Michael Geist on HMV’s decision to drop the price on back-catalog CDs:
This week, HMV announced that it was reducing the price on hundreds of back-catalog CDs generating a surprising amount of news coverage (Post, CBC). The move is good for everyone – the recording industry gets an important retail outlet to reduce prices on increasingly hard-to-find CDs (their largest retail outlets such as Wal-Mart do not carry many older titles), HMV gives a boost to music sales at a time when digital downloads, DVDs and video games command a growing share of the market, and consumers may find that the $20 sticker shock on some older CDs disappears. Yet leave it to CRIA to use the opportunity to spin this as a copyright reform story. HMV said absolutely nothing about the issue, because high-priced, older CDs have little to do with P2P file sharing or copyright law. CRIA’s Graham Henderson claims, however, that “it’s an effort to stem the tide of illegal downloading that threatens retailers and everyone else in the recording industry” and argues that other countries have reduced P2P through copyright reform while “a succession of Canadian governments have sat on their hands and done nothing.”
So from a Canadian perspective in all this music biz debate about P2P/copyright/downloading, the real question ought to be not: how much money are record companies making/losing? but rather: how many active “professional” music artists are there in Canada now? Is that number increasing or decreasing? If it’s increasing (which I think it must be) then we should ask why? As in: does rampant P2P have a positive or negative impact on the number of professional musicians in Canada? And if it’s positive, then you’d have to conclude that there is an overall benefit to P2P, regardless of what the CRIA and others on the business end have to say, since really copyrights are theoretically about creating incentives to make art. Negative, and you’d have the opposite conclusion. (Assuming you could get the “right” conclusions out of your data).
I have no idea what the stats are on professional musicians (do any of you?). And how would you define that? The number of musicians who make money from their work (many)? Or the number who live off their work (fewer)? Or the number of millionaires (very few)? It would be interesting to see these stats.
Does anyone know of such stats?