Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Dan Gillmor
Music Industry's Death Wish

Dan Bricklin has looked closely at the numbers in the music industry, and suggests that the record companies are killing themselves by stamping out music downloads. He makes a compelling case in this essay.

His bottom line: "Given the slight dip in CD sales despite so many reasons for there to be a much larger drop, it seems that the effect of downloading, burning, and sharing is one of the few bright lights helping the music industry with their most loyal customers. Perhaps the real reason for some of the drop in sales was the shutdown of Napster and other crackdowns by the music industry."

I don't expect the music companies to pay attention to inconvenient facts. That would be out of character.

Interesting perspective. I am feeling very sick of the music industry. They can keep Britney Spears and their lawyers. I actually have really cut back on buying CD's generally. When I see a CD, I see don't an artist selling music, I see an enslaved artist boxed up in a the shrinkwrap of a industry trying to protect itself by choking the customers and the artists that it is meant to be serving.

No, now I get my musical kicks from open air concerts, ring tones in on my cell phone and cool flash sites like Joe Sparks and his Radiskull and Devil Doll.

Do I need the record industry to enjoy music? Hell no.

One interesting thing to note is that the karaoke industry used midi files to play back music on synthesizers inside of karaoke machines. This lead to a huge industry of midi files. They decided to do a flat fee payment system to simply the billing for the little bars that played the music. Then, when ring tones became popular for cell phones, they used the same flat fee model to license the music. THAT is why ring tones are a huge money making business in Japan. Simple billing, cheap billing and no record companies.

(Apologies to my record company exec friends and to my friends who sell CD's... but you guys suck these days.)


I don't usually buy CDs either, unless they're good recordings of live events I can't find elsewhere, or independent labels.

Mostly, I just listen to streaming audio, mp3s, or go to raves when I get the chance. ;-)

It may be true that the record companies are hurting their publicity by trying to stop trading... But that doesn't mean trading music is "right". From a business-model perspective, the industry has to find a supply/demand sweet spot (probably much cheaper than their current prices), and work towards finding a non-invasive solution to trading which still allows consumers to listen on various media...

I've been thinking lately that system similar to credit ratings could work well -- i.e. rate customers on how many of the songs you sell them are found on p2p networks... You'd just have to digitally watermark the songs they buy with a unique id...

Great Topic!

I have recently started buying *USED* CD's from I deeply resent paying $15.00 for a CD. It just irks me to no end. I love the process of searching for a used CD, one that I have been eyeing at Borders, and getting it cheap! I like the idea of of recycling. I like the idea of giving the money to someone in the private sector, who could maybe use it. I like that the CD is mailed to me. Its like getting a present! Yep, I think I'll stick with buying used CD's & BOOKS. I have even turned my Mom on to this and she loves it.


Hi Joi-san,
I just want to share with you info of a music event carried out on 04/05/03 @Ageha in Tokyo. A digital music artist, Hallucinogen, will act his live, I think he is genius and amazing. Good friends of mine organize this event. If you'd like, I will invite you.
Thank you for your interesting moblog!