For a while now, many people have been trying to point out to the music industry that their ongoing attempts to stop file sharing, rather than embrace it, has put them in the position of actually shutting down a huge opportunity. Mark Cuban's latest post does a good job articulating that sentiment. While his post is officially on why the CD is on its way out, what he's really talking about is the opportunity the music industry has if they just decided to sell straight MP3s, and made it easy for people to get them on whatever devices they use to hear music these days. His problem with the CD is that he doesn't listen to CDs any more. Instead, he listens to his iPod, so buying a CD requires a multi-step process before he can listen to it. The same is mostly true for online download stores: "To buy music these days, I have to make all kinds of choices... Do I want to limit myself to 5 computers. Do I want to always keep my subscription live. Do I want to store the music in a proprietary format that only a couple devices can use. Those are all tough decisions to make when the only thing I know with certainty is that the device I'm using as an MP3 player today, is NOT going to be the device I'm going to be using 18 months from now. There will be players that have more features, or I will consolidate multiple products into a single device. I may be using my phone, my PSP or PDA or something other device for my music." The point is pretty simple (and should be drilled into marketers heads): give people what they want. Music lovers just want music they can listen to without worrying about these hassles. When there's something lots of people want, there are always ways to make money off of it -- whether it's via Cuban's suggestion of selling the MP3s or some alternative means, such as using the MP3s to promote other aspects of the musicians in question (concerts, fan clubs, merchandise, etc.). Instead, the industry wastes time suing everyone and trying to come up with copy protection schemes that lower the value of the music. Embracing the opportunity to give people exactly what they want (reasonably priced music without restrictions in a standardized format) is a recipe for success -- and none of the major labels seem to see it.
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