Music Is Not A Product, And You'll Never Adapt If You Think It Is

from the lessons-from-the-front dept

About a decade ago, I wrote a long analysis of why digital “goods” were really a “service,” not a “product,” and explained how this was the key to understanding modern business models. I had submitted it to a large publication, who came back and told me that my reasoning made no sense at all and they refused to publish it. It may be true that my reasoning doesn’t make much sense, but it’s nice to see that others are coming to the same conclusion. Hypebot has a nice post from singer/songwriter Jeff Macdougall explaining how music must be viewed as a service, rather than a product, if those in the music industry want to successfully adapt to the changing market:

When a label executive tells you that they are “not in the business of selling discs”, (or vinyl, tape, t-shirts, etc.) and that they are actually “selling music,” they are, at best, fooling themselves, or at worst, lying to your face. Moving plastic, vinyl, paper and/or any other tangible good they can dream up is exactly what the recording industry has been about since it was established.

Sure, the labels spend money and time trying to infuse their products (CDs, posters, etc.) with content (music, album art, etc.) to raise its intrinsic value, but it’s still the CD or poster that they are/were selling… not the music itself.

He goes on to note that music is really an experience, and people should stop focusing on copyright law or the idea that file sharing is “stealing,” and focus on the overall experience and building models based on that.

Of course, he doesn’t quite get into the difference between a service and a product — and it’s one area that people sometimes get confused about, so one way to simplify it is to think of it like this: a product is a single thing created in the past that you now own. A service is paying for something to happen in the future. It’s not a perfect explanation, but in my experience, this simple distinction often gets people thinking creatively about how to turn a business model into one focused on selling a service, rather than a product.

Filed Under: , , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Music Is Not A Product, And You'll Never Adapt If You Think It Is”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Richard (profile) says:

Re: In your opinion

If you want to think music is a service, go ahead. Treat your own music as a service, and have at it. I’ll continue to treat it as a product, thank you very much.

The fact that music is a service not a product is part of the science of economics like Newton’s laws in physics.

You are at liberty to disagree with Newton’s laws but you would be wrong to do so and if you attempted to use your mistaken opinions as the basis of a design for a mechanical device you would likely end up with a disaster.

In the same way you can disagree with the laws of economics – but if you design an economic device (like a business model) based on that misconception you will end up in trouble – and don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re: In your opinion

the modern ‘science’ of economics is a load of rubbish anyway. it’s more of an ideology, usually. most of it’s so called laws are complete nonsense based on the desire to make economies work like gravity or electricity, rather than like earthquakes or weather (to which their nature is much closer)

(also, ‘home economics’ is silly, given that the ‘eco’ in economics means ‘home’ anyway.)

sorry, i’ve just been reading up on this and the more i find out about it the more rage inducing the stupid assumptions that have come out of it become :-S

then again, economics probably does have Actual laws, people just haven’t figured them out properly yet… blah.

on a different note, while the music industry may be wrong about whether they’re providing a product or a service, at least that’s better than the software industry, who keep trying to claim to be doing both with the same item, and switching which based on what screwes over the customer/advantages them more…

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: In your opinion

the modern ‘science’ of economics is a load of rubbish anyway. it’s more of an ideology, usually. most of it’s so called laws are complete nonsense based on the desire to make economies work like gravity or electricity, rather than like earthquakes or weather (to which their nature is much closer)

A bit of a generalisation there. Unfortunately economics has frequently been hijacked for political purposes – and some overblown predictions have been made – but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t some value to be found in it.

bill long says:

Do What you Want

“By choosing to believe, whole-heartedly, that “music is a product” and anyone who hears it without permission (i.e. file sharing, YouTube, hearing it on a radio station or podcast where it hasn’t been sanctioned, etc.) is stealing, you’ve empowered the entire industry to take us all down the drain.”

I’ve been listening to your ilk for ten years whining about this subject. Here’s the thing: you are entirely free to do WHATEVER YOU WANT with your OWN MUSIC. By all means, produce your own music, and give it away, free of charge. Is anyone stopping you from doing this? But please do keep your hands off of my right to distribute my own music as I see fit, including charging a per copy royalty.

bill long says:

Re: Re: Do What you Want

>>So, if I want to buy a song what’s it cost?

For most commercial music purchases, you do not “buy a song.” You buy a license that grants you certain limited rights with respect to using that instance of the song.

>>Also, how many times can I play the song that I “bought”?

For most commercial music purchases, unlimited numbers of plays.

>>Do I actually own the song I “purchased” from you (as opposed to the shiny plastic disc) or will you try to sue me if I play it for 150 of my closest friends at a birthday-gala event?

No. You do not own the song. You own a license to use the song in a limited way, generally, non-commercial, non-broadcast.

Joshua says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Do What you Want

“The contract is “implicit” when you purchase. Signature is not required. If you don’t like the law, feel free to try to change it.”

I am not provided nor informed about this “Contract” upon purchase, nor does the product direct to such information.

As such, a contract does not imply to me, and I am an uninformed consumer. Remember the ol, “I spilled coffee on me, but didn’t know it was hot” winning lawsuit? Consumers have the benefit of being naive and your “implicit” contract doesn’t spell out a single, damn thing to me. Don’t like it? …Sue me.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Do What you Want

So your licensing is much like the EULA on a video game, you cannot see what the actual licensing conditions are until you purchase the license, and if you disagree you’re up “S” creek because the license is non-refundable?

Also if the license I purchase entitles me to unlimited plays, if my media that holds the licensed content is damaged will you replace the media at no cost?

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Do What you Want

of course not. because as soon as you try that it’s suddenly a product again.

amusingly, not that it’s ever been tested in court here, if it is not legal to return the software you bought (and that’s the case here) for anything other than another copy of the exact same thing, even if you agree to the EULA, it Should (i’m not a lawyer, never have been, and have never had the time/budget/connections to get this checked out) rate as being signed under duress, if valid at all.

(of course, you also can’t return DVDs for anything but a replacement copy here either… but some places will happily refund you anyway.)

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Do What you Want

Correct! And nobody is interested in buying stupid limited “licenses” anymore. And you can’t “sell” music itself as a product, so instead you have to sell it as a service if you want to succeed.

If, instead, you prefer to continue trying to use an obsolete system to sell horrible licenses that nobody wants – well, don’t be surprised when you don’t make much money.

Chosen Reject (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Do What you Want

Wrong. You own the song. This isn’t contract law. It’s copyright law. When I buy the shiny plastic disc, I own its contents and can whatever I want with it so long as that is legal. The government decided that if the content on that shiny plastic disc is copyrighted then it automatically restricts me from redistributing it. It does allow me to format shift the content, it allows me to transform the content, it allows me some other fair use rights, but copyright law disallows me from copying it wholesale and redistributing it until the copyright terminates.

The person who sold me the shiny plastic disc (let’s assume they are the copyright holder) can implicitly grant me more rights than that. For example, they can allow me to share it so long as I attribute the work to them. However, if they want to get more restrictive (a non-disclosure agreement for example) then they need to present me with a license.

For example, when I buy a knife, I can do whatever I want with it, but the government won’t allow me vandalize with it. The guy who sold me the knife can be less restrictive. For example he can allow me to scratch up his stuff so long as it is with the knife I bought from him. But if he wants to restrict me further (allow me to only cut bread with it) then he’ll have to get me to sign a contract.

I own the song I buy. Unless I voluntarily signed a more restrictive contract, then I’m only restricted by copyright law.

Jebrew (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Do What you Want

Not to mince words, but when you say it grants the usage, you mean it provides you the utility of having the ability to listen to that particular song yes? As such, aren’t you saying that it’s an instrument that allows listening to the music? So, irregardless of your stance on music, the license would then be a service that you provide in perpetuity to allow someone to access your song.

Yeah, we do the same thing with software. People who view it as a product really take issue with us not providing free upgrades. The rest recognize that a yearly subscription is a reasonable approach to it.

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Do What you Want

well, there’s the british one about the lady who got sued for broadcasting music because she had the radio on where horses could hear it…

and then there was the…hair dresser, i think? again, radio on while she worked, oh, broadcast, sue. can’t remember where that one was, exactly.

those are the classic examples, anyway. (i’m sure someone can give actual links and/or better details on those ones.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Do What you Want

“Over the internet” is a broad term, I can set up a webpage with my home computer and have access to my video and music library for my personal use, I can use cyber-lockers to store my multimedia files for personal use and sharing with close friends and relatives.

Are you saying that is illegal?

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Do What you Want

No. You do not own the song. You own a license to use the song in a limited way, generally, non-commercial, non-broadcast.

So, Intellectual Property is only to be considered “property” when you own it, and as so as you sell it to someone else it’s only a “license”.

Does anyone else see the problem with referring to Intellectual Property as property or is it just me?

bill long says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Do What you Want

“So, Intellectual Property is only to be considered “property” when you own it, and as so as you sell it to someone else it’s only a “license”.”

Again, you don’t buy the music. You never own the music. You buy the physical medium (e.g, CD) and a license to use the music in limited ways. Don’t like it? Change the law.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Do What you Want

I promise sincerely to take a peek at that site (and hopefully any music samples?) when I get home. I’ve come across plenty of killer music on this site that have been on my side of the debate, and I sure as shit won’t hesitate to give those on the other side a shot as well.

Here’s to hoping I like your music more than your opinions on copyright, Bill the Long!

cc (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Do What you Want

The defining feature of real ownership is possession (as it has been since the dawn of time); the law only clarifies and systematizes that to make our lives simpler. Economically, real property can be regarded as a monopoly only because of its “uniqueness” (inherent exclusion by possession), not because of the law — and that interpretation is stretching the economic concept of monopolies, as the word “monopoly” is not generally used to define “property”.

Intellectual “property” is a figment created by law that has no actual basis on the natural characteristics of ideas. There is no inherent exclusion by possession, as ideas cannot be owned (as it has been since the dawn of time), and the only way Intellectual “property” can exist is through an artificial monopoly explicitly granted by congress.

I know there are relevant US supreme court rulings that state precisely this. Perhaps an american could cite them for you.

bill long says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Do What you Want

No. Music is a production. And for the sake of IP rights and regulation, it (the song and a particular production of a particular song) are instances of intellectual property. (Live music performance can be viewed as a “service”, the rendition, not the song itself.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Do What you Want

unfortunately, in this statement you concede that music is indeed a service because a production is an action not a material good, the by-product of this action is a product that can be sold. An action in and of itself cannot be a product, but is instead a service. The product is a medium with the music already loaded on it ready to play. If I hold a copy of the music and can produce another why should I pay for the service of production?

bill long says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Do What you Want

Well, let’s see what primary definitions says:

“Product: 1. Something produced by human or mechanical effort or by a natural process.”

“Service: a. Employment in duties or work for another, as for a government:”

The difference here is that a product is an object, whether physical or abstract. A service is not. And whether you can buy something or not is irrelevent. People sell songs all the time. That’s a different matter than licensing. If I write a song, I can sell all of the rights to that song to another party. (And “rights” here is the operative word.)

It’s all about rights. The whiners don’t like the fact that people can create IP and exercise distribution rights over their creations. That’s the bottom line. If you don’t like the laws, you can try to change them. Or use free music only. Or make your own music. Or steal other peoples music. It’s the latter one that feeds the DCMA MPAA machine. Those exist because of IP theft.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Do What you Want

It’s all about rights. The whiners don’t like the fact that people can create IP and exercise distribution rights over their creations.

Sorry we aren’t whining – we’re trying to offer advice.

The fact is that the “rights” you mention only exist because in the past the equipment necessary for copying was expensive and so could only be justified as part of a commercial enterprise for profit. The owners of the means of copying found it convenient to form a cartel to make their industry more comfortable (by creating barriers to new entrants). Authors (and later musicians) were duped into going along with this arrangement because the publishers allowed a few of them to become very wealthy and the rest were suckered in by the dream.

So long as only the publishers and the (suckered in) creators were affected by this arrangement it could persist indefinitely. However when the means of copying started to become cheap (starting with the tape recorder and the photocopy machine) the general public entered into the equation – and they have never accepted the law and never will. Eventually the law will either be repealed, modified beyond recognition or simply fall into disuse.

The corporations that rely on holding rights are doomed because of their top heavy cost structure – resulting from selling a product (the bit of plastic) that used to be expensive and is now cheap. Sooner or later a new thinking tech company will buy up one of these basket cases and free the old content because it will increase the value of their products. Once that happens it will be difficult to maintain these fictional rights any longer.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Do What you Want

Why, after you define what a product is, do you throw that definition out the window in your first statement?

“Product: 1. Something produced by human or mechanical effort or by a natural process.”

“The difference here is that a product is an object, whether physical or abstract.”

You cannot produce something abstract because something abstract is not made through human, mechanical or natural processes. Products can only be physical, the abstract is a service as the abstract can not be produced but rather explained or exemplified through explanation or symbolism.

HothMonster says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Do What you Want

Exactly FedEx doesn’t sell a product and neither does Itunes. FedEx provides the service of delivering a package to me, they are not selling me the package. Itunes provides the service of delivering music to me, and making it easy to find and a bunch of other stuff, its not selling me the music.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Do What you Want

But what happens when more people, when more musicians, start treating (or are already treating) music as a service/experience and not as a product?

What happens when that number is greater than 50% or 60% and keeps climbing each year? At what point does the public (who also treat music as a service/experience and not a product) support those musicians more than others, such as yourself?

How long can you last, as opposed to an unbelievable amount of upstarts?

May we live in interesting times.

long bill says:

Re: Do What you Want

You annoying youngsters with your new distribution channels, your new-fangled baroque music and your ridiculous business models! Do whatever you want, but don’t take away my copyrights, don’t compete with my outdated business practices, don’t complain when the internet is censored because of my obstinacy and unwillingness to get out of my comfort zone, don’t even talk about it! DAMN KIDS GET OFF MY LAWN!!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Do What you Want

Do as you will, no problem with that.

But stay out of my government, leave my fair use, due process, doctrine of first sale, first, fourth…hell ALL of my amendment rights well alone while you do.

You want to police your copyrights? Go right ahead, but don’t dare expect taxpayers to foot the bill or platform services to haul your freight.

cc (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Do What you Want

Sorry, Mr Big Content, but *I* am paying for the enforcement of my *own* rights with my *own* taxes.

You are asking the government to enforce *your* monopoly privilege against *other people* with tax money *those people* are paying.

If you want to keep enforcing your privilege, I suggest you pay for it yourself with just your own tax money.

cc (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Do What you Want

You definitely act like Mister Big Content. You and your monopoly are like Gollum and the ring.

You pay taxes to enforce everybody’s rights, but your taxes are nowhere enough to cover the deadweight loss of enforcing your monopoly privilege.

And yes, my rights > your privilege. At the moment your monopoly is being enforced at the expense of our rights, and because of that we WILL (we MUST!) change the law, you can count on it.

The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.

bill long says:

Re: Re: Do What you Want

Whether it “gets through” to me or not is beside the point, which is right of control of one’s intellectual property, including music. Sure, I may be forced to change my terms of distribution at some point, but it will be my choice. You, and anyone else, has the right to produce your own music and give it away for free right now, today. Why complain that someone else doesn’t want to?

cc (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Do What you Want

Because relics like yourself are the excuse some bullies are using to push through things like ACTA, COICA and similar.

Distribute your crappy “product which is only a license and not a product” any way you like, but don’t recruit governments to enforce your antiquated business models at the expense of other people’s rights.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Do What you Want

And how many times do I have to tell you, you’re entirely free to TRY to lock up your music however you want.

The minute you’ve crossed the line is when you start butchering the legal system to do so.

Presettlement letters? Nope. Hundred thousand dollar fines for minor infringement? Not allowed. Giving a corporate business legal authority? Too bad, not gonna happen. Removing due process? No way in hell. Removal of personal property rights? Go f’ yourself.

I’ve listened to your “ilk” whine and whine for years about how you’re losing out, yet you’ve spent just as much time trampling on rights and freedoms that are worth magnitudes more than your precious “music”.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Do What you Want

Not true at all. Run a music blog where labels send you promo tracks? You have to worry about all that. Make personal backups of your legally bought CDs and DVDs? You have to worry about all that. Produce insanely creative and original music that makes use of unrecognizable samples from other songs? You have to worry about that. Write your own brand new song that, by complete chance, has a few of the same notes as another song? You have to worry about that.

The laws you defend so vehemently DO have negative consequences. You have to accept that. Even if you still feel the laws are necessary and should be enforced, you should acknowledge that they are not perfect and they can interfere with totally legitimate activities.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Do What you Want

Don’t steal music and you won’t have to worry about any of that.

That’s just dumb. Whether someone infringes copyright (not stealing – but that’s another debate) or not has no relation to being concerned about our legal system being turned into a tool for monopolistic corporations to protect their outdated business models.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Do What you Want

I actually live in a country where individuals aren’t sued. In fact, that last people to get sued was the Recording Industry for “stealing” songs of a few thousand artists.

I also don’t pirate music…namely because my play list is tiny, because I’m extremely picky about what I listen to repeatedly. Of course, if it wasn’t for YouTube, I probably wouldn’t buy music at all.

I also work in an industry that whines about piracy as much as you do…and I’d still side with the pirates every day of the week.

Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

Re: Do What you Want

you are entirely free to do WHATEVER YOU WANT with your OWN MUSIC

And here you assume that music can be owned. It can’t. You can own the CD that it resides on, and you can own the hard drive that stores it, but the music itself isn’t property subject to ownership. In fact, your so called “intellectual property” (a phrase which, mind you, is completely absent from the very document that allows the government to grant you a monopoly by force) violates my very real property rights.

It’s my hard drive; I’ll twiddle the bits on it as I please. You can whine and cry and try to send the government in with guns to stop people from twiddling the bits on their hard drives in a manner that you object to, but it won’t make any difference; people across the globe will continue to assert their real property rights in the face of your imaginary ones, and you will lose, like every petty tyrant eventually loses in the end.

Enjoy your descent into irrelevancy.

RadialSkid (profile) says:

Re: Do What you Want

But please do keep your hands off of my right to distribute my own music as I see fit, including charging a per copy royalty.

As you wish.

However, if it’s your insistence for your music to not be heard, I would recommend not releasing it in the first place. It would stop that whole “piracy” problem in its tracks.

Seriously, you must have an extremely high opinion of your abilities to think that anyone will be willing to pay for the “privilege” of listening to your music when they can obtain music for free elsewhere…and legally, no less.

explicit coward (profile) says:

Re: Do What you Want

So, you did it! You guys invented what has been dreamed for ages! You, and a few other chosen ones realized mankind’s greatest wish, the physically impossible!

You created a perpetuum mobile!!!

Isn’t it just perfect?! You only had to put some finite amount of work into it (your music) and now it will reward you infinitely!

How unfortunate that most of us are not blessed with such gifts… But maybe now you might understand why some of us really think that (to quote some of your famous mates, hoping not to be sued…) you get money for nothing and your chicks for free

A good day to you.

jeffmacdougall (profile) says:

Re: Do What you Want

You’ve been listening… but I guess you really haven’t heard anything. The decline in sales over the last 10 years you speak of make my point for me.

Also, I never brought up copyright. I don’t want to take away your control of your own music, I want you to at least consider that looking at things differently, you may have more success.

You have my permission to continue to distribute your music as a product and charge per copy.

How’s that workin’ out for you, anyway?

Anonymous Coward says:

The music industry knows that they aren’t in the business of selling shiny plastic discs. Unlike some people here, they aren’t caught up or blinded by the “delivery”. They are in the business of producing a product, music.

It isn’t a service. The service would be “delivery of music on the internet”. Itunes is a service, the product they sell is music.

Pandora is a service. The product they provide is music.

Playing word games is amusing, but meaningless.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Remind me all the music that Pandora has made themselves. Answer, none. They provide a delivery service for music. It could also be a delivery service for voice blogs. It is only a service. The content they deliver is the product.

The only way you fall for this one is if you are swimming in the Kool aid vat.

Mike C. (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Pandora doesn’t provide music.

Pandora provides a service that is a stream of high and low bits that is utilized by my computer to send an electrical signal to the speakers connected to said computer which in turn use that signal on magnets attached to cones which are vibrated at specific frequencies specified by the signal to recreate sound that approximately matches an original recording made at a point in the past by a musician.

But they do NOT provide music.

napacab (profile) says:

Radio Paradise and Rhapsody

iTunes has effectively set up a model to sell digital music content like Amazon sells digital written content.

Radio Paradise (and other web radios) offer music as a service.

Rhapsody offers music by subscription.

The non-purchase models exist but iTunes has the lion share of the market dollar wise if not quantity wise (each Rhapsody subscriber has access to over 3 million tracks so a much wider variety of music than they could purchase).

So I guess the author is correct if one looks at iTunes as a digital music download service.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Radio Paradise and Rhapsody

Yeah but what is really at issue here is business models – and if you want to succeed in business, you need to identify what you are selling and why people want it. And as far as the way successful consumer transactions work in the music industry now, music is a service.

So believe that music is a “product” all you want. I’m sure there are plenty of semantic arguments as to why. But it won’t get you very far in the marketplace.

DH's Love Child (profile) says:

Re: Re: Radio Paradise and Rhapsody

You are correct in that iTunes is a delivery service for the product (music.)

Um.. no. iTunes is a delivery service for DIGITAL FILES, which may contain music (or movies or games). The music itself is absolutely MEANINGLESS without some sort of container for delivery. That container is the product. Music in and of itself is not a product (and I say that as a semi-professional musician).

Not an Electronic Rodent says:

Re: Re: Radio Paradise and Rhapsody

You’re completely wrong of course. Music is not a product, it’s a small blue hamster that sits in the spaces between 1 moment and the next and broadcasts its sounds into people’s brains. The hamster has his (or her) own rights and is very very cross with you not allowing him to communicate.

Shadojak (profile) says:

Sheesh, bill long is ....

DEFINITELY in the pay of the RIAA.

Because I can say, I’VE never heard of his “music”.

If it’s anything like his rants here…that would explain why.

And I’d love to know what a DMAC is, lol

The MPAA isn’t necessary.

It’s just another union, lol.

And, I know it been said here before…but I see NO reason I should HAVE to buy another copy of the music I ALREADY bought, just because I want to have it in the formats that are now being used.

It should NOT be illegal for me to convert my LP’s to cd, or mp3 files to use in my mp3 player

But people like him want to make it to where I go to JAIL for doing that?

He can bite my round, red. rosy one. 😀

Anonymous Coward says:

Bill Long does make a good point – if we don’t like it, change the law. But I think Mike’s point is a stepping stone to that. If we want to change the law, one of the main methods is a policy argument, which is exactly what Mike is making. We can’t blame Bill Long for trying to enforce rights Bill CURRENTLY has under the legal regime in the US. Bill isn?t my problem. He seems like a balanced guy (though I don?t agree with him personally).
He is looking out for his best interest, as he should. I blame the politicians when they only listen to one side. So it is my responsibility to make sure my side is at least heard.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Which is why Bill Long and people like him are trying to change the law to make copyright rules even crazier…

Somehow Bill seems to think that people are telling him to do. He is free to run his business any way he wants. He can hold on to his business model as long as he wants. No one, here at least, buys the old excuse that there’s no way to compete/make money without curtailing people’s rights even more online.

It’s kind of becoming an old record.

Anonymous Coward says:

I purchased a mug. It was kinda cool, had this water-sloshy stuff on the inside, and when I put ice in, it would get kinda frosty ….

I drank so many Pepsi’s out of that thing… never left my side.

I did lend it to my Grandma once, she thought the rim was too wide for her mouth.

I wanted to take it to the park one day, so I wrote my name on the bottom of it, so no one would steal it.

I accidentally left it at mom’s for a month. Her neighbors that came over for poker every week always used it for holding sunflower seed shells. She finally mailed it back to me when one of her neighbors kids took it out back and used it for building sand castles.

If song = product then why are we even having discussions about fair use. I don’t see the mug manufacturer coming after me to pay for loaning it to grandma, or fining me for putting my name on it, or even suing the neighbor kid for using it to build a sand castle.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

You can loan your music to grandma if you like – but only if you relinquish all control over it, in the same manner that would do with the mug. That means no copies on your computer, on your ipod, whatever. If you lend it, you lend all of it.

Most people aren’t able to do that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Exactly. It ISN?T their fault. Various content owners decided to break the ability of a consumer to transfer digital content. If I download a movie to my laptop from a legitimate source, there should be a mechanism for transferring that movie to someone else, like grandma, so she can watch it and give it back to (and it should be a method that doesn?t involve me lending my entire laptop). But these content owners took away that power because they aren’t interested in given consumers choice – quite the opposite – they seem to hate libraries and sharing and such.

rubberpants says:


Music is information. The only way to sell information is to communicate it. However, once it’s been communicated it becomes infinitely replicable. So, you can either try to sell this infinitely replicable information as you would a physical object using contrived procedures in an impossible attempt to defy the law’s of nature or you can sell it as a service. Which seems more reasonable?

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

I just want to pop in outside of all the threads here and say BILL LONG YOU ARE HILARIOUS! I’m not sure I’ve ever seen everyone run in so many semantic circles over a single word on Techdirt before.

It’s a product! No, it’s a service! No, it’s a license! No, you license the product but the license is not a product, but you sell the license through a service, which is not a product, which you sell licenses to as a product, to provide a service to access the licensed product that is the music!

…or something like that

Overcast (profile) says:

The defining feature of real ownership is possession (as it has been since the dawn of time); the law only clarifies and systematizes that to make our lives simpler. Economically, real property can be regarded as a monopoly only because of its “uniqueness” (inherent exclusion by possession), not because of the law — and that interpretation is stretching the economic concept of monopolies, as the word “monopoly” is not generally used to define “property”.

Intellectual “property” is a figment created by law that has no actual basis on the natural characteristics of ideas. There is no inherent exclusion by possession, as ideas cannot be owned (as it has been since the dawn of time), and the only way Intellectual “property” can exist is through an artificial monopoly explicitly granted by congress.

Indeed – because the memory of a song, in a person’s head will remain – regardless of laws.

Isn’t that – really the same thing? It’s data, just in a different format – technically, right?

If – hypothetically – that could be done away with, advertising would suddenly become the one’s suing – since no one would remember the product after the ‘rights’ to the ‘idea’ is removed from their head.

It would be *impossible* to maintain this ‘law’ as this kind of level.

Are they to ban the sound waves from traveling out of a person’s car if they are next to me?

Or from a bar I walk past?
Or a music store I walk past?

Wouldn’t that all be ‘infringement’ with this same concept?

Trying to enforce that would either be an exercise in futility or sheer insanity, really both.

If not for ‘free music’ on the radio – you know.. the music industry wouldn’t even exist, as it were. Radio has always been the *core* advertising for music.

How many have bought songs that they have never heard? In the case of a ‘favorite artist’ – sure sometimes, and even the random purchase – but does that contribute to the *majority* of sales? Of course not. But that’s what they are seemingly claiming.

So.. to all this – *why* does ‘free music’ exist on radio?

Sure maybe the station paid for the ‘rights’ – but how many of the listeners did?

HothMonster says:

dear bill long

Look at it like this Bill. Itunes doesn’t sell a product it sells a service. I am not buying a song from itunes, if I just wanted a song I could find it for free, what I buy from itunes is convience. It allows me to easily find and download a song I want and a I know that song will be of a certain level of quality. The song is free, if you like it or not, and if I put in a little effort I could have it for free. But I don’t always know what I’m getting when I go the free route. I could spend time and download something of horrible quality, a non complete version of the song, a virus, or something else entirely and then I have to spend more time trying to get what I wanted. Or I pay a small free to be provided the song I want as the artist ment for it to be heard with minimal effort on my part. The same for pandora the music isn’t their product the service they provide is, i.e. playing songs I like and introducing me to other songs like it that I may enjoy.

So consider this bill instead of trying to convince us of your right to sell something I can have for free you could have linked to a free streaming version of 1 or 2 of your songs and if I like them I could buy them from you. That is if you provide me with a way to access them that is convient, the service. Hey I might even like it so much I tell all my friends and they buy some and we all come see you next time your in chicago. So you could have used your time to increase you fan base instead of push people away from you. I’m sure DH will give up when he sees you have no samples on your webpage cause your trying to horde your music cause you still think that is your product. So instead of having more possible fans you have nothing.

If you really must insist that you have a product it wouldn’t be your music. Your product is you, or your band, the music is an advertisment. You have to sell me you, I have to like you to want to give you money. And your service just doesn’t have to be provideing access it could be a number of things, like explaining your artisic process, an inside look at making your album, a funny blog. If you can’t provide access to the music provide some kind of service that alows me to connect to you because you are really what you have to sell.

That’s what the article wants you to think about its not trying to argue semantics.

Sorry for any bad grammer ect I’m writing this on my phone on the train home.

Good luck out there dinosaur.

Noel Coward says:

Music is a SERVICE

Nit picking aside, as well your legal semantics.

Bare facts, when weighing it up product versus service.
Its obvious that music is a service, as is a therapy that soothes countless millions in their daily lives. Music is becoming more and more a service everyday, facilitated by technology …whether you think it disruptive or not.

The emotional value is not easily quantifiable.
In fact, some days it effectiveness may even be disputed. But no one can dispute that it is a service, not some product or pill to ease life’s woes.

However, where it gets BITTER and hard to swallow, is when LARGE CORPORATE concerns try to make a HUMAN ARTIST into a commodity and product. This reduces the value of HUMAN LIFE and an artist who shares HIS or HER Life’s journey. This SERVICE was intended to change others lives and make the world more palatable and HUMAN.

Labels however, turn it into a commodity by using it to sell other products, therefore making the whole matter somewhat grey. This in turn has made it about business and money, and then enters the legal dispute.
It would be a perfect world if they were taken out of the equation. Though life is not made simple by business, because its territorial by nature.

In a world where music is used in cross pollinating marketing strategies and psychological manipulation, its no wonder a thing of beauty has become UGLY.

Legalism & Politics aside, what needs to be worked out is how artists are to derive an income in a hostile world of business that treats them routinely as some rape and pillage expedition. It would seem no one has ever made discerning efforts to create a SAFE WORK ENVIRONMENT where artists can work without being EXPLOITED.

Musicians need to stop being apathetic, complacent and lazy about their work place and enforce their rights against exploitation. Those in international governance need to stop supporting BAD CORPORATE CITIZENS as too their nations. Stop the rot of sovereign laws and the abuse of humans. They are NOT a product.

Any record label who thinks there doing some artist a favor by granting him/ her 5-10% of GROSS SALES. When the FINE print suggests in the subject to clauses, that you have no hope in hell of ever getting out of debt. And… the fees they charge artists for THEIR services to MAKE THEMSELVES LUDICROUS AMOUNTS OF MONEY is deemed to be nothing but EXTORTION. Oh by the way, you can’t shop for another quote either. Tough break OUCH!

Labels need to get a whiff of reality and need to get back to serving the artist and developing talent. Not serving themselves and their interests at the cost of humanity.
If they can’t find a better more equitable way of SERVING ARTISTS and THEIR customers, then I do hope TECHNOLOGY puts an end to your BLOOD SUCKING ways.

Good riddance to obsolete rubbish.

Noel Coward says:

Yes its about the LICENCE

Well licence indeed.

At the rates of renumeration compensated the artist, they should never own the music. Indeed initially thats what was meant to have happened. The abuse started with artist, but then was extended to the customers.

So, I have some music and I say, “Mr. Record company exec
I will licence my music for you to exploit for the next 3 YEARS and I get at LEAST 10% NET [ not that I would stoop so low ]. After which the musics rights reverts totally to me.”
Kind of fair, sort of.

But eventually the Mr Record Company Exec said, “This musician’s a bozzo and such a lap dog.” And said, “You’ll be lucky to have paid me back the pittance of a loan I give you in the next 3 years and I’ll exploit you forever and the music’s ours.” And … the artist goes and sign’s such contracts.

Today all musicians are treated like bozo’s because people are weak and never stand up to the slave masters and say “NO MASTER I AINT BAILING SH*T, YOU CRACK THAT WHIP ALL YOU LIKE, YOU WANT MUSIC YOU MAKE IT YOURSELF”

If the law allows such treatment of artists, much less will the customer receive.

I’ll just say this, today the music that is generally speaking a “product” to me, is the disposable stuff that some guys knocks up having fun. It comes it goes it made you smile, but now its gone. Little effort in, “damn it was a hoot and we made a little money.” Great! But it hasn’t got any longevity in the market place and rarely will it be played in years to come.

Disposable music = PRODUCT.
I don’t like this, but its a part of the scene unfortunately.

Music as a service which is the future.
Is made by an artist who bled his heart and soul into his craft, suffered and made vulnerable by sharing his life and with fame, and became a prisoner in his own home and to an image. In the process changed lives and the world and shared what it was like to be human again. This will be heard under subscription and shared with millions globally everyday and as many times as they like.

To quote Marin Luther King, “I’ve SEEN THE PROMISED LAND!”

To see how Big Labels have treated the latter is abhorrent to me and that such people exist with no conscious is a monumental aberration on the record of human history. That such activity should be protected like some animal on the verge of extinction is morally sick and reprehensible.

If the LAW allows them to treat artists with such contempt, what of their customers? Seems a little lopsided huh? No its not money that’s the root of all evil, its peoples intent. And it would seem the intent of BIG LABELS is disingenuous to say the least.

With respect to governance, maybe you need to change the LAW, or throw them out?

Not an Electronic Rodent says:

Hmmm just a thought

Small blue hamsters aside, it occurred to me reading the comments that in fact music is neither a service nor a product. Music is an Idea. It’s intangible even when expressed because it doesn’t matter what physical medium it’s contained on or how it got there, the music itself exists between whatever is causing the vibrations, your ear and your brain.

You can argue about the container or the method of delivery all you want as product or service because it can be both or neither depending on the how but the music itself is still just an idea that is transferred and copied from one person to another. Look at it that way and it doesn’t really make much sense to argue that another method of transfer of an idea already transferred is somehow not allowed. Once you’ve shared an idea the people you shared it with possess that idea too.

Anonymous Coward says:

Sony is not going away?

That is not what the news says about the state of affairs inside that company.


When Morris oversaw the merger of PolyGram and Universal in the late 1990s, he put together a company that jelled immediately and grew market share from the get-go, in contrast to the way the Sony-BMG merger never managed to close the corporate cultural gap and resulted in shrinking market share.

Can Doug Morris Bring Stability To Sony? (By Ed Christman, New York, March 02, 2011)

JR (profile) says:

Music as a service Hyden and Handel

Haydn was an employe of the Esterh?zy family until the death of the prince and being pensioned off by his successor he provided a service. After being pensioned he was able to go to London and conduct a series f concerts (again service) which were popular and lucrative.

Mozart was an employee of the Archbishop of Salzburg who at one time jailed him for wanting to leave. Finally he became such a pain that while he was in Vieana the Archbishop fired him. He then pursued a lucrative carrier as a concert pianist and composer give numerous symphony concerts of his works (again service).

Handel was employed by George II and was told to compose music for the Royal Fireworks. He was allowed to conduct a public rehearsal prior to the Fireworks and charged 2 shillings 6p (about equivalent to today’s $100/ticket) again a service.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...