Another Answer To Dealing With Piracy: Keep Creating Better Tools & Business Models

from the they-keep-on-coming dept

We’ve already discussed, a few times, how the tech/startup industry has repeatedly given the entertainment industry the “solution” to piracy, in the form of new tools, services and business models, which are helping many “compete with free” by offering something better… all without regulation. Unfortunately, the entertainment industry still seems to think that the only solution is to pass laws that try to do the impossible: stopping piracy. This is the wrong approach. They’re not at all focused on revenue maximization, they’re so obsessed with the idea that infringement represents a “loss,” that they’re missing out on the fact that they’re missing tons of opportunities to make more money.

Dante Cullari, the founder and CEO of Beat-Play (and a musician himself), has a post up on Music Think Tank, noting both the impossibility of stopping file sharing, and wondering why the industry doesn’t embrace new solutions (like his, of course) that allow them to compete. He further notes that the solutions the industry are suggesting clearly show a lack of understanding of how people use the internet. Putting up a paywall? Good luck with that:

To me it seems pointless to even bring up the prospect of a subscription service, or even a pay-as-you-go model as a viable solution for a future sustainable industry model. This is because the internet, now the basis of content consumption, is like a huge river of information. A paywall is like a little pebble being thrown into it. The water in the river has no trouble getting around the pebble. Paywalls will never solve the piracy problem, and damming up the whole river, as we’ve seen with SOPA, will not be easy, and most likely will never happen.

Really though, I don’t think that the actual problem that the rights holders have with piracy is the copying, but rather it is the loss of revenue brought about by the copying that motivates the rights holders into action. They want to be rightly compensated for their work. Who wouldn’t? The problem is that the business model – the mechanism that they’ve chosen to help them receive compensation, is not only a little dated, but it has been proven ineffective in this new environment that is very different from the one we saw even 15 years ago.

The rights holders need a new mechanism for compensation. It’s that simple. Why they’re trying to preserve the one they have, I really don’t know. But the sooner they accept the fact that it is broken and it’s time to get a new one, the happier they will be.

Of course, plenty of us have been arguing for over a decade that it’s better to recognize the reality of the market, and then use that to your own advantage. Perhaps early on there weren’t enough tools and services to make such new business models a reality, but these days it’s impossible to argue that such alternative revenue sources no longer exist.

Beat-Play’s model is based on using music from artists within brand-driven games (for example a Facebook skiing game, paid for by a ski apparel company, using a band’s music), which lets fans hear free music, while also allowing companies to better track who their audience is. This really is an example of the “ads as content, content as ads” model we’ve discussed for years. I have no idea if Beat-Play will work. Execution matters quite a lot, of course, as does the willingness of those in the music industry to recognize that this is a viable path forward, but conceptually the idea makes some sense. It doesn’t try to force consumers into a model they don’t like. It doesn’t try to be annoying or interruptive. It just tries to set up a system that lets fans do what they want, while also giving content creators a good way to get paid as well. That seems like a solution that’s a lot more reasonable… and a lot more likely to lead to more revenue… than something like SOPA.

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Companies: beat play

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Comments on “Another Answer To Dealing With Piracy: Keep Creating Better Tools & Business Models”

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Yogi says:

Hammer away

But the problem with the entertainment industry is that they have always dealt with problems in one way: through legislation. That is the only thing they now know how to do, besides taking talentless skanks and promoting them to the point that they seem like desirable sex objects that can sing (along with the playback) or act (as well as frogs in the glare of a flashlight).

The only thing they can do is use a hammer, and that’s it. There is no use in trying to convince them to learn a new tool, like a saw. They just won’t do it.

We should commit to preserving digital freedom, and letting the dinosaurs die their slow, painful, drawn-out death.

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m a true believer in the KISS concept of doing things, and John Locke’s labor theory that states that if you labor on top of something the fruits of it are yours, that means no matter who created the music or video or anything if you put effort into it(i.e. labor) the fruits of it are yours you don’t own anybody else for that privilege, you worked you got paid and it is all yours, who caress what others are doing?

Monopolists care, that is how they make money, the one thing they don’t do is work the land for that money and that is bad.

So Keep It Simple Stupid, end the monopoly rights and let the market decide what works and what doesn’t work.

Anonymous Coward says:

BTW after the market has settled on some solution to the problem through a organic and natural way, stupid people trying to monopolize it can go in an try to slice it again, this is how every single market in the world today started, without any rules and when major players appeared they tried to lock it up to stop others from entering.

UrMissingSomething (profile) says:

Seriously? a Facebook app is a better tool?

Beware! That’s just trading record labels for Facebook: in the middle between the artist and the fan, and thus able to control, or siphon off, most of the $ for themselves,

A Facebook app i better tool for Zuckerberg, maybe, and all his paying customers in the surveillance-industrial complex. Certainly not better for the fan, against whom some corporate or government hack who wants to spin a fiction around an identified music fan’s listening choices. Remember the Memphis 3 who were wrongly convicted, in part, due to their music tastes?

But I suppose that’s the point: everyone wants to be Zuckerberg, and are willing to share/sellout their fans and friends with Zuckerberg.

What musicians and other content artists need to understand is that there’s nothing wrong with monetizing their art, but the fans will respect the artists more if they do the distribution themselves (or through their employees) rather than leave it to some gouging man in the middle whose only interest is the middleman’s own. Louis C.K. did exactly that, and that team got more $ than they expected, while at the same time improving his brand’s relationship with his audience.

IMHO, Facebook and Zuckerberg are evil paywalls themselves, but of a different kind than the subscription-based e-mags. The only difference is that the paywall isn’t $ anymore. Instead, you pay with your own – and your customers, fans, family and friends’ – data, privacy, security, trust…

Anonymous Coward says:

Mike, if you keep repeating something often enough, it doesn’t suddenly become true.

The “better business models” all seem to come down to “drop your price to the point where the is no money to be made” or “sell something they don’t want at a high price, and give the real product away”.

I am not seeing much else going on that is suddenly revolutionary or going to take piracy down, except a massive free giveaway. What’s the point of that?

Anonymous Coward says:


What the fuck?

I don’t have a monopoly on anything.

There is no monopoly on making music.

There is no monopoly on making movies.

There is no monopoly on writing books.

There is no monopoly on making videos.

Now with those established facts, can you please add something to the discussion?

Oh yeah – the false monopoly you claim exists doesn’t suddenly give you the right to pirate. If you don’t like the terms that the product is available at, GO MAKE YOUR OWN PRODUCT, you lazy fuck.

Pfunk says:


So then,

While congress has passed more than thirty laws in the last sixteen years to address the alleged harm to creativity caused by the internet.

How many times in the past twenty five years has congress passed legislation to make carbon polluters (Coal Fired Power, etc)cover the cost of their pollution? None

I want to be a ‘Representative’ of the people and get paid !!!

Anonymous Coward says:


Now this is strange. I find I agree with the AC IP-troll, on this specific point: there is no ‘better business model’ that will save the jobs of all the entertainment-biz folk, meaning everybody except the actual artists.

However, unlike you (apparently), I see this as a very good thing. People used to make a living taking care of horses, and building and repairing buggies, etc. Other people used to make a living cutting and delivering blocks of ice. What happened to them? I don’t know, I suppose they found other work, or else starved to death.

Today, we see that people used to make a good living making and selling plastic discs, etc. Now all those jobs are disappearing, in part due to the ease and speed of sharing information. That’s not going to stop, but desperate people will try to stop it.

Anonymous Coward says:


I’d love to, but some douchebags such as yourself support monopolies who try to kill services that some of us use legitimately!

Do you take away computers because some create and distribute viruses with them? Do you ban knives because some use them to harm others? Do you ban firearms because some use them to harm others? Do you ban cars because some drunk fuck decides it’s OK to drive on the sidewalk and hits a pedestrian?


But it’s totally fine to lockdown the Internet because you can’t control the cloning of bits that when processed by certain applications produce audio signals and maybe video signals as well?

When you try to control and squash competition, you DO have a monopoly. How about reading up on history first “you lazy fuck” before commenting. The only reason you can even remotely claim there is “no” monopoly is because of the Internet producing a level playing field.

How about listening to what the people want for a change?

When the people didn’t want Beta, it went belly up. Yes, the people were mislead. Point being, the people made a decision and the result was the loss of Beta.

When you don’t given the customer what they want, they go elsewhere to get it.

And iTunes is proof that people STILL pay for music. Over 14 MILLION songs from Adele downloaded, sure less albums but maybe because she didn’t choose the right songs or order them correctly, the album doesn’t sell.

Even though bitTorrent and P2P are available, people STILL PURCHASED it!

Why? Because iTunes is more of what people want.

Imagine if you ACTUALLY listen to the people, gave them EXACTLY what they wanted – you could SELL even MORE!

People will pay, but only for what they want.

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