So, it’s 2008, a brand new year, new hopes dreams and aspirations, but seemingly the same old story for the music industry. Sinking ship, no dinghies, the usual crap. Here’s a handy summation of what’s getting their collective Armani pants in a twist.
Firstly, it’s no surprise to hear, but record sales dropped by 11% in the United Kingdom in 2007. Statistical kingpins, the British Phonographical Industry put it down to ‘copyright theft and difficult retail conditions’. And definitely not god-awful albums. The year's biggest sellers on the British mainland were troubled songstress Amy Winehouse and troubling songtress Leona Lewis in that order. Winehouse shifted 1.85m albums although she had a ten-month headstart on Lewis’ Spirit, which didn’t sell too few less.
It’s not too bad though – record sales are up 26% compared to those a decade ago. So you can rest easy in your beds that the big record companies are making some money.
Single sales picked up by just under 30%, and it may be even more next year, what with iTunes knocking five pence off its UK price for a single track. The drop in cost, from 79p to 74p brings it in line with European prices. Apple, founder of iTunes, has promised the price change will come into effect wthin six months, though no word if the price of an entire album will drop accordingly. Resultingly, iTunes has said that it will be pressing those record labels who charge more for their digital distribution in the UK than in Europe to alter their costs accordingly. What the company hasn’t told everyone is that they make a very high percentage of the cut on per-track sales regardless, and that record labels, and thusly the artist, make bugger all anyway. The bastards.
iTunes might not always have their own way though; Sony have struck a deal with mega-retailer Amazon to release their entire catalogue on the Amazon music store from this month. The site is currently American-only, but the fact that the tracks will be DRM (lacking copy protection) free might be enticing for many US users. Expect an international roll-out if all things go well.
Having said that though, putting CDs on your iTunes or making copies of your CDs is illegal anyway, so we shouldn’t really do it regardless. The UK government is currently looking into removing this legal loophole anyway, given that no-one actually cares. There was barely a ripple in the music industry, implying that maybe they're learning they can’t actually stop these things anyway.
Certainly not at a place like EMI. They’ve got more things to worry about, like being the worst performing major label by a mile last year. Unsurprisingly, since they were taken over by crack corporate buying group Terra Firma, they’ve had a root and branch appraisal and it’s been decided they wasting cash. Bearing the major brunt of the corporate fury in the main is Tony Wadsworth, the Chairman and Chief Executive, who was removed from his position this week. Still, he probably got a decent payoff. Kerching! One member of the EMI recording community who’s reportedly not happy is Robbie Willams. His management reckon he can make more money on his own. See you at Vegas just after Tony Bennett, Rob.
The last piece of this weekly suit-fest is that MPs are miffed about touts ripping off ver kids with their inflated ticket prices and are now demanding that online selling platform ebay shouldn’t be aiding and abetting this curse of market forces (supply and demand). Its "unacceptable" behaviour suggests the online auction house is more interested in profit than "standing up for consumers", according to the House of Commons' culture, media and sport select committee. Most of the ire seems to have emanated from an investigation into the resale of tickets for Live 8 on the auction site. Guess who’s pissed for not getting to see Pink Floyd, eh?
'Til next time.