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Music Media

Fallout from the Internet Debacle 292

Posted by michael
from the stay-under-cover-until-the-debris-stops-falling dept.
gatesh8r writes "This article off of Janis Ian's site lashes out at the RIAA for "wanting to control everything that the consumer will purchase" and then proposes some mild and thoughtful solutions to the problem. Nice to see an artist write up something like this." This is her follow-up to her earlier piece.
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Fallout from the Internet Debacle

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  • by cdrj (556227)
    I personally would rather trust the government (some think otherwise) than some high ranking executive, who would most likely be controlling things without the government.
    • I think this is a good point. The goverment needs to make some decisions on this matter, and not just retarded stuff like the DCMA. They need to listen to the people, not just the Record companies's lobbyists.
      The executives don't have to listen to anyone but the government because they have money, and can sue people easily, and do what they want. They aren't voted into power, but the government officials, must answer to the public (the only probablem is that people deciede who they will vote in based on what the person will do about abortion, or drugs, not about their intellegence of other issues, just ones that WONT change...)

    • I personally would rather trust the government (some think otherwise) than some high ranking executive, who would most likely be controlling things without the government.

      Perhaps I'm just being paranoid here, but I'm losing trust in the government as tha *AA buys off more and more of it.
  • When I write code, it's for the GPL, my code is is my hobby, and maybe others will get use/enjoyment out of it. It'd be grand indeed if more music was copy-lefted.
  • by JUSTONEMORELATTE (584508) on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @11:25AM (#4018373) Homepage
    But what the heck....

    The basic plan sounds good on paper -- get all the tracks in all the major labels available in one place, and sell full-sample-rate tracks for 25centa a pop. Try it for a time and see how it goes.

    Only problem is that P2P networks are still up. This idea would have been great pre-napster, but not today. What you'll have is a small percentage of the P2P users spend a small amount of cash to build up libraries, then those libraries are shared and the RIAA site doesn't rake in the fees like they thought they would.
    how's that phrase go? "Bzzzt, but thanks for playing!"
    • You wouldn't rake in bucks like they want and they'd use it's "failure" to push for more legislation, just like always. However, I for one would love a service where I can get a) well-labeled, properly named, high bitrate MP3s from fast, reliable servers. In fact, I've used just such a service, and although it was flat fee, I would be more than willing to pay per download, assuming that they actually had the music I wanted. I imagine alot of other people would too, and that it WOULD in fact be a viable model. It's just that simply being viable isn't enough.
    • Perhaps, but... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Soulfader (527299)
      ...you never know until you try. It's just possible that people really will pony up cash for their music if there is a credible and reliable micropayment system, and there's enough selection to be worthwhile.

      I don't think that they buy their own arguments, else they would have done this already. What have they got to lose? To hear them tell it, they are already bleeding in the streets from Internet swapping. By their logic, the stuff is already out there, so they might as well provide a method for people to pay for it.

    • So what? The whole point here is that it wouldn't matter who else was offering the files. Removing the barriers and finding a price point that works. There is a value in convenience and even if the volume of music traded on P2P is 2, 5 or 10 times what they get on the sanctioned site, if they make enough money to cover costs and have a bit left over, it's a success. They have NO production costs, no marketing costs, nothing to pay for but bandwidth and minimum of design.

      It's a very good first run at a proposal. There's definitely some room for improvement ($20/yr for all you can eat) but using it as a test has got to be cheaper than all the money they are paying the lawyers.
    • by Salsaman (141471) on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @11:39AM (#4018474) Homepage
      I'd happily pay 25c a track rather than use a p2p client, if the following were met:

      I could get the file instantly; it was guaranteed to be CD quality or better; and it was in an open format (mp3, or much better, ogg).

      Even if the track were available for free elsewhere, it just wouldn't be worth the hassle of locating it, queueing it, and then hoping that it was the right track at a decent quality.

      • I'd happily pay 25c a track rather than use a p2p client, if the following were met:
        I could get the file instantly; it was guaranteed to be CD quality or better; and it was in an open format (mp3, or much better, ogg).


        See? That's why it won't happen. People like you are in an incredible minority. Why?
        - Instant ain't gonna happen for the majority of us with 56K mnodems, no matter who's offering it.
        - CD quality? A 128 MP3 is good enough for most people. The average Joe isn't anything close to an audiophile.
        - Open format? Again, most people don't even know what "open format" means. If they can download it, and play it, who cares what format it's in? Hell, I'd guess that most people don't even know.
    • "This idea would have been great pre-napster, but not today..."

      This idea would have been great pre-calling-everybody-a-theif. I doubt I'm the only one who feels the RIAA doesn't deserve a second chance after that.

      Frankly, I think any corporation that takes the stance that customers aren't basically honest should learn a humbling lesson. I certainly don't think the RIAA should recieve money from the people it tried to condemn with the SSSCA.
    • Even with the P2P networks being up, not too computer savvy users still ask me, where can I get this song or that song because Napster is not around anymore. They just don't know how to use these other P2P networks. If the major labels came out with their own pay to download MP3 (or prefered audio format) service, I'm sure they could attract a lot of the not too computer savvy users into paying a quarter or maybe even up to a dollar per song (still cheaper then buying a single).
    • by daoine (123140) <.moc.oohay. .ta. .3101hdaurom.> on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @11:49AM (#4018546)
      I think the whole point was that the 'experiment' per say would be out-of-print catalogs only. So let's be a little realistic; these catalogs are making *NO* money right now. You can't buy 'em.

      Personally, there's about 10 albums that I'm hunting down that are out of print. I couldn't find them in completion on Napster even at its best. Instead, my current attempts consist of the half.com and amazon.com used pre-orders in the hopes that someone shows up to sell it. I've gotten 1.

      If I could grab the rest at .25 a song I wouldn't think twice. Hunting down a song on a P2P network is easy. Hunting down several albums worth is a pain in the ass, especially if you want them all at the same rate.

      Of course, there will be people who set up P2P networks, just as people copied tapes. But the fact is, nobody has ever had cheap, searchable, and complete access to the catalogs - they'd get about $20 from me in 1 day. And that's just from what I know I'm missing...

    • by iabervon (1971) on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @01:06PM (#4019149) Homepage Journal
      <desmond-tutu>
      We can't kill the music industry. It's big, and the companies involved do too many other things. It's highly unlikely that the big names would ever decide to ditch music and just sell game systems and internet access. Even if they were getting no profits from their music parts, they'd probably use their other resources to try to do something about it, rather than giving up.

      Therefore, if we want to stop them, what we need to do is give them a viable business model. We have to actively help them do things we like.
      </desmond-tutu>

      Is it worth $.25/song to have the music industry's attempt at a business model compatible with consumer rights succeed? Wouldn't you pay $.25/song if the RIAA would chill out? Think of it as buying influence, and you'll realize that you're getting a lot for your quarter that you don't get from the P2P networks.

      Just think: they set up this thing. It appears on slashdot, with a favorable article. Everybody goes there and gets a couple of songs. They make more money in a few hours than they can ignore. If people are interested in paying to make Blender open source, won't people be even more interested in paying to make the RIAA reasonable? Oh, and there's also this music thing, but that's not important.
    • by MO! (13886) on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @01:13PM (#4019220) Homepage
      It would still work today because P2P networks suffer from a simple, frequent, inherent limitation - users LOG OFF!

      If you're downloading from them when they logged, tough cookies! You spent 20 minutes downloading at a low average throughput downloading 30% of a song you wanted. Now you go back and search again and find another user with a copy of it, so you start downloading from them. This time the transfer from them to you completes 100% - BUT... their download from someone else crapped out at 72% complete, so the song you got is STILL incomplete!

      This problem is called reliability! As hyped as P2P might get in the press and in the minds of advocates - it's still unreliable! If Janis' suggestion were implemented, listeners would have a reliable source to obtain full downloads of quality music. I think most people would be like me and pay up to a quarter for that reliability. My time, as well as most others I'm sure, is worth much more than $.25 for the countless cummulative hours spent dealing with transfer interruptions and abortions.

    • After the demise of Audio Galaxy (and even with AG things weren't perfect) getting the tracks you want can take days. Weeks. Months. and sometimes longer.

      If I could pay 25 cents and get the mp3 in the time it takes to download (small on a cable modem) they satisfy the convenience criteria.

      Sure- people will still trade and warez and whatever as long as its free- the cheapskate/money criteria. But for those of us who work and have some disposable income, I want the most bang for my buck. Sure I can make my own coffee, but its faster and easier to get Starbucks to make a caramel machiatto. Especially when theres one in the frickin' grocery store!

      Infact, the true test is to see how this stands up against the P2P networks- there will always be people copying tapes, cds, software, etc. Negative reinforcement classicaly has not worked (look into a psych 101 text book). Give me a reason where I directly benefit (saying "its against the law" will get you laughed out of the cool kids lunch table).

      Word out. UP! I mean up!
  • great article (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tps12 (105590)
    I have seen a lot of bitching about the RIAA and record companies, from music fans and "artists" alike. This is the first one I've seen that actually proposes what can be done about it, beyond the casual "fishing for ideas" phase in which most strident RIAA detractors seem mired.

    For those who haven't read the article, she basically proposes that the big record companies, rather than waste their time competing with one another, should just cooperate and set up a single web site that offers all of their music for download. Meanwhile, they would stop selling compact discs entirely. They would sell these songs on a nickel-per-download basis (as she points out, if the record industry had a nickel for every time someone stole one of its songs, they'd have made $150 million a year!), and make tons more money than they do selling music the old fashioned way.

    While she doesn't mention small labels, or people who lack broadband or computers, I'm sure there are simple ways of dealing with these problems. The gist in the end is that piracy-hungry consumers pose a bigger threat to the record industry as a whole than each record company does to one another. Just as the American colonies once banded together to expel their English masters, to the benefit of England and the United States alike, so must the record industry unite for the benefit of us all.
  • More strong artists (Score:4, Informative)

    by TibbonZero (571809) <Tibbon@gmail.cOPENBSDom minus bsd> on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @11:29AM (#4018403) Homepage Journal
    Artists like Janis (who I happen to have ran into in Maryland), are just what the industry needs. If more artists weren't as concerned with making 11 million that year instead of 10 million, then we would be in alot better shape. You know what artists used to make their money off of? Touring, and making music compelling enough to buy.
    I am not for stealing of music, I am the industry as a Producer/Engineer, and realize that people need to make money, but the RIAA, and MPAA are just getting out of hand. The only way that this will be solved is either
    a) a Boycott on buying music, buying movies (or renting them), for a period of time (The NoBuy Winter?) or
    b) The artists AND record companies and film companies (often the same thing), going against the MPAA and RIAA (most likely only the Arists would do this, as the record companies support the MPAA and RIAA most of the time)...

    • I think newer artists already realize the promotional value of music online. I read a complementary review of a performance by Norah Jones in the Chicago Reader. I looked on the internet for more info, found out she had samples on her website [norahjones.com], and, liking what I heard, bought the CD.

      Of course, as an artist, that only works for you of you are good. Maybe that's the problem the RIAA has...it'll never work for promoting manufactured dreck.
    • I've been following this in a mealy-mouthed kind of way, for years. It's closely aligned with my skinflint nature, but isn't that really part of the problem, here? Already CDs and tapes are pretty much gift-only items, and I postpone movies for either second run (cheap-seats theaters) or matinee.

      The problem with a boycott is getting the rest of the family to go along with it. I don't quite see being able to say "no CD's, videos, or movies for Christmas," to the whole family.

      OTOH, why don't we pick a period of time *after* Christmas and get a month or two boycott arranged. At the same time, we should try and get people to shut down their P2P sharing, as well. We need to make a political statement here, and it will take time to organize it and effectively communicate the vision. Getting the P2P boycott is an essential and difficult part, and buy-in is essential for this.
      • OTOH, why don't we pick a period of time *after* Christmas and get a month or two boycott arranged. At the same time, we should try and get people to shut down their P2P sharing, as well. We need to make a political statement here, and it will take time to organize it and effectively communicate the vision. Getting the P2P boycott is an essential and difficult part, and buy-in is essential for this.

        Yea, Christmas season would be hard, but really effective. I agree that it can't be done in that way. But after... hmm, perhaps I will start looking into this. The poster after you and you are both right in that we have to stop the P2P sharing in some way at the same time, because otherwise it will just be "Pirates not buying CDs for 3 months" type headline instead of "Media Boycott". Anyone who wants to can email me and we can talk about this...

        • I could see telling my family not to get me CDs or videos for Christmas, but I'm not sure I can see forcing my boycott on them, and not getting them any of those.

          I can see pushing a post-Christmas boycott across to them, though.

          Back on the CD topic, when my son was 4, he was getting into the stereo equipment too much, and I ended up pretty much dropping music. After that, I had neither time nor space to get back into it, and after that I started getting involved in the ??AA copyright issues. But recently I began looking into Indie music. My birthday list this year is going to include Indie CDs. I'm glad to see common usage of "Pink-Floyd-like" to describe music. (Atom Heart Mother rules!)
    • b) The artists AND record companies and film companies (often the same thing), going against the MPAA and RIAA (most likely only the Arists would do this, as the record companies support the MPAA and RIAA most of the time)...

      The record companies are the RIAA.

  • by cyber_rigger (527103) on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @11:31AM (#4018413) Homepage Journal
    I say the recording industry should just go with the flow and sell CDs full of MP3s already pre-ripped. Sell the convenience of not having to do it yourself.
    • by goldspider (445116) <ardrake79@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @12:02PM (#4018644) Homepage
      I really don't see what they'd have to gain by this. First of all, the recording industry by default sees mp3s as a Bad Thing (TM). They wouldn't want to conveniently sell their product in a format that makes it easier to copy/share/pirate/etc. Secondly, why would they sell 150 tracks on a single CD for $20 when they can get away with selling only 15 tracks on a single CD for $20?

      From our point of view it would be really nice, for sure. Bur from a business perspective, the industry would be shooting itself in the foot.

      • Secondly, why would they sell 150 tracks on a single CD for $20 when they can get away with selling only 15 tracks on a single CD for $20?

        You could put 150 tracks of crap on a CD for $20, and a lot of folks would still buy it--because somewhere in that list of 150 tracks, they'll likely find 10 or 15 that they consider worth the price of the CD.

      • from a business perspective, the industry would be shooting itself in the foot.

        Lord knows the RIAA would never do that!

        Seriously, it is shooting its own foot now, by attacking fans and consumers. Right now they can get away with selling 15 tracks for $20, but the price for that is a large amount of "piracy" from people who don't want to pay that much but still want to listen to the music. (I don't want to get into whether their actions are justified here; the point is, it is going on). If the RIAA wants to do something about that, this is not an unreasonable suggestion.

      • Secondly, why would they sell 150 tracks on a single CD for $20 when they can get away with selling only 15 tracks on a single CD for $20?

        That's why COMPETITION is a good thing. The RIAA is a cartel to eliminate competition. They fix prices. They fix artist contracts. The're so big they've even been fixing the laws.

        If a company started selling these they would rapidly develop a feedback loop of MP3-CD sales driving MP3 player sales driving MP3-CD sales. They would steal the market.

        -
  • by Carnage4Life (106069) on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @11:31AM (#4018417) Homepage Journal
    Like many people on here there was a time I grew used to paying $15 - $20 for a CD only to end up listening to only 2 or 3 good songs on the album. In fact, I had mentally begun to consider a CD a good buy if it had 3 good songs and anything above that an excellent buy. This was helped by treating each CD purchase as the equivalent of buying 3 singles from the same artist.

    Then came the advent of large scale P2P software based, copyright infringement while I was in college. I began being able to avoid what I used to consider "bad" CD purchases by only obtaining the one good song without having to deal with the dreck on the rest of the album or paying for it.

    Now in many cases I would love to pay for the one or two album tracks or single remixes that I like but the music industry has steadfastly refused to provide me a mechanism to do this. However, there is really nothing technologically preventing record labels from either a.) providing customized CDs for their target audience (in the same vein as the NOW compilation albums) or b.) providing digital music at a fraction of the current price of singles and CDs.

    Unfortunately they don't seem remotely interested in satisfying their customers in this demand. Legislating against technology can only last for so long.

    • If the artists you listen to are content to put only 1 or 2 good songs on an album, then I suggest you start listening to better artists, ones who care about music more than profit.
      • Go watch "That Thing You Do," a cute movie about a one-hit wonder band. They get a recording contract. They are told they can't record the songs they want to.

        Music companies' albums are marketing efforts. They are generally not artistic efforts.
      • Hevy Devy Records [hevydevy.com]
        Century Media Records [centurymedia.com]
        IPECAC Records [ipecac.com]
        Relapse/Release Records [relapse.com]
        Road Runner Records [roadrunnerrecords.com]
        Nothing Records [nothingrecords.com]
        Kool Arrow Records [koolarrow.com]

        Admittedly, these record labels run along the more extreme vein. However, if you are into heavy/angry music, the bands you can find through these labels produce albums FAR better than the dreck you'll find getting shoved at us through the major labels.

        As poot_rootbeer said, perhaps you should try some alternate sources of music for better quality artists! :)

        Bryan

      • by namespan (225296) <namespan@el i t e m a i l . org> on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @02:27PM (#4019836) Journal
        I routinely listen to stuff that will, in all probability, NEVER make the top 40, and have a couple of albums chock-full of goodness by said artists. And yet....

        I really like listening to "My Sharona" sometimes. Not extra-intellectual high quality songcraft or anything, but it's lots of fun. Some of the one hits wonders make it because people like them and they are actually likeable. I had high hopes for Lisa Loeb's stuff after that one song, "Stay," (one of the few to hit number 1 by an unsigned artist, and it is a good example of songcraft) but found most of the rest of her stuff somewhat insipid. Does that mean I should not listen to "Stay"?

        In other words, I see your point about quality artists who consistently deliver good stuff. But for those artists who hit and miss, there's no reason to stop listening to the stuff they produce.

        It would be ideal, however, if we could just buy the single (which is fortunately what I did with Loeb's stuff, thanks to a friend with a cassette deck) instead of the whole album. Of course the record industry they'd make fewer sales...

        • This is why I buy soundtracks. For example, I bought the Reailty Bites soundtrack for that song.

          However, I agree with you that this doesn't work for everything. I just recently put together an 80s collection that wouldn't have been possible otherwise. By the end I'd either be buying the singles (if I could find them) or 80s collection CDs that overlap all the previous CDs except by one or two songs.

          Would being able to build a collection like this at 50c a song prevented me from using the networks? Probably not. It would have still cost me $200, way more than I'd want to spend on this collection. $50 for the lot, and I'd propably go for it, but that would be 12.5c a song. I don't think labels will go for that, even for old material they have long made their profits on.
    • Are people aware that the music industry was dragged through court a few years ago for paying for retailers' advertising if they promised not to sell CDs under a certain price?

      CDs could be way cheaper, but the industry has been caught a few times trying to make sure you dont remember what it was like to buy an album and get 7 good songs. 3 songs and 17 filler tracks is a much more profitable and easily 'constructed' model for them.
    • I had the same problem: $17 avg. cd with maybe 1 or 2 really good songs 1 or 2 so-so and 10 songs I didn't care for (back in my electronica days). Then it hit me...I didn't really like the music I was listening to..

      I dumped my music selection down to just what I knew I liked and started searching for new stuff/styles.

      I rediscovered 4ad Records, but now mostly I listen to indie (mp3.com [mp3.com] indieradio.org [http])..in case your curious.

      And not to plug them, but emusic.com is all you can download for $9.99 a month and they actually have some good music... [emusic.com]

    • Now in many cases I would love to pay for the one or two album tracks or single remixes that I like

      The music industry probably has a dark vault of statistics (or at least nightmares about said vault) where they have information that shows that over 50% of the discs they put out have fewer than 3 songs that appeal to those who buy them.

      $15 x 1 disc > $5 x 2 singles..... hmmmm.

      They have two choices:

      1) produce only the 1-2 good songs. The problem is, the same "good songs" might not appeal to everyone. One album full of 15 songs has a better chance of having 2-3 that appeal to more people.

      2) recruit artists that only produce good and appealing material. The problem with this is.... well, you see, the reason we.... I mean, tastes and demographics being what.... confound it, it just can't be done! For the same reason radio stations can't play "O Brother Where Art Thou" and other associated roots music like Alison Kraus and Nickel Creek, despite the fact sales from these artists/recordings tear up the charts. It Just Wouldn't Work (TM) you know. Quality doesn't sell. Or something.

    • However, there is really nothing technologically preventing record labels from ... providing digital music at a fraction of the current price of singles and CDs.

      They have to pay the songwriters a royalty per download, no matter what. The going rate is about 8 cents per track, and it's going up in parallel with the Consumer Price Index. At the commonly quoted 25c/download figure (EUR or USD), what does this leave for the performers, the web developers, and the hosting provider?

      a.) providing customized CDs for their target audience (in the same vein as the NOW compilation albums)

      This is the only way the RIAA can win back its customers. Pressplay [pressplay.com]'s expansion into unlocked "Portable Downloads" is a step in the right direction. For the price of a single CD at a record store, you can download 20 MP3 files in a month and burn a legit music CD-R with no filler. (Filler is the most commonly quoted reason why $18 for a CD is considered too high.)

  • Although the article has what would seem to be a darned fine idea for how to handle the desires and do a test, the record labels will never agree to it.

    Basic macroeconomics tells us that when supply goes up, price comes down (assuming demand stays constant...I'll discuss this in a moment), so if they suddenly released the X number of tracks currently locked away in their archives to be sold, the number of tracks available to be purchased would increase, and therefore the price per track would decrease.

    Although this would seem to be a good thing, and in tune with economic theory, the Record Labels work as a cartel, wherein they receive artifically high profit margins by sharply restricting output (in this case, not so much raw numbers of CD's available as the number of different tracks available in the universe of CD's). So it is in their best interests to keep the "old" music locked away and unavailable/unpurchaseable, so people will spend $14.99 on the latest CD of the new hit group.

    The other option would be to increase demand so that the increase in supply keeps pace. Unfortunately, that's much more difficult to do (Market theorists have worked for many years on demand side economic theories, and haven't managed to get it right yet), and therefore experiments are dangerous to the cartel.

    so, in short...great idea that will never see the light of day...and the world is much the poorer for it.

  • by TibbonZero (571809) <Tibbon@gmail.cOPENBSDom minus bsd> on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @11:34AM (#4018440) Homepage Journal
    "And of everything we are taught, one issue is always paramount - in America, it is the people who rule"

    This is a good point, it's about the majority in this country (or it's "supposed" to be). The Artists and record companies are the minority, the people should have some say. The Artists themselves should definately have some say. I am in the industry, so my livelyhood depends on the record sales and stuff as well, an I am not for stealing, but I am definately sgainst he MPAA/RIAA types.

    The industry is still operating under laws and concepts developed during the 1930's and 1940's, before cassettes, before boom boxes, before MP3 and file-sharing and the Internet. It's far easier to insist that all new technologies be judged under old laws, than to craft new laws that embrace all existing technologies. It's much easier to find a scapegoat, than to examine your own practices. As they say, "You can't get fired for saying no."

    Janis is also very right in saying that the way that the industry is set up is old, based off a model from the 30's and 40's. We don't use any other markets in the same way that we did in the 30's and 40's, so why should we for music and entertainment.

    • Janis is also very right in saying that the way that the industry is set up is old, based off a model from the 30's and 40's. We don't use any other markets in the same way that we did in the 30's and 40's, so why should we for music and entertainment.

      They are still deducting 10% from the artists royalties for shellac breakage. Yep, 10% for all those shattered 78 RPM records. That something like this is still a part of standard industry contracts is just obscene.

    • We don't use any other markets in the same way that we did in the 30's and 40's, so why should we for music and entertainment.
      That is entirely untrue! Brothels are run in exactly the same way now as they were in the 30's and 40's.

      Come to think of it, that is a very suiting comparison, except that prostitutes aren't legally bound to work for their pimps, under duress of heavy financial reparations if they chose to leave.
  • Bravo, Janis. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wirefarm (18470) <jim@m m d c.net> on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @11:38AM (#4018458) Homepage
    Those of us over 30 certainly know her stuff, the old stuff anyway, but I wonder how well-known she was to younger people before this.
    She's got downloads of her stuff on the site, without any DRM nonsense attached. Bravo.
    She's been on Daypop's blogging top 40 for weeks - by sheer cluefulness, she's probably expanded her audience considerably. She's honest and open and candid. She speaks as one who's seen every aspect of the business since starting as a 15 year old with a controvercial song, way back when.
    I would guess that I won't be the only one paying a lot more attention to what she says.

    Any chance we can get her to run for Senator?

    Cheers,
    Jim in Tokyo
    • "Any chance we can get her to run for Senator?"

      Well, we've already got the senators for Disney et al, so I don't see why we can't try and bribe^H^H^H^H^H pursuade her to be the senator for Slashdot.

      Maran
  • by MsGeek (162936) on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @11:38AM (#4018462) Homepage Journal
    Ms. Ian strikes again with a great idea. Put all the out-of-print music on an industry-built website and use micropayments for downloading! Great freakin' idea. Considering that a lot of people search P2P sites for music that is out of print or otherwise unavailable, this is great.

    I found out something interesting this weekend: Representative Howard Berman is indeed my representative. (He doesn't represent me or my views but that's just my dumb luck for living in this part of the San Fernando Valley...) Anyway, he will be holding a Town Hall meeting HERE:

    Thursday, August 8th, at 6pm

    At Sepulveda Middle School Auditorium
    At the corner of Plummer and Sepulveda.
    Anyway, if anybody lives in the East San Fernando Valley, this would be the opportunity to confront Berman over his MPAA/RIAA hax0r bill.
  • by af_robot (553885) on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @11:39AM (#4018468)
    This article off of Janis Ian's site lashes out at the RIAA for "wanting to control everything that the consumer will purchase"

    RIAA pre-crime cop:
    - We've got a signal that you was downloading banned so-called P2P software. You're under arrest for future illegal download. Your're supposed to download unlicensed Britney Spears song in less than four hours. The fact that we prevented it from happening doesn't change the fact that it was going to happen.
  • by sielwolf (246764)
    I really gotta ask because she has about as much push in the industry as I do (read: none). Now you might say that she is an influential founder of the sound of blah-blah-blah in the era of the 70's/60's/whenever folk/blues but the current problem is this:

    None of the large, influential artists of today are making statements like this. Courtney Love? What, between her "acting" and holding back Nirvana material? Yeah, she is a great advocate to have for P2P... Even the loudest voices are a) still on the industry teat and b) not making any waves other than a post to their website.

    And then there is the problem of the Metallicas and Dr Dre's of the world (read: the bands people would listen to if they spoke out) are on the side of the RIAA.

    Don't just blame them. A lot of more "with it" artists aren't on the free and open bandwagon. Missy Elliot, the Beastie Boys, and the Chemical Brothers are all notorious for not licensing their material for sampling and willing to fight to protect it. Do you expect any of them to jump for a reasonable P2P system?

    They might all be for a free Tibet but as long as it doesn't mess with them getting paid.

    So what will happen:
    1. RIAA will push out their P2P solution.
    2. It will fail.
    3. Free P2P will continue to thrive, above the levels of old ratio MP3 ftp sites (remember those days?) but below the heyday of Napster.
    4. The industry and its top 100 artists will pat each other on the back and present gifts of ivory backscratchers to each other for a job well done.
    • It'd be interesting to know which label Janis Ian is / was signed to.....

      The trouble is an artist signed to an RIAA member label cant go shouting disapproval of the RIAA - either they'd be offloaded by the label in a hurry or the loving, caring RIAA would unload the label.

      I, personally, am getting very tired of listening to the rubbish (and it is rubbish) that the RIAA labels pump out in its neatly packaged form. I'd rather start sawing my legs off than start listening to the rubbish they pipe at us down the radio.

      It may interest some of you that I've done a bit of work with a small independent British record label. Their releases are on 12" vinyl in the order of 500 - 2000 copies nationally but at the same time we were making full-length average quality MP3s available originally on audiogalaxy and later on gnutella. This was possibly one of the shrewdest marketing moves ever (this company never had a sell-out release until they tried this)
    • The current RIAA racket works well for the less than one percent of professional musicians who are "stars". You won't hear a star speak out against the system that made them rich.

      If the RIAA loses power, if we kill the restrictions that are killing Internet radio, most of the 99% of working musicians who may not be household names but do have a small following, or who are interesting enough to have a following if only the right people could hear them, will be better off.

    • i still haven't forgiven metallica for leading the charge against napster. as i've said before on /., during napster's heyday, i had a nearly unlimited computer budget -- CD burning, new laptops, wireless routers and cards. since napster, there's been almost nothing in the computer budget. my wife wants napster back.

      i own about every metallica album. have i bought one since napster? no. will i? no. will i ever support them in any way? no.

      when a metallica song comes on the radio, even one i used to like, i change the station. every time. when i'm on-line or by a phone and a metallica song comes on the radio, i change the station, and call or email the station and tell them why i changed the station.

      i've never understood what happened to metallica, that turned them from encouraging bootlegs to helping destroy napster. p2p just isn't as good.

      • IIRC (and I believe that I do) Metallica's stand was that fans were welcome to share all of the live cuts that they want, but that they didn't want studio cuts shared. Metallica's point was about the artist being allowed to determine what happens with their recorded products. I have a difficult time disagreeing with that.
  • winds of change (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jo-do-cus (597235) <johocus@zonnet.nl> on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @11:45AM (#4018519)
    Movie companies sued over VCR manufacturing and blank video sales, with Jack Valenti (Motion Picture Association of America chairman) testifying to Congress that the VCR is to the movie industry what the Boston Strangler is to a woman alone at night - and yet, video sales now account for more industry profit than movies themselves.

    Like the movie industry did with VCR, I think the music business will have to try and live with things like files sharing and the internet. Copyright laws should change to incorporate it too. At the moment money-hungry companies and lobby-controlled governments are trying very very hard to stop/control/forbid these new kinds of information exchange, while (IMHO) it is embarrasingly obvious that the current structures for enforcing and earning money from copyrights will break down. You just cannot stop these changes from happening.

    It might not be entirely clear yet how to make money with open source software, or how to use p2p file sharing in the music industry, but i think it will become clear. If not, the industry will break down and something new will appear. This has occurred in history many times, and it will occur again.

    For now, i (want to) believe in open source. As for the music industry: i'm not sure yet...
  • Impulse Buys (Score:3, Insightful)

    by clickety6 (141178) on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @11:46AM (#4018521)
    I recentlyheard a song on the radio and thought I'd like to have a copy on CD. It was only available on single CD, not on an album. Cost of the CD for the one song I wanted - 5.99 euros (thta's pretty much equal to $5.99 at the moment). Did I buy it? Hell no! I wasn't going to pay 6 euros just for one song i wanted to listen to. Did I burn it? Nope. I just reasoned that after a while I'd be bored with the song anyway so why waste the money on it. However, when buying cheap second-hand CDs, I've often made lots of impulse buys - $5 - $7 for a Cd of songs wasn't too bad and I've often found new bands that way. If CD singles were closer to the $1 or $2 price, I'd probably buy a lot as impulse buys. For $6, I wouldn't waste the money.

    Similarly, give me cheap downloads and I'll rpobably end up spending a whole lot more in the long run for no extra cost to the company supplying the products as I'll download 50 cheap songs before I'll download one expensive one!

  • Very nice (Score:2, Interesting)

    by paranoidia (472028)
    I really think that the idea of songs for a quarter or a nickel really could work for the RIAA. Sure people are posting that there are still P2P networks and that idea would have worked pre-napster, but I think it still could. The problem with most P2P networks is that you really have no promisses about what you get, or how fast you get it. Usually with songs they are fair rips and are titled correctly. But imagine a site where you had loads of bandwidth, and had every new song (and old) out there. I'd pay money to have access to that. They could have good rips in a variety of formats, and also track better what people are really listening to.

    What would I pay? I'd probably pay upto around 5 bucks a month. That's 60 a year, and get enough subscribers, I don't see the problem. Bandwidth costs could be covered easily and you really don't lose a whole lot. That is except the enormous profits from CD sales, what this really is all about. But you could offer so much on a website like this, music videos, interviews, bands could keep websites up there. At least we have one coherant writter among our point of view, which I'm so pleased about. For people who don't RTFA, she got over 2200 emails, and responded to every one. Even got her account suspended twice for spamming while she was responding back. Insane.
  • by swm (171547) <swmcd@world.std.com> on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @11:54AM (#4018584) Homepage
    Ian gets this part right
    1. Control. The music industry is no different from any other huge corporation...When faced with a new technology...that will revolutionize their business, their response is...

      a. Destroy it. And if they cannot,
      b. Control it. And if they cannot,
      c. Control the consumer...

    and control is why the music industry will never implement her "modest proposal": if it succeeds, then they lose control of the market, and with it their monoploy profits.

    For further analysis along these lines, see
    How The Internet Will Make The Record Labels Evaporate [std.com].

  • ...is a few more artists to rally behind Janis Ian. Remember when artists were split pro/anti Napster? Well, it'd be good to see the same kind of thing happening over the RIAA in general. However, I can't help thinking that the pro-Napster bands were, at least partly, doing it for the image.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @12:08PM (#4018690)
    A Better Revenue Model is an "all-you-can-eat" supscription, much like cable TV or internet access. This will generate much more revenue for the industry - people will get used to paying $19.95 or $29.95 each month for all the music they want to download or stream. The industry will have steady, manageable revenue and their grosses will be higher than they ever have been. And people will have no reason whatsoever to go to P2P unless they absolutely refuse to pay for anything.

    How many of you pay-per-viewed a movie this week? But I bet most of you watched something on cable; and probably stuff you wouldn't have watched if you had to pay .99 cents. (please don't let this be a debate about shitty TV - but last night it was me and Playmate Dog Eat Dog.)

    If your broadband access was metered at $1/hr, would you use it as much as you do or would you be very careful, and some days not use it at all? I remember the days of CompuServe at $8/hr. You got on and off as rapidly as possible. The fact that they didn't change that in time is why it's not called CompuServe Time Warner now.

    Just my .99 cents.
  • ...Glad someone has the guts to say it.

    3. The American Dream. The promises all of us are made, tacitly or otherwise, throughout our lives as Americans. The dream we inherit as each successive generation enters grade school - that we will be freer than our grandparents, more successful than our parents, and build a better world for our own children. The promises made by our textbooks, our presidents, and our culture, throughout the course of our childhoods: Fair pay for a day's work, and the right to strike. The right to leave a job that doesn't satisfy, or is abusive. Freedom from indentured servitude. The premise that every citizen is allowed a vote, and no one will ever be called "slave" again. The promise that libraries and basic education in this country are free, and will stay so. These are not ideas I came up with on the spur of the moment; this is what we're taught, by the culture we grow up in. And of everything we are taught, one issue is always paramount - in America, it is the people who rule. It is the people who determine our government. We elect our legislators, so they will pass laws designed for us. We elect and pay the thousands of judges, policemen, civil servants who implement the laws we elect our officials to pass. It is the promise that our government supports the will of the people, and not the will of big business, that makes this issue so damning - and at the same time, so hope-inspiring. When Disney are permitted to threaten suit against two clowns who dare to make mice out of three balloons and call them "Mickey", the people are not a part of it. When Senator Hollings accepts hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from entertainment conglomerates, then pretends money has nothing to do with his stance on downloading as he calls his own constituents "thieves", the people are not involved. When Representatives Berman and Coble introduce a bill allowing film studios and record companies to "disable, block or otherwise impair" your computer if they merely suspect you of file-trading, by inserting viruses and worms into your hard drive, it is the people who are imperiled. And when the CEO of RIAA commends this bill [com.com] as an "innovative approach to combating the serious problem of Internet piracy," rather than admitting that it signifies a giant corporate step into a wasteland even our government security agencies dare not enter unscathed, the people are not represented. (Hilary Rosen, in a statement quoted by Farhad Manjoo, Salon.com June 2002)
  • No one could have stated the issues better, and with more credibility.

    And no one could present the statistics that torpedos the RIAA faster.
  • by MarvinMouse (323641) on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @12:15PM (#4018748) Homepage Journal
    The day I went into a music store and it was cheaper to purchase a DVD Movie by $5 then a CD.

    You can purchase DVDs now for approx $14.99CAN (approx $8.00US), while CDs still average approx $19.99CAN (approx $11.00US). (This is an average I calculated by going to Walmarts, HMVs, Music Citys, and a few other shops that sell both, and adding up and working out the average. Just so you are aware, music stores get really suspicious of people with graphical calculators. I had to explain to far too many clerks that I am just a mathematician and sometimes even show them my university ID so they would believe me.)

    Now, is it just me, or is this absurd? I can buy a DVD that has sound, video, and usually lasts about twice as long (with all the special features) then a CD for less then the CD costs me...

    For some reason I don't think the RIAA is hiring mathematicians or economists, just more lawyers.

    • Any ideas on why they are suspicous of people with graphing calculators? Do you think it would be the same with a more simple calculator?

      BTW, I am a double undergraduate major at Clemson (Computer Science and Political Science). Just wanted to let you know you are not the only one trying to do more than 1 degree, though I think 4 is a little excessive :)
    • well, it's all about supply and demand... movies are in less supply than music, I believe. I'm a college student - which is one of the RIAA's prime target markets - and all of my friends and practically everyone I know has more CDs than they have DVDs... so CDs can get away with a higher price since people are still buying. Also, CD player are much more omnipresent than DVD players are, maybe not among the geek crowd on slashdot, but among the rest of the American population.
    • by nolife (233813) on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @01:34PM (#4019417) Homepage Journal
      Examples
      Pink Floyd "Pulse" from amazon.com

      Pulse Hi-Fi VHS [amazon.com](not on DVD yet) - $21.99

      Pulse Audio CD [amazon.com] - $28.99

      Same concert, same songs. The video has extra stuff at the end and of course, VIDEO to watch!

      I wonder why it has not been released on DVD yet? I have a conspiracy theory if you want to here it.

      How about "The Wall" Granted, the movie is closely related to the album but not really in standard song format throughout.

      Audio CD [amazon.com] - $27.99

      DVD Movie [amazon.com] - $27.99
    • As a purchaser of movies, I've ntoiced the same thing. I think it comes down to total hours of enjoyment over running time. A music album is often listened to over ten times. I've watched few of my movies more than once (and many of them 0 times, but that's just because me and my wife have a compulsive movie purchasing habit).
  • by Our Man In Redmond (63094) on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @12:30PM (#4018882)
    as I see it, is that it would be pretty labor intensive. I doubt for instance that Columbia still has masters for most of the stuff they released in the 1960s, much of which was deservedly forgotten by 1975 and wouldn't be able to draw flies nowadays. For the stuff they still have, they'd have to pay a tech to convert the master to digital format, so maybe two people besides me would be able to see what might have been on Chad & Jeremy's album The Ark.

    I like it, but somehow I doubt we'll ever see it.

    On the other hand there might be a business model here for someone. License the Bluebird jazz catalog from CBS, for instance, clean up the recording and put them up on the web and see if anyone is interested. In fact I could see a charity -- say a retirement home for musicians -- using this as a funding mechanism. Whether CBS would go for it is another story, but since it's a way for them to make money with little to no effort on their part, it might be worth a go.
  • The reason why something like this would prevail (at least in the meantime), despite the existence of P2P networks, is that such a venture would not be marketing music, but rather the service of providing easy, quick, and safe access to music.

    Professor Lessig has mentioned this casually before, its the bottled water business model. Water is essentialy a zero cost commodity, yet the vending of repackaged water is a phenomenally successful business. Consumers, faced with a conveinent, glitzy, and higher quality product will, do often choose it over a free alternative.

    If the record companies, a consortium of artists (or some mediary via licensing) were to offer:

    - a simplistic/transparent interface

    - an immense and highly/easily searchable library

    - secure high-speed downloads

    - cd quality encoding

    - reasonably pricing (subscription or a quarter a song works)

    - a guaranteed lack of virii, spyware or drm

    and maybe some extras

    - bonuses for signing up friends - buy 5 get 1 free - anywhere streaming of your purchases

    they *WOULD* be raking it in. No questions. But the Recording Industry isn't in the music business. They are in the CD business.
    I couldn't agree with Janis more. Every person I talk to says they would snatch up a subscription instantly. This must happen.
  • I use P2P (LimeWire) every once in a while. Specifically, I recently got Boney M's "Rasputin" and a couple of Tom Lehrer songs. In each case, these were to show my brother some songs that were, well, different, but which I don't have in my collection (at least, not in a usable form).

    Would I have bought them for $0.25/song from an industry website? Yes. In a minute. In fact, I would have bought the entire Tom Lehrer catalogue at that price, just because I was thinking about it. But I couldn't do so, because they aren't avaiable. And I couldn't go down to a local record store (and I'm in Dallas, which has a lot of record stores) because none of them would carry this anymore, except maybe Bill's, and probably not even them. In fact, I doubt (hope against?) that Boney M has ever had anything put out on CD, and I am not sure where to find Tom Lehrer's stuff except maybe from Rhino.

    Anyway, the point is, I went and got songs from P2P that I would have paid for if I could. During this same time period, I've bought Rush's new CD, and would have bought Def Leppard's if I'd been able to find it in Target. (I'll probably pick it up next time I'm in Best Buy, assuming they have it.)

    My point is only that the service Ms. Ian proposes makes sense for a lot of P2P users. It probably wouldn't be used by the hardcore music traders, but I suspect that they are not really in it for the music, anyway.
  • Offers to help me convert to Linux: 16

    Come on...we can top that! Do I hear 17?
  • I think the real issue with the recording and music industry isn't technology, they want a revenue stream like Micro$oft. They would really like you to pay every time you listen/view their product, instead of the one-time sale. By killing off the existing download sites and standards, they are free to establish an online business model based on music/videos that expire.
  • These days due to digital recording, someone can produce an excellent sounding album in their basement for next to nothing. And the internet has built in "advertising" and methods of distributing music. So aren't record companies becoming a bit obsolete?

    And being such a big money business, they tend to promote mindless ear-candy rather than real music art. They cheat artists and resort to unethical methods of controlling record stores and radio stations. Why are we trying to find ways for them to stay in business?

    Adding a bunch of videos and pictures other junk to an album is just adding fluff and detracting from the art that is (supposed to be) the music.

    Artists make most of their money off touring anyway. If you feel bad for downloading, just hand your favorite band a $5 bill after their show. It's more money than they'd ever see if you actually bought the albums...

    -Paul
  • Just one week of people refusing to play the radio, buy product, or support our industry in any way, would flex muscles they have no idea are out there.

    So when do start implementing an annual and global "Boycot the entertainment industry"-week?
  • IMO, the best reason for allowing downloadable music is this: the preservation of our musical heritage, and indirectly, our cultural heritage.

    Janis says it best here, when envisioning the online catalogue:

    "Spread a lot of great old music around - and music, like all art, stands on the bones of those who've gone before. One of the big problems with so much catalogue out of print is that whole generations are growing up never having heard the "originals", but only the clones."
  • I read through Janis's article and found it quite well written and extremely introspective. The idea of an out-of-print archive is a stupendous idea, one that I have frequently wished for. His arguments for it are quite good, and such an archive would make a tremendous amount of sense.

    That's why it'll never happen.

    Consider for a moment just how much music the average person listens to, or more specifically how many minutes/hours per day the average Joe spends listening to music. You can only listen to one thing at a time, so your ears and time are both finite resources. The RIAA wants you to pay them $20/CD for the latest, greatest boy bands, Britney belly-button songs, and clones-of-clones-of-clones bands. If they suddenly gave you the ability to listen to (God forbid) some of the classics, two things would immediately happen:

    1. You'd realize how crappy their current, major offerings really are. I mean, if Britney Spears looked like Shelly Duvall, do you really think she'd be as rich as she is today? She's got a great ass, great tits (real or otherwise), and an overall tight little body. Can she sing or write songs? "WHO CARES?" say the music execs, and folks throng to buy her latest stuff.

    2. God forbid, some of your money would be spent on buying the good, classic stuff that actually sounds good as opposed to today's trash. Unless the RIAA charged you the same cost to get at a classic that they would normally charge for one of their current releases, they'd (in theory) lose money.

    So, it'll never, ever happen. At least, not officially. UNofficially, there's already a site where you can get just about any song ever made, out of print or not, anytime, anywhere. It's called Gnutella, and it's filling the void that the RIAA has created. They will not be able to put this genie back in the bottle, no matter what they try.
  • Cannibalism (Score:4, Insightful)

    by phriedom (561200) on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @02:04PM (#4019651)
    I think this is an excellent idea, but let me play devil's advocate for a minute here. One of the big selling points of Janis' proposal is that it is "no risk" because the music is just sitting in storage, so any income from the $.25 per song would only be a plus. However, there is a risk that people will like this service so much that they will be listening to the old OOP music instead of buying new releases for $17 each. What happens to the music industry's bread and butter when 15 year olds discover they like Bop instead of Pop? I think music industry executives will be afraid of this possibility.

    Now personally, I think a download project like this would stimulate listener interest in music and growth in music buying, especially in people who will pay $.25 per song but won't pay $17 for a CD. Imagine the 15 year old discovers that they like Blues by listeing to the OOP stuff, then decides they want to hear more modern stuff, so they go buy a bunch of Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, and Stevie Ray Vaughn, which they never would have considered before. Thats a win for everyone, but getting music executives to take that risk is going to be pretty difficult.
    • Actually, I fear we have to face an unpleasant fact, here: There's no shortage of musical talent. In fact, there's probably a surplus. There's no shortage of good music, there's a surplus.

      Perhaps the RIAA are the ones who are *really* clued in, because their whole business is focused on creating scarcity in music. First channel the airwaves, then channel the promotion. Now you wind up with the appearance of scarcity of musical Stars and their music. There's money in scarcity. They're acting as more than just gatekeepers, they're gatebuilders.

      So if you want to guess what the RIAA is going to do, think "scarcity maintenance" and how to preserve it.

      It might cut both ways. If there truly were a Free Market in music, I don't know how many musicians could make their living that way. But then again, if there were a Free Market in music, maybe supply and demand between musicians and listeners would balance out in a reasonable place.
  • That I believe that they're using data from P2P programs for marketing purposes. Look at the Elvis re-release coming out this fall. Gee, I wonder how they came up with that one? Could it be that Elvis is among the top 10 downloads on Kazaa and Win MX? What a herd of hypocrites!
  • I got fed up with hearing industry types whine about not wanting to come up with a new business model, so I did it for them - mediAgora [mediagora.com]

    mediAgora defines rules for a market in digital media so Creators get credited and paid for their work, and Customers choose to pay a fair price.

    Why is this needed? Because the media marketplace is riven by conflict between companies that profit from scarcity of physical goods and access, and those who assume that because works are easy to copy they need not be paid for. In either case, the creators lose out.

    mediAgora is GPL-like, as a work sold through it can be incorporated in other works under the same terms - if you use my music as a background to your video, your customers should pay me the price I set for that music, as well as paying you your price for the video. This avoids the endless rights haggling that hinders so many productions.

    mediAgora rewards you when you promote a work in a way that leads to a sale. Share new music or movies with your friends, and when they buy their copies, you get a cut. Creators don't see their royalties disappear in unaudited promotion fees - payment is strictly by results.

    We all create - free speech and a free market can get us paid.
  • From the article:

    Interesting things about the emails: All but 3 were coherent. Of those, one only seemed to be incoherent, but was in fact written by someone who spoke no English, and used Babblefish.com as a translator. (Sample: "I love your articles and play your music for my babies" became "I love babies and want to touch your articles.")

  • Of course, Janis Ian is already prone to using the Internet to its full extent. The only top 40 song that Project Gutenberg distributes (just about the only song PG distributes in audio format) is Janis Ian's Society's Child.
  • Nearly every day it seems, the likes of Hilary Rosen, Thomas D. Mottola, and Jack Valenti are before Congress speaking as long as they want to. It's high time Janis Ian was sent to Washington to lobby them. Maybe the Electronic Frontier Foundation could make it happen.

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