The madness of the music industry

Terrific piece by Victor Keegan in the Guardian. Sample:

It is enough to make a sceptic believe in life after death. For the past few years the music industry has been predicting the death of the singles market because of the global scourge of illegal downloading.

And what has happened? The latest figures show that 524,000 singles were sold last week in the UK, an impressive 7% increase on a year ago and no less that 44% up on sales earlier in the year, when the sirens of doom were at their loudest.

Oh, I’ve forgotten a small point. These figures only refer to sales of what is known in the trade as “physical” singles. If (legal) downloads are included, sales have soared by a staggering 88% in the last year to 977,000 last week.

As a Guardian leader pointed out yesterday, far from killing the industry, downloads have given it a new lease of life. Meanwhile what has the industry been doing? Instead of opening the champagne corks they have stepped up their campaign to rid the industry of the virus they still claim is killing it.

According to the Daily Mail, investigators have tracked down the parents of children who were illegally downloading from the web or making available their own tracks for others. The parents paid £2,500 in compensation to the industry rather than face fines in court and possibly heavy legal costs.

This is a worrying development when a record company acts as prosecution, jury and judge in a matter where it has a strong vested interest. Could anyone seriously suggest that this booming industry has lost £2,500 in sales (the cost of over 2,500 downloaded singles) as a result of action by these teenagers?