EMI, one of the top four recording labels that contributes over $132 million each year to help fund the activities of the Recording Industry Association of America, (RIAA), including suing the customers of EMI and other labels, decided it isn’t getting payback in return for its money, and is considering dropping its support significantly, according to reports circulated last week. This is one huge cannonball being shot at the RIAA, and if true, could mean the end of their aggressive tactics, even the organization itself, which, in my opinion, is harmful to the long-term interest of the industry. EMI has recently been acquired by the private equity group, Terra Firma for $4.95 billion, which may help explain their new attitude. Perhaps they’re just trying to send a wake-up call to the RIAA, or, perhaps they’re serious. It’s about time one of the major labels woke up and realized their current tactics aren’t working.

EMI has recently been progressive in their attitudes regarding the current state of the industry which have been at variance with some of the positions of the RIAA, and in April announced they would sell DRM free tracks on iTunes, a first for any major label. Their new ownership apparently feels its time for a change.

The RIAA likes to present themselves as an imposing, inevitable force to be dealt with, and if opposed promises to crush their opponents. They have been slow to take on the Ivy league schools in requesting compliance with stamping out file sharing. One school they have not yet approached is Harvard, which incidentally has a very well funded and famous law school. The radio show Sound Opinions broadcast on Chicago public radio last week, reported that Harvard is known to oppose many of the tactics used by the RIAA. Hence, the RIAA is reticent to send letters demanding compliance to Harvard. Seems like they only like to beat up on the defenseless, or under funded, or the little guy like you and I.

The sales of CD’s have been falling because people don’t feel there is value is shelling out $19.99 for a new cd. While cd’s can be had cheaper at places like Walmart, the selection is not there. Even Best Buy is cutting back on cd’s in favor of DVD’s, especially with the popularity of buying music on iTunes. The recording industry may blame the decline in music sales on their customers’ file sharing habits, but they’re missing what is really happening. Hopefully EMI’s new ideas and attitudes will catch on and the industry will begin to wise up.

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