead could be a marketing partner to help grow music sales, we'll continue to wonder how digital sales can boom, while overall sales are flat. This is another reason why I love following music marketing/distribution, because I believe that eventually, a light-bulb will go off somewhere and the industry will suddenly realize that LESS control over how music is distributed equals MORE sales. I think it's going to be pretty exciting to be a music fan when that day finally arrives.
The Viral Garden, Marketing, Music Marketing