Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Janis Ian does the math -- and comes up with some interesting figures where downloadable music is concerned:

The RIAA's claim that the industry and artists are hurt by free downloading is nonsense. Consider my experience: I'm a recording artist who has sold multiple platinum records since the 1960s. My site,, began offering free downloads in July. About a thousand people per day have downloaded my music, most of them people who had never heard of me and never bought my CDs.

On the first day I posted downloadable music, my merchandise sales tripled, and they have stayed that way ever since. I'm not about to become a zillionaire as a result, but I am making more money. At a time when radio playlists are tighter and any kind of exposure is hard to come by, 365,000 copies of my work now will be heard. Even if only 3% of those people come to concerts or buy my CDs, I've gained about 10,000 new fans this year.

That's how artists become successful: exposure. Without exposure, no one comes to shows, and no one buys CDs. After 37 years as a recording artist, when people write to tell me that they came to my concert because they downloaded a song and got curious, I am thrilled.

Who's really hurt by free downloads? The executives at major labels who twiddled their thumbs for years while company after company begged them to set up ''micropayment'' protocols and to license material for Internet-download sales.

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