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Taking A Bite Out Of The Music Industry Troubles
Article by Steven R. Rochlin
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CD  Just received a report that worldwide music sales are down 10 percent in value. This means that "only" $33 billion were sold. This report came from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) who will officially release this data on April 16th. Within the Enjoy the Music.com™ Industry News page we have already posted how the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) claims that United States sales from record companies to retail outlets declined 10.3 percent from the previous year. This means that in 2001 total sales were 968.58 million units as compared to 1.08 billion in 2000. So what is going on here? Is it a case for, rightly, blaming online music exchange websites such as Kazaa, Morpheus and Napster? Or did recordable CDs have something to do with it? Of course there are professional software pirates with the capabilities of making thousands of illegal CDs each and every day. Maybe a combination of these factors?

In the infinite wisdom of the music industry, they have decided to eliminate making the singles music CD. These CDs are along the lines of the old 45rpm record. Consumers could either choose to but a full album of music, or the 7" 45rpm record with only a few (usually two) songs. So with the change over away from vinyl records to the compact disc, they decided to release discs with only a few songs. When the industry eliminated this singles CD marketplace, one could say the major labels left of an industry open to online traders. Of course the major labels have been trying various means to legally selling their music online. So far it seems all have, at best, achieved lackluster performance while others have failed and gone the way of the dinosaur.

In fact the recent lawsuit between major recording label A&M Records versus Napster (case number 01-15998) has taken an interesting turn. Recently the court has ordered A&M to release to Napster various documentation (over 500,000 pages) that will be like a tell-all book concerning how A&M and other major labels are trying their own hand at online music. As many of you know by now, the big five labels (BMG, EMI, Sony, Universal, and Warner) have banded together in hopes of having their own online music sales venture (MusicNet and Pressplay). So why is this a big deal? Because it also allows Napster to discover if these major labels have misused their power to form a greater monopoly. Meanwhile as all this legal battling is going on websites that aid in the illegal distribution of music seems to have an ever stronger presence while millions of people are burning their own music for personal use from a friend's CD. While we here at Enjoy the Music.com™ do not condone the illegal file sharing of music, we do understand that recording labels have repeatedly left the consumer without much of an alternative.

If there was any way to add insult to lackluster sales, EMI Group's recent decision to downsize approximately 1,800 jobs and having to pay off singer Mariah Carey with $28 million to end her contract early makes for an interested turn of events. Since sales have been declining, EMI feels it is necessary to close their CD manufacturing facility Western England. While i could go one about other follies the remaining major labels have done recently, the bottom line is that sales are down while employees are getting fired... and many people are wondering not just when, but if there is a solution in sight. Now that high-speed Internet access has reached over 50% of America, it becomes easier to download illegal music.

Canada feels they have one answer. Reported on March 21st within our Industry News page, "the Copyright Board of Canada will vote in September on legally raising the taxes on audiocassettes, CDs, DVDs, hard drives, MiniDiscs and memory cards that will take effect beginning January 1, 2003. Canada is justifying this new action by claiming they have decided to be judge and jury in helping the music industry recover lost revenue due to the possibility of using said blank media to record music. So what will this new action cost manufactures of media? A total of 60 cents Canadian for each audiocassette, 59 cents for each computer CD-R/-RW disc and a staggering $2.27 for each recordable or re-writeable DVD. Meanwhile digital audio players with built-in memory will be subject to 2.1 cents for each megabyte while non-removable memory while hard drives will suffer a $21 each gigabyte tariff. Of course not everyone who buys memory cards and blank media uses them for music. This new tax effort will hurt not just manufactures due to possible decreased sales and spur illegal importation of media into Canada, it may also cause a backlash from those who need digital storage for system backup, digital cameras and other non-music related storage needs. Brings a new meaning to being hosed in Canada, eh?" So what can we, the music loving public, do?

Good SaxBesides not illegally downloading music, you could support your local artists. Get out there and check out what the local talent is capable of. My ears were in for a big surprise when a local artist who i never heard of nor met, Cody Michaels, sent me his piano playing on CD (see review here). Amazing musicianship combined with audiophile-quality sound. This reminded me just how far away from the local music scene my life has become. A sad fact in this "New York second" Internet lifestyle many of us enjoy(?) each day. Of course once you have sought out the local talent, seek out the music scene within other surrounding towns. You may find that there are some amazingly avant-garde performers who bare it all for an eagerly awaiting audience! Said with a bit of tongue in cheek, there is some great sax out there to be enjoyed.

As for myself, soon a much-needed holiday with a relatively secluded restaurant on the beach (west coast of Florida) where live music is performed each evening as the sun sets. Imagine sitting only a few yards from the water, a cool gentle breeze off the ocean, and smelling clean salt water as your eyes enjoy the sunset while your ears take pleasure in great live music. What a treat! So get out there and benefit from all that life has to offer. Of course in the end what really matters is that you...


Enjoy the Music (the Beach Boys "Kokomo" on vinyl right now),

Steven R. Rochlin


Aruba, Jamaica ooo I wanna take you
Bermuda, Bahama come on pretty mama
Key Largo, Montego baby why don't we go
Jamaica Off The Florida Keys

There's a place called Kokomo
That's where you wanna go to get away from it all

Bodies in the sand
Tropical drink melting in your hand
We'll be falling in love
To the rhythm of a steel drum band
Down in Kokomo

Aruba, Jamaica ooo I wanna take you
To Bermuda, Bahama come on pretty mama
Key Largo, Montego baby why don't we go

Ooo I wanna take you down to Kokomo
We'll get there fast
And then we'll take it slow
That's where you wanna go
Way down to Kokomo..."












































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