How the labels blew it…

sgtpepper.gifOkay, so maybe I’m dense, but I just realized why the MP3 situation is so frustrating to the entertainment industry that they’ve been buying House members and Senators and rewriting the Constitution, as well as calling their own clients criminals in reaction. It was this article in Wednesday’s WaPo which opened my eyes.

In the past, whenever consumers swooned for a new music format, like CDs, the record industry made a fortune from the conversion. This time, millions of listeners are again getting their music in a new medium — MP3s and other modem-friendly formats — but the labels aren’t profiting from the revolution. This time the revolution is actually hurting them.

I’m thinking of “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band“. I bought it on vinyl as one of my first album purchases ever. My father bought an 8-track player for our 1965 Chevy station wagon when we moved out to Long Island in 1970 and he had an hour-long commute to work. For Hannukah one year, he bought me a copy of Sgt. Pepper in that (terrible) format. When cassettes became popular, I went around replicating most of my (very small) album collection on the much more durable format, since I’d never been very good at vinyl — scratching, skipping, replacing needles, and a complete inability to balance the damned tone arm. I replaced the tape when CDs came out, but kept the album around both for cleaning pot and for attempting to identify the members of the crowd surrounding Paul’s grave.

I’m the kind of sucker who would’ve probably purchased a CD of MP3s of the album, especially if they packaged it with a full-sized poster of the album cover! And I’m sure I’m not alone. And, then, there’d be the conversion to the next format and the next and the next…