The RIAA’s Logic And ‘Declining’ Music Sales

RIAA: a leading member of the copyright cartel.Blogger Mark Cuban listened politely to RIAA chief Mitch Bainwol stumble into the logically fallacious argument that:

it was obvious that illegal downloads were hurting music sales. It was obvious because the advent of file sharing coincided with a decrease in music sales. Therefore A lead to B.

(I’m quoting Cuban, who’s parapharsing from DVDs and video games are up, as are sales of raw content like photos and video from archives like Corbis and others. These sales are increasing despite the soft economy and, most natably, despite active P2P sharing.

So, with so many other entertainment media selling so well, Cuban asks

…using Mitch Bainwol/RIAA logic […] doesn’t it hold true that filesharing can’t hurt and must BENEFIT digital product sales?

To answer his own question, Cuban notes how the RIAA actually counts sales: often times, it’s not the total sales of all music, but the sales of only the 100 top charting CDs each year (more on how the RIAA counts music sales and calculates losses). The point he’s making is that those numbers can’t be used as proof of declining overall sales, but can suggest declining market share for the RIAA’s members and big name artists like Britney Spears.

Mark Cuban is pretty clear:

I contend RIAA sales are down because they lost marketshare. There are more CDs being self published or released by non RIAA members than ever before. Sales from websites, concerts and car trunks are taking away sales from traditional labels. Access and awareness of that music has exploded through webradio, websites, p2p, satellite radio and tours.

When the RIAA refers to the “record industry,” they are always misrepresenting themselves. In this era of massive self-publishing, they have no idea what sales are for the entire record industry. Only what soundscan or their members report to them. Both of which under report the incalcuable number of self publishing artists.

In the end Mark asks for help identifying the sales numbers of this “hidden” part of the music industry. Got dirt? Add your voice to the comments on his story.

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