In order to regain the support of consumers and return to growth, all facets of the music industry must work together to create flexible, multi-format products, leaders of the National Association of

In order to regain the support of consumers and return to growth, all facets of the music industry must work together to create flexible, multi-format products, leaders of the National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) said yesterday (March 17) in the opening business session of the NARM convention in Orlando, Fla.

RIAA chairman/CEO Hilary Rosen's keynote address reflected the need to focus on buyers. "It's time to come together. Now is our opportunity to put [consumers'] interests first," she said.

In what was likely her last speech at a NARM convention -- as she will retire at the end of the year -- Rosen spoke of addressing customers' demands for music in more formats, a deeper catalog, and even "a way to make compilations without feeling guilty or like criminals." In short, she said, "They want us to find a way to solve our piracy problems without encroaching on -- or even talking about -- their personal-use flexibility."

Fighting piracy, she said, is "a waste of time if the customer is not served in the legitimate marketplace." Referring to the multiple revenue streams of the film business -- theatrical releases, pay per view, TV rights, and DVD sales -- she said sound recordings should also carry a "panoply of rights" that extends beyond the sale of CDs. She applauded record companies for experimenting with pricing and value-added incentives, and heralded the return of the singles format.

NARM president Pamela Horovitz suggested that the industry needs to "build a model based on ubiquity, one in which unlimited files can travel as both streams and downloads anywhere, through any number of middlemen, at the same time." Then, she said, "the customer will reign supreme."