I had a surprisingly candid lunch conversation last week with a big music label executive, and a good part of our talk focused on the future of music. I asked the usual question: Why are you guys so damned clueless? Your business is disintegrating before your eyes, and all you do is go for short term cash gains (lawsuits, mafia-style collection rackets from venture backed music startups, etc.). The long term costs are horrendous - an entire generation or two of young music lovers feel no remorse at outright stealing music. Particularly since most online streaming is now free, itís hard to understand why downloading or sharing songs should be a crime.
His response: Itís all part of a master plan. The labels fully understand that recorded music, streamed or downloaded, is going to be free in the future (weíve argued this relentlessly). CD sales continue to decline by 20% per year, and the only thing thatíll stop that trend is when those sales reach zero. Nothing will replace those revenues.
via Big Music Will Surrender, But Not Until At Least 2011