Record exec Bill Hearn talks about the decline in sales of Christian music

IN THE American trade magazine Christian Retailing Bill Hearn, president and CEO of the EMI Christian Music Group, spoke about the current state of the US Christian music industry. He revealed that the industry was today half of what it was in the year 2000 (the peak sales period being 2000 or 2001). Said Hearn, "The generation of peer-to-peer downloading - stealing music - started in the late '90s with the advent of Napster. That flowed into the early 2000s with the creation of iTunes. Most people don't remember this, but when 9/11 happened there was no iTunes. It's hard to think that in such a short period of time we've had such a radical change in the music business. That revolution was really about getting music for free and easily and then getting songs for 99 cents as opposed to having to buy an entire album. That's really where the financial model turned itself upside down. It wasn't so much the big boxes. You can go back 20 years ago to the record clubs. Remember, the retailers didn't like the record clubs; you could get 14 CDs for a penny if you joined the club. Everybody was scared of that. However, clubs didn't really do harm to retailers. But Napster and iTunes did serious damage to everyone. Everyone is making far less money because music is selling at 99 cents per single as opposed to $15 albums. It's a matter of, how now do we monetize the consumption of music more effectively. The fact is that music is being listened to at an all-time high in the history of our business, but people aren't paying for it. Only 42 per cent of the music that is consumed every year is paid for now, 58 per cent is acquired free - either streamed over the internet or stolen peer-to-peer. . . The whole supply chain is being impacted." CR

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