Is There Big Trouble Brewing?

It seems there is some trouble in the recorded music industry. Sales of recorded music has fallen 5% in 2001, 9% in 2002 and the global forecast is for a drop of 12-14% in the year 2003.

Regulators, especially in Europe have blocked mergers between companies including Universal, Sony, Warner, EMI and BMG, and seem to be holding firm on their positions. The music industry feels that consolidation may be the answer to many of their woes. I don't know if I can agree with this.

Do you remember when you purchased an album that contained 12 or so songs? Usually 70-80% of those songs were great recordings with quality content. Now if you find 10-20% of the recorded content to be of any quality you are doing well.

The recorded music industry likes to blame piracy and the world economy to be the culprit. Could it be the lack of quality in conjunction with out of proportion pricing? Many companies feel that format changes may provide the diversity for multiple income streams. Is that why they continue to introduce recycled music in the new formats?

I myself feel a great resentment towards the music industry. I am sick and tired of paying high prices for low quality and I'm sure many of you feel the same way. If the industry would like to see the new formats have a higher acceptance factor, don't you think they would do so by releasing new material on the newer formats?

I don't get it. Is there anyone out there willing to embrace the new formats so that they may listen to recordings that they have been listening to for the last 30 years? Will the industry ever wake up and realize that the consumer is disgusted with the bill of goods we are presently being sold?
Wow, I cant' wait to sit down to dinner tonight and listen to an MP3 file and enjoy a nice bowl of soylent green
Bomarc .. I envisage lending libraries where the CDs lent are "special" non-production CDs, either with clever copy protection, or more likely the age-old copy protection of just cutting off the last 30 seconds of each song. That way you are forced to get the real thing to get the whole experience. I'm sure it could be made to work.

Lugnut ... I'm sure you're on the right track, which is why I am loading up on used LPs and CDs at the moment.

Buscis ... great thread. And guess what, I haven't managed to have this thread closed or shutdown yet :-)
Seandtaylor, In regards to closing this thread...Sit by your keyboard, I have this sinking feeling that this thread hasn't even started yet.

Also, opinions such as everyone has provided, are what help to make threads like this "great". Feel free to jump in as this thread progresses. I feel your opinions are very much respected by many of us. Ed.
Just to be clear, I like much of the music today just as I like much of the music of yesterday. Part of the fun of the hobby is to find new music -- whether it's another great 50's jazz recording or Audio Slave. My comment on quality was referring to Sean's earlier astute observation that, for any artist of any time, it is more difficult to record 70 great minutes on cd than 40 great minutes on vinyl.

Regarding the relative cost of the product over time, that's not as easy as it seems. On the one hand, the $3 album in the 70's had at least a buck in pure product cost behind it (pressing and packaging vinyl is expensive). The cd costs less than a dime to physically produce (from all I've read). Considering that alone, the cd should cost about $10 today. But, nobody can just consider that alone. There are too many variables, such as recovering video costs, to draw an easy conclusion. What I have read is that the markups on cd's are very, very large. My personal belief is that illegal (and immoral IMO) widespread copying of intellectual property would be diminished if cd's cost less -- much less. Further, I believe that the increase in sales would compensate for the decrease in margins. If I'm wrong, then we're stuck where we are. If I'm right, this will all take care of itself as more companies start experimenting with price cuts.

Whatever happens, there will be great local studios who will record great artists. These artists might make more money if they could sell to those who illegally copy. But these artists will make some money from those who buy the cd's at their concerts. Support your favorite artists by watching them live and buying their music.

At the end of the day, I don't care if any of the major labels survive or not. That's up to them -- they can improve the pricing and they can improve the format. That should allow them to make it. If they don't, music might be more difficult to find in a retail store but it will be available via the net. Good and great musical artists will always survive and produce new wonders for us.

Lugnut, you are correct that two wrongs don't make a right. If the music industry powerhouses do find a way to block pirating through heavy handed approaches, that hurts us all. Plus, that reduces whatever limited pressures exist to lower prices. It does help to write your local senator or representative. I would urge all to do so.
I think apple is on to something with its ITunes site ( . They sold one million songs at $.99/ea in their first week of operation. A buck a song seems reasonable to me. If the technology gets even more hifi I would spend a fortune at a site like this.