Friday, June 02, 2006

Grand theft audio



I just finished reading coverage of a debate on whether the RIAA should sue its own customers that was held a while ago at the University of Pittsburgh. Arguing in favor of continued lawsuits was Geoffrey L. Beauchamp, Pennsylvania state counsel for the Recording Industry Association of America. His opinion as a legal representative of the record industry -- the tired old line 'filesharing is the same as stealing' -- exposes the industry's utter lack of comprehension for its own demise:

'Consider it as if you were a shopkeeper in a bad neighborhood and your grocery store was beset by shoplifters... Instead of calling the police, your neighbors came to you and said, "Don't call the police... you might want to change your business model."'

Let's break this analogy down: The shopkeeper (RIAA) is in a bad neighborhood (the Internet) and its grocery store (music distribution and retail cartel) is beset by shoplifters (filesharers). Instead of calling the police (lawyers and lobbyists), your neighbors (digital music technology innovators) say, 'Don't call the police (DMCA a.k.a. CRAP)... you might want to change your business model (selling little plastic discs).

Hell yeah, you change your business model! Your business model is over! You've already tried to heighten your security systems to deter shoplifters (DRM/CRAP). But you focused so much on restricting people's ability to steal your product that it made it harder to even use your product, which only motivated more shoplifting!

But they kept stealing, so you changed your location (online music stores and subscription servies). But by then it was too late, because the neighborhood you moved into (the Internet) already had bigger, better, more convenient grocery stores (peer-to-peer networks and free music archives).

Instead of changing their business model to succeed in this new environment, the recording industry reached back into the bag of organized crime tricks it keeps handy for situations such as this. Unfortunately, this time they were caught red-handed.

Music retailers conspired to illegally fix the prices of CDs. Suddenly, every RIAA grocery store was selling mlik at ten dollars a gallon.

Record labels used illegal payola schemes to buy airplay for their singles, and radio stations were ever eager to take the bribes. Sure, the RIAA grocery stores stock a variety of products, but 75% of their store consists of the same 20 items.

Record labels even stopped sending some artists their royalty checks, claiming they had lost contact. They used every shady accounting practice they could to siphon money out of the artist's pocket and into theirs. They sold the meat but stiffed the butcher.

The industry sold corrupt CDs with malicious software that threatened the stability of its customer's computers. The RIAA grocery stores were selling spoiled meat!

And even though the brick-and-mortar stores had already been caught price-fixing, that didn't stop the record label-sanctioned online music stores from participating in the same illegal act. Now you could order price-fixed, payola-promoted spoiled meat online!

And yet, listeners still pile into the run-down RIAA grocery store to purchase tainted food, and artists still dream about having their product on display. It has already been shown that the RIAA and the recording industry elite refuse to change their business model. What will it take for listeners and artists to change their shopping habits?

46 Comments:

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Blogger alexharvest said...

hi zac

hope you're well, couldn't find a contact email so thought i would drop you a line here. was recommended to read your blog by james curcio, very glad that i did, have just printed off your sonic product manifesto and i'm going to go get stuck into it now!

we're running a project in the south west uk that ties in directly with what you're doing, there's some info at www.thevoidexperiment.blogspot.com, www.myspace.co.uk/alexinthevoid and www.alexinthevoid.com, i've attached our latest piece of hyperbole at the bottom of this comment!

would really appreciate any feedback from you, pertinent questions, recommended reading (i'm waiting for the trouble with music from amazon as we speak)useful resources etc etc.

good luck with all that you're doing , i hope we get the chance to speak soon.

peace

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There is a revolution in music happening now.

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Thing is, bands no longer need record companies.

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The big record companies know this, which is why you haven't heard about it.

'Why is this a good thing?' I hear you ask.

It means that for the first time in the history of the music industry artists really do have the power, they can keep the rights to their recordings, and maintain creative control of their work.

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So, what we need now is a new framework.

How can artists use this new media revolution to get heard, get seen and make sales?

What shape is the future music business going to take?

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