Record labels and artists deserve a bigger piece of the action from video games and online music: Twenty-seven years after MTV aired its first music video, the network's phenomenal rise still haunts the music industry. Record company executives treated the fledgling network like a radio station, supplying free videos in the hope that the airplay would boost sales. Four years later, MTV's owners sold it to Viacom for about $690 million ($1.4 billion in today's dollars), leading rueful label executives to resolve never to let another billion-dollar business be built from free music.
The Internet and microchip-powered consumer electronics have created a new set of opportunities to capitalize on the public's demand for music. At the same time, however, file-sharing networks, blogs and other sources of free music have thrown into question the value of music online. So instead of embracing the new opportunities together, labels, artists and entrepreneurs have often scrapped over the licensing fees and royalties that online businesses must pay for the music they distribute.