I received quite the response from you Gentle Readers to my previous post (6/21) about offering mp3s for free, and the ‘honor system’. Indeed, a Gentle Reader was kind enough to send me this link and you HAVE to check it out!
Meanwhile, the RIAA is crying that record sales are down, but that’s actually only for the major record companies—sales by independent record companies are up. Maybe—gasp!—folks have had enough of Britney Spears and friends (naah!), and are looking for music more to their liking. Thanks to the Internet it’s much easier to explore new music. And there are a host of other reasons (which the article I just cited on ‘independent record companies’ explores).
We are definitely in the middle of a sea change in how the Music Business works. This is hardly the first time. In Mozart’s day musicians were hired by the nobility and the Church. With the demise of aristocracy around 1800-ish (French Revolution, Napoleon put an end to the Holy Roman Empire, etc.) musicians moved to large public concerts and were funded by ticket sales. Around 1900, with the advent of records, recordings became a major revenue source. Now the Internet and other technologies are converging to make obsolete the old model of ‘record company super-star sells gazillions of records’. In my opinion the RIAA is like the buggy whip makers when the Model-T was introduced. Litigation won’t save them. They’re just going to have to adapt like the rest of us.
The ‘honor system’ is hardly the answer by itself (although I think it is part of the answer). But we—I have to start trying new things. We musicians (and other artists) are going to have to be as creative about the Biz as we are about the Music. Thus it has ever been.