All your tunes are belong to us

Simon B at No Rock ‘N’ Roll Fun is bemused by BMG boss Charles Goldstuck’s comments that the structure of the US music industry will be dictated by CDs and not downloads for some time yet; he writes: “in other words, the record companies intend to try and prop up their lucrative dying format instead of investing in the way the consumer is heading. Good business choice, boys.”

I think Goldstuck is right on this one. As Jupiter Research analyst Michael Gartenberg points out, MP3 players have reached just 5% of US online households. That’s *online* households, not all households. When you compare the number of MP3 players in circulation with the number of CD players, digital music is a tiny, tiny pursuit: even in my suitably high-tech home there’s one MP3 player, compared to a CD drive in my mac, in my PC, in my stereo and in the car. And there are plenty of people who’d rather spend £30 on a cheap CD walkman than a grand and a half on a computer/iPod combination. It’s going to take a long time before downloads become as important as physical CD sales.

On a related note, The Register’s Andrew Orlowski finds the flaws in Apple’s latest wheeze, which will bundle iTunes with Motorola phones. He writes: “Having already sold you your old vinyl as cassettes, then CDs, producers old and new are going to sell you rights you already enjoy – only this time at a premium. “Wouldn’t it be great if you could take a dozen of your favorite songs with you,” [on your cell phone] Jobs told the crowd. Wouldn’t it, just? For millions of users however this is already a reality. Much like a burglar giving the burgled householder first opportunity to buy their own stuff back, Apple is promising a right we already enjoy as a bonus. An innovation, even.”

As much as I’d like to be optimistic, I suspect that Orlowski’s right.