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Perspective, pings and other things relevant to our world

A Fruitful Anniversary for iTunes

April 25, 2013

We congratulate Apple’s iTunes on its 10 year anniversary. Truly, iTunes was a major breakthrough for the music business. It had a profound influence on the direction of the industry – no one had managed to offer fans such a simple, seamless and intuitive music listening experience until iTunes came along.  It suddenly became clear that anyone, non-techies and techies alike, could satisfy their impulse to own and play music in less than a minute’s time. iTunes made that a reality.

It also was clear that at iTunes’ core was an appreciation for music. That’s reflective of Steve Jobs – he not only valued music but he respected the work that went into creating it. Sure, Steve and many in the music industry didn’t always see eye to eye, but no one could doubt Steve’s passion for music and affinity for its creators.

What’s interesting is that, despite the expansion of iTunes into other sectors like movies, TV shows and books, it’s still called iTunes. Why?  Because music was and remains the driver for innovation.  Apple re-invented itself with the launch of the iPod, a device focused exclusively on music.  And music continues to be a mainstay of the consumer experience Apple wants to offer, as evidenced by its interest in a streaming music service.  In fact, we’re now seeing almost all of the major tech players venturing into the music space. We’re delighted that music continues to drive innovation.

Cary Sherman
Chairman & CEO

RIAA Chart: music industry revenues in 2004 – the year after iTunes launched – vs. industry revenues in 2012, courtesy of RIAA shipment database. Please note: re-use of the chart requires attribution to the RIAA. 

Welcoming Efforts to Reform Copyright

April 24, 2013

At a recent Library of Congress event celebrating World Intellectual Property Day, U.S. House Judiciary Chairman Goodlatte announced his intention to hold a series of hearings on copyright law reform. To be sure, we welcome a public conversation about modernizing the copyright laws. The Chairman is certainly right that advances in technology, the emergence of new business models, and a whole range of changes in the marketplace generally have left some key elements of the copyright laws outdated.

We share the view that our laws must be modern, streamlined and ensure that all creators are paid a fair market rate for their work. They must work more efficiently -- not only for creators, but for users and service providers as well. At the same time, a right with no recourse is no right at all. Laws like the DMCA must work for creators too, to allow digital music services to flourish.

It's clear that no matter how this conversation shakes out, any result should be a balanced approach. All stakeholders will need to work together if there's any hope of achieving the vision of the Chairman and the Register.

Cary Sherman
Chairman & CEO

A Virtuous Circle: "Accessing" Music In the Car and Otherwise

April 05, 2013

There’s been an interesting confluence of news in the last week, all interrelated and all complementary: 

•    we reported our 2012 year-end sales and shipment numbers, including the increasing importance of streaming music – so-called “access models” which now total $1 billion in revenues

•    new data from NPD finding that “subscription-based and free Internet radio services accounted for nearly one quarter (23 percent) of the average weekly music listening time among consumers between the ages of 13 and 35, an increase from a share of 17 percent the previous year”

•    booming car sales so far in 2013, which, as Glenn Peoples at Billboard observed, portend further positive news for music business:

First, better integration between app and auto will mean more subscribers to services like Spotify, which allow smartphone owners to take music into the vehicle via cached files. Second, more listening to Internet radio over broadcast radio means more money. Whereas broadcast radio lacks a performance right, digital services have a performance right that results in royalties paid for Internet radio listening.

This is a positive virtuous cycle, with each set of data points and facts further validating each other and the underlying proposition.  RIAA year-end 2012 numbers showed substantial growth in these access models.  NPD 2012 data showed more usage of and time spent with these types of services.  And a booming car industry is leveraging fans’ appetite for these services and the popularity of music generally to offer more value to would-be customers.  One example: just last week, at the New York auto show, one company touted music app integration as one of their key selling points.

All these developments are interrelated, and all suggest a streaming music market that will only further expand in importance and reach. 

Jonathan Lamy
EVP, Communications, RIAA

Phil Ramone: Legend Behind the Music

April 02, 2013

Frank Sinatra. Barbra Streisand. Tony Bennett. Ray Charles. Elton John. Billy Joel. Paul Simon. Aretha Franklin. Luciano Pavarotti. Bob Dylan. Bono. Bruce Springsteen. These are names that people the world over know instantaneously and to whose music they’ve grooved joyfully for generations.  Yet, traversing all of these diverse musical styles and giants, helping to lead them (and legions more) to the best performances and albums they could muster, was someone deeply singular but also representative of the brilliance behind the magic.

Phil Ramone was a musical titan, winner of 14 Grammy Awards and the producer of some of the most acclaimed musical moments of all time. From: Billy Joel’s “Just the Way You Are,” “52nd Street” and “The Stranger” albums; to Frank Sinatra’s “Duets;” to Paul Simon’s “Still Crazy After All These Years;” to even capturing Marilyn Monroe’s “Happy Birthday” to President Kennedy at Madison Square Garden; to countless more over decades of excellence and tens of millions of album sales.

Yes, Phil Ramone was a singular force.  But, he also embodied so much more: the brilliance of the producers, the engineers, the composers, the arrangers, the technologists and the musicians who take that painstaking care, the countless hours, the genius of layering and texturing, of passion and skill – so often unsung – that brings that music to fruition and life.

He represented, too, the best of where music meets technology, helping to forge paths that brought forth the CD, fiber optics and surround sound, all in service of bringing the ultimate musical experience to listeners and fans.

By all accounts as unassuming in temperament as his music was majestic, the depth and breadth of the music he helped create will last forever.  While the magic that pulls music together in a studio or on a stage will always retain an element of the mystical, Phil Ramone was the ultimate, inspiring reminder of the distinctly human endeavor that lies behind the music that we all love.  For he was one of the chief wizards making the beautiful mystery of music occur.

Joel Flatow
GM, West Coast Operations/
SVP, Artist & Industry Relations