This month, SoundScan released year-end figures showing album sales increased 4 percent in 2000 from the previous year, to an all-time high of 785.1 million units.This month, SoundScan released year-end figures showing album sales increased 4 percent in 2000 from the previous year, to an all-time high of 785.1 million units. It was the best year in the industrys history. Free-music lovers uttered cries of disbelief. They cited this as evidence that the recording industry was horribly, possibly immorally, misguided in its plot to strangle poor little Napster. "Where are the CD sales that have been lost to Napster?" they screamed. "Napster is actually good for the record industry if they werent too stupid to see it. But instead of embracing this great marketing tool, theyre just cheesing off their loyal fans."
Napster is playing to this line of thinking masterfully. It doesnt talk about pirating files anymore. Now its position is: Sample music on Napster, then buy the CD. The latest version of its file-filching software has a button linking to CDnow Online, the online retailer owned by Bertelsmann.