We’re all aware of how the Internet is apparently ripping the life and soul of the music industry. It’s as if every day there is a new news item about how the music rights organisations are chasing the little man for downloading a few copyright tracks from one of the many pirated websites.

I’ve always had a problem with how the main records labels, music rights organisations and lately some famous artists have come out complaining about how downloading music is killing their livelihood. The bottom line is that they don’t want or have the drive to change how the music industry works.

But music isn’t the only industry that is being threatened by the web and the easy nature of spreading copyrighted material through the Internet. With the massive growth in smart phones and other reading devices, it has become pretty much as easy to download illegal copies of some of the bestselling books.

Most people know that the book publishing industry has been pretty much on its knees for many years. Unless you are selling one of the top 10 best selling books, you’ll find it hard to make a fraction of what these so called musicians or record company directors are making. That of course is for a number of factors, but rather than rest on their laurels those in the book publishing industry has decided to make a concerted effort to come up with innovative ideas to help promote their industry.

The latest effort is the co-ordinated plan to offer 1 million free books to a select few people. The idea is simple, 20,000 pationate readers in Ireland and the UK will be given 48 books to give to their friends, family members or anyone they wish.

The idea is that if someone is given a book for free, they will recommend the book on to their peers and in turn this should increase the number of book sales. But the books won’t be any old books and certainly won’t include any books that are out of copyright. All books involved will be books that are still in copyright so that they can maximise the amount of money they can make back from the expected increase of sales.

What a great idea. Let’s transport that to the music industry. We can think of many examples of how the web brought acts such as the Artic Monkeys into mainstream pop. A band that, in fairness would probably never have got a break without the Internet. They’re the type of band that you see everywhere in the world in your local community centre, practising to be the next big thing.

We also have more successful acts such as Kings of Leon, who admit they probably would have been dropped by their record label if they weren’t so successful in the UK. Their success can’t be totally attributed to the web, but it was definitely used as a quicker route to the UK market and in effect kept them going.

I know from my own experience that there are a number of bands I listen to, that don’t ever bother visiting Ireland or the UK because they simply don’t have the following here – yet, I would buy their music. I would never have heard of them if I didn’t have the Internet available. Record companies seem to constantly overlook this fact.

Then of course the way we digest music has greatly changed over the years. I don’t particularly like buying CDs anymore, because the only place I use them is in my car. The first thing I do with any album I buy, is rip it to mp3 files so that I can listen to them on MP3 player, copy it onto my PS3 which I use for my sound system at home and the list goes on.

Yes, we have a number of sites that sell MP3s, but I can’t always find what I’m looking for as my taste is shall we say, a little underground. My only hope of getting my hands on some of the music I listen to is by listening online or ordering from the US.

Record companies seriously need to take a leaf out of the book industries book, if you pardon the pun, and come up with some innovative ideas that will help the “referral” nature of people to increase sales. Stop whinging about what’s going on and start to use your brains – although you probably lost them many years ago while living off your millions that you didn’t have to do to much to acquire.

For more information on the Free 1 million books – visit : www.worldbooknight.org

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