The bandwidth providers (Cable, DSL) have made billions providing easy access to pirated intellectual property. They haven’t paid one cent back to the owners. Granted, many of them tried to acquire or pass along proper licenses to their customers and were denied by the music companies in the late 90’s and early 00’s. That arrogance has and will cost a whole generation of leadership in the business their careers. But almost ten years later we are still in limbo and things are falling apart precipitously at this late hour.
The current state of things is killing the business. I’m afraid that like slowly dripping morphine into an IV, we’ve trained a whole generation of kids to demand free entertainment. Or at least “feels like free” entertainment. The notion of transaction has gone has gone the way of making long-distance calls through your post office or picking up bottles of milk from the stoop. It’s becoming counter-intuitive to shell out in order to listen to music. Music has become an add-on feature for our computers (and soon our set-top boxes and cell phones).
The next step is going to give us all a pain deep in the belly – we either need to sue the network providers to recover the stolen licensing fees retroactively, or craft some sort of blanket arrangement ubiquitously applied to all high-speed internet access. Whether or not that license is compulsory to all subscribers or has an opt-out clause remains to be seen, but this is the future of music as I see it.