Since Limewire – the restoration of control?

We are approaching a year since the shutdown of Limewire and the new head of the RIAA, according to Digital Music News, is calling it a success. The following article posted this morning makes the claim that Limewire’s shut down has a direct correlation on the upswing of digital music sales. While this correlation is impossible to make given the possible variables, it unfortunately is the type of correlation that the RIAA looks for. This is enough to keep their litigation strategy alive.


Cary Sherman: Why Killing Limewire Was an Amazing Idea…
Friday, August 12, 2011

It took several years and millions of dollars to bury Limewire, a period of ‘internet time’ that witnessed the surge or torrents, lockers, and even plays like Grooveshark.  Sounds like a typically dinosaurian endeavor by the RIAA, though digital sales actually improved following the Limewire shutdown.  And, overall album sales in the US stopped tanking, with CDs taking a break from their heavy bleeding.

So what’s going on here? “We actually feel the shutdown of Limewire has made a difference in the health of our marketplace,” Sherman told the AM Law Daily on Thursday.  “It’s really quite amazing.”

Sherman, who now takes the reins from exiting RIAA chief Mitch Bainwol, has every interest in keeping the litigation machine going.  For starters, Sherman is pulling down a handsome $3.2 million salary (as of 2009), positively outlandish for struggling major label budgets.  But there is something here: the sales story has shifted for nearly a year following the dismantling of Limewire, and things have improved.  “The shutdown of Limewire occurred in October 2010 and digital sales improved for the first time in a very long time in November,” Sherman continued.  “And since then, we’ve had better digital sales over the prior year consistently.”

Indeed, fresh stats from NARM show that year-to-date album sales are now up 2 percent over the previous (albeit depressed) 2010.   “We have now experienced 10 consecutive weeks where album sales have eclipsed the prior year’s numbers, and we’re up 2 percent from 2010 overall,” NARM president Jim Donio told Digital Music News after July numbers were tallied.

Sherman himself admitted that a myriad of variables could be at play here.  But one explanation is that people are moving more towards platforms like Grooveshark, YouTube, or Spotify, while actually paying for more iTunes tracks. “More people than we expected, once they felt that LimeWire wasn’t going to serve their needs, went to the legitimate marketplace than to another illegal source,” Sherman said.

reposted from:

About Michael B. MacDonald

Assistant Professor, Music, Faculty of Fine Arts and Communications MacEwan University

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