Digital Music

Record Industry Profits If Napster Never Hit [CHART]

image from www.freeclipartnow.com For over a decade, US album sales have been racing to the bottom. In the trial brief for their case against LimeWire, the record industry has presented a graph that shows how sales may have fared had Napster never occurred. It's an interesting chart to analyze. Would sales have continued to race to the top or would the video game boom taken away some steam?

Given the technological and cultural shifts have happened since Napster, it feels dishonest to say that sales would've just endlessly skyrocketed.

There's no doubt that the record industry market would be much healthier today, but would it be this healthy? Had P2P technologies not came to be, many other events would've impacted sales negatively. Nowhere near as negatively as others, but still. Is the chart below overly optimistic or not nearly optimistic enough?

image from farm6.static.flickr.com

(via Hollywood Reporter)

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25 Comments

  1. oh dear Lord above, what a desperate stance to take by the Biz and what an utter load of codswallop. The biggest reason P2P harmed music was because could hear that the products were shite before buying them. Glad to see you acknowledged other impacts, not least the enormous growth in video games sales and more recently apps sales. Disposable income is finite and people just decided a CD for £13 with 3 out 10 or 12 or 20 good songs wasn’t value for money.
    I can’t believe some moron commissioned this graph… right after it was laughed at by everyone did they run to their mommies complaining the mean kids were picking on them again?

  2. Absolute bunk. These projections only serve to demonize those that are seeking to encourage a new model and methodology in the industry.

  3. The industry would have tanked, even if Napster never came along. It was getting too big and had too much power. While I love my late 90’s pop music, I’d much rather work in today’s industry.

  4. There’s an old saying: when it’s steam-engine time, somebody invents the steam engine.
    File sharing was inherent in the combination of the personal computer and the Internet. Shawn Fanning was not a genius, he was just a kid seeing one way the toolkit could be fit together. The fact that so much of the copyright-damaging technology has been hacked out by kids ought to be sending up large signal flares to the industry.

  5. Oh for god sake! This is the problem, the industry is still too focused on what happened, why it happened, stop looking at the past. You can’t change the past, like it or not.
    Oh and if I had not been influenced to pick the numbers I did in the lottery, I would have won and now have 500 million in the bank. Here let me show you a chart that proves it.

  6. Note that the sales dip the year Napster was released (in June), before it gained significant popularity. That’s why this chart is usually coupled with data on the number of major releases each year.

  7. This is obvious. Music will never sell that well in digital world. Only google, apple, etc. will make big money.
    Wake up, musicians. It’s time for punk uprising.

  8. Ha… what a pointless graph. How about making a similar one for what Horse & Buggy revenues would have been if Cars were never invented.

  9. Napster is always the scapegoat, but truth be told we were trading mp3 files for a while before Napster existed. Back when most of us were still using AOL on dial-up there were chat rooms serving up mp3s that took about an hour to download, but introduced the world to the option of owning what you wanted from an album without having to buy other songs you didn’t want. The loss of profit was inevitable as consumers continued to get screwed by albums that included 1-2 good songs with 90% being filler.

  10. how about people just pay for music… seems to me, more people paying for music = more money made from music. more people stealing music = less money made from music. simple, really.

  11. seriously? so now that consumers can buy only the songs they want what’s the excuse for the continued theft of songs? Hmmmm… there is none. next…

  12. the problem is the theft of a product, but don’t worry the laws are changing and freetards will have to adapt and evolve.

  13. so why are people stealing music that they can hear now? buy or don’t buy, but there’s no right that allows a person to steal it. it’s just wrong.

  14. Since you’re trying really hard to get a response from somebody, I’ll say this:
    I don’t think anybody in the industry on either side of the argument can disagree that theft has led to a drop in revenue. What is disputed is the overly optimistic projections that paint a picture of endless growth opportunity in the industry. Have you seen the reports showing the effect of illegal downloads that would require every man, woman and child on the planet to pay for an album twice to equal the suspected loss?
    Are the pigmies in New Guinea capable of buying the new Lady Gaga album? Sure, but unlikely. Might they download it? Sure, but even less likely. That puts an even greater burden on those of us in the industrialized nations to spend more on music. So, when we don’t continue to infinitely increase our annual spending on music, somebody has to pay.
    Just as an example, is the punishment fitting the crime when a college student in a dorm room is charged upwards of $16,500 for each song shared off of an obscure album by the likes of has-beens like the Butthole Surfers? The bogus projections are what fuel the out-of-line exploitation of the justice system to ruin the lives of college undergrads. There are now throngs of attorneys jumping on the “pay $100,000 to settle now or we’ll ruin your future in court” bandwagaon. Do the bands see a cut? Doubtful. As usual, the attorneys win.

  15. The industry would still have tanked. All the new technology that came along sucked people’s attention away from music. And then the same internet that gave musicians access to the entire market gave consumers an unlimited supply of trial and free music options. If I can listen to the latest Beyonce hit for free on youtube on Beyonce’s own channel whenever I want, tell me again, why do I need to own it? We buy things because that are scarce, and that’s no longer the case with music.

  16. Pathetic. This is a classic statistical error– basing an argument around extrapolation. Extrapolation shouldn’t be used for any sort of support, as it’s not reliable. The losers just took a pink highlighter to their graph to show everyone how awesome they were. I thought the music industry was above this, but I guess not…

  17. I don’t think it’s necessarily the technology that shifted people away from music; people hardly just stopped caring about their music. If anything, people love music now more than ever. Even so, the technology that supplied music to everyone so quickly and conveniently stopped sales. You’re right– who’s going to buy a CD when they can listen to it online for free?

  18. snfubar wrote: “freetards will have to adapt and evolve.” They have been excelling at adapting and evolving for over a decade now. Hadn’t you noticed?

  19. Snfubar is pretty adamant about this. Some things I’m just never going to buy, period. If I’m not going to buy a record, are they REALLY losing money? I’m not even a potential customer. Whether I hear the song or not, it’s a wash for the record label because I still won’t pay for a CD I won’t listen to. And sometimes the music is plain crap, and as consumers we have to vote with our dollar, so not paying for something is pretty much saying “I don’t care for this kind of product.”

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