In 2008 piracy helpedâ€¦
The Nine Inch Nails
Nine Inch Nailsâ€™ Ghosts I-IV was Amazonâ€™s best-selling album of the year despite also being released for free under a Creative Commons license. Now that there are great mp3 stores like Amazonâ€™s which offer a better experience than the pirates do, people are flocking to them. The problem in music wasnâ€™t pirates, it was a lack of good legitimate alternatives.
The Vinyl Business
Vinyl sales doubled, and not because it sounds better. Itâ€™s because vinyl feels better. In 2008, 1.88 million vinyl albums were purchased, more than in any other year since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking LP sales in 1991. Why? The same reason some NIN fans paid $300+ for the super-deluxe autographed editions of Ghost I-IV. Records are like books â€“ they are souvenirs of ideas. The digital idea is everywhere and easily communicated, but the physical souvenir still has value. There is a lesson there for anyone in the ideas business.
The Movie Industry
In the US the domestic box office pulled down an estimated $9.78 billion, a new record. Again, digital copies are not proving to be substitutes here, if anything they seem to more like complimentary products. The experience of going to the movies cannot be replicated at home without inviting 300 strangers into your house to watch the movie with you. The industryâ€™s approach to piracy is improving too â€“ like the music business, Hollywood is seeing pirate alternatives (like Hulu) working in their favor.
This is all good news, but digital copies can and did wipe out a few industries too. The yearbook business, for example, has evaporated thanks to social networks. The one souvenir everyone used to want is being slowly replaced. As The Economist tells it:
â€œThe phenomenon is due in part to the price of the hard-bound volumes, typically as high as $75. For cash-strapped students facing ever-rising tuition and living costs they are a luxury that many canâ€™t afford. But the main cause is not the cost so much as the replacement of print with electronic media by and for the Facebook and MySpace generation. With social networks linking hundreds of friends and offering digital photographs and videos the traditional yearbook looks like a bit of a dinosaur.â€