I’m sorry if I am coming across as naive, but music file-sharing isn’t a phenomenon that has cropped up in the digital age.This post was spurred on by a conversation on Radio 5Live with Richard Bacon talking to Feargal Sharkey who is now, these days, head of UK Music, an umbrella organisation representing the collective interests of the UK’s commercial music industry (info, Wikipedia). They were talking about people sharing music files on the Internet. But while the conversation started I was thinking “this is NOT a recent phenomenon”. We have been file sharing for many years. Okay, it might not be on the scale it is now, due to the way the Internet has allowed people around the world to interact with each other, but it has been going on for a LONG time. I lived in an age where the vinyl record and radio ruled. Many people who bought an album preserved it by making a cassette. And if they had a friend who was into the same music, they’d make a copy for them. The top 40 would play on the radio on Sunday afternoon and if you had a cassette recorder and a blank tape handy, you’d record your favourite hits from the top 40 off the radio. Then the CD player and CDs came along. Copy the CD on cassette for your friend, then the PC came along, but the Internet was a bit too slow for mass file-sharing, so we exchanged CDs via mail swaps. And then finally high-speed Internet came along and we were not only able to share files, but buy MP3s from reputable music sites like iTunes. The law of balance has turned round. Music sold in its millions in the 1970s and into the 1980s. Songs like Do They Know Its Christmas sold millions. It wasn’t really shared by anyone. It would be utterly frowned upon to share it, it was a charity record after all. No one would have been seen DEAD trying to get a copy for nothing – still, if you were determined, you’d have taped it off the radio. I’m sure some people did. All the millions belong to “illegal” downloading now though. It’s turned from lots of music sold and not much music sharing going on (although it WAS happening back then), to millions sharing, and not much music selling. Boo hoo! The horse has bolted. People have a different and much lower value on music these days. The music industry just needs to be more innovative and come up with alternative ways to sell their product.