The university trade publication Inside Higher Education has an op-ed from the RIAA’s Mitch Bainwol and Cary Sherman that attempts to explain the trade organization’s recent focus on college campuses:
Yet this is about far more than the size of a particular slice of the pie. This is about a generation of music fans. College students used to be the music industry’s best customers.
Now, finding a record store still in business anywhere near a campus is a difficult assignment at best. It’s not just the loss of current sales that concerns us, but the habits formed in college that will stay with these students for a lifetime. This is a teachable moment — an opportunity to educate these particular students about the importance of music in their lives and the importance of respecting and valuing music as intellectual property.
While the “yay, artists!” argument is all well and good, when you consider the source, this argument feels hollow. After all, if the RIAA really wanted to teach the college students of today about the importance of music as intellectual property, would its member labels have killed the single, forcing consumers to purchase albums stuffed with filler tracks? Would they have tolerated big-box retailers using bargain-rate music as an enticement to get into the door while music-only stores priced their wares higher in an effort to stay afloat? And let’s not even get into cutout-bin fodder like Mickey Avalon, whose mindless trendoid music, which is propped up by major-label cash, is the antithesis of “intellectual property.”