WASHINGTON, D.C. – The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) has fingered consumers who play CDs repeatedly as “the single greatest threat” to recording industry profits. The industry watchdog group is suggesting, therefore, that record labels take steps to limit the number of times a CD can be played in the home.
RIAA chairman and CEO, Mitch Brainwell, explained the reasoning behind this suggestion at a press conference yesterday.
“Before the introduction of the CD nearly thirty years ago, record buyers had to replace their favorite vinyl albums because they became scratched and ultimately unlistenable after repeated use. People also had to replace their favorite cassette tapes, which could be depended on to lose tonal quality over time or to self-destruct when played in automobiles.
“As a result, record companies could rely on repeat album sales to boost their profits. For example, as many as one quarter of the sales of Michael Jackson’s Thriller album are estimated to have been repeat sales.”
CDs, on the other hand, are impervious to normal wear and tear—and because they’re too small to be used for cleaning marijuana, fewer loads of bong water are spilled on them. Therefore, profits from repeat purchases have been reduced drastically.
In order to remedy this loss, the RIAA is urging its member groups to add new digital rights management (DRM) software to their CDs. This software will limit the number of times a CD can be played.
Sony BMG is reportedly close to developing DRM software that prevents CDs from being played more than one hundred times. The software also prevents owners from copying a CD more than once. Furthermore, a copy must be made within the first five plays of a CD’s “shelf life,” and said copying will render the original CD unusable.
“We do not anticipate the one-hundred-play limit will be a burden to most customers,” said Mr. Brainwell. “Many people complain that CDs contain only three or four ‘good’ songs anyway, so the likelihood of playing a CD more than a hundred times is slim.”
Consumer behavior research appears to support Mr. Brainwell’s claim.
According to Chad Tanko, a television and entertainment industry analyst with Jupiter Research in New York, Rolling Stones CDs released during the last thirty years were played, on average, 9.75 times. Even CDs by artists favored by a younger demographic, Miley Cyrus for example, are rarely played more than twenty-seven times, much fewer by male purchasers.
Although prices of the new DRM-protected CDs will be steep, $22.95, Mr. Brainwell argues there is an “economy of scale” for people who play a CD a full one hundred times.
“That works out to two cents per song for a standard ten-song CD,” he said. “That price is fair to music lovers as well as to corporations and artists.”