The Trouble The Recording Industry Goes Through To Stop Leaks... And It Doesn't Work

from the what-a-massive-waste dept

Jonathan Margulies alerts us to an article in Fortune that discusses the insane lengths the major record labels in the US go to in the process of trying to pick which songs to promote -- while trying to keep the songs from leaking. Basically, they burn all sorts of CDs for label execs -- each with unique watermarks, to try to keep anyone from leaking the song (and to be able to track it back to them, if the song leaks). The article suggests that the mistake here is in burning CDs, rather than distributing the same content digitally... but as Margulies points out in his submission, the bigger issue is even going through that whole watermarking process in the first place. What does it do? Stop a song from getting leaked a week earlier? Meanwhile bands that are smart and don't want to waste a ton of money are leaking their own music, recognizing that it builds up buzz. The old record labels aren't struggling because of piracy. They're struggling because they're wasting tons of money on useless things like stamping out specially watermarked CDs for execs within their own company.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Sep 2nd, 2009 @ 3:25am

    “...burning CDs, rather than distributing the same content digitally...”

    What, CDs are not “digital” any more?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2009 @ 3:31am

    Re: �...burning CDs, rather than distributing the same content digitally...�

    Files on CDs are a series of bumps & craters emulating 1s and 0s... digital files are series of *actual* 1s and 0s.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Keven Sutton, Sep 2nd, 2009 @ 4:05am

    Re: Re: �...burning CDs, rather than distributing the same content digitally...�

    Well, magnetic disks are just fields that emulate 1's and 0's. Ram is just a charge that either represents a 1 or a 0. CD's are written in binary, but I think digital in this context refers to the removal or abstraction of the information for the physical media.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    some old guy, Sep 2nd, 2009 @ 4:28am

    Re: Re: Re: �¢ï¿½ï¿½...burning CDs, rather than distributing the same content digitally...�¢ï¿½ï¿½

    "digital distribution" = "no physical media"


    got it?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Rob, Sep 2nd, 2009 @ 4:44am

    Re: �...burning CDs, rather than distributing the same content digitally...�

    What, CDs are not “digital” any more?


    CDs are digital, but the DISTRIBUTION of CDs is in analog, ie pieces of plastic being shipped out on trucks and arriving at someone's front door via snail mail -- whereas with digital distribution you would eliminate all the middlemen and just send the files as a sequence of 1's and 0's that would arrive at the recipient's computer at the speed of light.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    fogbugzd, Sep 2nd, 2009 @ 5:09am

    So, they execs are still trained to think "PLASTIC."

    The thing that strikes me is that the industry execs are still using plastic. That probably just keeps reinforcing the idea that plastic CD's are what the recording industry is all about.

    Wouldn't it be cheaper to digitally watermark MP3 files and distribute them electronically? At least that would put the execs in sync with the way the public seems to want their music.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    Harshal (profile), Sep 2nd, 2009 @ 5:32am

    Fail to understand

    I fail to understand what does physically putting a watermark on the CD achieve. The leaker is obviously going to RIP the songs of the CD and leak it in MP3 format. What is the use of the watermark then? Rather they should at least try to appear to protect their music by using some DRM sort of technology.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2009 @ 5:37am

    wouldn't them distributing their mp3s in a purely digital manner sort of undermine their whole anti-piracy stance though?

    yes if they did it this way it would be legal vs people who download p2p versions of the same mp3. but the underlying strategy of creating mp3s and "sharing" them within their company is the exact same concept, at least in my opinion. which would open the door for more people to bash them for their ways - not like they are lacking in that category anyways.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Sep 2nd, 2009 @ 5:48am

    Re: Fail to understand

    They don't watermark the physical CD, they watermark the song itself. As in, in the background of the song is a sound that holds the data of who it was given to. This way, they download the leaked song, put it threw a computer to distinguish the supposedly inaudible noise and go after the person who let it get leaked. That sound can be removed but since it already screwed up the quality of the audio file, the un-watermarked song is also of lower quality.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2009 @ 7:39am

    Re: �...burning CDs, rather than distributing the same content digitally...�

    audio cds aren't digital (cdi)
    data cds are (MP3)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    linlu, Sep 2nd, 2009 @ 8:55am

    They could just fire all those useless execs

    Seriously what value do those execs bring to the industry apart from bloated salaries for doing basically nothing.

    I'm sorry but discovering and promoting the lastest sound/look-alike is not something that deserves a salary. Ignoring real talent (aka people who can actually sing) and promoting yet another can't sing connected clone is not something deserving of a salary.

    Figuring out ways to keep musicians from promoting their stuff their own way is not something deserving of a salary.

    Running around like chickens with their heads cut off because the latest technological advance blows away their artificial scarcity based distribution model is not something deserving of a salary.

    Crying and whining to Congress to pass laws that protect their money from the hordes of piraters (aka people who actually bought a CD or better yet an iTune and just want to play it on another device) is not something deserving of a salary.

    Get rid of the execs, and figure out how to promote all the artists signed, not just the three connected ones.

    Why do artists need labels anyway? We only see about 10 or 20 being promoted for any given month at the local chain store. That means thousands of artists have signed over all their rights to the record labels and get just about nothing in return that is of real value. The advance (loan) record labels give to artists on their future royalties (which are tiny unless you sell platinum or better) for the next record s/he makes is not compensation, it's more like indentured servitude.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Sep 2nd, 2009 @ 9:19am

    Re: So, they execs are still trained to think "PLASTIC."

    What you didnt hear .... like texting and social media sites being banned by big football ..... mp3 players have been banned at all the record labels properties .... come on keep up

    /sarcasm

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    ECA (profile), Sep 2nd, 2009 @ 11:20am

    record inustry

    Hmm,
    Iv been saying it for years and years..
    The recording and movie industry Pay MORE for Protection and lawyers then they Pay to print the music or movie..

    THEN the thought comes to mind of all the DATA that they have Stored over the last 50+ years. AND no one has access to it, NOT EVEN to recover and BACKUP to new media.
    HOW much of our past has been LOST.
    These folks have been around and have recordings so OLD, that few have EVER heard it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Ed C., Sep 2nd, 2009 @ 9:23pm

    Re: record industry

    Exactly! And the most abdominal thing of all is that copyrights are soooo long that by the time the works reach public domain there aren't likely to be ANY surviving copies! Even the publishers' copies--which they probably have locked up in some moldy basement--will be dust. Sadly, it's not the real property that they value--the original copies--it's the "IP" that it contains.

    Re: record industry

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Mojo Bone, Sep 3rd, 2009 @ 12:59am

    Useless Execs?

    Except if you don't have a launch date, it becomes rather difficult to coordinate a promotional campaign-hard to build anticipation for something that's already out, ain't it?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 6th, 2009 @ 4:18pm

    Re: Re: �...burning CDs, rather than distributing the same content digitally...�

    The speed of light. Wow, who's your ISP, and where do I sign up?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    queeth, Sep 9th, 2009 @ 11:56pm

    maybe the labels need to catch up: http://www.fatdrop.co.uk/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This