Monday, June 18, 2007

"There's No Hope In Sight"

The headline on lucky page 13 of the June 28th issue of Rolling Stone says it all.

"SALES ARE TANKING, AND THERE'S NO HOPE IN SIGHT." Further down, you'll find two words that are very much a part of the problem: "widespread piracy."

The magazine reports that Warner Music will lay off 400 people, and 200 MILLION less albums were SOLD in the past year. Credit "widespread piracy" and people engaged in a conspiracy to make sure nobody has to pay for music anymore.

"About 2700 record stores have closed across the country," the magazine states, and since people instantly steal and download the latest hits, it doesn't matter how good the music is: "Just a few years ago, many industry executives thought their problems could be solved by bigger hits." No. The bigger the hit, the faster it's downloaded at the den of thieves' forums and at the piranha-like blogs where the frenzy to fill up hard drives is the name of the game.

Bloggers will tell you, if they dare to admit that what they do is stealing, or that it hurts the artists, that music should simply be considered a "promotional" item and the real money should get to artists via tours and merchandise.

This is like telling a doctor he should not charge for examinations, and just make money selling aspirin. It's like telling a truck driver he should drive for free, and enjoy the view.

The fact is, as Rolling Stone states, "to the dismay of some artists and managers, labels are insisting on deals in which the companies get a portion of touring, merchandising, and other non-recorded-music sources of income."

Ironically the magazine's main topic is Al Gore and global warming, which is another example of "There's no hope in sight," because the same obnoxious people who rationalize stealing music are the same ones who get into their SUV's and pollute the air, and the same ones who don't recycle, and the same ones too selfish to care about anything beyond their own wants.

The jihad against the music industry is going very well. The ones who feel it's their God-given right to copy copyrighted music are getting what they want. But so are the ones who feel it's their Allah-given right to decide on the rights of others. That's another jihad. For every blogger who won't listen to reason, there's also an oil executive, an SUV driver, a lawyer and a hedonist ready to use up the clean air, the clean water, and all resources without bothering to think of the consequences.

"How very fortune for you," Elvis Costello might sing, that you downloaded his whole catalog for free. Did I say free? Did you say free? There's a hidden cost involved. You've sold out the people you admire, you've sold out to greed, and worse, you've sold out yourself.

The Future: Heart Attack or Stroke

Instead of slowing down, people in the rock industry will be burning out in their 50's and 60's. Illegal downloading will literally kill them.

"The record business is over," says Peter Paterno, an attorney for Metallica, Dr. Dre and others, "The labels have wonderful assets - they just can't make any money off them." That's because illegal downloaders are so happy to "share" boxed sets, entire discographies, and anything else intended to be sold, not stolen.

Performers who thought they could slow down...aging country singers, pop artists, and fragile rock stars who lived a fast lifestyle...will be playing county fairs in the heat of summer, 20 dates a month on the road in cruddy bars, and pushing themselves to the point of heart attack and stroke. They will be found dead in hotel rooms and bloggers will say "Here's the entire discography" by way of tribute.