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back to article The RIAA will come to regret its court win

You can understand why an unpublished writer might resort to blooking; but when a successful author with a best-selling business title behind him gives away a chapter a week, it piques curiosity. Gerd Leonhard is an ex-muso, with a message for the recording industry. Judging by the RIAA's triumphant win receiving $220,000 in …

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Change?

The RIAA, the people it represents, and the rest of the media industry can't change. They are used to one form of business model. Its like asking a agent of the Spanish Inquisition to become a Muslim. Its just not going to happen. They will continue to extort, and threaten their customers until the last one finally expires.

Before the invention of the phonograph, the only way to hear an act was to go and see it, or wait for it to tour. The idea of a music "industry" is a quaint 20th century notion, and the 21st will see its demise. I for one look forward to its demise and the demise of all the legal carrion it supports.

A good article, well written..Thank you.

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Paris Hilton

This is what I've been saying all along

The RIAA only cares about what is good for the record industry, which is an ever shrinking subset of the music industry overall.

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Paris Hilton

Minted

"That's also true in music," says Leonhard. "The real money is not in the CDs. It's in the gigs, the merchandising, the sponsorships."

I have heard this argument before. Surely the world of live music, concert promoters, merchandisers etc is just as restrictive and shady as the world of record company executives. I can understand why the Rolling Stones or Radiohead might turn coin from tours - they have expensive lawyers - but the live circuit is sewn up otherwise. Isn't this just a case of jumping out of the frying pan into the fire? It seems redundant to mention merchandising as a separate revenue stream, because CDs are just merchandising; the same forces that make CDs unecomical affects merchandising as well; why pay £1.50 for an official Motorhead coffee mug when you could buy a knock-off for 50p?

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Dead Vulture

iPHONE!!

He mentioned the iPhone!!!!

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Sounds familiar

I posted something similar up on Mog a few weeks back. The industry is changing, unfortunately in their desperate attempt to control the industry the big labels are actually driving away the "consumer" and turning them towards the independants.

Feel free to look at what I posted:

Who owns music? Parts 1, 2 and 3

The listener as consumer.

http://mog.com/Alien8n/blog_post/108647

Copyright and the artist.

http://mog.com/Alien8n/blog_post/110402

DRM or not DRM? That is the question!

http://mog.com/Alien8n/blog_post/112784

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The difference between books and music

"If people like the book, they'll buy a copy, rather than printing out the PDF."

That's because most of us don't have printers that can turn a PDF into a nicely bound book for less money than a publisher can print a copy and post it half-way round the world. Contrast with CDs and DVDs, where I can produce exactly the same product as I buy in the shop for a fraction of the price.

To make matters worse, most folks actually want the product on a memory stick or similar, which is a product that the shop doesn't actually sell. As and when portable e-book readers are as common as portable stereos, the book industry will discover that no-one wants to buy paper products anymore.

*Then* it will be fair to compare books and CDs, but it will no longer be true that "if they like the book, they'll buy a copy". If you want a glimpse of the future of publishing, consider the fate of the most recent Harry Potter -- photographed within hours of release, almost certainly OCR-ed by now, and probably available in a nicely marked-up format somewhere on the internet.

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iiiiiin one

that article would have got bully's star prize.

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Paris Hilton

First green shoots of recovery?

I still find it amazing that the record industry (and therefore the RIAss.A) just don't get it. It used to be that tours by bands were to promote and boost sales of recorded music and were often run at a loss (I know, I worked on a lot!) or at most, break even. That is so not the case now nor has it been for some years now.

When merchandising really started to kick off (mid 70's) that's when bands (or more correctly, their management) realised that there was another revenue stream that was INDEPENDENT of the record company. You only have to see how tour sponsorship has been taken up to realise how cute the management (oh ok, and some musicians) have been. A tour by a major artist costs massive moulah so if somebody else contributes for having their name up in lights, then so much more money for the band.

Leonhard has got this worked out. Give away (effectively) the least costly component, his book, generate interest and then consultancy fees, paid-for articles will flood to his door.

Same with Radiohead, it doesn't really matter that they're asking fans to decided how much to pay, these fans will pay to see them, buy merchandise, videos and even buy the CD's to keep.

Oh yes, if I was working for a label I'd be very worried right about now.

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Title

I semi-agree with the guy here. I'm unemployed, but have filled my time up by writing a book, which I intend to be a downloadable, or snail mail delivered ebook. The benefit is that, postage costs aside, I get just about all the profits from it. A friend of mine, another author, has his books published traditionally, and for every 1000 copies sold, he gets £1000. Pretty poor when you consider his books sell for £10-15 a piece!

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Daily Telegraph

I don't buy a newspaper every day. I don't read an online newspaper every day. When I do read an online newspaper, it's the Telegraph - I am used to the feature writers, and the editorial style. When I buy a newspaper it's the Telegraph - I am used to the feature writers, and the editorial style.

When I buy a copy, I do the crossword (sometimes more than half of it). And I cough up something like 20 quid per year to be able to do the online crossword (which comes as an applet, which can be saved online, printed as far as you got, and checked to see how much of it is right).

I don't make illegal copies of their articles because I don't need to: if I see something interesting that I want to show someone, I can just sent the URL coz anyone can read it.

To my mind, they have adapted well, they still make money, they have reinforced loyalties. They have paid for online services which make them money, but their core product (the news) is freely available. If you buy the paper, you can read it on the train, or in your armchair, so it has additional features/value.

The "music industry" doesn't need traditional record companies in the role they have always occupied. It does need: Resources (both technology and skill) for new artists to improve their product; Editorial filtering, to help listeners find new artists. Music which costs nothing to try out doesn't need marketing, it just needs introducing to listeners - if it is good, people will buy CDs, and go to concerts etc., and if it isn't good, the artists will get honest feedback and either record something else or carry on with their day jobs.

If the Daily Telegraph made you pay again every day to read online copy, and sued people who emailed copies of those articles to their friends, I wouldn't read it online, and I wouldn't buy it.

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Anonymous Coward

Quality garantee

Given that they assume all music tracks are equal - then can I sue this RIAA for my erroding CD collection thats rusting away which is stored as outlined on the disc and not scratched.

Also what is this Record thing they speak of?

Also if they sue for not buying records then I'm equaly allowed to sue them for poor records.

But we all know they are the most arragant up there own ass bunch a consumer has to deal with.

Now lets form the PARB (People Against Record Beurocracy). Generate stacks of counter sues/cases against RIAA and watch them get buried in there own juices.

Rock on

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Anonymous Coward

Sounds very speculative

There is no proof that the business model Leonhard suggests works. I don't know for how many years the story of the "T-shirt guy" has been recycled to explain that the business model of the music industry could be balanced on the back of merchandising, concerts and corporate sponsorship/advertising.

It doesn't take a genius to spot the flaws in the design; human nature being what it is, if people don't have to pay for anything, they won't. The idea that people will voluntarily donate to a tip jar is spectacularly naive. Official merchandise is already ludicrously over-priced - I paid £20 for a t-shirt at a concert nearly 15 years ago. If artists are going to rely on this for income the £50 t-shirt is just around the corner and you're back to exactly the same problem as selling CDs: you want £50 for an item that costs £0.50 to make because there are so many people that want a slice of the pie. Also in a splendid irony you'll have to clamp down on the counterfeiters in the same way as the downloaders as they're taking money out of the artists' pocket so you really just moving the problem around.

His idea that I should pay 1p to hear a track and then 45p to MasterCard, Visa (or whoever) is just as a ridiculous model as the current record industry. I'm not paying 45 times the cost of the track to a middleman to shuffle a penny around the Internet, that's just laughable as a business model. But getting back to the idea that concerts should fund the record industry; tickets for a gig like Led Zeppelin's reunion are £125, how much higher will those prices go if that has to pay for Robert Plant's Lear jet? What about the artists who can't or won't tour? Corporate sponsorship? Where is artistic freedom when you have Acme Corporation sponsoring your favourite act? Are you saying they won't start limiting what an artist can or can't do? What about the artists who refuse to sell their soul to corporate sponsorship? Can you really see NWA or Public Enemy doing a deal to hawk sneakers or soft drinks?

His entire approach is just bollocks - he gives away his book so he can get more money as a "consultant" - some of the most immoral, useless money grabbing cocks I have ever known have been "consultants." Just ask the Public Accounts Committee about how great consultants have been. Leonhard is just peddling that rubbish from his time during the dot-com bubble, micro-payments and all that crap. The man belongs in a museum.

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@ Ken Hagan

You're wrong. On 2 counts.

I'm a big fan of both music and lierature. Okay the music is heavy metal and the literature is fantasy and science fiction but I'm still a big fan of both.

Downloading music has NOT stopped me buying cds. All it has done is introduce me to a lot of new bands that I've not heard of before and enabled me to be more selective in my cd purchases. There's the irony, filesharing has INCREASED the amount of music that I purchase. However I don't purchase at the ridiculous prices that the industry expects me to pay, I look at the costs and purchase when it's reached the price I think it's worth. Sometimes that price may even be above 10 quid, but most of the time it's closer to 5.

The same goes for books. I read a lot. Probably at least 1 book a week, sometimes more. I'll read graphic novels in between waiting for books to be released. I visit my library once a week. However... I still BUY books. I have book cases full of them. Why? Because when you're stuck on a sunday afternoon for something you can go to that bookcase and just look and pick out something that you think you'll enjoy reading today. You can't do that with a PDF. Ebooks don't have the same quality about them. Music and books have an emotive component to them that doesn't exist in their digital form.

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Gerd Leonhard

... It's nice to hear from someone with a brain for once!

Now where is the Paris Hilton angle? :)

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Real money not in CDs

I'd have to debate this as fact for the entire music industry. It might be true for major artists but what about dance music and independent artists? There are very few dance acts that actually play live, and to the same extent sell merchandise. Gigs aren't that profitable (the door price) unless they can sell merchandise which includes sale of CD's.

The issue is that both traditional and digital media sales have been too expensive, and that the artists receives a rather small slice of the pie. The chances are that the latest Radiohead album will make the band enough money because they have very loyal fans.

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Outdated concept

The record company is an outdated concept. I worked as a roadie for years and the idea bands played gigs for little to no money is a myth. In a small venue 8 - 10,000 seats could generate vast monies from t-shirt sales alone. Say you played a gig with an attendance of 10,000 people, if only 10% of those stumped up for the latest tour shirt (which averages £20 - £25 these days) then that's a whopping £20 - £25K alone (minus manufacturing etc) and that's just basing it on a mere 10%. The actual figure is closer to 17% - 20%. Plus you have the ticket fee on top which ranges anywhere from £16.00 - £40.00 (or £100+ if you are Led Zeppelin). The profits are huge and will offset the price of giving away your music for free.

I think it was Limp Bizkit who first started to offer their music free for download and it was a major step forward and the first nail in the coffin of the parasitic record companies. Unfortunately, the big-wigs are needed to promote and develop up and coming acts who couldn't afford to give away their music or sell out venues. They are a necessary evil sadly but it shouldn't be too long before they renew their strategy of suing 'the little people' to make a statement.

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Anonymous Coward

Title

"That's also true in music," says Leonhard. "The real money is not in the CDs. It's in the gigs, the merchandising, the sponsorships."

I have heard this argument before. Surely the world of live music, concert promoters, merchandisers etc is just as restrictive and shady as the world of record company executives. I can understand why the Rolling Stones or Radiohead might turn coin from tours - they have expensive lawyers - but the live circuit is sewn up otherwise. Isn't this just a case of jumping out of the frying pan into the fire? It seems redundant to mention merchandising as a separate revenue stream, because CDs are just merchandising; the same forces that make CDs unecomical affects merchandising as well; why pay £1.50 for an official Motorhead coffee mug when you could buy a knock-off for 50p?

As a member of a band I can fully understand this. Revenue from cd sales is negligable, your percentage is low to begin with after everything has been taken into consideration, and then the money you receive from the album is based on wholesale price, not retail, which is pittifully low.

With merchandise you buy it at perhaps £2-4 a t shirt, then depending whether the venue is going to take a cut off this or not, you're starting to see the return for your efforts.

Unless you are massive, the money you receive for doing the show doesn't leave you with much at all. Transport (Sometimes £600 a day), technicians, accomodation then whatever fees your label/management decide to take cuts this right down. Then you split the rest between your band. A lot of bands rely on merch sales to just feed themselves on a tour. Reasonably well establish bands sometimes have to tour up to 9 months a year to enjoy a normal life off the road.

There are very few people within the industry who are in it for the music, everyone is like a fly around shit when they can smell the money.

The porn industry is still as massive cash cow and I'm sure piracy is just as, if not more, rampant than the music industry.

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Huh?

I realize that many people have a chip on their shoulder because the evil empire of music won this case.

Lets be clear and honest. If I or for the most part any other impartial person was on that jury, we would have come to the same conclusion as to her guilt. Keep in mind, the judge told the jurors, just by making the music available on Kazaa she was guilty of copyright infringement even if there was no evidence of anyone uploading the music from her pc.

(That evidence would have been found on her PC were it not for the mysterious loss of her hard drive.) SHE SHOULD HAVE SETTLED!

But how does that case have anything to do with this "new" concept of a "pricing model"?

From a journalistic perspective, its a pretty weak way to get people to read the article.

Having said this, the concept of giving something away for free so that you can make money from consulting or similar downstream effort is nothing new.

Stallman anyone? ;-)

As to the success of RadioHead's pricing model? I don't know. Does it really cost 45p to cover the cost of a sales transaction? One would expect it to be much less. (maybe 25p or 3% of the sale, whichever is greater?)

Also, by skipping the "middleman" you're creating a new middleman. Are the artists or their record label going to create and maintain the websites and the associated risks or are they going to farm it out?

And what happens when you lower the barrier to entry?

(I don't know the answer to that one. I'm going to assume that the free markets will work that one out.)

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Dead Vulture

Dunstan Vavasour

i agree with him

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Bollocks...utter and complete bollocks

The "author" of this piece is someone who reminds me of the problems of zero barrier to entry in any industry: that anyone who thinks they have something to say will say it loudly and self-publish, regardless of any real thinking they have done or academic credentials. If they can sell "consulting" on the back side of it, so much the better...

Does he have a SINGLE piece of economic modelling or empirical data to back his assertions? No, not that he has presented. Not, I dare say, that he can present.

Every single real piece of academic research that I have seen (i.e., real economic modelling and studies done by Wharton Shool of Business) indicates that the rise of piracy leads to a terrible musical landscape, where a handful of "supergroups" dominate from their tour revenue, and everyone else starves, with no one to push and promote smaller bands just starting out, or get them competent producers and marketers, or support their tours. And it stays that way, with thousands of no-name bands providing one-hit wonders and then submersing back into obscurity, never able to get support to get better and known enough to become a supergroup.

Like it or not, record companies provide a real function to beginning musicians, and to the music industry as a whole: they back ones just starting out with investments, and they guarantee a "middle-class" of musicians that are being promoted from smaller talent to become supergroups. They need that model, and frankly musicians need that model - otherwise the jump from nothing to supergroup is nearly insurrmountable (except engineered bands, but again, no recording industry, no designed-for-pop bands...ok, maybe piracy does have an upside).

Would Radiohead be in the position they are in without years of investment and expertise in marketing from their record label? Probably not...so in effect, they are pulling the ladder up after themselves, saying that we have made it, now it is time to dis-assemble the industry and model that helped market us and promote us. Hardly something to say "Wow...good show!" about...rather selfish really.

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Pffft ... not impressed with online/free music ventures

If I wanted a scratchy, poorly-encoded (64kbit/s ought to be enough for everyone, right ?), DRM-encumbered piece of music I can only play on a few devices or a certain number of times, then yes, it's the future. Rejoice.

If, on the other hand, I might like to own a piece of physical media that I can encode at my own standards, and for whatever portable device or format I might prefer, (or listen on a quaint invention called "music player" -- whether that be a CD player or any other similar device; battery operated "portable" devices (PARTICULARLY those starting with "i" and in white) need not apply) then perhaps a solid rethink is in order.

The current approach sucks, that's true - but it seems that the Pyrrhic victory is not just for the RIAA - it's for the "new age" of music distruibution as a whole ...

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Gates Horns

Future of Publishing

Ken Hagan: If you want a glimpse of the future of publishing, consider the fate of the most recent Harry Potter -- photographed within hours of release, almost certainly OCR-ed by now, and probably available in a nicely marked-up format somewhere on the internet.

This is a bit pessimistic: I saw torrent files containing (presumably) OCRd RTF versions of book 6 after about 12 hours of release. At 14:00 UK time. there were some that were already 2 hours old. I didn't wait out all night though (again!), mine was delivered in the post at about 9am.

I assume that a bunch of many people were allocated a few pages each, and the results were all centrally compiled, checked etc.

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Radiohead album can be FREE!

Just to clear something up, you are able to enter $0.00 for the digital download and pay exactly $0, no credit card fees. I just checked again and this is still the case.

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Robert Hill

http://www.negativland.com/albini.html

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Once upon a time...

...getting "signed" would lead to copious amounts of PR. But given the kind of PR that the RIAA members are now generating, just who in their right mind would want to sign with any of them now? I pity those who already have and are now locked in-- only to find themselves servile to the writhing death throes of their Luddite overlords.

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Jobs Halo

Another good reason to buy the book is convience

I have a howto in pdf form entitled Dont_Panic_v1.5.2 on my desktop that I got from nwvault.ign.com it is 132 pages long. If it was in book form I would probably buy it for the convience of always having it available to me.

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Jim

@Gumby - 45p?

I think 45p is pretty reasonable for a CC transaction considering what other organisations charge these days - try buying a ticket on trainline.co.uk these days and they will charge a couple a quid.

Also, doesn't it feel like a little bit of marketing by applying a fixed CC charge? Who is going to pay 1p and 45 times that in CC fee? Isn't it quite likely that people are going to think "Hmm, if the CC charge is 45p then I should, at least, bung a couple of quid at the artist"?

As for the concept that Radiohead have put forward, it will probably work for them but what about the start-ups/little guys? I think it was suggested above that a central repository of free music that includes editorials and listener feedback to guide searchers could be a winner... if done right of course (however that may be).

PS Gumby? All I can imaging is wellies, braces and hanky on head... sorry

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@Robert Hill

Although I agree with you to an extent, there's a whole army of indie bands that have thrived in recent years due to the internet & word of mouth, they've not needed a big record label or an expensive marketing campaign to be successful, sure you might not have a repeat of the super groups & mega album sales of the 80's but with direct sales and marketing, a larger percentage of the royalties goes to the makers of the music and without all the overheads it's far cheaper for the consumer. The days are numbered for the big labels & new bands are no longer that interested in getting signed to one.

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@ Mycho

"The RIAA only cares about what is good for the record industry"

I'd modify that slightly: "The RIAA only cares about what is good for RIAA executives."

They don't care about artists, they don't care about retailers, they don't even care about production crew.

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Anonymous Coward

I think we all know where this will lead

I've heard the "futuristic" music on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and to be honest I wasn't impressed (though I would dance to it if there was a chance of getting it on with Wilma Dearing)

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Anonymous Coward

Title

"This is a bit pessimistic: I saw torrent files containing (presumably) OCRd RTF versions of book 6 after about 12 hours of release. At 14:00 UK time. there were some that were already 2 hours old. I didn't wait out all night though (again!), mine was delivered in the post at about 9am."

Hang on, Peter, everyone KNOWS that piracy costs the industry trillions each year, so if it HAD been pirated, it MUST have become unprofitable! To have it happen otherwise is unthinkable!

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@Bollocks...utter and complete bollocks

"Every single real piece of academic research that I have seen (i.e., real economic modelling and studies done by Wharton School of Business) indicates that the rise of piracy leads to a terrible musical landscape."

Really? Type "music piracy" into the search box on the knowledge@wharton site. These two articles are quite old, but they just happen to be the ones that have the best summary of their position.

http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article.cfm?articleid=635

http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article.cfm?articleid=863

a) The "buzz" from file sharing benefits the music business by more than they lose, according to Wharton's model.

b) The only research suggesting the opposite was commissioned by the RIAA.

c) "innovation always drives the prices of yesterday’s technology into the dirt. The way to respond to the demise of the commercial CD is not to sue Internet-users. It is to figure out new ways to make money on music."

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Re: Sounds very Speculative

"It doesn't take a genius to spot the flaws in the design; human nature being what it is, if people don't have to pay for anything, they won't. The idea that people will voluntarily donate to a tip jar is spectacularly naive."

There's just one problem with your argument: people do donate to tip jars. That's why so many delis and coffee shops have them.

There's a company that makes strategy guides for video games, and some of their guides are available for free in PDF format, with the belief that if you really like it, you'll end up buying it for convenience. I downloaded it, saw how useful it was, and bought not only that one, but two others by the same company.

Sure, some people are going to take whatever they can and pay nothing, but just because you'll do it doesn't mean we all will.

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Fairtrade

How about a 'fairtrade' label for record companies that provide more than a minimum royalty for their performers? I buy CD's but only when they are a reasonable price (everything else I get from eMusic). The official excuse for CD prices years ago was that they were costly to produce, but then the old ratchet principle kicked in and they never came down, even though they now cost a few pence. I'd pay a reasonable amount if I knew that the artist was getting more than the suits.

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Thoughtful

A good, well-written article that lays out the author's ideas clearly (whether I agree with those ideas or not is another matter).

The RIAA cannot easily change their business model and are reacting from fear of their market share shrinking to the point where that business model is unsustainable. Unfortunately, this particular reaction (suing people who ahre music) is short-termism of the worst order. Sure, the RIAA can claw back a (pathetically) few dollars but, in doing so, they injure an already wounded image.

While contributors to El Reg (myself included) tend to focus on alternate (to CD's) music sources, let's not forget that there is an existing and viable CD-based market for music out there. (Many millions of music buyers cannot or do not care to get theirs over the 'net). Is that market the right size or shape to sustain the current industry model? I doubt it. Will a changed industry model mean a changed market for those who make music? Probably.

All markets change. Some mean the disappearance of a traditional industry and some mean that an industry must reinvent itself to stay viable. I think that latter is the case for the music industry and I look forward to seeing (and hearing) how it looks ten years from now.

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Almost...

"The real money is not in the CDs. It's in the gigs, the merchandising, the sponsorships."

He's almost on the money, but not quite.

If I spend all my money on CDs and whatnot, then I'm gonna end up horribly disappointed with more than half of them (ever downloaded an album, listened to it, and then thought "thank god i didn't pay for that"?), plus, I'm not going to be able to pay for the tickets to see the bands that I do feel are excellent, and would be worthwhile seeing live.

I know this has been said a million zillion times, but why make it all about the money? Fans want to see their favourite bands on stage, and rocking out. The atmophere is infintely better than being at home in your living room.

True, there won't be as much money in just gigging alone, but £10 for a new CD is way over the top anyway. I want to be able to listen to a band, if they're good, I'll go see them live, and maybe buy a T-shirt while I'm at the gig as well. I might even fork out for a CD, which I then want to rip to my PC, and listen to through there

As another point, who wants CDs anyway? I'd much rather have a harddisk full of my music, so I stick 10 albums on a playlist, hit randomise, and then leave it, and I've a full night of music with no pissing about changing CDs when it runs out. CDs take up too much room and get broken to easily too.

Also, none of my mates have PCs, but they want backups of their music, and the logical place to do it is my PC, as they're always at my house listening to it and chilling out. Is that illegal?

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But what kind of music was the labels developing prior to downloads?

Does anyone else remember the assorted debates going on BEFORE Napster? What was everyone talking about? The cookie cutter CRAP being promoted by the assorted labels.

So I, for one, find this whole "but without the labels to promote new groups, what is going to happen???" debate amusing to say the least. They were promoting crap before downloads, they are promoting it now. I think it might be nice to hear what music could sound like when it hasn't been filtered through the ears of some damned been label promoter who's only real interest is the bottom line of his spreadsheet.

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What happened to musicianship?

What the blazes is so _wrong_ about paying for the damned _music_?

Is this the future for art? For all craftsmanship? To force the artisans to dance for their public as if we had an inalienable right to their works? Is this what it takes to put bread on the table? Is this why the public doesn't really mind paparazzi hounding the successful until they're driven to drink and drugs?

Sure, there are the Rolling Stones and the Madonnas and the Tom Joneses out there who have been very successful and made plenty of money, but that's true of _all_ industries. The construction industry has its McAlpines and John Laings, just as the IT industry has its Microsofts, Oracles and SAPs. This is _normal_.

Not every artist wants to get up on a stage. Some songsmiths cannot sing, yet write amazing music. And you try taking an entire _orchestra_ on a world tour and see how much profit you make.

There is no one-size-fits-all "solution". Leonhard's "solution" is only applicable to a subset of the music industry, not to all of it. I know plenty of (published) musicians and songwriters who have never, ever stood on a stage or performed in a gig. Why should they have to? It's not like every musician loves writing music because they love performing. Most musicians love writing music because they love *writing music*. Period.

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tipjar

@speculative, I think thepiratebay.org is an excellent example of the tipjar working. A lot of their revenue comes from donations and sales of t-shirts etc. Most advertisers won't touch them with a barge-pole.

I was considering starting a website for just that purpose. Tip your favourite artists. That way the artist gets 99% of any contribution a fan wants to give and my site gets 1% for making it possible. I could provide charts based on what people were tipping the most and providing the site was popular enough, could showcase new bands. I wouldn't even get involved in hosting the music, ala MySpace. Music distribution is taking care of itself.

@Ian Michael Gumby

I agree that any impartial juror would have found for the defendant, because that is the law. Maybe the law needs to change. If the RIAA were in the dock, I'm sure any impartial person could find them guilty on several charges too!

@Pffft

The reason most online music is encoded at low bitrates, is because when it all started, most people had slow internet connections. The music industry should have struck then, and signed an all-you-can-eat deal with the ISPs. They should have seen what was coming, and realised that if they provided high quality digital music on a subscription based model, they would have buried the pirates, instead they made them martyrs.

@Robert Hill

"a handful of "supergroups" dominate from their tour revenue, and everyone else starves, with no one to push and promote smaller bands just starting out, or get them competent producers and marketers, or support their tours. And it stays that way, with thousands of no-name bands providing one-hit wonders and then submersing back into obscurity, never able to get support to get better and known enough to become a supergroup."

That is the status quo and has been for a long time (Stock, Aiken and Waterman) and cannot be attributed to piracy. That is unless you are refering to the music industry ;p. Matthew, I concur!

Talent is successful by its own merit.

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I have to ask..

Why is it that when the RIAA DO get a case to court, and win; the details (you know, those pesky ones that show guilt) are not even considered by columnists such as Andrew Orlandski?

I mean, get over yourself dude.

Using your own common sense, you owe me a lot of money at this point, with all my content you've stolen**. Need an address for the check to be sent to?

**yes, I'm being sarcastic.

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Anonymous Coward

Listeners don't care about music, either

which is why they're so fickle, and will discard the latest untalented, overhyped star for the next one in a heartbeat. It's no wonder most artists can't make a living in the music "industry"--the vast majority of the "work" it "produces" is just fodder in the industry's shotgun approach of finding the few artists they can milk for more than play money. The rest are discarded to be largely forgotten.

This is happening in a situation where popular music is completely free, whether or not people download it. Everywhere I go, whether it's an office, mall, vehicle, or city street, I'm bombarded by a constant stream of music, whether I like it or not. In many of these places I would pay for them to switch the music off, it's so annoying.

As Muzak and other music services become more and more narrowcasted, increasingly the piped-in music where I go is starting to overlap more and more with my mp3 collection at home, to the point where collecting music myself is becoming superfluous.

Locally, I helped establish a low-power community FM station. What do most of the airshifters play on that station? Commercial CD's that one can hear anyway.

How is this complete saturation with commercial music good for anyone, regardless of who pays for producing and distributing the music?

No one listens to the music--it's just on in the background. If you're an artist, your music is playing second fiddle to the Kmart announcer who interrupts it to remind shoppers of this week's specials. If you're a listener who wants to listen to the music, you can't, because other people are talking and making noise while engaging in their primary activity. And if you go home and listen to the music in the comfort of your own home you'll increasingly recognize it as the soundtrack to your local coffeeshop or supermarket.

What people seem to have forgotten is how to *make* music. The glut of repetitive, commodified tracks has replaced singing together and learning to play instruments for its own sake rather than as a business model for becoming a content provider.

My coat is currently at the cleaners.

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Anonymous Coward

Correct

@mycho. spot on. I would add "the RIAA cares about what is good for RIAA executives and their COCAINE lifetstyles " !

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Moving Target

Music performance isn't a static 'thing', and that is what I think the RIAA etc. have lost sight of.

I can remember (just) when a record was a poor mans substitute for a live performance that he could never hope to afford. Somehow the industry managed to turn this on it's head.

Now, however, technology enables any talented individual to create very pleasing works that actually can't be performed live.

So in the process of seemingly reinforcing the industry's stance this technology is also whipping the rug from under its feet.

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@Morely Dates

> I'd modify that slightly: "The RIAA only cares about what is

> good for RIAA executives."

So exactly like every other executive in every other business in the world then... Ge real people.

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@Jim

The article states that its 45p for the cc transaction fee.

My comment is that 45p for a cc transaction is a bit steep for the cc houses to charge for an on-line purchase.

Since I'm in the states, 45p ~= $1.25 (off the top of my head)

Here in the states, a retailer is charged a minimal fee for a credit card transaction or 2.5 - 3% of the sale, whichever is greater.

That minimal charge is something like .25 (USD).

This shouldn't be confused with a "service fee". Online ticketing for movies charge a service fee of $1.00 per ticket. Its a convenience fee of not having to wait in line to buy tickets...

To call the .45p a cc transaction fee is a bit dishonest if the 45p actually includes other things...

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the f--ing obvious

one business model will not work for the entire industry. a different model applies to Garth Brooks vs Kevin Eubanks vs the Boston Philharmonic vs The Unknown Garage Band.

mp3 is lossy; it is fine for times when the music competes with ambient noise, eg jogging down an urban street. compact discs, vinyl records, or even magnetic tape are better for listening in a relatively quiet environment, eg relaxing at home. broadcasts, eg radio, use these recordings, and so are of slightly less quality. none of these compares in sound quality to a live performance in a venue with appropriate acoustic design.

people will prefer to pay for music they like in the format they want. profits from merchandise is a separate, but linked, issue. it depends on offering the specific items (apparel, coffee mug, funny hat, etc) the audience want, and the size and disposable income of that audience.

please do not limit your discussion to albums and t-shirts from The Rolling Stones.

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@Dunstan Vavasour

And the point is? There are any number of bands that sign bad contracts and don't know how to budget their money or limit their expenses, THE SAME AS ANY OTHER BUSINESS. Any number of start-up retail stores, home businesses, restaurants...all sign contracts and incur expenses that are mistakes. I have had friends that have started their own businesses and failed, same story. Somehow, we believe that bands should be special, and not allowed to make business mistakes like the guy that runs the 7-11 down the street? Don't be ridiculous.

NO ONE forces any band to sign a contract - any band can produce their own videos with a handycam, put it on YouTube, tour locally, and produce an album with ProTools in a small studio. Any band can put up a website and put their MP3/Oggs/etc. up for distribution or even sale. No one forces them to try for anything larger. If bands don't LIKE the music industry, let them opt out.

But destroying intellectual property rights and saying that the music industry doesn't have a right to exist because it wants to charge you for what you would rather get free is basically theft. It may be theft by millions, but that still doesn't make it proper, correct, or even good for society as a whole. It may not be even good for media - we are quite used to hearing well produced, well funded music and watching movies that have hundreds of millions in production costs. Hard to believe that we will have the same level of quailty when it is a bunch of people doing it for low money and with little training (at least on average - you will always get SOMETHING of value as part of the normal curve of probability).

Let's get it clear - this anti-RIAA war not about a bunch of people fighting for the musicians - musicians can choose to opt-in to the industry or opt-out for themselves. This is about a bunch of people wanting to impinge OTHER'S rights, by ripping off their intellctual property under the guise of "fairness". It's a battle of the lazy non-producers of intellectual capital attempting to take, by fiat, someone else's work, by claiming that technology lets them do it, so it SHOULD be legal. Bollocks, I say...and from what I have seen of the economics, it will only hurt most musicians in the long-term.

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www,xe,com

@Ian Michael Gumby

45p ~= 91c Sterling is strong, but not that strong ;p

You guys get iTunes for 99c and we get them for 99p(AFAIK), how's that for steep!

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@Robert Hill

My bank manager wouldn't insist on having 99% of my income nor would he ever suggest it.

My friend and his band recently produced their own album on a dated pc in an old mini-cab office. They signed to Necessary/Warner on the strength of that album and have since produced a second album, both of which are doing OK.

I have no idea what deal they got, I hope my friend can at least pay his mortgage.

Quality, does not stem from having the financial clout of the record industry, quality comes from having a keen ear for music and a passion for making music. It's a shame you find it hard to believe that people can't make good music without a whole bunch of money...how sad.

Money buys promotion not good music.

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@b166er

Your friend and his band produced their own album and signed a deal with Warner, and is doing OK? FANTASTIC!!! I am very happy to hear that, because the essence of my post is that people can CHOOSE to do that.

Now that your friend has signed, ask him this: does he want people to pay him for his album, or does he want people to copy it freely and not pay him for it? He has entered into an agreement with Warner that they will market and promote and assist with the album, and that he will get some percentage of the resulting sales. Does he want that percentage to be X% of something, or X% of nearly nothing?

For reference, the RIAA is defending musicians by saying that it should be X% of something, and they will take people to court that will steal music (such as your friend's) by sharing it without compensating him.

As for the cost vs. quality debate about music, I did indeed say there would still be _some_high quality stuff, just because there is always a probability curve of how good stuff is. I would also be shocked to hear that your friend produced that second album in that old mini-cab office...

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