2010 in Review #17 - The Beatles

"It's on iTunes ..."

While we're huddled around the radiogram waiting for the valves to warm up, the rest of the world has definitely gone digital. We claim no particular insight and really only play at this journalism game but our feeling is that 2010 saw the music industry finally come to terms with the online world, at the same time, consumers began to truly embrace legitimate sources of internet music, with 2010 UK revenues reaching over £150 million.

For all its faults, iTunes has become the default go-to for music purchases, especially for everyday folk who don't want to faff around with different services or dabble in illegal downloading. The trend towards satisfying immediate gratification (see the apparently successful experiments with Glee, Must Be The Music and X Factor offering downloads as soon as the credits roll) may be indicative of a wider societal issue, but at least it's an attempt to defeat one of the main piracy issues. And finally securing The Beatles was a PR dream. A few acts may still be holding out, but when Macca and Yoko Inc. signed on the dotted line, it saw iTunes take a place alongside the likes of Ebay, Google and Amazon as being synonomous with a kind of internet activity.

Elsewhere, the all-you-can eat buffet of Spotify caught the hearts (and ears) of many hardcore music enthusiasts - although no-one seems sure if it can ever make enough money. In the medium term, there seems a good chance it will be swallowed up by a larger outfit. (We're probably looking at you Facebook.) And with so many acts streaming stuff and offering free downloads, we're gonna petition parliament in an attempt to introduce the 28 hour day. It's surely the only way to keep up.

Still, a lot people get some/all their music illegally. Only this week BPI Chief Executive Geoff Taylor said illegal downloading was a "parasite that threatens to deprive a generation of talented young people of their chance to make a career in music" - apparently ignorant of the fact that very few people playing music have ever made a career of it. Piracy shows no sign of going away, but industry leaders should be more optimistic. We reckon incomes will continue to grow - and be more equitably shared around.



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