Newspaper business, welcome to the music business

My colleague in my non-derelict professional life James Boyce has a blog up at HuffPo about the 2 billion dollar quarterly decline in ad revenue that the Newspaper business has found itself in, and (correctly) asserts that it’s the newspapers’ fault.

That, by the way, is a quarterly drop. When you drop from $10 billion to $8 billion in a quarter, you’re headed for oblivion. Just as the Big 3 claimed their troubles have nothing to do with the crap cars they produce and everything to do with the economic crisis, so too will many newspapers try to claim the decline is not their fault.

It is.

Why is newspaper ad revenue plummeting? Two primary reasons. Readership and Clicks. As major dailies across the country report double digit drops in subscriptions and readers every six months, the advertising revenue that is based upon those numbers drops accordingly.

In a remarkably arrogant move, what newspapers have been doing is raising rates in the face of declining readers to keep income even. It sounds stupid but it’s true. Many have also doubled their newstand prices with the same logic. The industry is headed to roadrunner status, speeding along and over the cliff, arrogance and incompetence, full steam ahead.

Newspaper business, welcome to the music business. The decline of record sales had as much to do with Napster as it did with a total pattern shift from developing acts into real, album-worthy artists (once the norm) to machines capable of creating albums with one or two hits and interminable filler in between. Albums like “American Idiot” or the first M.I.A. record still get bought. Each attempt to squeeze a hit out of Britney between treatment centers do not.

Best Buy had the right idea too – making CDs cheaper in the face of consumers finding cheaper ways to get music. HMV, Tower, Warehouse, and any of the other major record retailers that have shut their doors in the past six years can testify to that before they say hello to your favorite newspaper.


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