So the RIAA won some lawsuit against a woman for sharing around 20 copyrighted songs on an online file sharing site. Is it a major win for the RIAA? No. For every one win there's still millions of people downloading. you know why? More advantages to downloading music than there is to buying it. Yep, there's more than a single reason why people download and the RIAA is so clueless they don't get it.
You see, free music is only one advantage to downloads. There are others. One of the best things about file sharing, lending CDs to get burnt(or burning CDs for friends), etc. is the ability to share new music. One of the biggest problems with the record industry is it's inability to create more and more crossover talent. If you were to get rid of mp3s and burnt CDs you'd actually create larger walls between the genres and their fans because they won't be able to try new music through any venue. No rock fans going to a rap website to try music? No, he'd get it from a friend who hooks him up with a burnt CD or he gets it off a file sharing site. If it wasn't for mp3 I'd probably listen to a lot less music. One of my favorite rappers right now is MC Frontalot who I discovered downloading music and enjoyed his music enough to buy his albums.
Another positive is the pricing on music. It's true that downloading made a huge hit to specialty chains but at the same time this was partly because CD prices were rising and it was not because of cost of living. A good number of bands/musicians make "points" on each album and in the mainstream record company that might mean a points a dollar off a record. Split that 3 ways for a band, subtract costs of lawyers and agents, price of living, not to mention the record company who makes the majority of money off a record makes the artists payback music video and recording costs. A lot of bands/artists make more money on tour and merchandise. KMFDM once made a point about how a venue wanted a certain large fee off merch sales when merch is how they make a majority of their money so instead of selling at the venue they arranged for fans to meet and shop at a store a few blocks away.
This isn't always true but an exaggeration. Some artists cut real good deals and some artist, despite these problems within the industry, do well enough to succeed and make cash. So that's a problem, why charge 13 dollars a CD if they band is making maybe 2 off the album and if CDs are not actually that expensive to produce. Why does NIN CDs sell for over 30 bucks in Australia when Trent Reznor points out he doesn't make more money? Because the labels are shady. By the way, Trent Reznor approves of his Aussie fans stealing his album.
There are bands that have their albums sold cheaper than usual but most these bands seem to either be already popular before the mp3s or groups/artists the labels have faith will sell. If you don't have that potential in the eyes of a label or sell records but not gold album sales you still charge around 15 bucks.
Still, the Internet sales CDs for cheaper but and with a wide selection not found at the majority of stores. But you have to wait for the album. Plus sometimes the cost can be just a bit under how much the album would cost you at FYE.
Another positive is that if the CD sucks, than bam you didn't spend much on it. Or you're not paying a ridiculous price for one song. That's right, one song. I don't like Coheed and Cambria but I love their track Welcome Home. Why should I pay 15 dollars for one song? Now there are service to buy songs individually and some of these work, others not so much. But it's an effort in the right direction.
There's also this fact that people have many things they want. A video gamer pays 50 bucks for a game, might buy a couple games a month. That's around 100 dollars the cost of around 6 CDs. They might like music but between the two, which are they going for? Personally, I'm more likely to buy comics over a new CD. I got the last Marilyn Manson for a decent price but I could have bought three comics or one whole manga for what it cost. Or for 5 dollars more bought a collection. You see? I love music but I don't have the money to buy everything that looks interesting. In this world with all kinds of entertainment and cost of living expenses buying CDs is an option. RIAA is alienating people by these actions. I know I'd rather spend money on comics or DVDs than I would on a CD because I doubt I'm going to get more than a few tracks to like on a CD.
I understand why the RIAA is doing this but this isn't going to change the fact that fans are going to get the album the cheapest way possible. If frees an option it means they can get a lot of it, try new things, share things and not cost them as much of a pretty penny.