Remember when the Luddites at the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) had the opportunity to buy Napster? This was circa 2000 and, because they were freaking out about all of the piracy occurring on the popular file-sharing network, they sued Napster for abetting copyright infringement, won the lawsuit and shut the service down.
They could have bought Napster for a reasonable valuation. Instead, they killed the service, thereby slashing the throat of the golden goose -- control of digital music before anyone had ever heard of iTunes.
Business Insider recently published some key graphs that depict the idiocy of the RIAA in stark terms (hat tip: Ace o' Spades).
Executive Summary: the RIAA literally set fire to tens of billions of dollars by being technophobic nut-jobs -- and, as an added bonus, put scores of their own companies and artists out of business.
Per capita, each media type has seen a rise and fall. Digital's rise was microscopic - it plateaued and began dropping in the blink of an eye. After all, music is just a series of bits -- and bits are extremely hard to protect. Next to impossible, in fact.
For years, albums were the way the record companies made money. Bundle a hit or two with a bunch of filler and force the consumer to buy the entire package, like it or not (Aside: Cable TV industry? You're next). But those days have long since passed - people buy only what they want and nothing more.
Singles are the only product type that's still working well for the industry, but let me be the first to predict that we will soon see it flatten and then plummet.
Nice work, RIAA schmucks.
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