The descent of the RIAA into madness

January 7th, 2011 by Kawika Heftel

Oh man.  The Tunecore blog just posted an article that blew my socks off.  I’ve had distrust of the RIAA growing in my heart for the last few years now, as I’ve watched them do the unthinkable, like spend $64 million suing their own customers.  This article so eloquently described how the RIAA has sunk from an agency that started off protecting and promoting artists to one who now blames  them for the demise of the traditional music industry.  If you have anything to do with the music industry, you have got to read it.

According to the article, the RIAA started off decently well, recognizing that the artist and the music were the lifeblood of the music business:

The more obscure, self-released or “indie” the artist or label the better.  And the RIAA agreed.  Music was special and the artists that created it were valued. Thou shalt covet the musician and fan.

Unfortunately, as time and technology progressed, the RIAA lost that vision.  Rather than adapting to changing market forces, like we all have to do, they remain stubbornly entrenched in a business model that is increasingly unmaintainable.  They sue their own customers, spending unimaginable sums of money driving consumers away, instead of investing in market research, and figuring out how to connect with consumers in the new digital era.

And so, the unthinkable happened:

They searched for new people or companies to attack, but they had already blamed them all.  With no targets left, in a last moment of desperation, these few weary disillusioned out-of-touch with reality souls attacked the only thing that was left, the artist.  The very creators of the music, who were needed to fuel the machine they built, became the problem.

The artist was now the enemy.

In their minds, it was these other artists’ fault that the music they wanted to sell was not selling. These other artists just made too much music, and all this music confuses people, makes music fans not like music, makes them throw their hands up in the air and say, “There is just too much choice, I need someone else to tell me what I like. I can’t deal with other people suggesting bands and songs to me that are not working for record labels or radio stations.”

Instead of embracing this new world – a world where more music is being created, distributed, bought, sold, shared and listened to by more people and more musicians than at any point in history – the RIAA, A2IM, SoundExchange complacently sit silent as their board members, and in one last desperate attempt, attack the creators of music.

But it did not work.  2010 was the year of the artist with more artists selling more music now than at any point in history. And now as these few old school guard sit and ramble insanely about how music is killing music, after they have attacked and blamed everything and everyone for the shift in power and loss of control, there is only one more thing left for them to blame…themselves.

As an artist and a musician, I am extremelygrateful for all the new outlets available for creating and promoting music.

Change happens to all of us – including the RIAA.  Seems everyone recognizes it but them.

Again – link to the full article here.  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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