Universal Music finally admits that digital isn't evil

The music industry apparently is finally starting to benefit from digital downloads.

Ars Technica has the dirt on an admission from Vivendi CEO Jean-Bernard Levy: digital music downloads might not be evil, after all.

Just in case you don't know, Universal Music Group--one of the Big Four record labels--is a wholly owned subsidiary of Vivendi. So this is a big deal.

As Ars Technica reports, Universal's music business is up 3 percent, halting a long-term slide toward oblivion:

Digital, of course, is the big driver of better economic performance. At Warner, for instance, it made up 20 percent of total revenues in the second quarter and generated 39 percent more income that it had a year before. Universal notes that its growth is fueled, in part, by "the momentum of digital sales growth."

Imagine that. Studies have shown that peer-to-peer downloaders tend to pay more for music, but I think the larger trend is that many of us simply want easy ways to consume digital goods and that forcing us into an offline purchase was a losing strategy.

Apple has made it easy to buy music online and has an 85 percent market share as thanks.

Clay Shirky, a new media professor at New York University, recently noted that the music industry is the "skull on a pikestaff as a warning to others about how not to deal with the Internet." Finally, however, things may be changing.

The music industry now needs to continue its experimentation with digital downloads, making it ever easier to discover and consume online media. That's the future.

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