The music industry is dying, or so we are told. Records are selling in smaller and smaller numbers every year, and all the blame gets heaped on us, the consumers. That is blatantly unfair, and it removes the blame that the labels deserve for their own stupidity.
That is not an excuse for downloading culture, nor a statement of any moral judgment on streaming services (more on that later). It is simply a reminder that the record labels have to shoulder a significant amount of the blame for their own downfall. They routinely make decisions that work against their own interests. I was reminded of this while listening to a new album, the details of which make me want to slap my own forehead at the rank idiocy of.
The record in question was released this week, and has been getting some traction in the media that covers that particular type of music. It will be mildly successful, and will make a few end of the year lists.
Where is the problem, you ask?
The record came out in Europe, but it won’t be released in the United States until JANUARY. That’s right, there will be two months in which the record is being sold around the world, except in a country with hundreds of millions of people and a massive record industry.
This is a perfect example of how the industry doesn’t understand how to adapt to changes in reality. Sales are down, yes, but the answer to combating downloading and streaming cannibalizing what is left in terms of sales is not to stagger release dates so drastically. The idea is that by staggering the dates, they can give proper attention to the roll-out in every location. The reality is that doing so only further alienates the potential customer by telling them that they have to sit on their hands and wait while the rest of the world is enjoying the records. They shouldn’t download the albums that are illegally online, and they shouldn’t look on streaming services to listen to them in a way that gives them both a pittance, they should instead be good little soldiers and patiently avoid reading the dozens of reviews and hundreds or thousands of threads on message boards, all raving about what you’re not allowed to have.
There is a simple reality to the world that doesn’t seem to be sinking in. The only way to get people to buy your product, regardless of what it happens to be, is to treat your customers respectfully and give them what they want at a fair price. Making people sit and wait while they get to watch everyone else go through the life-cycle of an album before they ever get the chance to brush the dust off the copies designated for their shores is criminal negligence. They have failed on every level, and they want to blame the listeners for their own mistakes.
Basically, decisions like this are begging people to not give them money. No wonder the industry is falling apart.