How Dare You Make Our Service More Useful!

from the crazy-license-agreements dept

Taking the concept of stream ripping one step further, an XM satellite customer who didn’t want to miss a particular show broadcast in the middle of the night wrote some software to record the show to his computer — including breaking up the files into MP3s and labeling each song properly. The software made XM Radio so much more useful for him, he figured others might agree and so he started selling this software. As you might imagine this is upsetting XM Radio and the RIAA. While XM must realize that this only makes their service more appealing to more people, they’re scared that it violates the license agreements they have… leading back to everyone’s favorite agency when it comes to holding back technology: the RIAA. They haven’t taken any action yet, but note how “concerned” they are that technology might make people listen to more music… without paying for it. How many years will it take for the industry to realize that tools that make it easier for music listeners to get and listen to the music they want to hear only opens up wider opportunities for the industry as a whole?

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Comments on “How Dare You Make Our Service More Useful!”

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RJD says:

Re: No Subject Given

A big of a difference here in that the tape you made as a kid typically was available to millions of other people to make their own copies from.

I understand the RIAA’s position and why they and musicians fear this technical capability. I also understand the genie is out of the bottle and it’s hard to put back.

I have seen no evidence that says file sharing will BROADLY help the music industry (both musician and the companies) other than the occasional (very occasional) story where it helps the unnoticed get a bit less un noticed or a BIG NAME tries (emphasize TRIES) to break out on their own.

Until a working business model (read profit with good margins) is established, expect the RIAA to keep this war hot and expect a lot of casualties, many innocent to accumulate.

RJD says:

Re: Re: Re: Evidence

Sorry captain, but sometimes the obvious is OBVIOUS. While the amount of damage could be argued, the fact is, particularly when napster was V1 not it’s current state, that thousands of people were ‘sharing’ files which negated their need to buy a CD for the one or two songs they really wanted. While it may have induced some people into buying the music, it was probably very few as most people don’t go out and buy what they already have. And the liner notes and cover art are seldom a draw for other than true collector/fan.

I’m fairly optimistic about the way things are working so far. The itunes store and it’s many peers, now offer singles for 99 cents which allows me to buy the one song on a LP I like. RIAA and the musicians and the industry should count me as a ‘victory’ in that if it wasn’t for the legal download services that have sprung up, they wouldn’t have sold me ANY music. Simple math/econimics; anything > ZERO might = profit. There’s many a CD out their that has only one of two songs worth owning and I’ve usually been in the camp I won’t buy a CD for that song or two. In fact, that’s why kids such as myself used to record the song off the radio … it was the only thing we liked!!

I’m old enough to have owned many a 45 when they were the norm and albums where for the hardcore collectors. Once the 45s faded, my music buying went WAY down to the point where I was only buying compilations (greatest hits of the ) or artists who I followed. The current online stores have given this back to me and whatdoyaknow… I’m buying music again frequently instead of rarely. Now if they just get their buts in gear and release alot of the archived music that isn’t currently online, I’d be buying a lot more.

Or better yet, if some of the new music coming out would be of interest I wouldn’t be looking for the old stuff.

Brittany Spears, please get married and go away !!!!

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Evidence

The problem here is you define “the industry” by “how many people are buying plastic discs.” What if the industry goes well beyond that, and by giving away the music, new opportunities are opened up that offer a much broader market.

The movie industry once freaked out because they defined the industry as ticket sales at theaters, and the VCR threatened to kill that market. However, look what it did for them once the market got redefined.

RJD says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Evidence

You speak to ‘new opportunities’ but you don’t define them. If you can’t think of them or quantify them, what makes you think some Industry Exec can ? I don’t disagree with what you say but someone needs to provide reason hope that a new revenue stream will open up.

And the VCR thing isn’t really a good analogy. While the ‘industry’ can’t stop you from recording to tape they can collect a small tax on ever tape that’s sold (as they are currently trying to do with Hard drive based MP3 players). Also, taping does not easily allow a show to be rapidly disseminated to more users (which is the real problem here). Bootleggers who do produce mass copies for distribution are hunted and prosecuted. Much like the ‘john doe’ cases the RIAA is filing, they look for the big abusers. With file sharing, EVERYONE can be a big time bootlegger.

Everyone, i think, recognizes that its a great marketing tool for a listener to loan a copy of a song/band/etc to a friend to turn them on to it. This was how I generally found out about new bands when I was growing up (FM was a novel concept at that time). With file sharing you’re able to turn on millions of listeners (this is good) … and generally the quality of the copy is good enough that they are not compelled to purchase anything else (and this is very very bad). That tape copy (video or audio) is seldom good enough to be a keeper. An MP3 is good enough for everyone except the audiophile.

If you can show them the money, file sharing will become a way of life. All they see right now are lost sales.

I personnally believe file sharing can be a big hit with savvy musicians. I do not see how the music labels can profit from it … luckily, there aren’t many ‘savvy’ musicians.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Evidence

I’ve defined a number of potential business models in the past, so I didn’t think it was worth rehashing… but, more importantly, I don’t buy the argument that “if you can’t think of them or quantify them, what makes you think some Industry Exec can?” All I need to do is point to any other product in history that has become commodotized and how that impacts the market to know that it expands opportunities, not kills them.

Besides, even you admit that file sharing can be a big hit with “savvy” musicians. And, then, you point out that there aren’t that many savvy musicians. So, you have a way that it can help, and a gap in knowledge… that “gap” is exactly where the music labels can profit.

Does that help point you in the right direction?

RJD says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Evidence

Sorry, no it doesn’t point me in the right direction. The musicians can profit, no doubt. The agents, sponsors, companies, etc I doubt can profit … though an agent may want to redefine their role into someone who is savvy for the musicians thus upping his take to 20 – 40% and the musician getting the rest (which is much more than they make now).

Also, I don’t buy into your ‘products in history’ theme. Music isn’t really a ‘product’. Like a book you can resale the media but you can’t take the story, reprint it on your own paper, then turn around and sale it without giving money back to the owner of ‘the story’.

Perhaps their are historial cases of which are more closely aligned with the music but I haven’t seen any mentioned on your site that I can RECALL. Where is there an example of a for profit individual or company that has given away the rights to their intellectual property ? If I may draw an analogy, and it may be a poor one, I doubt stephen King would give a way a story to let anyone freely duplicate it without seeing some money back on it. More people might read his story but he’d be a poorer man for it. Would it bring more new readers ? Maybe; but he would have lost all of the sales from the ‘free’ book so he’d probably have made less money back. (hmmmm… maybe an argument for releasing material that’s been around for ages … release a ‘golden oldie’ for free to attract people to your new material .. might work … until people just start waiting for the free releases)

The lawsuits to retain the rights to copyrighted materials is very hotly contested in all area’s and music is simply another (Disney isn’t giving up Mickey anytime soon, Simon and Shuster fought tooth and nail for superman .. and lost to Time Warner … ). There’s usually just too much money involved or the potential for lots of money to be made to relinquish the rights.

And yes you have defined a number of potential business models in the past; and I haven’t seen one that would work as well as the current model for the music industry companies.

The only potential business models I see working are ones that eliminate music companies completely. This isn’t a bad thing as far as I’m concerned BUT BUT the music companies do see this as a problem and (I’m guessing) a fair number of current music ‘acts’ would also see it as a problem only because these acts are more a product of the music companies PR machine and not their own talent (can you say Millie Vanillie ? …. hell I can’t).

So instead of proposing a shift by the music companies in their business model, perhaps you should be more vocally advocating a stronger stance by more musicians to create a model without music companies and just damning the music companies (and the RIAA) as dinosaurs that don’t know they are dead yet. Your arguments are typically of the ‘they should reform’ nature. I’m saying they can’t so let them be and start screaming to the musicians to do something. Acts like the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Eric Clapton, REM, Dave Mathews, Pearl Jam, etc don’t NEED a music company. The Music companies NEED them. So have them (and their ilk) become the leaders of the revolution.

The music industry would then look more like the telephone companies of today who are watching their user base dry up due to wireless and VOIP technologies but are making tooooo much money not to continue ‘business as usual’.

I finally cut my landland last year and found I haven’t missed it one bit. Still waiting in the music world. But I still think the iTunes model is a nice start.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Evidence

All very good points…

My point is simply that the two things that the industry is good at is (1) discovering new acts and (2) promoting new acts.

Even in a world where music is free — if the business model changes, those two things can still be useful. So, my suggestion is that the current industry look to shift towards focusing on those aspects (the marketing, basically) and forget about selling records, but about selling the band, and everything associated with it.

Thufir (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Evidence

There is such a thing as golden oldies: the gutenberg (gutenburg? gutanburg? gutanberg?) project.

They take shakesepeare, or anything in the public domain, and put it on the internet. There’s pdf, plain text, what have you. Of course, there’s a backlog of many centuries, but they’re working on it πŸ™‚

Perhaps they’ll add audio files? and old movie clips from the 20’s?


Anonymous Coward says:

No Subject Given

How many years will it take for the industry to realize that tools that make it easier for music listeners to get and listen to the music they want to hear only opens up wider opportunities for the industry as a whole?

With all due respect, how many years will you be beating that horse with the same stick?

DoxAvg says:

Re: Re: No Subject Given

> If someone wrote, say, a perl script to monitor techdirt and
> copy all its content to another site, would Mike start acting like RIAA? πŸ˜‰
Yeah! Or what if they wrote a script to monitor techdirt and copied its content to a palm pilot so they could read it some other time! Those thieving bastards! Only Mike gets to say when people can read his advertisements!
What would happen if people could copy entire pages out of books and read them _outside_ of libraries! How will we control who uses our content?!?!
Copying material to be able to use it at another time or place has long been encoded in American case law as one instance of the right of fair use. We’re having big problems with content producers attempting to remove that right technologically; in this case they don’t even have that in place, but the RIAA insists that it’s wrong anyway. This is no different than having a photocopier so you can put the salient pages of your textbook into your notes. Yes, it can be used for wholesale piracy, but that’s not its primary purpose.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 No Subject Given

Actually, we’re not a content business at all, but a service one (see plenty of posts on this particular subject if you’re confused by the difference). No one is paying us for “content” but for the service of finding, filtering, summarizing and analyzing the content. They don’t pay us for past content, but for future content. So, if a customer would like to give out our past content, that’s their decision.

The big difference is that content businesses like to be paid for past content, assuming that once it’s created it has value. We believe the value is in the continual and future creation of useful content, which is a service. Companies pay us for the service, not the content.

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