Former RIAA Boss States The Obvious: The Record Labels Screwed Up… And Continue To Screw Up

from the again-and-again-and-again dept

Hilary Rosen was the head of the RIAA for many years, and led the RIAA’s attack on Napster and other early file sharing systems. She resigned in 2003, just before the RIAA began its campaign of suing individuals for file sharing, though long after the strategy had been decided upon and put in place. Since she left the RIAA, she surprised people by saying a lot of things that seemed to go against her former views — including throwing some support behind Creative Commons, admitting that music interoperability was important (something the labels fought against for a long time) and then came her rather surprising admission that she believed suing file sharing platforms was a dead end strategy and that she hated DRM — and then even admitting that this has always really been a business model issue, rather than a legal issue. Of course, what she ignored is that she helped make that so.

Billboard is now running an interview with Hilary Rosen to discuss “10 years since the Napster decision” and she’s equally forthright, complaining about the many, many mistakes that the industry has made:

The one lesson the industry did not learn after Napster was speed. When you’re talking about technology, you have to move quickly on opportunities. The constant refrain is ‘there’s no money in these opportunities. There’s no advances. We don’t see the pay off.’ But the thing you have to keep pushing back on is ‘what are you comparing it to?’ If you’re comparing it to physical sales or comparing it to an iTunes download, then you’re right, it’s going to be hard. But what you really need to compare to is how else fans are getting the music, which is free. The lessons of Napster, of rapid fire adoption, have been too quickly forgotten. The industry has moved a little too slow and have not benefited as much as they might have by the benefits of technology.

She does a little to defend the RIAA by noting, accurately, that:

I think the RIAA became the central organizing vehicle for people’s anger. But they don’t work for the consumers. They work for the industry. It’s the business leaders in the industry that are calling the shots there.

That’s absolutely true, of course. But it leaves out the fact that the RIAA itself has always promoted the idea that it does represent the best interests of music itself, including for the consumer. And that was true when Rosen was there as well. So whenever politicians or the press want to understand what’s happening in the music world, they look for a quote from the RIAA, not recognizing that it’s a very twisted view — one focused on protecting a business model used by a single set of companies in the industry.

Either way, it’s a worthwhile read, though it reminds you how little the industry did back when it actually could have embraced the future.

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Comments on “Former RIAA Boss States The Obvious: The Record Labels Screwed Up… And Continue To Screw Up”

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27 Comments
Rick says:

Re: Re:

Careful there. The RIAA represents PART of the industry.

I happen to own a record label myself and I refuse to have anything to do with the RIAA. I know of dozens of other record labels that feel the same way.

Not all of us are stupid enough to sue our fans or feel that a business model deserves any protection at all, especially in a capitalist society.

Competition is a good thing, even if the competition is free. In fact, it actually saves us money. We don’t have to spend enormous sums of money on legal fees and spend far less on marketing, thanks to file sharing.

Music can now help promote itself, for free.

Anonymous Coward says:

“The one lesson the industry did not learn after Napster was speed. … The lessons of Napster, of rapid fire adoption”

In other words, one must shut down new services and hinder the free market from advancing them before the free market realizes their benefit. Once the free market has realized their benefit it becomes much harder to convince others of the lie that these services are harmful to society and hence it becomes harder to shut them down.

Anonymous Coward says:

One thing I dislike (among others) is when people like this come out and talk like this and people think that is the noble thing or a good thing. Wouldn’t surprise me if this wench has some kind of book deal.

Besides being a hypocrite, more often than not it is just someone trying to make a profit by telling everyone how bad what they did was or how wrong they actually were.

Case in point: Jose Canseco. Yeah, profit by talking about how you broke the rules.

Sure, it helps us advance in our thinking, but don’t admire these people for doing it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Welcome to “I have an Ax to Grind: The RIAA edition”.

She sure changed her tune from 2003, didn’t she:

“She also has this wonderful quote: “During my tenure here, the recording industry has undergone dramatic challenges and it is well positioned for future success.””

Just remember to grind both sides of the ax, you get a better cut.

Comboman says:

No surprise

Since she left the RIAA, she surprised people by saying a lot of things that seemed to go against her former views

No surprise to me. Lawyers defend rapists and murderers. That doesn’t mean they like them or believe that they’re innocent, it’s just what they were paid to do and how the system works.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: No surprise

I think you took that a bit out of context. He wasn’t saying the RIAA are rapists and murderers, but that Rosen was being paid to put forth a set idea (‘piracy’ is bad) for the industry in a similar manner that lawyers are paid to defend people whom most of society despises (rapists and murderers). Defending rapists doesn’t mean the lawyers agree with their actions, in a similar manner that Rosen may not have agreed with the industry’s stance she had to support.

However, if she truly believed then what she says now, she was in a unique position to affect change, and didn’t. So we don’t know how much truth there is in what she does or says today. I tend to agree with the idea that she’s trying to get some sort of notoriety out of this and not actually improve the situation.

Anonymous Coward says:

The market was open for...

“The [music] industry has moved a little too slow and have not benefited as much as they might have by the benefits of technology.”

So it was a race between the music companies and technology companies for the market of using technology to provide music.

That companies that come from an industry that is almost defined by risk and rapid adoption beat out the music companies– quite easily.

It was Napster at first, who had offered to partner with the music companies. The RIAA (Sony, et al.) sued them into the ground. The assumption is that they would start their own online service.

Then Apple (formerly Computer) Inc showed up. I think you know the rest…

Newb says:

RE:No surprise @ 6

I want to thank you for raping and murdering the post you commented on with your comprehension skills.

Another thing we, as a society, don’t need are people like you that knee jerk to words like “rape”, “murder”, “Ter-er” (sorry Terror), “octuplet” with your media soaked opinion of things.

Disclaimer:
*Puppies and children died making this post.*

“Re: No surprise
by Anonymous Coward – Jun 5th, 2009 @ 8:12am

Thank you for equating the RIAA to rapists and murderers. Does that mean if we get rid of the RIAA the streets would be safer?

She wasn’t a lawyer – she was the leader. The reason they are where they are is in part of how she worked as well.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Propaganda

But it leaves out the fact that the RIAA itself has always promoted the idea that it does represent the best interests of music itself, including for the consumer.

Just basic propaganda. What else do you expect?

So whenever politicians or the press want to understand what’s happening in the music world, they look for a quote from the RIAA…

The press loves propaganda, especially when they can be a part of it.

…not recognizing that it’s a very twisted view…

More like counting on it.

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