Musicians, critics and crazy people alike have claimed the end is near for the music industry. But perhaps the clearest sign of its impending demise is when Jim Urie, president and CEO of Universal Music Group Distribution, mass e-mails a desperate plea to anyone and everyone somehow connected to the music world, including yours truly.
If that’s not enough of a blaring sign of impending doom, Urie’s e-mail cements things quite nicely:
Dear LEOR ,
I’ve received hundreds of e-mails enthusiastically reacting to my “call to action” at the National Association of Recording Merchandisers convention last month. The music business is facing huge challenges from piracy and theft. Never before in American history has an entire industry been so decimated by illegal behavior. Yet the government has not responded in a meaningful way to help us address this crisis. My call to action is for all of us to become more aggressive in lobbying our government, more outspoken in drawing attention to the problems caused by piracy and more actively engaged. We cannot win this fight alone.
Governments outside the U.S. are legislating, regulating and playing a prominent role in discussions with ISPs (Internet Service Providers). Sales have dramatically improved in these countries. How is it that the U.S. – with the most successful music community in the world – is not keeping up with places like South Korea, France, the UK and New Zealand?
As I said in my speech, I hope that the industry can negotiate a voluntary deal with the ISPs. We need our government representatives to encourage this. But whether or not we reach a deal with the ISPs, our government needs to know that we’ve got a piracy problem and we need real solutions. To accomplish this, our government needs to hear from all of us, so they know that their constituents are out here. Join me in calling on our elected officials to fight piracy. Please help by forwarding this email to your colleagues, friends– everyone who loves music. And consider enlisting your entire company to help in this fight. Then by clicking on the link below a message will be sent to your representatives in Washington. Help us launch a viral campaign to cut off access to the online sites that are used to steal our music, our property and our jobs. It only takes a second but it can make a tremendous impact.
Please help us by forwarding this link.
So, despite every detail of how the old methods of music distribution should be abandoned and that we should celebrate innovation within the world of music publishing, the CEO of UMGD is defiantly pressing his industry further towards doom with destructive policies.
An industry kept afloat by consumers should listen to consumers instead of punishing those who have already felt spurned by the industry. Urie began his email saying he received “hundreds of e-mails enthusiastically reacting to my ‘call to action.’” Unfortunately for Urie, the music industry was never reliant upon hundreds of music listeners and consumers. There are millions of people who listen to music, and with every illegal download comes another person who can’t get behind an industry stuck in the past.
Music Rights Now is a misnomer: What Urie and his associates are asking is, if anything, a violation of individual rights. The notion that ISPs should somehow be forced to provide consumer information to an industry is laughable. The idea that members of the government should be dragged into the picture is more tragic than anything. It’s as if the music industry has realized it’s obsolescence and is asking the government to bail them out.
Whether or not people downloading music is illegal or not is an aside in this conversation, partly because Urie and co. aren’t even paying attention to the conversation at hand: That being, music lovers are plain fed up with the way the industry works. And this Luddite action is a sign that the industry is flailing in the water without ever having tried to grab a hold of a raft that didn’t look like the old, cash-cow of a boat.
Perhaps an American industry has never been decimated by illegal behavior quite like the music industry. But, other industries have died off due to innovation, new technologies and a general change in cultural attitudes. I can’t imagine being forced to ride a horse and buggy everywhere because the horse coach industry deemed steam-powered trains a bad thing because it was negatively affecting them. So why should we all have to suffer because of one industry’s inability to adapt?