When I first began practicing entertainment law in the late 1990s, the music industry was dealing with the crisis of illegal peer-to-peer downloading of music via websites like Napster, LimeWire and Kazaa. Now it seems the industry is facing another game-changing crisis: the extinction of the CD. With declining sales and the rise of digital downloading through iTunes and other outlets, we soon may refer to the CD in the same manner as we do the audio cassette, 8-track and vinyl record: outdated and an antique.
The debate about the demise of the CD doesn’t seem to focus on "if," but only "when." In 1999, the Recording Industry Association of America reported that 938.9 million CDs were sold. This figure fell to 384.7 million in 2008. While there has been an obvious correlating increase in digital download revenue, it hasn’t made up for the lost revenue from declining CD sales. So here lies the difficulty for music labels, artists and entertainment lawyers alike: How do we make money in this brave new entertainment world?
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