How the music industry will change in 2011
In the past decade, the music industry has seen a lot of changes, but it has struggled to keep pace with technology, piracy and consumer demands. Already this year we've started to see a few more changes take shape, from crackdowns on piracy websites, a resurgence of interest in the currently U.K.-only service Spotify and a teaser of a new service from Pirate Bay. We've parsed all the data and looked closely at the numbers and have come up with a few predictions of our own.
When looking forward, the best place to start is probably by looking at how the industry will likely react to piracy this year. Piracy has been an issue plaguing the industry since the invention of the cassette tape, but it wasn't until last year that we started to see the government really take it seriously. Last November, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA), the act that made it possible for the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement division to seize around 100 domains last year.
The domain seizures are likely to continue throughout this year, attacking content farms and link distribution sites. Google will also continue to remove a lot of its content from its instantly viewable searches. Those efforts block links to pirate sites while cutting out their AdSense software from the mix, meaning, if nothing else, that piracy sites can't make any money. Google's goal is to lead consumers to legal websites before they go to illegal ones.
Even though the RIAA has lost a considerable amount of money on lawsuits, we're also likely to see a few more scattered throughout the year. These probably won't be the "Grandma gets sued for playing a song in the background of a YouTube video" variety we've seen in the past, but will more likely be geared toward major players in the scene.
They're also likely to start going after "cyberlockers," which, as the name implies, are online, legal storage options for files. These are places like Rapidshare, Mediafire and Hotfile, the places most MP3 blogs point you toward. The problem with these is that since they're billed to be used as an entirely legal means for people to share files, it's hard to track down or attack piracy. That said, all of these sites have been quick to respond to takedown notices from bands and labels. We wouldn't be surprised if record labels started hiring people for the specific purpose of combing through these sites.
Speaking of the major players, pirates will assuredly fight back. Pirates love a challenge, so the more the industry throws at them, the more they'll enjoy crushing it. Case in point: There have been rumors swirling around the Internet of a new website from Pirate Bay dubbed Music Bay.
The name alone should strike fear into the record industry, but considering it's a possible project from one of the premier torrent sites, it should be causing more than just fear; it should be causing the record industry to piss its pants. There are no details at present as to what the site might be or how it might work, but recent breakthroughs in torrent sharing that allow for live streaming of content could possibly be at the root of it all. Basically, you'd be able to stream songs from other peer-to-peer file sharers. No waiting, just a massive catalogue of information at your fingertips at all times.
Piracy will surely continue in some form, regardless of litigation against it. With every new advancement of technology, whether it's DRM or watermarks, pirates have broken it within months, if not days.