Dan Bricklin is an old-timer in the computer industry – among other things, he developed VisiCalc, the granddaddy of the spreadsheets. He’s done a lengthy statistical analysis of CD sales to respond to the record industry’s assertion that piracy is responsible for last year’s modest downturn. Like most other analysts, his response is: nonsense. If anything, file-sharing boosts CD sales. He suggests three reasons for a decrease in CD buying:
(1) we’re in a recession;
(2) people are increasingly spending their free time on other forms of entertainment (e.g., video games and DVDs) and talking on cell phones, and
(3) fewer new musicians are becoming well known due to the shorter playlists on radio (partially a result of Clear Channel’s control of 60% of rock radio listening) and the declining number of places to hear new music as the industry clamps down on Internet radio and other alternatives.
Most music lovers would also add a fourth reason: the record industry is by and large promoting crappy music. That’s harder to capture in a statistical report, but it’s unmistakable out in the real world.