¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 Peer-to-peer file sharing and other forms of free online music distribution have played a complex and contentious role in the ongoing transformation of musical culture and economics. While the recording industry decries these services as “rogue technologies” and has painted their hundreds of millions of users as “pirates,” research shows that it is difficult if not impossible to ascertain whether P2P has a positive, negative or neutral effect on music sales. The evidence also suggests that, in many ways, free sharing grows the overall music economy, empowers and enriches recording artists, and contributes to a more vibrant musical culture. These benefits, which contrast with the historical powerlessness and poverty faced by most musicians in the traditional music economy, help to explain why so many artists today publicly support and actively employ P2P and free online sharing as crucial elements in their business and marketing strategies.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 Yet there is no arguing that traditional music sales have plummeted in recent years, and as the music industry is quick to observe, that the downturn coincided perfectly with the introduction of Napster. If P2P can’t be blamed for whatever misfortunes the music industry has faced in recent years, what is a more plausible explanation? As I will argue in the next chapter, the reality is more complex, and more interesting, than simple scapegoating would suggest; though digital media play a role, the precipitous drop in music sales during the first decade of the 21st Century can best be understood as the result of an unprecedented bubble punctured in a perfect storm.