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SF Gate: Internet swaps shake up music industry, put pressure on prices

Jul 06, 2000, 13:44 (2 Talkback[s])

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"It is far more than a David-and-Goliath story for the dawning Digital Age: Suddenly empowered by Internet technology, music lovers the world over are now able to obtain and share their favorite recordings for free. With digital formats like MP3 and music-swapping Net services like Napster Inc. poised to render CDs and other recording industry media archaic, the question arises: What is music worth?"

"Sony, Warner, BMG, EMI and Universal -- the Big Five of the music industry -- earn more than $14 billion in revenue a year in the United States alone on all those $16.99 compact discs. But their tight grip on the music market is rapidly loosening."

"Already, more than 11 million Americans have downloaded tunes for free over the Internet, evidencing a copyrights-be-damned attitude that could eventually consign CDs to history's bargain-basement bin, along with $7.99 vinyl albums, $6.99 cassette tapes and $4 eight-track tapes before them. Unless, that is, the brick-and-mortar music sales business gets hip to music's inevitably chaotic digital future."

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