Singing a different tune: The battle against online music piracy is turning. A return to growth will take a good deal longer

“Rock and roll is dead,” sang Lenny Kravitz. It is certainly poorly. Music was the first media business to be seriously affected by piracy and has suffered most severely. Yet the prognosis is improving. While it is by no means over, the struggle against music piracy is going better than at any point since the appearance of Napster, a file-sharing service, ten years ago.It has been a brutal decade. In many countries music sales to consumers have fallen by more than a third. Even Apple’s popular digital iTunes store is little more than a niche service: fully 95% of downloads are illegal, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), a trade group. Established bands have been able to raise ticket prices in response. But by reducing the money available to sign and tout new artists, file-sharing has made it harder for bands to become established. Paul McGuinness, who manages the band U2, says the whole “starmaking apparatus” is damaged.

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