Business Week's Charles Haddad beleives online music-sharing services will put consumers – and not artists – in control of what they buy.
Looking at the refusal of Metallica and the Red Hot Chili Peppers to release their music to iTunes, Haddad writes: "In the deluge of mail I've received, few had any sympathy for the bands."
He adds that about a third of the mail he receives accept the bands' argument that making album material available as individual downloads "breaks the artist fabric" of those albums.
The argument is between artistic control and consumer demand – and consumers seem to hold the winning hand in the digital age. "Fans of iTunes represent an unstoppable force," he writes, "who wants to keep all those CDs if you can carry 1,000 songs on an iPod?"
Haddad points to the existence of online newspapers and magazines and their treatment of copyright, and predicts downloadable movie and book stores. Artists "better get used to it," he says.
"What the Chili Peppers and Metallica need to do is embrace the new format and portable players, bending this technology to their artistic will," he suggests.