Letters, September 29, 2008

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Music industry oblivious to the facts

RE: "How the Music Business Spent the Summer Killing Itself" (AA, Sept. 8). The music industry has been killing itself for years now.

FACT: The industry's association, the Recording Industry Association of America, spends time suing people who have downloaded songs instead of seeking solutions for how the industry can survive in the future.

As Bob Dylan said, "Who are you going to blame when you cease to exist?"

FACT: EMI sued one of its groups, 30 Seconds to Mars, for not delivering the music it was supposed to according to terms in the band's contract.

That might cause other artists EMI might pursue in the future to think twice before they sign on the dotted line. EMI obviously doesn't care about that. It's damn the torpedoes and full steam ahead.

FACT: The CD is dying. Nobody in the industry playing with a full deck denies any longer that CD sales are declining year over year. Yes, there are multiplatinum certifications for many artists, but annual CD sales continue to decrease. If labels want to create longer shelf lives for CDs as consumers transition to purchasing more music online in the future, then dropping prices is mandatory.

When hit CDs are blown out at retail with sale prices, unit sales increase every time. Lower retail prices might actually increase sales for CDs overall. More volume = more profit. Just ask Wal-Mart. The nation's top retailer sold 3 million double-pocket CDs on The Eagles' "Long Road Out Of Eden" for just $11.88. That works out to just $5.94 for each CD, a great price and great value for the music consumer.

FACT: Nobody has done more to decrease the theft of music online than Steve Jobs and iTunes. iTunes has passed the 5-billion-songs-sold mark, and that means 5 billion fewer were stolen. Still, the labels attack Apple and blame it for declining sales of albums.

Multiplatinum certifications on the Billboard Album Chart prove that good albums still sell in the millions despite downloading and iTunes. Bad albums don't. The public isn't going to spend $10 anymore on an album that only contains one or two good songs. Those days are over.

The music industry still has no strategy for its future online. Like the Titanic, it's already hit the iceberg, and it's sinking.
Steve Meyer
Smart Marketing Services
Las Vegas

Behind the lack of Spanish content

RE: Pete Blackshaw's "Spanish-Language Content Surprisingly Lacking on Internet" (AA, Sept. 22). Great article! Having been a student of the digital world and the knowledge economy for over 17 years and also being a Hispanic and bilingual, I cannot begin to express my joy that we are having this discussion at all. Gracias!

Today, content creation -- in any language -- for the web requires a very specialized skill set. One of the most important is the capacity for the type of information design required for effective and meaningful results on the internet.

Trouble is, most firms do not know that is what they need because so many are still stuck in the legacy model and trying to insert that model into the digital world -- wrong move! So it is difficult to find people trained and experienced in information design for web marketing in English. The struggle is even greater in Spanish.
Anastacio Bueno
San Antonio

ANA applauds decision on fees

RE: "Group M Claims Victory in Integration-Fee Battle" (AdAge.com, Sept. 22). The Association of National Advertisers applauds the recent announcement that three broadcast networks -- ABC, CBS and NBC -- have agreed to phase out network integration fees for some clients of two agency groups.

The ANA has been following this issue closely and has been advocating for the fees to be eliminated. Our members consider these fees to be costly, antiquated "legacy charges" no longer justified in today's digital environment. Some advertisers actually pay more than $1 million a year on integration fees, with an estimated $125 million annual cost to the industry.

In today's environment, businesses are demanding accountability and transparency from their media investments. They are also looking for ways to streamline administrative processes and achieve greater productivity. Phasing out network integration fees contributes to all of these objectives.

Despite this significant action, many marketers are still subject to network integration fees. The ANA will continue to advocate on their behalf, and we encourage all advertisers to sit down with their agencies and then the networks to discuss how this recent development affects them.
Bill Duggan
Exec VP
New York
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