Online Piracy: The New Radio?

Feb 3 2012 @ 8:24am

Neil Young recently made the analogy. Mathew Ingram agrees:

Comparing piracy to radio is a smart way of looking at the issue: in the early days of the music business, when live performances and record sales were the main revenue generator for artists and publishers, radio itself was seen as a form of piracy (as sheet music was before that). Musicians fulminated about radio stations playing their music for free, and some record labels made their acts sign waivers saying they would not appear on the radio. In the end, of course, radio became a huge revenue driver for music — although it did so in part because record labels and publishers pushed for licensing fees.

Matt Peckham counters:

Trouble is, under the radio-as-radio model, people still generally paid for music. Under the piracy-as-radio model, they don’t, or at least they don’t in anything like the proportions they used to. Physical music album sales have been plummeting for years. Digital sales have been inching up, but again, in nothing like a compensatory capacity (and there’s little evidence at this point to suggest the people who pay for music have much to do with the ones pirating it).

Alyssa Rosenberg develops a compromise solution to address some of piracy's costs.