Don't Buy It, MakeACD.biz
Some weeks are downers, other uppers. Like the announcement by Nielsen//NetRatings that usage dipped around 15% among the major file sharing providers across the board, from Kazaa to BearShare, which fell right off their rating. "With the negative publicity and threat of steep fines, some surfers appear to be backing off," reported an analyst with the Net measurement firm. With last week's vaunting by file sharing firms that their traffic had in fact increased subsequent to the RIAA threats, we can't blame certain readers for remaining somewhat suspect...
"Give me a break. They are reporting figures when the time frame is a NATIONAL HOLIDAY and one of the largest travelling holidays of the past 9 years. People weren't cutting back on downloading, they were simply not home to do it."
"So where are the numbers from this time (the exact week/month) last year? Does it surprise you to learn that this is the second week after school is out for the summer. Does it also surprise you that 90% of P2P users are in secondary school? This article reeks of music industry propaganda."
It's irrelevant in any case unless the dip turns into a trend versus a blip. And what is far from clear is whether x-file sharers will rush to buy CDs or digital tracks. While the premise that file sharing lead to the steep decline in CD sales is gospel within the music industry, it would be a mistake to presume the reverse is necessarily true. There is clear dissatisfaction with the CD product among most consumers as they have developed an entirely new set of preferences and habits around music. The NPD Group, for example, reported that consumers would be more willing to purchase a CD if it included "enhanced CD features, in conjunction with better marketing of those features." According to their survey of 6,000 music consumers, bonus tracks and video have proved the most effective features in enhancing sales.
But today's youth in particular, reared on downloading, sharing & burning, are more likely to want to store their music collection in a Linux-converted Xbox or iPod than a cumbersome stack of commercial CDs. And while enhanced features and, most importantly, drastic price cuts can stave off the commercial CD's decline, it is just waiting to join the VHS and cassette tape in the relic bin.
Record labels therefore need to step up their efforts in the digital music sphere in a much more radical manner than ¢99 music files, or even "enhanced downloads." They need to move in step with the consumers' demand for freedom and ease of use. You could say that they've progressed beyond fine dining to the all-you-can-eat buffet! My suggestion: give up on the CD (at least from a marketing pov) and simply provide music consumers with all the tools they need to make their own CD, from music & video tracks, to video games featuring the artist(s) and fanclub IM app... and why not throw in a choice of CD covers like TV Guide does?
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