First question: Have you bought the new Nelly album? Second question: Have you heard the new Nelly album?
According to the record industry, buying and listening are far from mutually exclusive actions today–thanks to that darned Internet.
A new survey from the Recording Industry Association of America squarely puts the blame on online downloading services for a 7 percent drop in CD sales for the first six months of 2002, compared to last year’s already weak numbers.
The drop in sales accounted for a reported industrywide $284 million loss.
The survey findings conflict with previous independent studies showing free Web music is not at fault for declining CD sales. (Can you say: boy-band bust? Or: lousy economy?)
The record industry’s study polled 860 music consumers with Internet access, ages 12 to 54.
“Among people who said their downloading from file-sharing services had increased over the past six months, 41 percent reported purchasing less music now than six months ago, compared to only 19 percent who said they were purchasing more music,” the association says in a statement.
Among those downloading the same amount as the previous six months, 25 percent said they purchased less music, compared with 13 percent who bought more.
The study says younger listeners are more inclined to download for free–with 35 percent of 12- to 18-year-olds saying they go that route when they hear a song by an unfamiliar artist. Overall, 20 percent of those polled said they would download such a song for free, compared to 14 percent who would buy.
The random telephone poll, conducted in May, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points, did not survey customers about other factors viewed as impacting CD sales–such as, you know, the quality of new releases and the quality of the major labels’ own online services.
That last criticism is seen as particularly key by, well, critics. While the record industry may have rid itself of Napster, other online services, such as KaZaA.com and Morpheus.com, are still out there offering music to “share.”
The big six labels–Sony, Warner, Vivendi Universal, EMI and BMG–have countered with subscription-based online services, but have met with limited success.
“What the labels need to do to make a successful subscription service, is make it better than KaZaa, Gnutella ( news – web sites), WinMX, giFT, and Opennap in terms of catalog, audio quality and usability,” Netizen Stephen Hinkle wrote today in a post on Boycott-Riaa.com.
A lobbying group, representing music sites trying to promote and sell music over the Internet, similarly scoffed at how the record industry has moved into the cyber age.
“The way to defeat illegal music distribution services is to offer comprehensive, innovative, fairly priced legal services,” Jonathan Potter, executive director of Digital Media Association, tells Reuters. “Until the record companies offer their content ubiquitously in a consumer-friendly way, studies like this are useless.”
Entertainment – E! Online Music