This just in: my top secret contact inside in the music industry pointed me to a National Record Buyers Study (the presentation slides are here) published by Edison Research that shows in the most alarming and emphatic way that it Really Is That Bad for the music business.
There’s no longer any debate about that downloading music is driving down music sales. And it’s easy to see how the industry is in a terrible bind. They can’t go soft on downloading, but they can’t stop the technology, and there is a widespread perception that music really should be essentially free (i.e. no more than the cost of a shiny CD plastic disk). As one teenager quoted in the study says, “The record companies are already assholes for charging an arm and a leg to buy CDs. That’s what drives people to burn them.” A slim majority (52%) of everyone surveyed thought there was nothing wrong with downloading music, but in the 12-17 year old age group it’s a whopping 74%. There’s a good Salon.com article on this same topic. As the soon-to-be unemployed staff at record stores across America constantly overhear: “Don’t buy that, man. I’ll burn it for you…”
So here’s a question. Downloading MP3s is wrecking the recording business. What about live music? Is there a chance that the undownloadable experience of live music will actually get a boost?