Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The end of illegal music downloading?

Derek Thompson of The Atlantic posted a piece on their business blog the other day that cites a report saying illegal downloading (of music at least) is down a whopping 60 percent in the past two years. Why? Because "the kids" are favoring sites that stream music, like YouTube, Pandora, and others. So is that good?

No, but it's better bad news than the old bad news. When kids download music from illegal sites, the music industry gets nothing out of it. But streaming sites usually pay back money to the music industry, even if it's not enough to make up for the foregone album sales. Moreover, the sites register users and can market to them — tickets, gear and more bands.

So how exactly will the RIAA spin this? They'll probably take credit for the drop in downloads, saying their immensely unpopular lawsuits are starting to deter illegal downloaders—so no need to stop those just yet! And maybe those lawsuits do provide some deterrent. But I'm willing to bet the music industry will continue shooting off what remains of its foot.


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