An ISP tax for music downloads, or back to vinyl LPs?

[ image courtesy of Frank B. Daugaard / Flickr ]

As we travel further and further down the road of music commerce, more exit ramps pop up with the solution to the problem of illegal downloads.

Radiohead gave fans the chance to pay as much as they wanted for their new record [even if that amount was $0]. This story was covered in Bluegrass Now magazine. [!]

Trent Reznor, the man behind rock outfit ‘nine inch nails’, suggests a tax at the Internet Service Provider [ISP] level to offset the impact of illegal downloads. While this would be fraught with imperfections, it sounds vaguely similar to the tariff on audio cassettes and Digital Audio Tapes.

Rick Rubin, record producer superman, posits a subscription model; pay a the portal, rather than the ISP. Several services have been doing this for some time, like Rhapsody.

Perhaps the most unexpected response is the resurgence of vinyl LP records. Time magazine has a feature on this, and they have some frankly surprising statistics:

…990,000 vinyl albums were sold in 2007, up 15.4% from the 858,000 units bought in 2006.

The article points out that this will not be taking over the digital realm of music distribution anytime soon, but that it is the manifestation of the “equal and opposite reaction” phenomenon we see in physics and pop culture.

One thought on “An ISP tax for music downloads, or back to vinyl LPs?

  1. A piece in Wired magazine suggested that the resurgence of vinyl could be an additional factor in the failing fortunes of the CD

    http://www.wired.com/entertainment/music/commentary/listeningpost/2007/10/listeningpost_1029

    An element of the Radiohead In Rainbows success story that didn’t get as much press is that during the same period they were shaking things up with their “pay what you like” download sale, they moved in the vicinity of 100K copies of their Discbox, with its dual 12″ 45s, enhanced digital CD, lyrics, artwork and bonus material – for a steep 40 pound (around $80) price tag.

    Artwork and packaging fell largely by the wayside with the rise of the CD (and digital downloads take this to the extreme) and I think that’s a factor in vinyl’s fortunes.

    It costs literally a penny or two at most to transfer MP3 files of an average album even at just normal, third-party a la carte bandwidth fees. It seems likely a free download, for computer access and portability, could become a standard freebie with the purchase of an LP. Of course I am known for my optimism.

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