In writing a white paper for a client, I came across a couple paragraphs that perfectly explain why no one should have ever expected the music industry (writ large) to turn on a dime and immediately deal effectively with the sudden shift of digital distribution....
...it would be nice if the music publishing industry would invest in some database software, web interfaces, email and Adobe Acrobat. Most deals are done with fax machines and, to tell you the truth, it's like working with stone axes and bear skins. I just obtained the rights to a very popular song for a client from the largest publisher in the world. The deal was done with paper faxes and the form was annotated in magic marker so you could read it after it had be sent back and forth six times. This would actually be funny if it weren't true.
It would also be nice if the metadata associated with files on the major download sites had rights-holder information, as opposed to useless phrases like, "Copyright 1997 Warner Bros. Music." Go ahead, call the Warner Bros. switchboard and ask for the person in charge of public performance rights for that particular song. If you're lucky, you will get someone on the phone who will tell you that you have to call the publisher to make a public performance deal, who is ... umm ... errr ... who? But I'm giving credit where it's not due. There's no way that you get that far with a call to the main switchboard of any major recorded music company.
The author of the above August piece is Shelly Palmer. He is the President of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. He's not exactly a babe in the woods trying to blindly navigate entertainment industries. (The subject of his post was a mini-tutorial on the rights needed for music in videos.)
The truth is that as much as we don't like it or think it's an antiquated notion, complete and total generational shifts may still take a generation. And, a generation is commonly considered lasting 30 years.
After all, if you time stamp today's environment where self-defeating rules are enacted that could limit the promotion of music online; there are fights over whether an artist can send out a disc for free with a newspaper; music creates impediments for TV shows to rebroadcast online; and, industry marketers craving the attention from the same people who industry lawyers want to sue is common, it seems to me that one-third in to a complete overhaul is completely reasonable.
Once we get rid of those fax machines and actually have a database of every track made with associated rights holders attached in the meta-data, we'll be halfway there. Only five years to go...