So if you want to blame someone outside the music industry for its demise, you might as well blame mix tapes. (Memo to nerdy males who are reading this: Despite your wicked cool taste in tunes, giving a mix tape to the cheerleader of your dreams will not convince her to attend the prom with you instead of that hunky jock. Didn’t work then, still doesn’t work now. Sorry.)
There are two big reasons why the music industry has been in steady decline, in my humble opinion. One was its abject refusal to read the writing on the wall in the late 1990s and realize that the Internet just killed its distribution model. Had the record companies partnered with Napster in 1999 instead of trying to stamp it out of existence, they might be singing a different tune right now. The subscription model that Napster proposed back then is now standard fare in the industry.
The other reason, perversely, is iTunes. Once people realized they could shell out a buck for the songs they loved instead of $15 to $20 for a CD with the song they loved and a dozen other songs they didn’t love, that was largely game over for album sales.
Oh, and there’s a third reason: All that crappy music. Every time my 13 year old turns on the car radio and switches to her favorite station, I am reminded that the only thing the recording industry seems to be good at is churning out the same old s*** over and over and over. (My daughter, tired of hearing me rant about that, just turns the music up louder.)
Of course, the realization that Congress can’t help them isn’t stopping the RIAA’s efforts to enlist your ISP in the battle to wipe out all that illegal file swapping that is mostly not happening. They are moving forward with the “Six Strikes” strategy, offering users who swap music or other copyrighted material 5 or 6 warnings before their Internet connections get throttled or cut off.
This essentially turns your ISP into a spy, watching what you do and ratting you out. This is what I pay Time Warner Cable hundreds of dollars a month for? Torrent Freak notes that
“the measures that will be imposed by Internet providers are not that scary, there is a worrying backdoor built into the deal which allows the MPAA and RIAA to request personal details of repeat infringers for legal action.”
Next, the RIAA will hire people to stand outside your house and frisk you for thumb drives containing MP3s.
The tactics may change, but the reality remains the same: The RIAA still sucks.