Thursday, August 13, 2009

Responses to Blow's Music Industry Death Watch

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a note questioning Charles Blow's assertion in The New York Times that the recording industry is on its last legs. Responses from Times readers to Blow were mixed.

Of course, letters from industry muckety-mucks such as Mitch Bainwol, Chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America, found Blow to be "unduly pessimistic" and spoke euphemistically about "transformation" (this from Rich Bengloff of the American Association of Independent Music).

Bill Rosenblatt of GiantSteps raised a good point that the "business-to-business side" of the music industry is booming, with streaming services providing constant and growing revenues. As I said in my original post, these streaming companies are customers.

Those without supply-side skin in the game were much less enthusiastic, and cited their own reasons for the decline of the industry. One reader bemoaned "the growing unavailability of music we might like to buy"; another blamed the inferior sound quality of digital downloads.

Sheila Johnson was a little more hopeful, noting that, as a classical music fan, she prefers listening to CDs, and reminded readers that it's not just "the 13-to-17 demographic" that buys music.

Age aside, there are fans of particular artists in any genre that will buy their albums, either as CDs or as downloads. Imogen Heap has developed a huge online fan base in advance of her album release later this month (thanks to Taylor at Naxos for pointing this out), and we've seen the success that Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead, and AC/DC have had, in their own ways, over the last couple of years hocking their wares.

If you really want to read more about this, there are more responses online at the Times website.