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Monday, March 28, 2005 |
The New York Times Gets It Wrong ... Again
While waiting forever for Blogger to punch up (What is UP with Blogger? It's been sucking bigtime lately.), I was idly reading through the New York Times, when I hit their editorial about the upcoming Grokster case going before the Supreme Court tomorrow. Besides biting the RIAA's crap arguments hook line and sinker (with fact checking like this, it's hard to argue that "journalism" is somehow of a better quality then blogs), the editorial essentially makes a lot of obvious points that don't mean much of anything. You can boil it down to one sentence I used to use on every term paper in college as a catchall Cover Your Ass move: Both sides should be carefully considered. The classic mistake the Times makes is getting all caught up with the false notion of information "theft". Not that it isn't real, it's just not as important as you might think. It's rearranging the deck chairs and ignoring the ship. Copyright is to provide the artist with ownership of their original works. It provides incentive for the artist to make more work. Artist gets compensated, public gets lots of art, everybody is happy. Except CD sales don't make money for the artist. It's touring that makes the money. Radio, MTV, and CD sales are just distribution, expensive ways to get the kids to adopt your song as their generational anthem. Once they do that, they'll pay good money to actually see the artist perform. Years later, they'll pay even more to see the reunion tour. The Rolling Stones don't need CD sales, they need to keep touring. And that's how music has always been, the bard traveling from city to city being paid to sing his/her songs. Don't like to tour, I don't like to go to the office either, suck it up, nobody has a right to be given money for free. "Theft" is not a big deal in this model. Kids and Baby Boomers have the albumns at home. They listen to them on their iPods. They watch the videos on TV and listen to the tunes on the radio. But the more copies they have, the more they crave the authenticity of the real deal. They'll pay large sums of money to see the concert. The more you can push a copy of your song into their heads, the more they'll pay to see you sing. You'd like to at least cover the costs of distribution, maybe make a little profit too, but if you get too greedy you'll kill the golden goose. Better to treat music sales as loss leaders, and make up the difference in the concerts. Two quick examples. Van Gogh's Starry Night. You can buy a very nice looking print of the original for cheap. You can even look at a low quality pic of it on the web for free. Therefor, the value of the original, and the desire of the mass public to either see or own the original must have gone down, right? Wrong. In fact, Starry Night has appreciated in value to ridiculous levels. If they started giving away postcards with Starry Night printed on them, or if every elementary school child in the world got a free poster to admire, I'd bet the value of the original would appreciate at an even high rate then current. "Theft" leads to popularity leads to profit. Dear Leader. I still haven't bought their CD. It'll only cost me $12. I should buy it, I enjoy it very much. But it'll be a one-time purchase. I also really enjoy hearing them perform their songs. A Lot. Next time they're in town, I'll probably go see a concert. That too will cost about $12. Now, which does it make more sense to strictly enfore? The one-time purchase, or the recurring purchases? Which would you rather lose, the one-time purchase due to p2p "theft" (actually this band is cool and offers legal mp3 downloads of a few songs and entire concert performances), or the recurring concert ticket purchases due to pissing me (the fan) off. Think about it. One time vs. RECURRING. You're not selling the songs, you're actually trying to give them away. You're selling the BAND (artist). You're not selling the copies, you're selling the original. You're not selling one-time purchases, you're selling a subscription. So unless Grokster is going to teleport an exact copy of Brittney Spears to grind her pelvis on my living room floor, don't worry about the "theft", it's not important.

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