Hollywood & The RIAA Won't Let Tech Save Them

from the fighting-the-wrong-fight dept

We’ve discussed in the past how ridiculous it is to claim that there’s a fight between “Hollywood and Silicon Valley.” After all, the tech industry keeps creating the tools for Hollywood to succeed and broaden its market… and every time they do so, Hollywood responds by attacking those providing the tools. Every innovation that created a vast new market from which to profit from has been attacked. The gramophone. Radio. TV. Cable TV. The VCR. The MP3 player. YouTube. The DVR. In the end, all of these created great new opportunities, but were attacked. As we’ve said, it’s a very strange war where one side (tech) is building all the weapons for the other side… only to see them point those new weapons at their own feet.

Of course, it’s actually even worse than that. Because, not only does Hollywood point these new weapons at their own feet… they then try to sue and blame the tech industry for creating these same weapons. It’s a pretty hostile environment.

And this is a massive problem for Hollywood. Because, throughout history, it has been shown that the only solution that actually helps solve the “issue” of “piracy” is the creation of new and useful legitimate services. And the entertainment industry is doing its best to scare everyone off from doing that by attacking each of those new services as it comes about. Entrepreneur Tyler Crowley has a great analogy explaining how the entertainment industry is driving the very innovators it needs help from away. He talks about how entrepreneurs look at markets as “islands of opportunity.” He lists out a few, such as the Facebook island and the Apple island.

For tech folks, from the 35,000′ view, there are islands of opportunity. There’s Apple Island, Facebook Island, Microsoft Island, among many others and yes there’s Music Biz Island. Now, we as tech folks have many friends who have sailed to Apple Island and we know that it’s $99/year to doc your boat and if you build anything Apple Island will tax you at 30%. Many of our friends are partying their asses off on Apple Island while making millions (and in some recent cases billions) and that sure sounds like a nice place to build a business.

He talks about a few other of these “islands of opportunity” (and does a nice job breaking them down). But then he gets to the “music biz island” (which I’d argue is actually the “legacy entertainment biz island”) and notes the hostile reception:

Now, we also know of Music Biz Island which is where the natives start firing cannons as you approach, and if not stuck at sea, one must negotiate with the chiefs for 9 months before given permission to dock. Those who do go ashore are slowly eaten alive by the native cannibals. As a result, all the tugboats and lighthouses (investors, advisors) warn to stay far away from Music Biz Island, as nobody has ever gotten off alive. If that wasn’t bad enough, while Apple and Facebook Island are built with sea walls to protect from the rising oceans, Music Biz Island is already 5 ft under and the educated locals are fleeing for Topspin Island.

In other words, the good entrepreneurs, who actually can help the entertainment industry (some of whom tried in the past) are actively pushed away from helping. And then the entertainment industry whines that no one wants to help them. Perhaps they should look at being just a bit more welcoming…

On a side note: Crowley’s writeup was actually in response to a dinner gathering at some super super swank LA eatery that tried to bring together the heads of the major labels with some LA entrepreneurs. That’s actually encouraging, though, again, meeting in backrooms is still missing the point. Why is it so hard for the industry to have a discussion in public?

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Comments on “Hollywood & The RIAA Won't Let Tech Save Them”

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That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Fox News regularly engages in deceptive editing of video and audio to support a narrative they want to promote not supported by the actual facts, millions of people believe what they are told.
Millions of people still embrace the Patriot Act and TSA, even in the face of the horrors being committed using them. They are secure in their feeling of they haven’t done anything wrong so it will never effect them.
The economy is in the crapper and being told that we could have billions more in the economy if not for those awful pirates stealing all of this money isn’t that hard of a sell.
The 6 strikes “education” program is going to keep this narrative moving forward.

It is highly possible for them to keep selling the koolaid, and enough people will keep drinking it until it finally effects them.

Jesse (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I’m not exactly crying over here, so I don’t know if oversensitive is the word you’re looking for, but okay. If anything it’s amusing that it’s so difficult for you to understand. It’s kind of like people who don’t understand why black face is racist. They either don’t think it is racist, or they just know that it’s a faux pas but don’t understand why.

Conflating native people with cannibalism and savagery is a racist stereotype, perpetuated by white settlers who wanted to justify “civilizing” them (i.e. cramming them into small spaces and stealing their land).

Sort of like stereotyping black people as criminals.

Or Jewish people as penny-pinchers.

Or Asians as bad drivers.

But seen as, to my knowledge, a great number of people in the US still cling to the centuries old mistake of referring to its indigenous peoples as “Indians,” perhaps this topic is too complex. But yea I’m the stupid one, we’ll go with that.

Ophelia Millais says:

Re: Re:

I’m gonna go with -10 points, just for the labored analogy. When there are too many metaphors, the message get lost. You might as well be saying “It’s like X, Y and Z, and all the As and Bs are C-ing and D-ing, but the Es and Fs are over here and all the Gs and Hs are over there, so they all just end up I-ing and J-ing all day long, at least until the K L M N O P! Hahaha! Get it?”

Lowestofthekeys (profile) says:

This is slightly off topic, but when you said, “He talks about how entrepreneurs look at markets as “islands of opportunity” it reminded me of a term I learned about last week in my digital marketing class.

Participant print.

Here’s a quote from Digmarketing: The Essential Guide to New Media & Digital Marketing – “Good marketing always begins with the consumer or customer, and that’s where DigiMarketing planning begins too. We call it a Participant Print.”

He then elaborates on the concept bringing out how most marketers define their target audience as the first step and then anticipate the customers actions as respondents, participants and initiators. This is also involves monitoring the customers wants and habits.

I think companies like Apple and Facebook have been able to utilize this concept and current technology to do just this and it has paid off. They have a loyal consumer base to show for it.

Why Hollywood does not try this is beyond me.

Eponymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

My opinion on the whyis that these are not only new tools, but a brand new and emerging toolbox so the tech/data industries work along side their users to develop all the uses for the tools we now have. Meanwhile Hollywood and legacy players use old tools that best practices have long been figured out for, thus their innovation stage is over. Innovation is a dialog amongst all users, both developers and clients, but these legacy businesses just want to push their wares and not co-create with us. They don’t care about the dialog.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Because

I think its more a case of the thief being afraid of being robbed. You have the record labels who create one sided deals, write contracts to avoid paying their artists, have a world wide distribution-Pyramid scheme that vanishes money at every stage, and have a good old boy network of collection agencies to disappear profits.

They can not come into the 21st century with out exposing or removing these practices.

Anonymous Coward says:

not only do they scare away the tech industries that could help them no end to become a popular industry again, they frighten the shit out of the very people, the buying customer, they rely on to keep them afloat. what sense does it make when drowning, to complain that you’re drowning but when thrown god knows how many lifebelts, cut them up (the tech people) or throw them away (customers that are fined and/or jailed)? wanting pity for something is one thing. to keep crying wolf over the same thing but doing nothing helpful yourself or refusing help from others is ridiculous. if ever there was an industry that deserved to drown, it’s the entertainment industry!

Ed C. says:

Re: Re:

It kind of reminds me of a joke/parable that I’d heard once. Here’s my copyright spin version:

A group of content industry execs rushed to the beachfront mansion of their most esteemed elder to warn him of the raising tide. The old man greeted them all inside and closed the curtains so that no others could see. His friends told him about the raising tide and asked about a new plan to deal with it. The elder laughed headily, reassuring them all with a round of drinks that there was no tide and their current plans were sound. The other execs insisted that they could use a new plan, but he waved off their concerns; they could wait for someone else to give them a better plan. In the meantime, they could just stay in the mansion.

A rumbling from outside called their attention to the front gate. The execs cautiously wondered out toward the group of netizens in a large 4×4 parked just beyond the fence. The net natives told the execs the raising tide had already reached the property line of the mansion. Even though the diverse gang and their vehicle were a little rough around the edges, the seasoned travelers knew the road to the high ground and kindly offered the execs a ride. The elder came forward and told the “hippies” to leave. He knew his property, his plans were sound, and that there was no tide! The netizens were concerned about preserving their cultural heritage, but the elder called the police, insisting the dirty “hippies” were steeling his property. The gang all shrugged and went on their way.

Shortly after the execs returned inside, the tide came even higher, quickly sweeping over the plush lawn. Soon, it encroached upon the ground level, forcing the execs to retreat to the second floor. However, the elder stayed. He insisted there was no tide, even as the water continued to rise until it was over his head. Seeing him go under, one of the young execs dove down to save him. The elder was struggling to light a cigar when the young man reached him and grabbed him by the collar of his suit jacket. However, the old man fought, kicking and thrashing all the way to the stairs. Standing, completely soaked, the elder still insisted there was no tide, yet it was his idea for them to come upstairs.

A commotion outside called their attention to the balcony. The execs cautiously wondered out toward the group of tech entrepreneurs in a large luxury yacht floating just beyond the railing. The net moguls told the execs that they had been traveling the coast when the raising tide had brought them inland toward the mansion. They were all seasoned sailors and kindly offered the execs aboard. The elder shrieked “PIRATES!” and rushed to the door with a bundle of shotguns and rifles, insisting that the other execs begin firing at once. The sailors tried to explain that they didn’t need to take anything, that each of them already had more money than all of the execs. They kindly offered a partnership for the voyage to high ground, but the elder opened fire upon their hull, trying to sink their ship. The other execs joined in, rallying that their plan was sound and they could wait for someone to show them a better plan. The sailors quickly turned their ship and went on their way.

However, the tide continued to rise, flooding the second floor. The execs struggled to take refuge on the roof, pulling the elder kicking and screaming all the way. In a panic, the younger execs devised a plan to save the mention–build massive flood walls to keep the tide out! Deciding their secret plan was sound, they called upon the world leaders to ratify it and begin construction immediately!

A commotion above called their attention to the peak of the roof. The execs cautiously wondered up toward the group of artist in an odd shaped aircraft that the execs couldn’t even recognize, hovering over them. The artist asked the execs why they were still in the mansion? The elder proudly proclaimed that their plan was sound and they would wait for someone to show them a better plan. Befuddled, the artist explained that the netizens and the entrepreneurs already had given them plans to reach high ground. The elder stubbornly told them that those plans were no good, that theirs was clearly better! The artist all shook their heads, yet kindly offered to take the execs anyway. However, the execs waved them off, insisting that the aircraft wasn’t big enough. The artist shrugged and went on their way.

To be continued…

I think we all know how this will play out though. The execs will let the mansion sink and board golden rafts, trying to convince every large ship that wonders past that they are experienced sailors looking for a position as captain. The most sought after parts of the mansion will be sold off to the highest bidders, while the rest rots at the bottom of the ocean.

Anonymous Coward says:

You know, some years ago, I reached the point I was no longer gonna pay Big Music because of the way they act, isn’t someone I’d like to give money too. So I went on boycott with the start of sue’em all and I haven’t spent so much as one dime in their direction.

At this point, there is nothing I would rather see for this vampire industry than to see it broken, bankrupt, and sold off in pieces, in hopes that what arises might be something reasonable. If you’re one of the artists, chained to the slave galley and pulling on an oar, hope you can hold your breath a long time.

Anonymous Coward says:

any and every industry has the same opportunity to bribe and corrupt politicians and law makers to get special treatment. i still cannot for the love of me understand why it is that every government the world over bends over and grabs ankles for the entertainment industries. what the hell is it that they have over the whole world? what is it that makes every government so insistent that this industry has to carry on in ‘the old ways, instead of adapting to the digital age’. what is it that makes so-called ‘public representatives’ forgo those they are supposed to represent and sell themselves to the entertainment industries, often risking their entire career? what is it that has changed the ‘innocent unless proven guilty’ on it’s head, with severe fines and jail terms handed out? it cant just be money because any industry can bribe enough to get new laws in or old ones changed, so what the hell is it??

PaulT (profile) says:

Wow… let’s just go over a couple of the points of idiocy… (apologies for continuing the tortured analogy)

“For tech folks, from the 35,000′ view, there are islands of opportunity.”

Yes. There’s also opportunity for their suppliers

“There’s Apple Island, Facebook Island, Microsoft Island, among many others and yes there’s Music Biz Island.”

Islands which anyone can happily choose between and use each (or none) at their leisure. Sure, Apple have less bridges to the other tech “islands”, but nobody is forced to go there instead of a competitor. Don’t like Apple’s products or limitations? Go to the Google island or somewhere else entirely.

The music biz island is something else, however. They’ve not only refused to build bridges, even those bridges were filled with restrictions such as the idiotic attacks to enforce DRM – which only fragmented the market and forced others to settle on one “island” instead of being able to wander round. People who have been stuck on Apple island may only be there because their music wasn’t allowed to leave there.

“Now, we as tech folks have many friends who have sailed to Apple Island and we know that it’s $99/year to doc your boat and if you build anything Apple Island will tax you at 30%.”

I wonder how much “tax” traditional retailers charged them. Oh, we already know they resented them as well, as evidenced by their dealings with Wal Mart instead of record shops – reducing choice and opportunity for customers in return for a short-lived profit spike at the expense of long term sales.

I wonder what would be an acceptable cut for these people, and how many retailers could honestly operate after their overheads were paid.

“Many of our friends are partying their asses off on Apple Island while making millions (and in some recent cases billions) and that sure sounds like a nice place to build a business.”

So, he’s saying that people who “work their asses off” shouldn’t get paid for the services they create? Sounds like a pirate to me…

I won’t address that ridiculous other paragraph, but I’ll note that this situation has never been any different. People have always been stuck on “islands”, whether it’s the Tower Records island vs. the Virgin Megastore they can’t get to, the cassette “island” as opposed to the more profitable CD “island”, the Betamax “island” vs. the VHS “island”, the “island” of whichever radio stations you can pick up…

What’s changed is that the music biz have scared themselves stupid to such a degree that they’re trying to burn their bridges and recall their boats before anyone on those other islands can pay them a visit. They set up toll booths on every beach for and demand passports for every transaction. They even try charging and sinking every ship from another island that offers to bring them more vistors.

Then they whine about the dropping numbers of tourists and try to sue people to force them to pay another visit…

Josef Anvil (profile) says:

Why the content industry cannot adapt

I’m not sure why we even discuss this. We all know why the content industry can’t adapt. IP sets up a monopoly and the people in control of that monopoly are GREEDY (yes, all caps.

It’s not EGO, its GREED which is what causes the stupidity. The government has told content creators that they are owners and can control the market for their content. Sharing???? Are you NUTZ!?!?!???!!! My content is TOO VALUABLE to share !!!!

Monopoly holders simply do not want to try new ideas until they are 100% sure that they will make their monopoly rents. If they can’t get those rents, they simply will not step over dollars to pick up pennies, even if those pennies total up to more than the dollars they are stepping over.

Rich Kulawiec (profile) says:

I've pointed out the same thing

We, the tech folks, built for the music/movie industries the greatest promotion and distribution mechanism that they’ve ever had. In fact, it’s SO great that if we’d described it to them in, say, 1990, they wouldn’t have believed it possible. Not only that, we did all this at zero cost to them. They didn’t have to envision it, plan it, execute it; all they had to do was wait and watch.

And yet…they, in their arrogance, ignorance and greed, wish to destroy it.

That’s not going to happen.

Anonymous Coward says:

So, let Hollywood and the RIAA doom themselves. Good. We don’t need them to create content. We don’t need then for funding. We don’t need them for distribution. Lets build an alternative using the tools Hollywood and the RIAA fear.

For example, someone could Kickstart a movie or album, but part of the contract with backers is that they release it under a Creative Commons Share Alike license in 5 to 10 years. Build a reputation like a you build a fire; start small and grow. Eventually you could pull in funding like Amanda Palmer or Seth Godin. Artists get paid, parasites starve, and innovation is encouraged.

jupiterkansas (profile) says:

Re: Re:

That might work for music, but the second a Kickstarter movie makes any real money, Hollywood will buy that talent up and put them to work making the next Adam Sandler movie. That’s exactly what happened to the indie film movement in the 90s.

There are very few filmmakers that stick to their guns and stay independent of Hollywood on principle, and fewer still that succeed at it. It doesn’t help that most filmmakers consider their indie film their calling card to Hollywood.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Well, if everyone who is unhappy with Hollywood would stop supporting Hollywood and support independent films, instead, Hollywood wouldn’t be able to do that (or afford all of the bad legislation they keep pushing).

Personally, I don’t go to theaters any more. I refuse to support them. Doesn’t even matter how “awesome” the movie is; I’ll wait for it to come out on Netflix. If it never does, there is plenty of other (and often better) content available online. Also, I make it a point to support independent artists via Kickstarter and other ways (like local shows).

“We need to be the change we wish to see in the world.” — Mohandas Gandhi

Punmaster (profile) says:

“Why is it so hard for the industry to have a discussion in public?”

Maybe because, if the discussion was held in public, the content producers might actually see how much they were getting shafted.

Or maybe it’s because the **AA doesn’t WANT to change, and is trying to negotiate their way back to 1990, before the world changed.

Or maybe it’s because a public discussion might make people see how much of the pain in getting anything done is caused by parasitic entities trying to justify their own existence.

Do content producers *really* need the **AA to produce great art? or is it just easier to put up with them than it is to go it alone?

DanZee (profile) says:


jupiterkansas had a good comment about Hollywood buying up anything on the Internet that becomes successful. We’re seeing that in the publishing business. Publishing companies are buying up successful e-books like 50 Shades of Gray to keep readers from looking for them online. And publishers don’t want more writers like JK Rawling selling their books themselves online.

As has been pointed out here before, a recording artist can make as much money selling two iTunes songs than they could for an entire album’s worth of material from the record companies. So the recording companies give huge contracts to the Lady Gagas of the world to keep them from selling directly to consumers. But the genie may already be out of the bottle!

Anonymous Coward says:

Follow the money

The only thing that’s going to fix Hollywood is when the cash cows, the artists and performers, start to say “enough is enough” and reject the business models that their industry is defending.

Never gonna happen, of course. You think a blowhard like George Clooney gives a fat damn about these issues?

Anonymous Coward says:

Here’s the reality that RIAA and Hollywood fail to understand:

I started buying music when I was 15. From age 17 to age 30 I bought roughly 100 albums a year (give or take). That’s in access of 1,300 albums.

For financial reasons I had to stop buying for about a year, and by then the RIAA had so annoyed me I boycotted buying music for about five year. When I did start buying music again (back to about 100 albums a year), the diference I only buy non-RIAA label music and most of it is now digital.

There are two main reasons for this, which are related. At this point I have about 2,500 plus albums, and 30,000 plus songs. Circumstances dictate these days that I move around a lot (11 times in the last 8 years alone), and packing/unpacking that many physical cds is time consuming, and they take up a lot of wall space (which sometimes I just don’t have) or cargo space during moves (which I sometimes don’t also have).

Then there is the issue of constantly having to change CDs out, or deciding what music to take with you if you go someplace (clearly I can’t just tote around 2,500 cds everywhere I go).

Being able to store all my music on a 500 MB external hard drive I can fit in my pocket solve both of those problems. And since I can buy music in digital format that I can add to that external hard drive, I continue to buy music.

Apparently, though, the movie industry is not that interested in my money. I have over 500 movie, and DVD suffer from the same issue CDs do. Unfortunately Hollywood doesn’t offer me the same options music does, therefore I haven’t bought any movies in about four or five years now, nor will I until I have the same ability to download and use them as quickly and easily as I do music.

They can pass all the legislation they want, but they can’t force people to buy a product they don’t want (as much as they’d like to pretend they can), so even if they could find some magic bullet to stop piracy dead, they are still never going to see the sales they want under their current model.

TopSpinSucks says:

I realize it’s an effective “monopoly” on fancy stuff, but TopSpin is an abysmal company on the customer end. Sneak attack high shipping costs, slow shipping, no tracking half the time, confused Customer Service reps who don’t seem to be given clear databases of orders, so on and so forth. And these aren’t isolated incidents–let’s not even get into what can happen when they become involved in digital distribution, which one would think would be a comparatively reasonable process.

I hope to heck something else comes in to fill that niche.

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