Put your hands up and drop the mixtape!
Is the RIAA pushing its luck trying to tamp down illegal distribution of music? With the recording industry trade association's latest move - getting an Atlanta DJ arrested for producing and giving away mixtapes of his and other artists' singles - it may be alienating some of its own members. From a New York Times piece on the bust:
It also seems clear that mixtapes can actually bolster an artist's sales. The most recent Lil Wayne solo album, "Tha Carter II" (Cash Money/Universal), sold more than a million copies, though none of its singles climbed any higher than No. 32 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart. That's an impressive feat, and it's hard to imagine how he would have done it without help from a friendly pirate.The Village Voice's rap blog Status Ain't Hood speculates that the left hand of the RIAA may not know what the right hand of the record companies are doing:
I keep picturing Lyor Cohen [Warner Music Group CEO] and LA Reid [CEO of Hitco Music Producing] slapping their foreheads in dismay when they hear about the raid. Virtually every major new rap star of the past couple of years has come out of the mixtape world. Drama was personally instrumental in creating a couple of those stars, T.I. and Young Jeezy. T.I. had the only big-selling rap album of last year, and the tapes he did with Drama were a huge part of the reason it was able to sell. Rap labels are desperate to get Drama to do their artists' tapes.Despite iTunes, eMusic, Rhapsody, etc., helping digital music sales rise each quarter, combined with the decline of simple sharing services like Kazaa, the recording industry is still very concerned about the decline of CD sales. According to an excellent piece in today's Times of London:
However, the rise failed to compensate for an overall decline in sales of CDs, with the total music market expected to record a 2 per cent to 3 per cent fall when figures are published next month. John Kennedy, IFPI's chairman, said: "We don't have the holy grail of digital offsetting the decline of CDs as yet." CD sales have slumped 23 per cent since 2000, with 14 per cent of regular web users saying that they still exchanged music files for free.Which makes it seem odd that the RIAA would go after something that clearly has had a positive impact on disc sales, still the industry's most profitable avenue of distribution. And to top it off, The Times says that some in the business might start going after Yahoo. Surely not everyone could be on board with that decision. Expect some intra-recording-industry fallout in the near future.
[High Fidelity image copyright Touchstone Pictures, 2000.]
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