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Can the Labels Save Online Music Sales?
By Eric de Fontenay (Founder & Publisher)
(more articles from this author)
2002-11-19
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Media & analysts have been hammering the point for over a year: no online music service can succeed without providing a complete array of music in files that listeners can burn on a CD and port to a player. And though it has taken some time, the major labels finally understood the message, progressively loosening their grip on downloads and establishing licensing agreements with all the major online distributors. Figures also show that broadband penetration is progressively reaching a critical mass of surfers. But is all this enough for the industry to reverse declining online music sales and the dominance of peer-to-peer services?

These actions have, in fact, simply qualified the major labels to run in the race. But they are still saddled with an ill-equipped and conceived product for a networked marketplace. While the Internet is fundamentally an interactive medium, the music industry still sees music primarily as a retail/broadcast product to be pushed to listeners through retail and various media channels. While harnessing the Net to improve the retail experience is essential, killer apps thus far have been those tools that link and empower consumers, from email and chat to Ebay and online gaming.

The fact is that the music industry's primary asset is less the immense catalogue of copyrighted works as it is the artists themselves. It is access to and the ability to interact as a community with the artists in various forms, whether exclusive home videos (every band can become the Osbornes), studio sessions or selecting a single for the next video, that will provide the industry the 'killer app' p2p will find difficult to match.


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