Henley in the Washington Post [8:04 pm]
Today the music business is in crisis. Sales have decreased between 20 and 30 percent over the past three years. Record labels are suing children for using unauthorized peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing systems. Only a few artists ever hear their music on the radio, yet radio networks are battling Congress over ownership restrictions. Independent music stores are closing at an unprecedented pace. And the artists seem to be at odds with just about everyone — even the fans.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, the root problem is not the artists, the fans or even new Internet technology. The problem is the music industry itself. It’s systemic. [...]
Piracy is perhaps the most emotionally gut-wrenching problem facing artists. Artists like the idea of a new and better business model for the industry, but they cannot accept a business model that uses their music without authority or compensation. Suing kids is not what artists want, but many of them feel betrayed by fans who claim to love artists but still want their music free.
The music industry must also take a large amount of blame for this piracy. Not only did the industry not address the issue sooner, it provided the P2P users with a convenient scapegoat. Many kids rationalize their P2P habit by pointing out that only record labels are hurt — that the labels don’t pay the artists anyway. This is clearly wrong, because artists are at the bottom of the food chain. They are the ones hit hardest when sales take a nosedive and when the labels cut back on promotion, on signing new artists and on keeping artists with potential. Artists are clearly affected, yet because many perceive the music business as being dominated by rich multinational corporations, the pain felt by the artist has no public face.
[...] So whether they are fighting against media and radio consolidation, fighting for fair recording contracts and corporate responsibility, or demanding that labels treat artists as partners and not as employees, the core message is the same: The artist must be allowed to join with the labels and must be treated in a fair and respectful manner. If the labels are not willing to voluntarily implement these changes, then the artists have no choice but to seek legislative and judicial solutions. Simply put, artists must regain control, as much as possible, over their music.
I have to wonder, is this really the problem? Commoditization of music as the root of all evil? Somehow, there’s something missing here — I can’t help but expect to see "four legs good, two legs better" in a paragraph that says artists want to "join" the labels…….