- Journal Archives
- Volume 20
- Volume 19
- Volume 18
- Volume 17
- Volume 16
- Volume 15
- Volume 14
- Volume 13
- Volume 12
- Volume 11
- Volume 10
- Volume 9
- Volume 8
- Volume 7
- Volume 6
- Volume 5
- Volume 4
- Volume 3
- Volume 2
- Volume 1
- 2017-2018 Symposium
- 2016-2017 Symposium
- 2015-2016 Symposium
- 2014-2015 Symposium
- 2013-2014 Symposium
- 2012-2013 Symposium
- 2011-2012 Symposium
- 2010-2011 Symposium
- 2009-2010 Symposium
- 2008-2009 Symposium
- 2007-2008 Symposium
This past week, Taylor Swift dropped her new album 1989—and so far, it has received positive reviews from fans and critics alike. In fact, according to Billboard, 1989 is on track to sell 1.2 million copies in its opening week, qualifying the album as “platinum” under the standards set by the Recording Industry Association of America (“RIAA”).
The fact that 1989 will most likely go platinum in its very first week of sales is, by all industry accounts, a remarkable feat. The last album to do this was Swift’s Red, which also immediately sold 1.2 million copies back in 2012.
But 2012 was two years ago, and in that time, the way people listen to music has changed a lot. According to Nielsen’s midyear music report, digital sales dipped 13% in the first 6 months of 2014 as album sales dropped 14.3%. Meanwhile, streaming increased 42%. As these figures indicate, instead of buying new music in the store or over iTunes, people are opting to wait until it becomes available through services like Spotify and Pandora.
This phenomenon led some entertainment lawyers to speculate in a recent Forbes article that 1989 could be the very last platinum album ever.
“Since streaming sites and rogue torrent sites make it easy for any teenager to access millions of songs for free, it comes as no surprise that young people, who are the music industry’s core consumer, are not paying for physical or digital singles or albums,” said veteran music lawyer Bernie Resnick. “Without the support of the most important segment of the customer base, it becomes extremely difficult to sell enough units to qualify for gold or platinum sales awards.”
And although streaming has not slowed 1989’s success, it could very well be the exception to the new rule in music business. “I would like to believe that this recent achievement could be a sign of more to come,” said entertainment attorney Lori Landew of Fox Rothschild. “[But] I tend to believe that it is more an aberration that can be attributed to a super strong and loyal fan base.”
The Forbes article concluded that in order for the platinum record to stick around, the RIAA should amend its certification criteria to account for online streaming.
But the RIAA already did that well over a year ago. Specifically, the RIAA determined that 100 streams are equivalent to one single physical purchase (or digital download). Under this rubric, absent any physical or digital sales, an artist needs 100 million streams to go platinum.
Although Forbes commented that the RIAA is not keeping up with times, the fact that the RIAA has long since changed its platinum standards suggests otherwise. Perhaps it is the entertainment lawyers that need to readjust their perceptions of the music business. It’s a Spotify world now, and we’re just living in it. The RIAA has accepted this, and it may be only a matter of time before the criteria are amended to remove physical and digital sales altogether if new albums become available for streaming instantly.
But that day still seems pretty far away. After all, 1989 is about to go platinum under the “old school” RIAA standards—and it’s only been out a week.
Recent Blog Posts
- Guest Post: Why Should Indian Sports Authorities Pay Heed to Aesthetic Sports?
- 2018 Symposium Announcement – Dramatic Changes: The Effect of International Trade on Intellectual Property and Human Rights
- Smart Contracts Are Useful, But Will Not Replace Dumb Contracts
- Hail Mary: Why Kaepernick Has No Prayer for Relief
- Ezekiel Elliott Suspension: It’s For Real This Time
- A Reevaluation of the Third-Party Doctrine
Tagsadvertising antitrust Apple books career celebrities contracts copyright copyright infringement courts creative content criminal law entertainment Facebook FCC film/television financial First Amendment games Google government intellectual property internet JETLaw journalism lawsuits legislation media medicine Monday Morning JETLawg music NFL patents privacy progress publicity rights radio social networking sports Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) technology telecommunications trademarks Twitter U.S. Constitution