Dear Record Companies,
Now to explain myself. It seems like the popular thing these days to hate record companies.
They are labeled as some kind of corporate monster, sucking money away from loyal music fans.
Which I support. However, when they complain about declining sales (and especially sharp declines in the physical CD market), I have to start wondering if they are making the best business decisions.
Music is one of my passions in life, and a direct result of that is that I purchase a large amount
of music. In fact, I likely spend more of my discretionary
income on music than anything else. I am also a strong supporter of capitalism.
My complaining starts when the record company’s does.
They complain about the
decline in sales and the online music piracy “epidemic”. Yet they create a situation where the best course of action,
for those truly interested in listening to music, is to download music in a non-legal capacity.
There are numerous situations where record company’s poor
decision making loses them customers to online activities, and several were brought to my attention in the past few weeks.
On Tuesday, March 9, the 3rd studio album from the Gorillaz, Plastic Beach, was released.
That is, it was released in the United States, the country with the largest population in
the developed world. Taken from Wikipedia, here is a chart that displays the release dates worldwide.
What the chart basically says is that the record companies still think it is 1985, and Al Gore has yet to invent the interwebs. They completely fail to realize that people in Japan can now transfer digital files the size of an album to someone in the USA in less than a minute.
Let’s assume I am a huge Gorillaz fan(which I am), and would like to listen to their new album as soon as possible. I can illegally download it on March 3rd, or wait almost a week until I can buy it on March 9th. March 3rd rolls around, what will most people do? Get it now for free or wait a week and pay? Staggering releases around the world makes almost no sense with the advent of file-sharing.
This mentioning of the rest of the world brings me to my next point, differing versions around the world. Anyone familiar with the music industry knows that countries such as Japan and Australia get “special bonus tracks” while the rest of the world is left wondering WTF. When I can now simply download an album with a click, what is my motivation to pay money for what is normally an inferior product?
Speaking of inferior products, let me share my thoughts on iTunes for a second.
I. Fucking. Hate. iTunes.
First of all, it has a pricing model that benefits no one but Apple and their lazy, mindless followers. Until recently, it cost 99 cents for every song, no matter if it was a chart topper or a bargain bin dust collector. And despite this, because it has a monopoly on legal online music distribution, it can demand exclusive tracks or videos. This hurts the record companies because the products with the largest margins, physical CDs, become less desirable. If anything, the physical CDs should have exclusive content to entice customers into the more expensive and profitable product.
How can you complain about declining sales when you charge more for an inferior product?
To be continued, as it is currently 4am.