number 9, number 9, number 9….
If you say you want a revolution, next month could (or could not) mark the milestone many of you have been either awaiting or dreading. The infamous “tipping point” in music digital delivery, where an event or series of events will trigger the proverbial nail in the coffin for physical CD’s, just may be set in motion by the those darling moptops from Liverpool.
The Beatles are pretty much the last ones to allow their music to be downloaded on iTunes, Amazon or any other MP3 platform and the anticipation has been building as to when that day might occur. So on September 9th, when their entire digitally remastered physical catalog will be released to retail stores, it’ll also coincide with the Beatles Rock Band video game. And the whispers about how that will effect the digital world have grown to a roar these past few days.
The folks over at Apple are pretty good at keeping things quiet, but there seems to be some sort of event planned for September 9th. This is usually the time period where they do their annual pre-holiday dog and pony show…a new Mac, app, iPhone or whatever. So be it either wishful thinking or the real deal, the buzz is that it could be the debut of iTunes 9….which will have an app for linking your social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. And along with that, there could also be an announcement that the Beatles digital download store is open for business.
Now history shows that there is a long line of legal mojo between Apple and Apple Corp, and recent quotes from Dhani Harrison in Blender would lead you to believe it’s all about the Beatle’s wishes not to sell single song downloads. But then there’s Sir Paul who told the Guardian recently that “The last word I got back was it’s stalled at the whole moment, the whole process… I really hope it will happen because I think it should”.
Now if you want to look at some numbers, iTunes now sells 25% of all music sold in America. They are the number one music retailer, with Wal Mart coming in second at 14% , and followed by Best Buy. The IFPI, the international equivalent of the RIAA, has put out new stats claiming that only 5 percent of all music downloads in 2008 were legal. The group estimated that 40 billion tracks were shared illegally last year, or an average of almost 30 songs for every internet user worldwide. So in other words….say it ain’t so….it’s pretty much over for CD’s folks.
Another note about all this….a study released yesterday by Forrester Research states that “9 out of 10 cell phone users do not listen to music on their phones”. And 60% of the people polled say they have “no interest” in ever getting their music that way. In fact, there is much more interest in streaming than cell phone music distribution.
My point…if there is one, other than speculation….is that sometime in the next three weeks the Beatle’s new digitized catalog will be uploaded to any number of P2P sites, as well as posted on music blogs in some way, shape or form. No law will stop it, no country can bar it…it simply will happen. The two remaining Beatles and the family members of the two estates probably know that this would be not only the opportunity to generate a huge amount of revenue, but also the chance to lead the revolution…one more time.