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Record Companies Sue 261 Music Fans

TODAY THE MAJOR LABELS formally announced the filing of 261 lawsuits against music fans. While suing customers may be a new low, the record industry is really just following its standard operating procedure: coerce musicians and music fans into participating in a system that no one likes or needs.

Consumers are just starting to realize how ruthless the major labels are, but musicians have known it for years. The average band on a major label receives only $0.80 on each CD sold, and they don’t even get that money until they “recoup” inflated recording and promotion costs–many musicians never see their first 80 cents. But because major labels pay radio stations to play songs, musicians can’t reach a large audience without accepting a crappy contract. “Pay-for-play” is a coercive, anti-competitive practice that keeps independent bands off the radio (you can read more about the record industry on our resources page).

When artists are getting less than a dollar from each $16 CD and the record labels are suing families, people just can’t feel good about buying music. But instead of working to change their corrupt industry and win back the support of fans and musicians, the major labels are further alienating both groups and hastening their own collapse. Since the industry first threatened lawsuits, the decline in CD sales has actually accelerated— the industry might stop some filesharing, but it won’t win back any customers.

Every time someone buys a major label CD, they fund the record industry’s attack on music fans and independent musicians. But if we just stop buying, we can break the major label’s grip on music and build a new music business that lets fans support artists directly.

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