Jim Griffin Explains Choruss; We're Still Left Wondering Why It's Needed

from the still-don't-see-it dept

Last week, we had a bit of a back and forth with Jim Griffin, who’s trying to build Choruss, a recording industry-backed service to have certain gatekeepers (universities initially, then ISPs, then…?) act as gatekeepers, who would effectively pay a per user fee, which they’d likely pass on to users, to allow those users to file share (sorta — as the record labels would still likely try to shut down file sharing networks and still push for “three strikes” laws). I got to see Griffin present his “vision” for Choruss at the Leadership Music Digital Summit and spent some time chatting with him after (no punches were thrown — it was quite friendly). That said, having heard from him directly, I’ll say I’m still quite skeptical and somewhat worried about where Choruss is heading, and many others I spoke to in attendance felt the same way.

First, Griffin’s point is basically this: for the past 150 years or so, any place that “used music to draw a crowd” eventually ended up paying some kind of license for it. It started with restaurants and then moved on to concert halls and radio and movies and television. So, to Griffin, setting up a similar licensing scheme (which he continues to say is voluntary, not compulsory) is simply the next obvious step. He paints himself as a technology supporter — and I have no doubt that’s true. He also points out that “piracy” isn’t necessarily the biggest “problem,” out there, though he still says it is a problem. He notes that there’s a lot more competition for everyone’s time and entertainment dollar spend. From his vantage point, the real problem is that all of the different rights holders are sitting around yelling at each other (it’s true, it happened on an earlier panel) rather than agreeing to take a dollar and split that dollar. So, while they all fight, that dollar goes somewhere else. So, based on that, the solution is simple: set up a process to get the dollar, and then let everyone fight over that dollar behind the curtain, rather than out front in dealing with consumers directly. I’ve heard a very similar vision from folks like Fred von Lohmann over at EFF.

While I’ve been tough on Griffin, I will say that I believe quite strongly that he earnestly believes this is the best solution to the “problems” facing the recording industry. I don’t think he’s trying to create a pure money grab for the record labels or create what becomes a “music tax.” The problem is that that’s exactly what such a program is likely to become.

To defend against those claims, Griffin repeatedly says what he said earlier: this is just an experiment! He says that later this year a bunch of universities will launch with Choruss (in fact, he claims that more universities wanted to sign up than they could handle) — but each may be using a different model. So, one university may require every student to participate. One may be opt-in. One may be opt-out. One may set up their own centralized file sharing server. Even how they measure what files are shared will be a variety of experiments: one may use technology tools. One may simply use self-generated “diaries” (like the old Nielsen/Arbitron systems). Payments may be based on downloads on one system and “plays” on another. The pricing may be different at different universities. Basically, it’s just a series of tests, and supposedly we’ll all “learn” from it and move on from there. In fact, he’s hoping that since these tests will be done at research universities, that professors there will help study the results. So that’s why Griffin has been upset about some of the coverage (including ours) that didn’t highlight the fact that these are tests that could go in a variety of different directions.

He didn’t address any of the questions we raised in that last post, in part because he doesn’t have the answers to many of them yet (it’s part of what he hopes shakes out from the experiments). However, there are still plenty of reasons to be quite wary of this plan. For all of Griffin’s belief that this is the an experiment worth trying, I think it’s built on faulty premises and will quickly go down a dangerous road. It’s just too tempting to take this concept in exactly the wrong direction.

The faulty premise: that licensing is a way to “handle” the issue (even if he still doesn’t want to call this a license). Licenses have always been a way to duct-tape on a temporary solution to a new technology. Adding yet another such license is simply layering on yet another layer when it’s simply not needed. Griffin complains that “we cannot tolerate a society where paying for art, culture and knowledge is voluntary,” but that’s missing the point. It assumes, incorrectly, that paying for the content directly is the only way to make money off of that content. As we’ve been showing over and over again (and many others at this very event are demonstrating) that’s simply not true. There are lots of ways to make money, and many of those are enhanced by having the music be available for free.

Griffin addressed that briefly, suggesting that those other models still work on top of Choruss, whereby Choruss acts as sort of a “basement floor” on top of which those other models can be built. That sounds great, but it sounds to me like a social welfare program, separate from what the market would allow. And once you build such a system, as we’ve seen over and over again, the folks who control it keep asking for more and more. So even if these are experiments and who knows where the final model will go, given who’s backing it, it’s not hard to guess: they’re going to demand to make it about as close to compulsory as possible. ISPs are going to offer it and will simply add to everyone’s bill. The program doesn’t work at all if they don’t do that — and that’s simply going to piss off a lot of people, just at a time when musicians actually have been showing they can win the trust (and money) from true fans.

Griffin suggests that ISPs won’t have to make it mandatory, but will be able to “upsell” people to tiers that include the Choruss tax covenant not to sue license whatever it’s called. He uses, as an example, just how difficult AT&T (he didn’t name them, but it’s clear who he meant) has made it to sign up for naked DSL. He interprets this to mean that the ISPs are good at upselling users. He ignores the fact that AT&T worked hard to hide the option and when that was revealed a rather angry outcry went up among AT&T customers who felt cheated.

When challenged on all this by an audience member — Dave Allen, member of the UK band Gang of Four, who has now gone on to a second career helping musicians build real business models around their brands — Griffin used “the cable model” as a way that this all makes sense: i.e., even if you don’t like sports, you get ESPN in your basic cable package. Allen smartly shot back the fact that customers hate that and are increasingly looking at alternatives like Hulu and Boxee, that let them get away from such deals. All Griffin could do was insist that such bundling would “come back.”

But Allen really got to exactly the heart of the problem with Choruss: it’s a plan based on what’s best for the existing stakeholders, not the customers. There are plenty of business models out there (and I’ve been hearing about a bunch more from musicians as I chat to them at this event) that work by creating a true win-win relationship between the musicians and the fans. They’re models under which everyone benefits. Choruss doesn’t work that way. It seeks to perpetuate the old model, where you have to “get” money out of others in order to “allow” them to do something. It’s not about creating win-win models where everyone’s happy to take part, making a willing transaction where they feel better off. The examples Griffin gives — of older licensing models, ISP upsells and cable TV bundling — are exactly the sorts of things that have always pissed off fans, and it seems likely that Choruss will do the same, no matter how much Griffin hopes to have it avoid that fate.

Instead, there are tons of models that don’t involve anyone feeling angry or ripped off — and those embracing them are finding them to be quite lucrative (in many cases more lucrative than older offerings). Griffin says that Choruss won’t interfere with those other models, but that’s unlikely (at best). If people feel they’re getting ripped off by having to pay a university fee or ISP-fee (tax) for music, they’re going to be less willing to participate in these sorts of new business models, already feeling pissed off and that they’ve “given” already… often under duress. That’s not the model on which to build a successful industry.

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Comments on “Jim Griffin Explains Choruss; We're Still Left Wondering Why It's Needed”

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RomeoSidVicious (profile) says:

I don't disagree

I think Choruss isn’t a bad idea on the surface. I wouldn’t mind paying more for my broadband connection to be able to legally download the music I listen to. It amuses me because most of the music I listen to is on independent labels and the bands encourage people to download their music. I worry because I don’t want to end up on the wrong end of one of the *AAs because I grabbed the wrong file and seeded. I don’t mind funding the artists or even the floundering record companies in order to have convenient access to my music.

However once you combine this with ongoing litigation and the *AAs not changing what they are doing then it becomes untenable. I don’t think Choruss can work because it would require everyone to sign on, all the big names at the very least, otherwise the consumer isn’t going to know what they can and cannot share without getting in trouble. If Choruss was a service that eliminated the *AAs, just for the music industry to start, I think it would be an amazing idea. ISPs could simply have in their “bare” offerings a clause that if you share or download music covered by the service you will be upgraded to whatever level is needed for that sharing to be covered. No-one pays for things they don’t use in that model. Then over time expand it out to TV and movie distribution and you start having a working solution.

Like Mr. Griffin said it will take multiple failures (experiments) to figure out how to make it work. But the model, or a similar model, can work. It would be win/win for the consumer and the media companies. I also think this incarnation will likely fail due to the current IP climate. I know I would pay a good deal more for my internet connection if it included permission to share media. The utterly non-scientific poll I just took of my co-workers says that 8 of 10 would pay up to twice what they pay now just for that convenience. I have a feeling that every parent of a teenager would pay a little more to make sure they didn’t run afoul of the *AAs of the world. It’s a business model that could very well work but is doomed to fail as the giants won’t let it run its course and be successful.

Chris S says:

Re: Re: I don't disagree

I’d be very pissed if I had to subsidize your music habit with my money. I haven’t voluntarily listened to music in about a decade (that’s the last time I can remember playing a song to just listen to it). Would you be willing to pay extra money to the TV Studios so I wouldn’t have to worry about Torrenting something from the BBC? Or will we both be pissed of when we have to send some amount of money a month so the neighbor can download the latest Friday the 13th? Where does the money grab end? What about all the images in various web pages, will we be paying another tax to make sure the photographers are paid for each such view?

RomeoSidVicious says:

Re: Re: Re: I don't disagree

I did make it clear in my comment that I think an opt-in system would be the only way to make things work. I don’t want anyone to subsidize my downloads nor would I support a system that forced people to do so. In plain language I would only support something like this if it were offered to people as an opt-in system. I have Comcast as my internet provider and know they would likely just up their rates and subscribe everyone which I would not support but if the overarching system is opt-in then I see no real problem outside of the obvious problems of getting all the players to agree to participate so the average person doesn’t think they are alright only to be popped by a company not playing along.

RomeoSidVicious says:

Re: Re: I don't disagree

It wouldn’t be hard for the media companies to include something in their contracts, going forward of course, to handle the screewriters, songwriters (for them you just pull ASCAP and BMI onboard), and so on. Existing media might be an issue but I don’t think it would be hard to sort out. I already mentioned scaling up to include movies and TV so I obviously think this system can cover other things. I haven’t thought much about e-books but I don’t see why all media couldn’t be covered. Offer tiers and automatically bill customers for the tier, upgrading their account, when they download something covered by the tier, also offer the tiers for anyone to sign up for. No big deal really…

JL says:

What's the advantage?

What exactly does Choruss provide? This has never been explained. What do you get for the money?

Do you get a promise not to be sued no matter what you do? Do you get a promise not to be sued by a single company, every company, individual bands?

Do you just get satisfaction that some middleman gets to put in a bigger pool in his backyard without doing any actual work to benefit society?

Chronno S. Trigger says:

Re: What's the advantage?

Basically the idea is that you pay them and they agree not to sue you for downloading anything that infringes on their members’ copyrights. What you’re doing is still considered illegal and anyone who has any kind of claim and isn’t one of their members can still sue you.

What is the wholesale price? says:

Re: What's the advantage?

You hit on a couple real good points, JL.

I’m now very interested in what type of deal Choruss has with the recording industry, and the cost differences between wholesale pricing being offered by Choruss versus, shall we say, “suggested retail prices” being charged to the University.

In retail, it’s typical to see somewhere between a 50%-100% markup between wholesaler and point of purchase.

But the recording industry is very different, usually with much higher margins. Still, let’s assume there exists 5 layers of management between artist to product wholesale ( label, management, RIAA, ASCAP/BMI, Artist) plus, let’s say Chroruss adds two more (Local/Regional and national account management) Under a model such as this, it’s possible artists could still receive only 5¢ for every $2.50 collected, assuming they get anything at all.

james (profile) says:

another issue

If choruss is a mandatory fee to have access to something similar to itunes or whatnot, that still requires payment per item, then it is no better than what we have now, other than as a means to recuperate alleged losses from those that get their stuff for free. If it is a blanket project similar to a buffet, where a dollar at the door gets you in for grab all you want, then who is the people that are going to choose what is available to grab? Sounds to me that not only are they trying to brace the old draconian methods, but also bringing back the days of payola.

batch (profile) says:

terrible idea

Why don’t they just insist that all people get money deducted out of their paycheck, automatically like Social Security? Thats what they want, isn’t it? They’ve decided that they’re entitled to this money, without offering anything new or different, exactly what we have now, except that they get a new reliable revenue stream for doing NOTHING.

They act like they have some sort of natural right to our money. As if we don’t get a choice in the matter, like they are part of the government, except that the government actually Provides something to you. They just collect the money for nothing. Its like trying to tax you for breathing oxygen, there is no incentive to pay.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: terrible idea

Why don’t they just insist that all people get money deducted out of their paycheck, automatically like Social Security? Thats what they want, isn’t it?

Yes, that’s what it seems. Guaranteed income with minimal effort.

Could you imagine the type of music coming from the same people who run the DMV? It’ll all be elevator music because someone somewhere will be “enraged” that taxes are being paid to make music that isn’t in their native language.

R. Miles says:

Step 1: Get foot. Step 2: Insert into mouth.

we cannot tolerate a society where paying for art, culture and knowledge is voluntary
Since I know Jim frequents this site…

I would like to know where you get off thinking culture is something people must pay for, regardless if it’s voluntary or not?

Our society shouldn’t pay to view an artist’s expression. This isn’t what defines culture. An artist’s intent is to share the expression to the world.

I’m pretty damn tired of you, and other industry executives, thinking you have a right to improperly assess a value to this content, which is always inflated beyond its true amount.

No offense, but Choruss is doomed, because people like me are tired of paying the “middle men” who do nothing but increase prices. It is not our fault the industry refuses to take consumers into consideration.

A digital song is not worth $1. It will never be worth $1. However, this is the only means available to people to support the artist who created the content.

It appears artists are trying new ideas to allow the customer to base the value on the content, and work to obtaining revenue for the man hours put into creating it.

These new ideas are placing people like you into a state of fear, as the horizon shows how obsolete the industry is becoming. The pink slip of your employment is coming, but rather than own up, you find ways to keep your job, usually at the expense of others.

I’m going to say this once again, and will repeat until the message sinks in: We, as customers, can no longer afford the cost of your over-inflated values assigned to content. Even at $1, you’re asking us to make a decision, within our means, on who to support.

If this doesn’t get through to you, then you are a lost cause. No additional distribution method will help, as this will only inflate the $1 per song to a new $2 price tier.

We are tired of lining your pockets while the very models you support take in most of the revenue. You do nothing for me. You don’t create. You only take. Why in the hell should I spend $1 to contribute to your greed?

Now you expect me to support a “bundled” package? Are you insane? Since you mentioned cable, let’s review exactly what happens with bundling.

First, cable pricing has increased over 136% in the last 10 years. It remains the most expensive of all content distribution methods, and with cost explosions like this, it’s no wonder.

Second, individual companies will opt for more at some point. Case in point: The recent Viacom vs. Time Warner Cable dispute (resolved under privacy). ESPN, as you mentioned, will eventually come to consumers expecting more for its “content”.

Third, as a cable subscriber myself, I am paying for channels I will never watch, including ESPN. Why should the cost of this burden be placed on me when I only care to watch Discovery HD?

And finally, there was once a distribution model which based itself that viewership cost nothing as long as it was supported by advertising. This worked for some time, especially given there was only one distribution method.

However, this model is no longer viable. Not only am I paying for channels I don’t want, I am paying for channels I do want despite the excessive advertising.

Please don’t reply the ads help to offset costs. This would be an insulting excuse. It is due to the middle men, all of which continue wanting more and more money from customers.

Here’s what you can do to really make a change:
-Help remove the current licensing and royalty system in use today. It’s unnecessary and does nothing more than increase costs to customers.

-Help educate artists who are in it to “get rich”. These days are coming to an end, unless other models are used to replace the current system.

-Help distribute more bands who aren’t well known. If the goal is to make money from music, one would think getting as many artists out there would be a benefit, not a burden.

-Realize a digital file has very little distribution costs, especially when these costs are offset by fans who will host files to other servers. Infinite supply = $0.00.

-Realize it’s not the content people pay for, but the work involved. All content is free to the world. The true definition of culture.

-Capitalize on new ideas to bring customers to you, and realize not all will. By telling customers what they can, and can not do, only drives them away. A bad business decision on your part.

It’s not easy to adapt to the new digital era, but it is upon us. Businesses relying on cornering an infinite good are going to die if they don’t adapt. This includes the recording industry, as well as any other digital distribution industry.

The solution is not to add another cost-inhibited layer to the current model, but to work on new models. After all, you said Choruss is an experiment.

Sadly, it’s not an experiment in my best interest, so you’ll excuse me if I object should the cost of Choruss cycle down to my ISP bill (and my cell phone bill, as it’s not the same, and my cable bill, now that TV is tying into the internet more). You get the idea.

I truly feel sorry for you if you believe your industry has a chance to survive continuing what it does today. This proves, beyond any doubt, there is no innovation.

Without innovation, customers find alternatives.

If you want my money, you need entice me to give it to you.

Not tell me I need 3 separate songs because I have 3 separate devices to play them on.

The ball is now in your court. Good luck. You’re going to need it with this stupid experiment. If this is the best you can do, your industry is in serious trouble.

Have a great day.

lulz says:

Inconsequential solution

This doesn’t even matter.

Some people will torrent things, copy from a friend, anything, to get it for free. Not because they justify it by claiming they’re protesting the industry of whatever. It’s convenient for them.
Trying to make those people pay up won’t work because they are good at disregarding the law.

What makes you think, Jim, that your little ‘experiment’ will change the fact that there are going to be the schemers out there to circumvent you, hmm?

LostSailor says:

But Experimenting Is Good!

…helping musicians build real business models…

Licensing is just as “real” a business model, whether you think it an appropriate one or not.

Choruss: it’s a plan based on what’s best for the existing stakeholders, not the customers.

Actually, it could have great benefit for customers, even if not the ultimate benefit you seek. And why shouldn’t the benefit of “existing stakeholders” be just as legitimate as that of the customers?

I’m beginning to suspect that you think this route is “dangerous” because it might actually work. Aren’t you all for experimenting with different models?

LostSailor says:

Re: Re: But Experimenting Is Good!

What is the benefit for consumers? Delayed lawsuit? The mistaken belief that if it comes from a large corporate entity it’s a good idea?

Being able to share music using P2P technology without fear of being sued? Seems like a decent benefit. Since this is still in the experimental stage, it will of course be important what the final details are, but if it is voluntary, I’ll be quite a lot of consumers would happily sign on. I probably would.

This route is dangerous because it criminalizes any model not sanctioned by the Choruss.

It does nothing of the kind. Much activity that might take place outside such a system is already illegal and would likely remain so. Music distributors would be free to use any model they wanted to, including giving away music for free.

Chris Brand says:

He obviously doesn't realise how important art, culture and knowledge are

“we cannot tolerate a society where paying for art, culture and knowledge is voluntary,”

Fascinating. Wasn’t the original justification for public libraries something along the lines of “we cannot tolerate a society where paying for art, culture and knowledge is mandatory” ? And isn’t that the complete opposite ?

Our art, culture and knowledge is too important to deny it to the poor.

SeanG says:

Is this all going to be a moot point in ten years?

I wonder if this is all going to be a moot point in ten years — not because the record labels have come to thier senses, I’m not sure I believe that’s possible, but because up and coming muscians will see the foolishness of bothering with a label when they can now do it all themselves.

Over ten years ago a group I was in made a CD. We didn’t have distribution, because we weren’t with a label. If we did the same thing today, we have the resources of YouTube, a web site, Emusic.com, audio downloads and a lot of other possibilities to promote and sell the music.

I really don’t think it matters any longer right now for 95% of the groups out there making music. Maybe, *maybe* there’s a small percentage of groups that would benefit by a label to help them with logistics — if they didn’t care that they made very little money. And maybe there’s .1% or .2% of artists who can actually make a lot of money and be connected to a record label.

Artists are making money right now without a label. What’s it going to be like when kids who are around 13 now get older? I think they’ll take what will be, to them, the easy route, and do internet distribution of music.

David (profile) says:

I don't download music illegally

However, this sounds like it penalizes me. I have to pay, regardless (well, if they had their way, eventually). Just like with cassette tapes. I have to pay more for a cassette, even if I just want to record my kids goofing around or a lecture at school or birds chirping outside my window or whatever. I am penalized for being a good citizen and doing things legally, because others might do something “illegal”.

If my ISP charges more because maybe I’ll download something illegally, what’s to stop them at music? Tax #2 is movies, tax #3 is video games, tax #4 is e-books, etc.

Anonymous Poster says:

“we cannot tolerate a society where paying for art, culture and knowledge is voluntary”

I believe we can, and I believe people living in the Digital Age (as opposed to people existing in the Digital Age, but living in the Analog Age / having an Analog Age way of thinking — people like Jim Griffin) are doing just that.

Nick Dynice (profile) says:

I have a list of questions for Jim:

How is Choruss not like a Trojan Horse on the technology of education, where Choruss can have control over a network that could theoretically grow tighter?

What will stops grandstandy, RIAA sponsored from legislators from passing a law that uses the logic: “You are not using Choruss, thus you must have students that are infringing, you will be litigated or you will settle”? Sure, there is due process, but this could be an unnecessary hassle on the university.

Will Choruss be able to limit the number of songs downloaded by a specific campus or user? Is it buffet or à la carte? If there is a restriction on the number of songs by campus or user, by what process can users claim they did download the quota or songs Choruss claims they have?

Does Choruss care about they effect they will have on limiting the innovations provided by open wifi networks and its benefits to students such as mobility, convenience, access to all parts of the internet?

Will Choruss’s system be independently accounted and audited?

Will Choruss be able to turn on or off access to specific P2P networks, handing a level of control that is above the campus’s own IT department? Will Choruss’s be able to restrict access to particular artists or songs at the request of labels, publishers, mechanical rights holders, or artists on P2P licenses?

Will Choruss be responsible for any additional IT costs, or be liable for any network downtime, losses of educational related files related to false positives, or damages to a campus’s network equipment?

What security measures are in place to prevent hackers from breaking into Choruss’s accounting system, exposing private student data?

Has Choruss considered that they might drive students to start sharing music on ad-hoc wifi networks, CD-Rs, or flash drives at “music sharing parties” which will then be untraceable, thus triggering rights holders to engage in Stasi-like activities to discover new methods of unauthorized sharing?

Has Choruss considered that new P2P networks, audio formats, and encryption schemes will pop ut that attempt to evade Choruss’s trackers, creating a cat-and-mouse game for Choruss?

Will Choruss have he ability to distinguish downloads between legitimate music stores such as iTunes, Amazon MP3, Napster, Rhapsody, Bleep, Beatport, AmieStreet or EMusic (and others I have left out or have not been developed yet) and what are right now considered illegal P2P networks so students are not double charged? What measure stops Choruss from ignoring these to increase its revenues? What stops Choruss from saying who can and cannot engaged in digital music commerce now and in the future?

Will Choruss be able to track song downloads via web browsers? What about legitimately licensed and monetized streams via iTunes, Real, WMP and other apps that have not yet been developed?

What measures are in place to stop a Choruss partner form claiming false ownership over independently distributed songs, and by what process will content owners be able to dispute false ownership?

What measures are in place to stop Choruss from counting and charging for songs intentionally distributed via P2P by independent labels and artists that are not represented by Choruss partners, and then handing over payment to Choruss partner labels and publishers for this content?

What measures are in place to help Choruss identify between multiple licensing and distribution agreements that could be in place for a single song title? A song can be licensed for sale under a Choruss to one party and for free P2P distribution to another party. What about music licensed under Creative Commons?

What stops an independent label, publisher, or artists not represented by Choruss from suing students?

What will stop Choruss from engage in sharing data with entities like the NSA, DHS, or The Authors Guild, invading further into civili liberties to “stop terrorists,” “protect the children,” “protect authors,” and other political grandstanding opportunities? What measures stops Choruss from being co-opted by the RIAA in order to become even more oppressive?

Why, as proud Americans, do Choruss and its partners believe that its commercial interests are more important than the US’s ranking in higher education per capita? They could prove otherwise by shuttering Choruss, making it that much easier for students to afford an education.

How can we trust an industry to fairly divide up the booty when “… the spreadsheets and financial models dictate that suing customers and partners just makes too much sense.” http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/03/08/big-music-will-surrender-but-not-until-at-least-2011/ Is this not the logic of a thug? Sure, Choruss is not the RIAA, but in most consumer’s minds, they one and the same. Pay “us” and “we” won’t sue. Sounds more like a cartel.

Thomas Rand says:


What i would like to know is:

If i go to a music shop via public transport, spend £200 on music CD’s then go home via public transport & then share these CD’s with my friends & their friends and repeat this process once a week for two month will the RIAA send notices to the public transport agencies requesting them to speak to me about sharing copyrighted material?

If not WHY not because essentially it is the same thing that you are doing when you use p2p

Sam says:

it's a plan based on what's best for the existing stakeholders

What are you talking about? Mike says “it’s a plan based on what’s best for the existing stakeholders, not the customers”

I have many great plans for the customers – free food, free computers, free iPods – take as much as you want. You want a house with a picket fence and a fully stocked media room? No problem. How about a vacation home in Vail? How about a pied a tere in New York? Maybe you want to eat at a fine restaurant – and request the Dom Perignon for good measure – and walk out without paying? Those are plans with the customer in mind, right? Pay nothing and assume that those who provided the service can figure out a way to feed their families.

Sure, everyone wants something for free, but what really makes a society work (even in the most socialistic society) is a fair exchange for goods and services that motivates the seller to continue to provide a good value.

I fail to see how a model of free supports studio musicians, producers, and that shy composer working in his basement apartment. To assume that the Music Industry is not offering them value is condescending – as if the people who do sign up with a label are ignorant.

What qualifies any hack who has time to post on a blog to tell people how they should make a living? In our society, it is the right of everyone to pursue the vocation they please, and they are free to pursue legal means if someone gets in their way. No one can tell them what to do unless it harms the well being of others.

This is not rocket science, nor is it some unique situation driven by the internet. In every society people have found ways to take things for free – whether it be the counterfeit Louis Vitton bag on a corner, shoplifting out of a store, stealing cable service or robbing banks. In all of those cases, the government steps in and establishes regulations and laws to allow those people to make a living. Even then, it is the industries themselves that are often most effective at combatting the these attempts for people to take things without paying. That means hiring private security guards, putting in security cameras, putting tags on clothes, etc. And yes, they press charges and sue people as necessary. Oh, and who pays for the cost of security and stolen goods? The honest people which is most of the population. Other than convicted felons, I don’t see many people complaining about this approach.

So what makes music different? Maybe everyone has a different attitude now that it is much easier to take music or any other IP for free? Maybe it is because you are less likely to get caught that makes it okay?
Is it that there are entrenched middlemen who don’t have the best interest if the customer in mind? There are entrenched middlemen in every industry, and over time, if they can’t provide value then they die.

If you don’t agree, then maybe you should stop what you’re doing, offer it for free, and then try to figure out a different way to get paid for it.

Anonymous Coward says:

“All Griffin could do was insist that such bundling would “come back.””

IOW, his response is to FORCE people to buy things they don’t want to get something they want, like cable companies do. Two wrongs make a right, cable companies do it so others can do it as well. This just demonstrates the lack of competition out there.

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