Say That Again

by Mike Masnick




MPAA: The Grateful Dead's Success Was An Abomination Against Nature

from the one-way-to-look-at-things dept

One of the more annoying things we've found when discussing how the entertainment industry needs to adapt and change and embrace new technologies in place of their old business model, is the repeated claim that it's impossible to make money if the content is given away for free. Impossible is a pretty absolute statement -- and all you need is one example to disprove it. However, as we've shown, there are many, many examples of entertainers who have learned how to make more money out of giving away their content -- which seems to disprove the whole "impossible" bit. However, the industry folks don't seem to know how to respond to that, so they just keep saying it's impossible.

Witness this bizarre exchange between John Perry Barlow and the MPAA's Dan Glickman debating the future of the entertainment industry. Barlow notes that he made an awful lot of money as a songwriter for the Grateful Dead, which encouraged its fans to make tapes of its shows for free. Glickman immediately responds by saying: "It is ridiculous to believe that you can give product away for free and be more successful. I mean it defies the laws of nature." The problem, as always, is that Glickman has incorrectly defined his market -- which is a scary thought if he's supposed to be the leading spokesperson for that industry. He thinks they're in the business of selling content. That's not so. It's too narrowly defined. The entertainment business is in the business of entertaining -- and that can include many things that still involve giving content away for free for promotional value. We've discussed plenty of examples in the recording industry -- and Barlow's success helps prove that. In Glickman's own movie industry the examples are even more obvious. They should be selling the experience of seeing a movie, not just the content. However, when Glickman says things like the idea that giving away things for free is against "the laws of human nature," we wonder if this means he's never received anything for free in his life. Does he turn down the free soda offered with the slice of pizza in the corner shop? Free dessert with dinner? Why that's just crazy talk! Those restaurants must be run by anti-capitalist extremists. Their actions in giving away free food are against the laws of nature, and they must be on their way out of business.

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  1. identicon
    Tom Denman - 25 Year TAPER, 11 Jun 2006 @ 9:16am

    Re: Well, actually...

    Well... I agree with your point that there should be accuracy in any such debates. However, the premise Mr. Glickman puts forth implies that there's only HIS way of being successful. And it certainly doesn't preclude it's being wrong nonetheless. The fact of the matter is that the Dead WERE VERY 'SUCCESSFUL'. It's just a matter of their "product" being something in the first stage that was entirely different than what Mr. Glickman's industry wanted them to be successful at. RIAA are now, and have always been a bunch of mafioso thugs who extort DUES from a vast majority of artists who will never be successful via their model of success.
    I wonder if anyone here has ever been at a club where a small time act is suddenly told they can't play because they do covers and their RIAA dues aren't paid, or they're not members. Granted it doesn't happen a lot. But I've personally witnessed one such act of 'against nature'.
    Peace,
    Tom

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