The times they are a' changing for digital media and software, but perhaps not always for the better, as recent reports suggest, and not always as completely or as fast as the Silicon Valley set would expect. Silicon Valley, with its endless fascination for the new and the novel, is quick to point to Apple as the slayer of …
Abandon Digital at your own peril
What the article in reference fails in is to acknowledge the transformed nature with which people consume/purchase content in today's market. If market returns to a reliance on analogue then they'll find people will continue to seek digital methods to get the content they desire, and all that's going to do is to see an increase in the number of companies winging that piracy is baaad and their sales keep dropping.
Many companies were so slow to adapt from analogue to digital models, many still don't understand it properly but companies have come a long way and many are reporting profits now, even if they didn't rival analogue profits.
For years the artists, the producers and the creators have been upset at the likes of Time Warner milking most of their profits from their own production as it's gone to feed the pockets of the CEO of companies like these and their executives, digital doesn't allow for that, so it's in no way surprising that they'd prefer to hang on to the methods that kept their ability to buy million dollar yachts and multi million dollar mansions. It also puts more power back into the hands of the creators too.
I accept the basic argument that digital does not always mean better - ask listeners to radio 3 if they prefer FM or DAB. I'm working in Germany at the moment and can use the car radio to get radio 5 on MW & radio 4 on LW. No plans for cross-border broadcasting by digital.
But the music industry is a poor model over which to argue. Digital music is a HUGE success. The record companies are hurting, but that is because they are (1) Dinosaurs who tried to prevent progress (2) turning out rubbish. I am reminded of the chap on 'The Now Show' who got the biggest round of applause I have ever heard for "Downloading isn't killing the music industry, Simon Cowell is killing the music industry".
You have to ask why ancient rockers, the Beatles, and old folkies are selling so well as downloads. Could it possibly be that, like Mariachi, you only need one Rap track and you have the whole genre? Could it be that the record companies in switching from A&R to managed production have killed their own golden-egg laying goose?
I've been collecting music from the 1930s and 1940s in the last few years. All paid for, of course. But even there the record companies show their greed. These tracks are out of copyright, but they slap copytheft protection on them by applying a digital filter or something and then charge the same as for living artists. The contempt they display for customers is obvious.
Slight problem with this article
I don't have a strong opinion on the content of this article, however, it can make you look quite bad when you happen to be reading it, your boss comes over and so you minimise the browser and realise after your conversation, where you were showing them some other things on your screen, that the browser on the start bar has just had the first three and a half words of the title of this piece on show.
So "Digital music has failed"?
There was never any such invention. What has failed, is the response of the music industry to the fact that digital tech, devised for other purposes entirely and therefore totally beyond the control of the music industry, has caused the collapse of their business model and they haven't come up with an alternative yet.
Mr Music Publisher: You can go back to analog. None of your former customers will. Your business model is not their problem. The world does not owe you a living. If they are feeling charitable, then Oxfam beats Time Warner every time.
Mr Book Publisher: You're next.
Re: So "Digital music has failed"?
"Mr Book Publisher: You're next."
The problem with that comment is that it tries to make the two industries equivalent, and they're not. The music industry has built into it coercive practices that treat musicians like serfs. Book publishers, on the other hand, actually believe that the manuscript belongs to the author.
Publishers that tried to adopt music industry practices went out of business pretty quickly, or modified their practices. Note that I'm not claiming angelic behavior on their part (see Ace Books, for example, or the web site Writer Beware <http://accrispin.blogspot.com/>), but when I see comparisons like that, I wonder if the writer drank the Amazon Kool-Aid.
(Footnote: yes, I know it was actually Flavor-Aid that was dosed at Jonestown.)
I used to find Matt's pieces interesting and thought-provoking.
But the repeated use of "analog" as a shorthand to describe "old" (or not...) business models I found annoying and just plain wrong.
Analog may be the converse (NOT opposite !!!) of digital in the world of electronics, but it makes no sense whatsoever when talking about business models. As if there's a "digital" business model - after all, CDs are digital and they appeared nearly 30 years ago.....
Bewkes is almost certainly wrong, because his root analogy is fatally flawed.
AOL was killed by the US Congress. Oh, it wasn't named The AOL killing law. Or even The Small ISP Killing law. I actually don't recall what it was called. But it was intended to save an industry: the telecom industry. They had a pricing model that wasn't working anymore because of a new fangled invention that every geek had: a modem. These modems got on the wires and tied them up for hours at the cost of a local call, even if the eventual source of the data being retrieved was on another continent (which was a REALLY good cash cow before those thrice damned modems came along). So the big telcos went crying to congress, campaign cash in hand, and got them to pass a bill legally limiting modem speeds to 56K. Then the big telcos started to slowly build out the new and improved high speed internet. AOL lasted a little while longer. But there was no way they could generate the kind of cash needed to wire the country for high speed. And eventually the big telecos killed them. Because AOL was never about providing AOL generated content. They were always about connecting to the internet.
But the genie for digital music won't so easily be killed off. Too many little people have access to it now. Time-Warner might eventually die because they haven't figured out how to monetize the digital stream. But the digital stream will go on because its already been monetized by the telcos.
It's 'analogue', not 'analog'
FFS. I thought this was a British website?
And economics hasn't changed because of computers. In any content medium, scarcity equals value and quality equals loyalty. What the 'digital' economy does is to reduce both by producing lots of low-quality content (look at news), which is why content providers like Sky are now focussed on buying so-called 'quality' content and restricting it available because there's an awful lot of rubbish available for free.