Thursday, March 09, 2006

There's No Such Thing As a Free Market in the Music Industry

In today's NYTimes, Jeff Leeds writes about the latest efforts of the Music Industry to thwart free enterprise. See "Labels Halt Downloads to Increase CD Sales." The Industry is toying with a provocative new anti-consumer strategem. In essence, the labels prohibit downloads of popular singles in the run up to an album release.

While this move likely will generate (justifiable) hue and cry from the free media crowd, the equally salient controversy revolves around the industry's patent efforts to manipulate consumer taste. Make no mistake - the industry is REFUSING to service a market demand for sales of singles (hard copy or download) to, uh, "encourage" folks to fork over moolah for the whole record.

This move recalls the industry's similar gambits in the past - gambits that ultimately fueled cynicism and sparked interest in, uh, alternative sources of music. In the late 1980s, the industry repeatedly deleted top 10 singles so that consumers who responded at the crescent of popularity (blame yourself, johnny come latelies) were forced to pay maximum price. If you wanted, say, a copy of "Push It" by Salt-n-pepa, you had to buy the whole $15 album.

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