Whacking A Straw Mole... And Missing Badly

from the hank,-you-need-better-aim dept

It's been a few months since we heard from Hank Williams (not the singer, but some guy who writes for Silicon Alley Reporter). You may recall he was the guy who got numerous basic facts wrong about copyright online, and then displayed an ignorance of basic economics in attacking my critique of his claims. He's been quiet for a bit, but he's back, claiming to play "whack-a-mole" with the arguments being made by myself and others concerning the economics of free music.

Tragically, when you're playing whack-a-mole, it helps to actually whack the mole in question. Instead, Williams appears to have stretched out and tried to whack-a-made-up-straw-mole in the corner... and even missed that.

Williams repeatedly puts words in my mouth that I never said, and then tries to knock each of those strawmen down. He never once quotes anything I actually said, preferring to pretend I said a bunch of stuff I haven't said. Amusingly, he even fails to knock the false things I never said down. It, again, makes me wonder if Williams' writeups are really just a super clever satire -- though, those who know him tell me this is not the case at all. Williams is actually serious. So let's go check out what he says I said, and what he says in response:
Masnick regularly argues that the music business should be making money other ways than selling "shiny discs".
Actually, that's not quite true. I have always said that musicians should focus on selling scarce goods. Shiny discs are in fact one of many scarce goods. So selling more CDs is not a bad idea -- if you can do it. The problem, however, is that the market definitely appears to be moving away from shiny discs. Some have figured out how to still keep that market alive -- such as Trent Reznor -- by giving people a good reason to buy the shiny discs. So we're all for still selling shiny discs if you can. But, I think we all admit that's not the eventual path to music industry success any more. So, this is a strawman argument from Williams. He then attacks a post I wrote nearly two weeks ago (a bit slow on the response, eh?) criticizing Warner Music for bitching about the royalty rates it had agreed to on video games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band:
And in the Guitar Hero/Rock Band case, Warner wants a greater royalty for using their music in the wildly popular video game. So here, it sounds like Warner is taking Masnick's advice, right?
Only if Warner misread my advice as badly as Williams' has. The focus is on selling scarce goods, not the infinite goods that are already created. So, again, we have a strawman, as Williams seems to want to pretend I said something I didn't say in order to knock it down. Let's move on...
Warner is still wrong, Masnick says. They shouldn't be demanding more money for the use of their music. They should be happy knowing that Guitar Hero is great marketing for Warner Music to sell, err... shiny discs.
Straw piled upon straw piled upon straw. Again, my complaint was never with the effort to sell shiny discs alone, but my complaint with Warner's actions has nothing at all to do with the label trying to sell more shiny discs. The point is that through the games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band new fans are introduced to certain music, which allows the musicians in question to make money from a variety of business models, involving selling scarce goods associated with those acts.
So: According to Masnick, music labels shouldn't plan on selling music in the traditional way. But they also shouldn't demand substantial licensing fees from a big, profitable video game franchise, even when that franchise is entirely based around music -- because that franchise helps them sell music in the traditional way.
Well, no, that's only according to three levels of false strawmen created by Williams. But, amazingly, in those 3 levels of straw, there's some truth -- though, Williams' big swing at the straw heap is a big miss as well. It's true that record labels shouldn't plan on selling music the traditional way. I don't think anyone denies that. That market is increasingly in trouble. And, it's also correct that they shouldn't demand substantial licensing fees from big, profitable video game franchises -- especially when (this is the part Williams not-so-deftly skips over) they already have signed licensing fees for the music.

The point (also skipped over by Williams) is that there are a wide variety of business models that musicians can choose from these days that use the music as a promotion for those scarce goods (which include things like concerts, access to the musician, the creation of new music, etc.). I never said that being in games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band help musicians sell music the traditional way. I said it acts as promotion for the artists, which allow them to build up a larger fan base on which they can use these myriad business models that focus on selling scarce goods.
Masnick says he's not against selling music. But when you look at his arguments, he really doesn't leave much on the table. If you can't charge the biggest media companies in the world for your product, who can you charge?
Where to start? The strawman here is the false belief that the only thing the musicians have to sell is the music itself. That's clearly not true. As for that first statement about me not being against "selling music," that's correct -- in that if you can sell music, more power to you -- but it won't make sense once more artists realize they can do better using the music to promote the other scarcities they sell. But to say that there's not much left on the table suggests either an inability to read what I actually have written -- pointing to tons of business models that show that freeing up the music actually puts a lot more on the table -- or just willful ignorance.
Techdirt is both a blog and a consultancy, so you're supposed to take this seriously -- someone is supposedly paying for this advice. Why?
Well, actually, we're not a "consultancy," but at this point, expecting Williams to understand the difference between a consultancy and an expert network is apparently too much to ask. And, we would never expect anyone to take anything seriously just because we're a business (though, not a consultancy). We expect people to take us seriously because they read what we have to say, look at the evidence (both on a micro and macro level), recognize that the evidence is compelling and then make a decision that it's worth paying attention to. If you skip that first level (the actually reading what we have to say part), then it's no wonder that you might be confused about the rest of our business model. The good news is that our business model works, both for us, and for others who embrace it. Williams can keep denying it as long as he wants, but we've got plenty of evidence where it counts.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    Evil Mike, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 12:01pm

    Responses

    Mike,
    I believe that when you respond to such ignorance, you empower the speaker to make more ignorant statements.

    It's like somebody shouting "Because!" as a reply to your every statement/query in a debate. The only way to "win" is to walk away (or do them a quick one with a brick to the head...)

    Why do you respond to this Williams character?

     

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      PaulT (profile), Aug 20th, 2008 @ 12:19pm

      Re: Responses

      I've heard this argument recently with Obama's responses to the recently-released book full of inaccurate information about him.

      I've read people claim that by responding in a detailed, intelligent way to this book, Obama is just getting the criticisms noticed. Yet, those same people claimed that when similar half truths were levelled at Kerry during the last election, that his unwillingness to dignify the claims with a response was a weakness of character.

      Mike's right to respond in these circumstances. He knows that it's impossible to get Williams' claims removed from the internet, and that people reading said claims might actually believe them. Posting a straightforward, comprehensive rebuttal is the best way to counter this. Hopefully some people will recognise how stupid Williams' comments are and Mike's business and reputation can be restored.

       

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        mobiGeek, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 1:20pm

        Re: Re: Responses

        I doubt that Techdirt's business is in jeopardy because of Williams. Ignoring the posts would be following the "don't feed the trolls" mantra, which is a common sense approach to such things.

        However, what has Mike done by responding? Assuming his response is accurate, level-headed and well reasoned then he has something to point anyone concerned about the Williams article towards. At worst, this turns into a one-sided flamefest and some potential customers get turned off due to the "heat" of the situation.

        On the flip side, this could draw way more attention towards techdirt.com. Mike's writing and reasoning (i.e. content) becomes advertising (no way!) for his business.

        Personally, I'd have blogged a response. Williams directly attacks Mike's blog (not his thoughts, since it was mostly strawmen arguments), and for Mike to remain silent on the topic would indeed send a negative image to anyone looking into the matter (i.e. potential customers).

         

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    Anonymous Poster, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 12:03pm

    I hope nobody pays Williams to write articles. That was just plain sad.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 12:15pm

    Love ya Mike . . . but

    Yes he is making sad straw man arguments (reminds me of Rush Limbaugh talking about liberals LOL) and attributing them to you and I know that is aggrivating. However, is it really worth wasting your (and my hehe) time over?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 12:16pm

    Hes whacking a straw dog . .

    and your beating a dead horse . . .

     

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    Potato Head, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 12:19pm

    You guys should

    You guys should just fight. I bet you will both feel better after, especially if you win.

     

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    Dave, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 12:21pm

    And every time you write about him

    You drive more money into his pocket. If you just ignore him, you won't be profitable to him and he'll move on to misinterpreting someone else.

     

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    Ben Smith, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 12:23pm

    Lying = $$$

    I love free speech and the internet, but I really hate that they give complete fools like Williams credibility. The same thing happens in traditional media also, but it's a real shame that any jackass can draw attention to himself (or those who pay him) by blatantly lying and distorting the facts.

    Mike, I understand why you're compelled to respond to this (unfortunately named) idiot Hank Williams, but it bugs the hell out of me that you have to.

    What's even more disturbing to me is that most Americans won't spend the time to read up on the issues and if this guy gets any kind of audience, uncounted numbers of them will take his lies at face value.

    Keep up the great work Mike. I'd tell you to ignore this jerk, but I know you really can't. Great job discrediting his lame arguments.

     

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    anonymous, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 12:27pm

    geez

    I KNOW YOU ARE BUT WHAT AM I

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 12:41pm

    I get and agree with most of what you've said in this post. I do have one issue, though, if you care:

    The strawman here is the false belief that the only thing the musicians have to sell is the music itself. That's clearly not true.

    There may be other things they can sell besides the music itself, but it's all tied to the music itself. In other words, the primary thing they have to offer is, in fact, the music. I think the impression that you're not acknowledging that is a big part of the resistance to some of your theories (from the general audience, not specifically Williams).

     

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      Mike (profile), Aug 20th, 2008 @ 1:00pm

      Re:

      There may be other things they can sell besides the music itself, but it's all tied to the music itself. In other words, the primary thing they have to offer is, in fact, the music. I think the impression that you're not acknowledging that is a big part of the resistance to some of your theories (from the general audience, not specifically Williams).

      Hmm. I'm not sure how people would say I'm not acknowledging that, as it's actually the key to the business model:

      http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20070315/013313.shtml

      But, fair enough. I will try to highlight that more concretely going forward.

       

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    NSMike, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 12:57pm

    "I think the impression that you're not acknowledging that [it's all tied to the music itself] is a big part of the resistance to some of your theories."

    You're not understanding his argument. His argument is that it most definitely is tied to the music. What the hell else is a musician going to do with a concert, stand on stage and talk?

    Music has long, LONG been a promotional device for the much more profitable business model of live performances (and many other things the music business entails). And there's still plenty of space to innovate within that business model (look at the people who came up with a system to record the concert YOU attended right then and there, burn the discs, and sell them afterwards).

    The music itself is most definitely central to the whole thing, but selling the music on a medium, like a CD, is nowhere near the big moneymaker anymore. And to expect to rely on it was, frankly, naive of the music business.

     

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    publius, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 1:16pm

    Give Williams some credit

    Mike, the shrillness of your rebuttal betrays the veracity of Williams’ arguments. First the extended analogy of straw, whack-a-mole, dogs etc. does little credit to either of you and confuses a subtle subject even more. The main premise of Williams’ piece is not a bullet point tirade but instead he makes the argument that it takes scarce resources to create what you have called (with reason) ‘infinite goods’. If the input was likewise infinite goods to create infinite goods then copyright has no justification to exist. However musicians, unlike established ones such as Reznor and Radiohead, cannot afford to delay recompense for their work until the ‘scarce external goods’ have been paid for. In effect anyone who creates intellectual (as opposed to tangible) property, by foregoing copyright, has to subsidize the proliferation of their work. Not unlike telling an artist that he must buy his own gallery to exhibit his work in. Those who can afford it will, like Reznor and Radiohead, those who can’t simply will go away and earn a living like the rest of us.

    Don’ ruin your credibility by turning what is a very subtle and complex legal/economic/social issue into a petty pissing match between your network of experts and a lone columnist.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 1:23pm

      Re: Give Williams some credit

      It takes scarce resources to create infinite goods? Honestly? Wouldn't that by definition make the infinite goods scarce? That's like saying a story is made up of paper and when the paper is removed the story ceases to exist.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 1:47pm

        Re: Re: Give Williams some credit

        quote:"It takes scarce resources to create infinite goods? Honestly? Wouldn't that by definition make the infinite goods scarce? That's like saying a story is made up of paper and when the paper is removed the story ceases to exist."

        The scarce good here is the time to work on the music. you can't infinitely create music, you can infinitely copy it.

        On another note, I agree with publius. While I agree with a strong majority of your arguments, I find that the way your response is written is a bit too combatative. I sense that your emotions clouded your writing somewhat. Re-writing this with less emotions and less hostility towards the individuals arguing the contrary would better server your cause IMHO.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Aug 21st, 2008 @ 12:06pm

          Re: Re: Re: Give Williams some credit

          The idea there, though, is to charge for that scarce resource. That is, OK, it takes time to write a new song. Charge for the time; if you aren't paid, the song isn't written. But then once it's paid for, once it's created, it's no longer scarce and it can be set free, to your benefit.

           

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      Wiley, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 1:30pm

      Re: Give Williams some credit

      Mike, the shrillness of your rebuttal betrays the veracity of Williams’ arguments.

      I'm not sure what article you read, but there was nothing shrill at all about the rebuttal -- Mike cited what Mr. Williams claimed, and then refuted those claims, plain and simple.

      The truth here is, your not-so-subtle attempt to discredit Mike by making false claims is not unnoticed. You shouldn't be telling anyone else how to manage their credibility when you have none of your own.

       

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      Mike (profile), Aug 20th, 2008 @ 1:33pm

      Re: Give Williams some credit

      The main premise of Williams’ piece is not a bullet point tirade but instead he makes the argument that it takes scarce resources to create what you have called (with reason) ‘infinite goods’.

      That does not appear in his argument at all. If it did, that would be one thing, but it does not.

      And I don't disagree that it takes scarce resources to create the infinite goods -- in fact, that is also a big part of the business model described. I even mentioned it in the post. One of the scarce goods is the ability to create new content.

      However musicians, unlike established ones such as Reznor and Radiohead, cannot afford to delay recompense for their work until the ‘scarce external goods’ have been paid for.

      You're getting the equation backwards. The *traditional* way of making music is to delay recompense. What we're suggesting is that you actually do get paid for the creation, not for the copies after the creation.

      And the claim that this only works for the Reznors and Radiohead's of the world is a common fallacy that we have debunked repeatedly. For years, we pointed to much lesser well known artists embracing this model (such as Maria Schneider, Jane Siberry and others) and we were told "but that model will never work for big artists"). Now that it's working for big artists we're being told it won't work for small ones? That doesn't fly.

      In effect anyone who creates intellectual (as opposed to tangible) property, by foregoing copyright, has to subsidize the proliferation of their work.

      Please explain. That sentence does not make sense to me.

      Not unlike telling an artist that he must buy his own gallery to exhibit his work in.

      No, actually, what we're describing is the opposite. The *old* way involved having someone else (the record label) buy the gallery for you to exhibit. What we're saying is, look, you don't need to buy the gallery any more, and, in fact, the whole world can be your gallery for you.

       

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      mobiGeek, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 1:58pm

      Re: Give Williams some credit

      However musicians, unlike established ones such as Reznor and Radiohead, cannot afford to delay recompense for their work until the ‘scarce external goods’ have been paid for

      Isn't that the model of about 99.7% of the working world? They don't give the "scarce resource" for free...they get PAID to do work (creating widgets, writing software, recording video/film/audio, etc...)

      The problem with your statement about "less established artists" is that you are still thinking only about the current dying model they rely on. That model not only is impossible to defend against technological progression (therefore, impossible to defend), it also keeps the majority of artists from seeing anything beyond a mere pittance of income from the sale of their works.

      And to say that an artist cannot be paid up front (or in progress) of developing a new album or whatnot (in fact, I wonder whether the whole concept of "album" is going to fall apart too), is still trying to keep within the old business paradigm.

       

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    Ben Robinson, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 1:41pm

    Being Played

    Mike,

    I get the feeling that this guy is just playing you for traffic and SEO. He probably gets more traffic from one link from you than he would get in a normal month and that pales in comparison to the long term effect of the link in terms of search engine rankings. I think it is just too improbable that someone is this daft.

     

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    anton, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 2:02pm

    anytime to spread a he said she said arguement out over coals of analysis, one thing smells the strongest: the burning sense that there are better uses of time writing - and reading.
    congrats - you just played whack a mole with a whack a moler. what now?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 2:09pm

    It's true that tours can be very profitable for some musicians (even with Ticketmaster's monopoly). Some of the bands I like, though, don't tour (such as Kate Bush). Gas prices are already impacting small, new bands and their ability to tour (NPR had a nice piece on this).

    Kate Bush could make money off of coffeemugs and T-shirts, but anyone could just upload images to Cafepress and make their own Kate Bush T-shirts, cheaper.

    DVDs of concerts? Well, once cameraphones get more sophisticated, that's out the window, too. There's very little we won't be able to eventually pirate. It seems that the only model with long-term survivability is the hostage model. And commercial jingles.

     

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      Mike (profile), Aug 20th, 2008 @ 2:29pm

      Re:

      Some of the bands I like, though, don't tour (such as Kate Bush). Gas prices are already impacting small, new bands and their ability to tour (NPR had a nice piece on this).

      Kate Bush could make money off of coffeemugs and T-shirts, but anyone could just upload images to Cafepress and make their own Kate Bush T-shirts, cheaper.


      Again, touring is NOT the only solution. Look at Trent Reznor's model. He made millions off a plan that had nothing to do with tours.

      Jill Sobule made $75k in a couple months with a model that had nothing to do with touring.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 2:54pm

        Re: Re:

        The point is, when all of the potential "other" methods of income are easily "piratable," what alternative is left?

        Plus, you ignored the second half of his comment...

         

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          Mike (profile), Aug 20th, 2008 @ 3:37pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          The point is, when all of the potential "other" methods of income are easily "piratable," what alternative is left?

          That's impossible. There are *always* scarcities that are not piratable.

          You cannot "pirate" a live performance.

          You cannot "pirate" the ability of a musician to make new music.

          You cannot "pirate" access to the musician.

          The point is that you charge for those things that ARE NOT PIRATABLE.

          The stuff that is piratable, you use to your advantage to make the stuff that is not piratable more valuable.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 4:20pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Even if we buy a model based on derivatives (such as the ones you listed above), whatever of that works with music doesn't transition well to writers, filmmakers, etc.

             

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              Mike (profile), Aug 20th, 2008 @ 4:30pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Even if we buy a model based on derivatives (such as the ones you listed above), whatever of that works with music doesn't transition well to writers, filmmakers, etc.

              I've yet to see a market where it does not work. Every market has scarcities that are connected to the infinite goods. You just need to find them.

               

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              mobiGeek, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 7:01pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Writers, filmmakers, etc. can give talking tours, closed reading sessions, interviews, photo sessions, etc.

              And why can't they be paid to produce their next work AHEAD of time, possibly on a milestone basis? That's the way my work gets paid for.

              And what about "works for hire"? Many artists make their living by creating custom works (e.g. sculptures for company boardrooms, paintings for new buildings lobbies, promotional videos done by "industry professionals", "one-of-a-kind" marketing materials, etc...)

              Look beyond the currently failing business models. Realize there is more out there beyond the set of examples we're listing. As people begin to think outside of the limited paradigms we've been stuck with for years we'll see more inventive approaches, some potential failures but many having greater potential for returns to the artists than any models we've seen in action to date.

               

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      PaulT (profile), Aug 20th, 2008 @ 2:38pm

      Re:

      "DVDs of concerts? Well, once cameraphones get more sophisticated, that's out the window, too"

      Now, that's a strange claim... Why would cameraphones prevent a cameraman/crew hired by the band from filming a DVD? A professionally filmed concert video is much preferable to the shaky, wobbling around behind a person's head footage that often makes it to YouTube, and it's always nice to see a DVD of a gig anyway (you can see angles you weren't able to see at the time).

      Also, the banning of recording equipment is very much an old school concern and (again!) it's perfectly possible to create saleable content from such footage if the suits think ahead rather than behind. (e.g. the Beastie Boys' DVD edited from footage from camcorders they handed to people in the crowd).

      As for your comment about Kate Bush, well it's her choice not to tour. I don't know the reasons but considering she's only made one album in the last 15 years it doesn't look like she's that concerned about working for her income. If that's not possible in the future, well that's the way things go, I have no sympathy.

      Anyone can create merchanidse? Yeah, so what? Anyone's been able to create a CD in the last 15 years, tapes before that, and you can hardly say that bootlegs, fake merchandise and other things have not existed well before today. Yet, people still continue to buy the originals. There's a reason for that, and that reason's not affected by whether music comes on a shiny disc or not.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 2:57pm

        Re: Re:

        Why would a band hire a camera crew to create a DVD of their concert when that concert can/will be posted online and shared freely? In this new model, they can't really charge for the DVD.

        As the ease and quality of "make your own" merchandise increases, the drive to buy "originals" will go down ... as "original" will lose its magic appeal.

        Finally, it's ultimately degrading to say to a band: we think your music's great, but we can't pay you for that. We do, however, have some nifty "original" t-shirts we can sell ...

         

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          Mike (profile), Aug 20th, 2008 @ 3:22pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Why would a band hire a camera crew to create a DVD of their concert when that concert can/will be posted online and shared freely? In this new model, they can't really charge for the DVD.

          Huh? Says who. Why can't they charge for the DVD. The DVD can come with extras and plenty of worthwhile reasons for buying the DVD itself.

          As the ease and quality of "make your own" merchandise increases, the drive to buy "originals" will go down ... as "original" will lose its magic appeal.

          Really? That's quite a leap and not at all supported by any evidence I've seen anywhere. Do you have any?

          Finally, it's ultimately degrading to say to a band: we think your music's great, but we can't pay you for that. We do, however, have some nifty "original" t-shirts we can sell ...

          No one has ever said "we can't pay you for that." Don't make up strawmen myths. What people are saying is that they need to choose different business models to get paid.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 4:22pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Why can't they charge for the DVD They can, but why pay? I mean, that's your argument with music: why pay for it? You can't have it both ways.

             

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              Mike (profile), Aug 20th, 2008 @ 4:32pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Why can't they charge for the DVD They can, but why pay? I mean, that's your argument with music: why pay for it? You can't have it both ways.

              We're going in circles. You pay for the SCARCE good, not the infinite good. You seem to be confusing the scarce good (the plastic disc and related packaging) with the content.

              You don't pay for the content (that's infinite). You pay for the scarcity.

              So, I'm not trying to have it both ways. I am being entirely consistent.

               

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                Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 4:37pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Nope. There's little point to pay for the scarce good of discs anymore, as they're just ripped to MP3 players anyway. Soon, the same will be true of movies.

                So, when that's the case, why pay?

                 

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                  Mike (profile), Aug 20th, 2008 @ 6:00pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Nope. There's little point to pay for the scarce good of discs anymore, as they're just ripped to MP3 players anyway. Soon, the same will be true of movies.

                  Two points:

                  1. You can still get people to buy discs if you give them something worthwhile. Trent Reznor did that. Even though the music was freely available, people were shelling out tons for the actual discs. Why? Because he made it worth their while.

                  2. And, even if the discs themselves become obsolete, that doesn't change the other aspects of the business model that are worthwhile. You sell the writing of new music, which is a scarce good. You sell concert tickets, which are a scarce good. You sell access to the musician which is a scarce good.

                  In other words, there are still plenty of things to sell, whether it involves a disc or not.

                   

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                    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 7:05pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    So, you're saying people are willing to pay $15 for a t-shirt with a musician's face on it, but aren't willing to pay anything at all for digital copies of the music itself? Depressing.

                    And all those things you list do not appeal to me, a general music listener. I'd be happy to deal with a few ads to hear streamed songs, and also happy to pay a reasonable amount for permanent copies of songs I like.

                    On the other hand, all the other crap surrounding how this gets enforced is getting so horrendous that I have a hard time holding onto my own arguments. I believe I'm right (we should pay musicians for their songs when we like them), but I have no idea how to make that viable anymore without the tyranny of insane laws.

                     

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                      mobiGeek, Aug 21st, 2008 @ 8:44am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      They are willing to pay for a scarce resource, one that cost money to make, yet not willing to pay for an infinite resource that cost ZERO to make. You find that depressing?

                      You say you don't mind a few ads when you hear streamed songs. How about if those songs WERE the ads and you didn't have to be exposed to OTHER ads? A win for the artist selling their scarce products, a win for the customer/target audience.

                      There's nothing stopping a customer from paying for a song that they like (donation?). But the economic reasoning that Mike puts forth on the PRICE of an infinite resource is sound. People trying to fight that economic REALITY is simply wasted effort as it WILL FAIL eventually, and the harder it is fought against, the more people/consumers/artists/companies will get hurt.

                       

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 9:23pm

    Wow, yeah Mike, this is by far one of the longest blogs I have ever seen on Tech Dirt. Shouldn't have let the guy know he got to ya.

    Anyway I am still on your side, Fuck the RIAA

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 21st, 2008 @ 8:46am

    Ever hit Makezine? They've got this awesome bit up about how you can put a camera CCD, for videotaping, into binoculars. Won't be long before some kind of flash device sits in the other barrel of the binocular. About the only non-pirateable (man, I need an authoritative spelling for this) aspects of a live performance are now:

    1) Inhaling other people's smoke
    2) Paying too much for drinks
    3) Listening to some gal yammer away on her cellphone
    4) Dealing with someone howling "FREEBIRD" like it's still funny.
    5) Nasty bathrooms
    6) Waiting in line
    7) Crowds
    8) Seeing and being seen as one of the cool people who show up for the above seven reasons

    What people typically go for are to hear the band perform outside of a studio, and to see them do their thing. This is easily replicated on DVD. The contact high from the crowd's enthusiasm, maybe not so much.

    Remember, Mike, you've made a lot of arguments about why people stay home from movie theaters and just watch stuff at home. Almost every one of your arguments applies to concerts. The appropriate Buffy quote: "How about a movie? They're showing 'em in theaters now. I hear it's like watching a video with a bunch of strangers and a sticky floor."

    Make a special DVD of extras? Awesome, so the band makes a DVD with these new features on it ... and it winds up on bittorrent. Special DVDs are out.

    Access to the musician? Really? "Shake Jared Leto's hand for five dollars" is the new business model?

    You cannot "pirate" the ability of a musician to make new music. That is true. So it looks like we're back down to the "if you want a new album, everyone donate money to this pot" pledge/hostage model.

    Don't get me wrong - I loathe the RIAA, but I don't see the handshake thing as being a big seller.

     

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      John Wilson, Aug 21st, 2008 @ 11:31am

      Re:

      Why should a band hire pros to video and record the sound of a concert?

      A few reasons I can think of off the top of my head;

      1) Arenas and stadiums are acoustic cesspools so the sound from a small device will be awful. Remember this is music and, in the end, it's all about the sound. Right?

      2) Promoters figured out a long time ago how to counter flash bulbs by the (unhappy) accident of noticing that pictures are messed up when stage lights and effect lighting play over and into the crowd. Works on video too.

      3) There are gifted amateurs out there though they are few and far between so YouTube remains a visual and sonic wasteland that does one thing which is to create demand for tickets for live performances (scarce resource).

      4) Professional productions enable you to see things you wouldn't otherwise see, hear things you may not otherwise hear. Clearly and in focus.

      Yeah, as soon as the DVD is rolled out it's available on some torrent site or other if you want to take the risk of malware that comes with a fair number of those places.

      And if you don't see being able to sit down and talk with interesting characters like, say, Ian Anderson, then you're missing what they have to sell. In your case it doesn't matter but for some it might.

      ttfn

      John

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 25th, 2008 @ 5:15pm

        Re: Re:

        Yeah, as soon as the DVD is rolled out it's available on some torrent site or other if you want to take the risk of malware that comes with a fair number of those places.

        And if you don't see being able to sit down and talk with interesting characters like, say, Ian Anderson, then you're missing what they have to sell. In your case it doesn't matter but for some it might.


        This does nothing to debunk the comment you're replying to.

        1) Saying "malware" doesn't undermine the problem of pirated DVDs (and the resulting lack of sales)

        2) Some artists are awesome to talk with, etc. Some are incredibly boring. Either way, what's interesting is the art they produce, not what they chat about over coffee.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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