Is the Music Industry Digging Its Own Online Grave?

As Twitter and Techmeme lit up with the news that Pandora might be going under and Muxtape was shuttered, the immediate reaction seemed to be a deep and abiding hatred of the music industry as well as a collective wish that the record labels and governing bodies be sent to any type of available grave.

The ironic part is the the recording industry doesn't need anyone's help; it's going to kill itself sooner or later if it continues on its current path. What entrepreneur in his or her right mind would want to launch a music app at this point? It's a given that dealings with the RIAA and/or SoundExchange won't be pretty, so why even bother to try?

If the RIAA has its way, every music app, with the exception of basic consumer sales sites like iTunes, will be gone. In its zeal to recreate the past with a sales model that had the labels rolling in money and the industry controlled by the complicated and often incestuous relationship between radio and the labels, the RIAA would completely eliminate the technology that could make even the long tail of recorded music profitable.

So what would be left? I know I'm not the only music fan who's growing more frustrated that my tithe to the church of music is being overlooked, and that the sites where I'm finding all the great music that I buy are being shut down one by one. I remember Napster fondly as a site where I found tons of music I'd never have heard of without it. My iTunes library is legal, but many of those purchases were spurred by music I found on Napster, or, or Pandora. We know what happened to Napster, and it seems that at least Pandora may follow it.

What is the resort, then, for those of us who aren't interested in the pablum being spoon-fed to us via Clear Channel here in the States? We'll be forced to head underground to find new music, exactly the behavior that the RIAA claims it's trying to stop. The U.S. and other countries will end up like China: a country whose music industry is so ravaged by piracy that recorded music is viewed as nothing more than an advertisement for live shows and merchandise.

At this point, the industry is faced with a choice: lay off the Draconian measures it's using in dealing with online music services and find a model that benefits the artists and the Web services, or add more fuel to the bonfire of user revolt that could turn the U.S. industry into a wasteland of piracy.

Guest author Cyndy Aleo-Carreira is a contributing editor at The Industry Standard.