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DRM-Free Music Spells Trouble? 634

Posted by Zonk
from the dogs-and-cats-living-together dept.
digitaldame2 writes "Many opponents of DRM have been overjoyed at recent efforts to free media from its grip. But PC Mag Editor-in-Chief Lance Ulanoff believes the whole world has gone mad. His view is that our digital economy will collapse this way, and it could be followed by countless others. 'The music industry's moves have been terrified reactions to staunch the bleeding of millions of dollars in revenue down the drain. For maybe a year, music companies thought they had the situation under control, but then album sales tumbled. Retailers, musicians, and some music-industry execs thought DRM was the culprit, and they soon joined the chorus of consumers calling for its head. Now consumers are getting their wish, and the music industry will continue to crumble. Giving up control of content and giving it away free are not rational ideas in a market economy, yet everyone's cheering.'" Is the removal of restrictions from our media really that big a deal?
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DRM-Free Music Spells Trouble?

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  • DRM is pointless (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PFAK (524350) * on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @05:45PM (#22160056)
    Pirates are still going to pirate with or without DRM, and without it at least normal users will have less of a headache getting music on their favourite MP3 Player.

    I don't see what the big deal about removing DRM is, either way the music industry needs to revise their business model, and removing DRM is the first step.
    • by Stanistani (808333) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @05:52PM (#22160202) Homepage Journal
      It's not just DRM, although that's certainly a large part. Copyright extension and rigorous enforcement cause trouble, too.

      Indeed, were it not for that, I could quote the lyrics of "Trouble in River City" from Music Man to make my point, provide a link to the MP3 (or Ogg) and maybe someone would download the song and decide to go buy the CD, or even the DVD.

      I'm just a dreamer...
      • by The One and Only (691315) * <[ten.hclewlihp] [ta] [lihp]> on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @05:56PM (#22160288) Homepage
        No, were it not for that, you could quote the lyrics of "Trouble in River City" from Music Man to make your point, provide a link to the audio file, and maybe someone would download the song...and the rest of that artist's oeuvre. At least if it goes as far as it sounds like you want it to. That doesn't make money for anyone, although it does give us plenty of free music.
        • by jedidiah (1196) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @06:00PM (#22160360) Homepage
          Copyright in it's original form already does that: "gives us lots of free music".

          The only question is the timeframe and whether or not you are going to annoy your paying customers in the meantime.
          • Mod parent up (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Captain Splendid (673276) * <capsplendid.gmail@com> on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @06:17PM (#22160614) Homepage Journal
            Copyright in it's original form already does that: "gives us lots of free music". The only question is the timeframe and whether or not you are going to annoy your paying customers in the meantime.

            Amen. And when that term is several human lifetimes, it is clearly benefiting only one entity: the corporations. The rest of you suckers don't get a look in.
            • Re:Mod parent up (Score:4, Insightful)

              by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @07:43PM (#22161584) Journal
              Don't forget, this guy is an editor for a print magazine. He considers cutting up other peoples work to fit a format and promote whoever is paying to be an art, and feels himself entitled to be able to do that as a profession for the rest of his life.

              It's like talking to a photography student about copyright. Their position is always an outraged sense of entitlement based around how hard they studied and how much they paid to go to school.

              I imagine horse drawn buggy whip manufacturing students and executive managers sounded much like these people.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                Honestly, if you want to get rid of copyright, the first thing that's gonna go down the tubes is books. Bands can perform live, photography and art can be commissioned, but when it comes to books we have a vast number of them only because it's possible for most authors to make a decent supplemental income from royalties. I'm not yet an author but as one of the few readers of books left in the world that sucks.
                • Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by tkrotchko (124118) *
                  Seriously, books could probably exist without user restrictions because they're still too difficult to copy.

                  And ebooks don't come close to the readability, convenience, and utility of an actual book.

                  And if you think you're the only reader of books, how do you explain that every mall in American has at least one bookstore, and the internet is filled with book sellers (B&N, Amazon, Caimen, Powells... the list is endless).

                  I frankly see the TV Network most at risk since they seem to do their best at annoyin
              • Mod parent down (Score:3, Interesting)

                by hedwards (940851)

                It's like talking to a photography student about copyright. Their position is always an outraged sense of entitlement based around how hard they studied and how much they paid to go to school.

                Have you any idea how much it costs to take photography seriously? I've got probably close to 3 grand in gear and expenses for my equipment, and that doesn't even include the additional probably $800 or so in extras that I could really use to do a better job of it. And that's a cheap set up. It's not uncommon for a photographer to have 50 grand in expenses before even getting off the ground.

                And that is in many respects cheap, because I didn't have to go to school. Your average photographer spends an obscen

        • Re:DRM is pointless (Score:5, Interesting)

          by snowraver1 (1052510) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @06:16PM (#22160602)
          It doesn't matter if there is DRM or not. The music will be "freed" anyway. As has been said MANY MANY times on /. before, DRM cannot work unless both the player and the media are involved and the player is "unhackable" (I use unhackable in "'s because so far, every DRM has been cracked [except BD+] but if you take the xbox360, it is VERY close to being hackproof. Aside from the DVD firmware hack and the two vulnerable BIOSes, it has proved to be hack proof. I can see the next generation of games consoles having the dvd firmware signed too.)

          The reason that DRM is breakable today is because computers are not owned by the content distributors (yet). If said content can be played on a computer, then it can be "freed" by that same computer. If you can play it, somewhere you have an uncompressed, unencrypted stream, that should be able to be exploited.

          Computers, however are being "owned" more and more by "Big Content". Vista's DRM integration, Protected pathways is a prime example of this. How long before noone owns a comptuer anymore and all the computers are leased from a few companies that basically turn your computer into an overpriced [HD]DVD player that plays games and runs Word, in contrast to the current "open" nature of current computers.
          • by jonbryce (703250) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @06:42PM (#22160938) Homepage
            Even if you have a "hack proof" media player, you can still put a mic in front of the speakers, or run a cable from the speaker socket to the mic socket. That's how people copied things before computers made it a lot easier.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by CastrTroy (595695)
              And you only need to do it once. And then you can pass the recorded file on to the rest of the world.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by thanatos_x (1086171)
            I think there are far greater things to worry about than the scenario you present.

            First, computers are getting exceptionally cheap. The notion that we'd ever have to lease a computer in the future is fairly bogus (it wouldn't be tolerated by many, especially the /. crowd); Even then there would have to be a huge number of changes (all of which go against what the consumer wants to an extreme degree) to accomplish this; it would have to be impossible to assemble your own computer. This is slightly different
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by morcego (260031)

              Perhaps in the future when 50" plasma screens are the standard I'll reconsider, but most movies aren't make or break based on being HD.


              You see, that is something I just don't get, and you are making a good point.

              How good the image of a movie is is very low on my list of priorities. I want a good story. Good actors, good acting. Some nice editing. In other words, the "human" part of movie making. And those things are each day more rare.
        • by sobachatina (635055) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @06:34PM (#22160830)
          Sort of.

          A very shallow view of the situation would lead us to think that no one would make any money off the music. But...
          If some of the people that read that post and listened to the music showed it to a few of their friends...
          Then if a few of them wanted to see the movie...
          Then if the artist put up a paypal link...
          Profit.

          It's riskier. The music has to be better. It puts the control in the hands of the consumer rather than the producer. There is little need for behemoth middle-men like music labels.

          I see these all as good things.

          It has been demonstrated that talented artists can make a living doing what they love without DRM. What has not been demonstrated is that labels can survive that way.

          I'm ok with a world like that.

          PS. "The Music Man" is a particularly apt example of the problem and essentially nullifies your point. Almost the entire cast, crew, and musicians involved in it's creation are dead. The only people making money off of it are distributors that made no artistic contribution to it's creation.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            Then if the artist put up a paypal link...
            Profit.

            How much profit? How many people would actually donate? How many would say "Screw it, it's my money, he should've charged something"? How many would say "but, there are so many starving children out there"? How many would say "I would if I could be bothered"? How many would say "what's paypal?" And for those who can be bothered to hunt down their favourite artists and throw them some financial scraps, how many of those will be still so fresh-faced after 10 ye

      • The writer of that article is an idiot.

        Every single song is already on the P2P networks so how can this cause the collapse of anything?

    • by d34thm0nk3y (653414) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @05:56PM (#22160284)
      This idiot fails to realize that labels have been selling DRM free music for the last 20 years. It's called a CD. Funny how the "digital economy" hasn't collapsed yet.
      • by jessiej (1019654) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @06:11PM (#22160536)
        And, DRM free music doesn't mean that it's being given away for free. It just means that once bought, people can listen to THEIR music freely. Removing DRM from music essentially makes it more valuable (which is why iTunes decided to charge more for it than music with DRM) and will improve profits of music without DRM.

        The question waiting to be answered is whether or not DRM free music will encourage/facilitate more "illegal" file sharing. My guess is that the affect will be minimal and the appreciation towards the music industry for not tying up purchased music will only increase online sales.

        I for one will never buy music with DRM.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by CSMatt (1175471)
          I remember looking on LimeWire a few weeks after iTunes Plus launched for iTunes Plus files to see if they had indeed appeared (searched for 256 kbps *.m4a files). I didn't find any.

          I found lots of AAC files ripped by iTunes users who didn't change the default ripping format (which uses 128 kbps), but none that would have come from the iTunes Store.
          • by MidnightBrewer (97195) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @07:40PM (#22161562)
            One of the upshots of having paid for music is that you may feel less inclined to give it away. Nothing like realizing that other people are taking for free what you actually spent money on to make you want to stop sharing your files.

            Anyway, as has been said often enough, DRM does nothing but create bad customer relations. And while I agree that people have always been able to copy music, they have not always had such mind-boggling ease of access and storage capability. Society as a whole needs to remember that regardless of how they feel about the unfairness of the music industry's charging practices, if you don't pay your musicians, they aren't going to be able to make a living. If it was only so easy to replace DRM with the honor system, we wouldn't be having these discussions.
        • Not quite... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by sterno (16320) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @06:49PM (#22161010) Homepage
          Actually the main reason there's been a shift to removing DRM is simply that the music labels realized they were losing control to Apple. With Apple's dominance in selling music on-line and their control of ipods, the use of DRM was a lock in to Apple's distribution network. The labels moved away from DRM so, ironically, they could better control the flow of their music (the same reason they presumably insisted on it in the first place).

          The reality is that DRM or not, people who wanted to get music for free could get it and people who wanted to share their music could share it. So long as there existed a high quality non-DRM'd format (CD's) or some ability to remove decryption, then DRM was pointless.

          I think there is some truth to your point though about on-line sales increasing. I know that I had been hesitant to buy a lot through iTunes for the risk that I'd not be able to play the music elsewhere (or just the hassle of having to license multiple computers with Apple). Now that I can get high quality DRM free tracks from iTunes and Amazon I am far more willing to buy music.

          I don't see any negative effect because it's not like DRM was keeping the music off P2P networks in the first place.
        • Wrong question... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by KingSkippus (799657) * on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @06:52PM (#22161056) Homepage Journal

          The question waiting to be answered is whether or not DRM free music will encourage/facilitate more "illegal" file sharing.

          No, there's no question about that, it most certainly will.

          The real question isn't whether there will be more illegal file sharing, it's whether there will be more legal purchases.

          For a long, long time, I've asked a simple thought experiment. If you had your choice of having $500 million in sales with rampant piracy, or $1 billion in sales with twice as much piracy, which would you choose? The music industry has a history of choosing the lesser amount because of the risk of the increase in music piracy. I've contended all along that this is stupidity, that even if music piracy increases, it would be well worth it to increase their bottom line in legal music purchases. To date, they've been operating out of spite instead of common financial sense.

          I hope, and I honestly believe, that as DRM-free music becomes the de facto standard in the marketplace, sales will increase as hardware manufacturers gear up to take advantage of it and people are able to listen to what they want, how they want, where they want. It's just a no-brainer to me. And I hope the MPAA is taking note, because the same principle will apply to television shows and movies also.

          The question has never been about whether or not there will be piracy. The only way to prevent it is to close your company's doors and declare bankruptcy, never to earn another penny again. The only question is how willing the industry is to cut off its nose to spite its face, to forgo profits to stop something that will never be stopped.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by greenbird (859670) *

            No, there's no question about that, it most certainly will.

            Bullshit. If you could go to an easy to access reputable source and buy a DRM free song in whatever format you wanted for say a dime, people would do it rather than risk the problems and dangers of p2p networks. Music with DRM has no value to me so I don't buy it. Music without DRM has much more value. Add more value by having a web site that recommends other music based on what I bought and I might pay a little more. The bands can make their money the same way they make most of their money under the curr

          • by wyldeone (785673) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @08:02PM (#22161792) Homepage Journal

            The question waiting to be answered is whether or not DRM free music will encourage/facilitate more "illegal" file sharing.
            No, there's no question about that, it most certainly will.

            That's ridiculous. There will be (or rather is, as DRM-free music is now mainstream) no increase in piracy. Piracy requires that only one DRM-free copy gets out for it to proliferate across the internet. And guess what: every song released by the big-5 labels has been released on CD--without DRM.

            DRM is not about piracy and never was. That is how to labels and move studios chose to sell it to the public (artists are going to starve in a digital world without DRM!), but it actually provides no protection against piracy. It may be difficult for someone to get unencrypted data off an HD-DVD disk, but that doesn't matter. As long as one person can do it, the data will proliferate. In other words, if DRM were about piracy in order to be effective it wouldn't have to be merely difficult to break, it would have to be impossible.

            But that's not why the content producers have pushed DRM so hard. What it's really about is control. Consumers have traditionally had a great deal of control over their media, but in this digital age the content producers perceived that they could shift the balance back towards themselves, opening up new revenue streams even as they watched their markets fall. After all, if consumers had control over their media, they could put it on any player they wanted, without paying any more money for their content. That won't do. Look at the nice racket they have: do you want to play your iTunes music on linux (or, more commonly, on a non-Apple mp3 player)? Pay more money for the same content in a different form. Want to play your DVDs on your iPod? You have to re-buy it.

            Faced with declining interest in their products (a smaller market), there is only two ways to increase their revenue: get more people to buy their content, or get the people that do to pay more money. DRM lets the content producers take the second approach.

          • Re:Wrong question... (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Sleepy (4551) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @08:24PM (#22161962) Homepage
            >>The question waiting to be answered is whether or not DRM free music will encourage/facilitate more "illegal" file sharing.
            >No, there's no question about that, it most certainly will.

            To suggest that removing DRM will increase piracy is pure falacy, and you know it or you would have followed up that opinion with some kind of supporting example. You didn't.

            OK, here's the REALITY.. a perfectly everyday sequence of events:

            1) Someone buys band XXX's CD
            2) They rip it and put it on PirateBay

            Now are you really going to suggest that a DRM free version on iTunes will CHANGE the dynamics of this very real scenario?
            No it won't.

            If you counter with "well, that's because CD's don't have DRM" then I'll counter that with "so fucking what.. fine, OK, you can record the album using LINE OUT or HEADPHONE like the old days"

            DRM is futile unless you carry the concept all the way to the human brain.

            Nope... Perhaps purchased music is dying for OTHER reasons, and piracy is just a boogeyman. Here are some reasons people buy less music:

            The RIAA hates the idea of "albums" in the first place. They want SINGLES.. and they better not exceed 3 minutes one second.
            It's all about radio play. There will never be another Tommy, The Wall, 2112 or Operation Mindcrime due to these RIAA member policies. Why are you surprised then that people fall into this mindset, and ONLY BUY $1 SINGLES?

            (Hmm... $1 iTunes single vs $17 CD... ohmygod we lost $16 to piracy!!111)

            When people buy, they are buying singles because everything else is contractual filler.

            The RIAA literally discourages diversity.. they want formula based music that can be predicted... high dollar investments leaving little to chance.

            The RIAA members sat on their ass regarding technology... "stereo" has been around since the 1930's, yet even CARS are capable of 4 and 5 channel sound... but they still publish in stereo. The best concert CDs are BluRay DVDs.

            There are even pirate trading groups who specialize in creating AC3 5.1 channel sound from CD audio, because folks are dying for better mediums.

            Digital radio on my cable box.. good enough for me. There's also this thing called XM/Sirius... yay, more music you don't have to buy!! That's not piracy... the RIAA licensed this out and the ubiquity of freely listenable music this music IS accounted for, and folks don't care to buy what's still on the radio.

            Plus most people are in debt to their eyeballs, and multimedia content is easy to clip from the budget. I don't know anyone who still buys 1 album per week now (or 5 per week, or more) on a regular basis. Years ago that wasn't the case (disclaimer: maybe I'm not a whippersnapper anymore).

            It will be a GOOD thing if the music industry contracts because it's a cartel that exists to bloat its ranks with middlemen who were obsolete 20 years ago. Read the 1998 Salon article on RIAA piracy of the artists, written by a very articulate Courtney Love.

            Things will settle down, but maybe the record labels will be WEAKER than the artists for a change. (Although content wise, I don't see much of a music revolution while Clear Channel controls so much of the airwaves).

            The whole "US Economy will be ruined" by open music is a scam. The same people spouting this belief have simply overvalued their personal investments in the RIAA member companies. If the economy goes down the toilet because of $2 DRM free downloads at iTunes, maybe it was too frail to begin with (and maybe those same DRM cheerleeders shouldn'd have cheered all our manufacturing jobs overseas, to the benefit of no one but themselves).
      • by cayenne8 (626475) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @06:14PM (#22160586) Homepage Journal
        I also like this guy's quote: "There were reports that many people did pay for Radiohead's album, but I'll be surprised if that's repeated very often. Also, not every band is Radiohead or Coldplay--groups that can make money elsewhere (like concert halls)."

        Excuse me? I think possibly one of the main PROBLEMS with lowered music quality is the fact that so many groups/bands today cannot tour...cannot play their own instruments with any acuity, and require too much electronic 'help'. Geez, people are paying money for acts that do tour...to watch them dance and lip-sync?!?!

        Why can't groups learn to cultivate talent, take it on the road...I'll give Led Zeppelin as an example. They had most of their material for the 1st album ready to go FROM rehearsals, and playing the songs on the road. They recorded their album on their own dollar (Jimmy Page and Peter Grants) because they hadn't even signed with Atlantic records yet.

        And what did they do? They toured....and toured...and toured. They did something like 3-4 tours of the US AND about the same of Europe in their first year out....hell, Led Zeppelin II was pretty much written and recorded while on the road that first year.

        Those guys could play....and they did. They were well known to give 3 hour concerts. Back in their day, they tried to make sure that ticket prices were reasonable. They made sure to try to give the audience what it deserved. From this live presentation....they sold albums, which helped fuel energy for more live shows.

        And look at Zeppelin...they refused to sell singles....although a few came out by the record companies against their will. They made FEW TV appearances...yet, they sold records, and set attendance records.

        I'd have to say....being talented and able to perform live DID have a lot to do with their fame and fortune. I'd like to think it could be replicated for upcoming bands.

        I know there are differences now that make it tougher....music genre's are so splintered now....rather than just 'rock', there are upteen different variations. Radio is consolidated more....etc. But, I have to think if a group was really GOOD, and good live...with music distribution, they could take it on the road and get famous. Where is the next Zeppelin?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Myopic (18616)
          Where is the next Zeppelin?

          It's Radiohead. Check 'em out. Also, it used to be Phish.
        • by stu9000 (861253) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @07:07PM (#22161216)
          Your notion of 'music' is limited and dated. Touring and music creation are not inextricably linked. Much great music has been made by artists for whom it isn't economically feasible to tour (independant bedroom producers, huge experimental orchestras). Much music is made now for recorded delivery and can not be meaningfully replicated 'live'. Your idea of music 'authenticity' (i.e. bands who can play instruments well on stage) is confusing music and sport. Your ears tell you what is good music or not. Performance is a different skill altogether.
          • by Anonymous Coward
            "Your idea of music 'authenticity' (i.e. bands who can play instruments well on stage) is confusing music and sport"

            Real music is a living breathing thing. It's people next to other people creating something right in front of you.

            I don't mean in a concert hall, either. I'm talking about how most of us musicians got started. Playing in the local bar for $75 for 5 guys for 4 hours. It's about emotion, it's about a moment in time. Music in that setting *moves* people. A person playing Mozart sonatas live
    • by purpledinoz (573045) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @06:01PM (#22160370)
      The writer of this article has his head up his ass. The only thing troubled are the big music companies. This guy claims that people will just stop making music because it will no longer be profitable... Is that why Bach and Beethoven wrote music? What will stop is the creation of music for profit, like the Britney Spears and American Idol singers. Music is way overpriced anyway. $10 or $15 for a CD is not reasonable (particularly in poorer countries, where legit CDs are the same price as in the west). The market will choose what the correct price of music is. Not the record companies. If that means the end of the Britney Spears, then I think we're better off. I predict that when the big record companies finally collapse, we will see more diversity in music at a lower price. I don't care if this means the end of rich music execs and millionaire pop stars.
      • Re:DRM is pointless (Score:5, Informative)

        by Angostura (703910) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @06:09PM (#22160496)
        Well Beethoven was able to write music only because people like Rudolf Johannes Joseph Rainier Cardinal von Habsburg-Lothringen, Archduke and Prince Imperial of Austria, Prince Royal of Hungry and Bohemia paid him large amounts of money to do so.

        Bach, by contrast was paid to write by (among others) Duke Wilhelm Ernst of Saxe-Weimar.

        • by Scareduck (177470) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @08:21PM (#22161930) Homepage Journal
          Beethoven [wikipedia.org] was a prime example -- in fact, the first -- of a composer who did not need aristocratic patronage. He paved the way for a self-sustaining business by publishing, selling subscription concerts, and acquiring commissions from wealthy patrons. He did not live or die by a single royal finger, though he did accept individual commissions from them.
    • by Kiaser Zohsay (20134) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @06:08PM (#22160476)

      ... either way the music industry needs to revise their business model, and removing DRM is the first step.
      Remember, there are TWO industries at work here. There is the music industry, made up of writers, musicians, singers, producers, etc.

      Then there is the recording industry. The recording industry is responsible for pressing CDs and putting them on store shelves.

      The recording industry might need a new business model, or it might need to join the buggy whip makers and telegraph operators and just fade into yesteryear. The music industry people never really made much money from CD sales, since the record industry kept the screws so tight with everybody. Performers make their money from concerts (when they don't get screwed by promoters) and merchandise sales, anyway.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by unixfan (571579)
        A few good comments above here.

        The whole problem is related to an outdated business model of ripping everyone off, the labels in other words. I've developed and sold my software for 30 years and could care less about piracy. Actually it makes software known. In the old days dBase was considered to gain much of it market share and recognition initially from piracy, so it seems helpful. It's not like these people would buy from you anyway. Plus it gives legit people a chance to check it out before buying. Now
  • by cs02rm0 (654673) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @05:45PM (#22160066)
    Is the removal of restrictions from our media really that big a deal?

    Yes. It just won't send the world spinning in the direction they claim.
    • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @06:06PM (#22160440)

      Exactly.

      Giving up control of content and giving it away free are not rational ideas in a market economy

      They also aren't the same thing, as anyone even remotely familiar with the subject is well aware.

      What isn't rational in a market economy is deliberately making the black market version of your product better than the above board original, by artificially crippling the latter. Such a policy is pretty much directly targeted at the very people who actively support your business, while doing little to impair those who do not.

  • Giving up control? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Threni (635302) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @05:46PM (#22160088)
    They're not giving up control - they're accepting that they aren't giving up control.
    • by JonTurner (178845) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @06:26PM (#22160724) Journal
      >the music industry will continue to crumble

      You say that as if it's a bad thing!

      The CURRENT music industry will crumble. As it should; It's built on a 100-year-old business model of scarcity and limited distribution which screws both the artists (lousy contracts, "breakage") and the customers (CDs costs pennies to manufacture but cost much more, 30-year-old titles selling for more than new releases, etc.) and frankly the industry just doesn't add any value. Its not efficient, it doesn't discover or develop substantial new talent, etc. The gig is up. The CURRENT industry is turning out bland pop stars and the public is finally tired of the mediocre "product", the lack of value, and are moving on.
      However, there's a new music industry that is forming. It doesn't rely on brick stores and (so-called) talent scouts to "sign" and "develop" talent. You might have heard of it. It's called the Internet. The internet allows musicians to reach the public directly, at low cost, and high convenience. IOW, it provides value at a lower cost. The music cartels do not. Capitalism is working here -- it's weeding out inefficiencies. Cartels lose.

      Some sort of music industry will exist simply because people enjoy being entertained with music and are willing to pay for that, however the current model is well past being feasable.
  • Wow, way wrong (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WindBourne (631190) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @05:47PM (#22160106) Journal
    the underlying assumption is that ppl will quit buying. Some will. Most will still buy. More likely, the albums will disappear. In addition, I am guessing that labels will have trouble. But the bands will still play and will probably do better. They can get their advertisement from on-line.
    • Re:Wow, way wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kherr (602366) <kevin AT puppethead DOT com> on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @05:54PM (#22160252) Homepage
      No kidding. Maybe, just maybe, the model of having companies make money from the distribution of music is not going to last. But then what happens? Musicians go back to the pre-phonograph days of making a living by performing live. Seems to me people listen to music, dig their bands and then go see them when they come to town, buying the accompanying tour merchandise and stuff. Sure, that leaves the music labels out in the cold. But is it any different of a change in the larger economy than when we switched from horse-drawn vehicles to gasoline-powered ones?

      • Re:Wow, way wrong (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @06:11PM (#22160532)

        Sorry, but I think that whole argument is fundamentally flawed.

        For one thing, few musicians could make enough money to get by today from live performances alone, even the good ones.

        For another thing, the idea of mass distribution won't disappear, it'll just shift to a different channel. A smart label will establish an on-line brand with a good reputation and lots of visitors coming to its web site, and use that to promote the bands it's acting for. I imagine we'll see the market shift to cheaper products that sell more copies as well. A smart label could still make a worthwhile percentage doing that, it'll just replace their old physical media distribution model and sales/pricing assumptions over time.

        The only organisations that will die are stupid labels who think the physical media are the way of the future and don't understand basic economics. And frankly, they deserve to. A middleman who provides no useful service is worthless, and will lose out to more helpful competition.

        • Re:Wow, way wrong (Score:5, Interesting)

          by igb (28052) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @06:36PM (#22160868)

          For one thing, few musicians could make enough money to get by today from live performances alone, even the good ones.
          Are you sure? I follow several folk artists who tour once a year in the UK, once a year in a few places in Northern Europe, sell the odd CD at concerts, and (in one case) do some session work. They both seem to keep body and soul together.

          And why is this a surprise? They can sell a couple of hundred tickets at a tenner each at a folk club once a year, times perhaps twenty or thirty dates. Most folk clubs are run on a shoestring, and an artist will get a substantial proportion of the door, but let's say it's only fifty percent. Twenty or thirty thousand pounds a year isn't a king's ransom, but it's a living wage, as their expenses are minimal. Throw in some CD sales, perhaps the odd song on a bigger artist's album (one of the guys I'm thinking of does session work for Nanci Griffith and has had a song of his on one of her albums), the occasional small festival: it's a living. They won't get rich, but they didn't ten or twenty years ago, and their ability to email their fans for free means they can sell tickets far more easily than twenty years ago, too.

          Artists like this were always reliant on this model, and never sold records in quantity (you couldn't get them in shops), so it's hard to see how their position has changed. Artists who couldn't sell a few hundred tickets times twenty dates weren't selling records either, and for them it was strictly a hobby.

          At the big end, someone like Springsteen doesn't give a stuff about record sales. Yes, he reputedly splits the take evenly with his band, but they're grossing something like three million pounds a night in stadiums, and can tour in those for months on end. Say they only get 33% of the gross, so a million a night split ten ways is a hundred thousand pounds. Times a sixty date tour. That's not poverty if they never saw another penny from record sales.

          Thirty years ago, musicians toured to support record sales. Now records support tour sales. Markets change. They could always get a job in a shop if they don't like the lifestyle.

          ian

  • by geek (5680) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @05:50PM (#22160174) Homepage
    Back in the day my friends and I made more mixed tapes for each other than we bought. If one friend bought a new tape, within the next few days, all of their friends also had one. This was true until CD's came out, but then again, once burners were introduced it happened again. I've never really downloaded music illegally, almost all of my music was purchased from iTunes or is from my very old CD collection pre-internet. I simply don't buy physical media anymore. But lately my choice to not buy anything at all has been more about the quality of music than anything else. Musicians these days just suck.
    • by wurp (51446) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @05:56PM (#22160278) Homepage
      Copying a friend's music in your home (or vice versa) isn't illegal, whether it's audio tapes or CDs using digital audio media. Thanks to the AHRA of 1992 [virtualrecordings.com], you pay a 'tax' on every blank audio tape and audio CD for the right to make copies of friends' tapes. This is how the RIAA responded to the last wave of copying that was going to "destroy the industry".

      Of course, that tax goes only to the RIAA, not independent artists. So every time you tape your local band, you paid the RIAA for the band's music.

      Cool, eh?
  • Nope (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @05:51PM (#22160184)

    Is the removal of restrictions from our media really that big a deal?
    Like I'm going to spend my resources giving copies of my shit to all my friends.
  • by torpor (458) <ibisum@gmail. c o m> on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @05:53PM (#22160214) Homepage Journal
    Once, there were horses, and they were the only way to get around town. All the horse-maintainers, the shodders and such, were in business and there was a grand economy.

    Then, some new technology came to the scene: the automobile. "Oh noes", the shodders cried, "our economy is going to be ruined.."

    The moral of this story is: technology. It will force change. Either keep up with it, or remove yourself from the market. Music doesn't have to be paid for - not any more, and no longer will we have to worship the few and provide them economic sustenance, so that they are only able to do it, when the many can do it, themselves.

    In short, grow up music-industry people. Your world is changing. All worlds change. Let the people decide what life will be, and quite crying just because you didn't see the writing on the wall.

    Yes, this applies to all media/content related markets. The writing is on the wall. The only way to protect your media is to put it in hardware - books are a good example - that makes it pleasant for people to buy it from you. The world needs us all to go digital and stop raping the earth, just so the few can profit from the ignorance of the many. Let the horses back to the fields ..

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      The moral of this story is: technology. It will force change. Either keep up with it, or remove yourself from the market. Music doesn't have to be paid for - not any more, and no longer will we have to worship the few and provide them economic sustenance, so that they are only able to do it, when the many can do it, themselves.

      Are you talking about content generation or distribution? Even if the RIAA goes away, we would be paying artists directly for the music. Unless this really isn't about DRM, but ab

  • Oh well (Score:5, Interesting)

    by The One and Only (691315) * <[ten.hclewlihp] [ta] [lihp]> on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @05:53PM (#22160216) Homepage
    Honestly, if the sale of recorded music is no longer profitable, that's just the way it is and the presence or lack of DRM wouldn't have prevented that. It's just a natural consequence of peer-to-peer file sharing being available. Now, it's more likely that the sale of recorded music isn't as lucrative as it used to be, but even in a free market it's best to let naturally-declining markets decline rather than prop them up artificially (i.e. US Steel, GM)--the long term gains always outweigh the short term turbulence.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @05:54PM (#22160228)
    I had an MP3 once on my computer. My computer started to crash/reboot continuously and my dog started to howl. The dog howling caused me sleepness nights. My sleepy-ness caused me to have a car accident with a bus full of nuns. The surviving nuns sued me and the dead nuns are waiting for me in heaven with baseball bats. Because of the lawsuit, I lost my home, my computer, AND my dog... I'm living in the streets and I only go into public libraries to use the washrooms and post on slashdot. I am scared of MP3s. (but not frightened to death because then the nuns & bats will get me)
  • A better article (Score:5, Informative)

    by Randle_Revar (229304) * <kelly.clowers@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @05:54PM (#22160250) Homepage Journal
    A brave new world: the music biz at the dawn of 2008
    http://arstechnica.com/articles/culture/state-of-digital-music-2007.ars [arstechnica.com]
  • Incorrect (Score:5, Insightful)

    by webmaster404 (1148909) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @05:55PM (#22160272)
    Without DRM, digital music can eaily be played on almost any media player. You now have opened up media rather then just iPods, to generic MP3 players, Windows systems, Linux systems, OS X systems, FreeBSD systems, and more. That is something that hasn't happened yet is a standard non-patented format for storing music, OGG would be likely but with it not being native on most MP3 players and Windows (and OS X too?) and MP3 is patent restricted and therefore rarely playable (legally) on Linux, FreeBSD and other systems. MP3 players also suffer with the patent fee, they could be cheaper without it. All DRM does is make people not want to download "legal" media, the main pro of "piracy" was that you can download it in just about any format you wanted, for free and it would easily work with just about every device that you had while the "legal" ones would not. Digital music will never catch up to CDs if "piracy" is always the better option. I am not advocating suing anyone but seriously, when you iTunes downloads work with you iPod/iTunes and nothing else, the MP3 download from a tracker site is a better deal as it will work on that $25 MP3 player you got, your computer (any OS) along with your iPod and phone, ETC. It isn't just DRM that was killing digital music it was the lack of a standard format. In the CD age (before the Sony rootkits and the like) your CD would work in any computer with a CD drive, any CD player be it the $25 off brand one or your $2000 stereo system. When we get that, digital music will begin selling otherwise, who wants expensive media that works with 1 brand of products and nothing else.
  • I do kind of feel bad for the *AA member companies. It would suck to realize that your industry was subject to a disruptive technology that was already well past the tipping point. Having said that, it's their problem and not mine. I've been buying DRM-free music for decades and have absolutely zero interest in giving up control of my possessions.

    Did you hear that? Possessions. Not licensed content, not rentals or leases, but things I own. When I buy music, I own that copy no matter how much they wrongly insist otherwise. I will not pay extra to buy restrictions to prevent me from using my possessions they way I want to use them, even if that was is undesirable for its makers. As long as I'm staying within the constraints of the law and not giving copies of it to others, it's none of their business (even if they wish it was).

    So sorry, *AA. You had the opportunity to do things differently, but you chose to fight me instead of making me your friend. Your actions have been so scummy that I truly don't care what happens to you now. Justice? Morals? Ethics? As you have long cast those aside, I just can't be bothered to care when people fail to use them with you. Goodbye and good luck. You won't be missed.

  • please explain (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gerbalblaste (882682) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @05:58PM (#22160324) Journal
    No one has explained to me yet why we need a megalithic music industry and why it is bad that it is collapsing.
    • by adminstring (608310) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @06:30PM (#22160780)
      It's simple, really: We need a megalithic music industry because without it, the demand for cocaine would plummet. This would cause organized crime families to need to find another way to make money, which would most likely be kidnapping and harvesting organs from innocent children for sale on the black market. For goodness sake, won't somebody think of the children?!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      No one has explained to me yet why we need a megalithic music industry and why it is bad that it is collapsing.

      It will completely destroy civilization as we know it. You want new plumbing for your toilet? Ask the RIAA. You want your car engine repaired? The RIAA does it. Who do you think invented the airplane? That's right, the RIAA. Who laid the railway tracks all over the place? The RIAA. Who invented English? The RIAA. What makes crops grow? Think it's the sun? Think again! The RIAA makes crops

  • by chiasmus1 (654565) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @05:59PM (#22160334) Homepage
    Worse yet, if you sign up for a subscription, you're saying that it's okay for the music service to wipe out your music collection if you cancel. Imagine walking into your living room as all your books disappear because you changed libraries, or your DVD collection disappears because you switched from Blockbuster to Netflix.

    I cannot help but think he was thinking about the dangers of DRM when he wrote this.
  • My Ignorant Opinion (Score:3, Interesting)

    by crymeph0 (682581) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @05:59PM (#22160342)

    Removing DRM won't cause the music companies to collapse any faster than they would with DRM, because motivated individuals will always find a way to break the secret codes.

    The question is, will piracy eventually kill the music industry as we know it today? I think it probably will, because honestly, nobody wants to pay to listen to Brittney Spears, they just want to listen to it because MTV made it look cool.

    The music companies are damned if they do and damned if they don't, in my opinion, because people are going to pirate anyway, with or without DRM. Even with the draconian powers the DMCA and like-minded laws give them, it's not feasible to sue every pirate, even if they can convince the FBI to go after the pirates for them.

    Honestly, I feel kind of sorry for the big music companies. But only as sorry as I feel for the buggy-whip makers of old. It doesn't help their case that they brought Brittney Spears and such to the masses either. But my point is that a new paradigm always has winners and losers, and you can't expect the losers to feel good, especially when it's their whole livelihood they're losing out on. Of course, you can't just let them break your whole legal system in their death throes, so even though I feel sorry for them, I think the best thing for all of us would be just to shoot them and put them out of their and our misery.

  • The curse of DRM (Score:4, Insightful)

    by KevMar (471257) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @06:00PM (#22160344) Homepage Journal
    The issue was that one could pirate music very easily that just worked and was high quality.

    DRM music was a hastle to buy, restricted how you could play it, was a pain to get on alternate computers/media, and was a predetermined quality. Not only that but you had to manage the license files and repurchase the media if it was ever corupted or lost.

    Removing the DRM evens the playing field out. If the music is easy to purchase and has all the other benifits that pirated music has, it will work. People dont mind paying. You just have to offer the same product that consumers want.

    If they offer a better service and experience than the pirates, they will get people to pay. The pirates would have to put more effort into service and quality. It will cost the pirates more, force them to become more visible and stable, and in the end they will be much easyer to convict and shut down.

    As it stand the pirate have set the bar for what the consumer wants. The lables have to raise the bar with out charging too much.
  • by msimm (580077) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @06:00PM (#22160350) Homepage
    1) Select (hotly) debated topic.
    2) Identify current trend or view.
    3) Propose opposing view.
    ...
    Profit

    Like many other posters have already mentioned DRM by-and-large simply doesn't work. Which makes any post-epiphany antithesis, well, rhetoric. We aren't going to have another HDMI incident with our audio and people will get it from one market or another (if paying is too restrictive and cumbersome we've already seen the results).

    But hey, he got on Slashdot.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by droopycom (470921)
      Good point.

      Did he realized that he was giving away his article DRM-free ? This must be the end of the news print industry!

  • by TheNarrator (200498) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @06:00PM (#22160356)
    Music companies are in the business of telling people what to buy. They used to be in the business of recording and distribution. Recording and distribution are not very hard to do these days. Piracy means that they don't get paid for telling people what to buy. However, buying from a record company with DRM is a serious disadvantage to piracy over and above the price. By getting rid of DRM it is easier for people to justify buying music. People will always pirate. Not having DRM means that the record companies are now not at a disadvantage compared to piracy though, except for the price. Before piracy had a better distribution model than non-drmed music (Physical CDs vs Downloads) and had a better price. Now it only has a better price.
  • by acomj (20611) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @06:00PM (#22160358) Homepage
    Bottom line... I'd much much much rather buy songs without DRM.
    People who aren't going to buy aren't going buy and will always find an excuse.

    Notice now though how again the labels with provide "amazon" with DRM free tracks but only EMI will provide apple. Using there catalogs as muscle to try and make the online sale more even. Those labels are evil..
  • Hippie? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RedHat Rocky (94208) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @06:01PM (#22160380)
    "I love how intelligent people think subscription-based music services are the way to go. All you can eat for $15 a month. Talk about devaluing your product. People can download enough songs to fill 100 albums and pay under $20. How does anyone make money this way?"

    Yeah. I can't figure out who ANYONE could make MONEY charging people RECURRING fees for CONTENT.

    I mean, who would pay good money a month for a stack of dead trees?

    Whoops, did I switch "magazine" and "music" again?

    How old is your daughter again? Oh yeah, failed to mention that. Let me guess, three tops. Hippie? Dude, you're stuck in the 80's, aren't you? Well, at least you didn't use the C word.

    DON'T FEED THE TROLL!

    Okay, enough making fun of the naysayer, on with the facts:

    1. "Consumers" (I really HATE that word) are willing to consume that which is good. The "digital content" folks are in trouble because their content sucks. Rather than admit their faults, they prefer to point fingers. In one sense, the bonehead is correct, DRM-free won't stop the bleeding, but that's because the bandaid is in the wrong place. Radiohead is a good example, people are willing to pay money to support content they like. Duh!

    2. DRM-free has value to Consumers because DRM restricts that which they previously enjoyed.

    3. Audio quality isn't the issue, if higher quality is desired the demand will be there. Otherwise, non issue.
  • If it crumbles... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Squirmy McPhee (856939) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @06:08PM (#22160472)

    Now consumers are getting their wish, and the music industry will continue to crumble.

    If the music industry crumbles it won't be because it did or did not have DRM, it will be because it failed to offer a product consumers wanted at a price they were willing to pay. No amount of DRM or hand-wringing will change the fact that for some consumers, that means competing with free. Nor will it change the fact that if they produce music that nobody wants, nobody will buy it (even for free). In short, the music industry must either change with the times or go to its grave. That's no different than for any other industry, notwithstanding the industry big-shots who seem to think that consumers owe it to them to keep them afloat.

  • by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @06:21PM (#22160656) Journal
    Britney Spears is worth something like $100M. There's a number of vastly wealthy musicians, and equally wealthy record execs. However, this is not historically normal. Yes, over the past few hundred years, some musicians got quite wealthy, and some music publishers made serious bank, but the scale created by the record industry is truly unprecedented.

    Prior to the commercialisation of the recording industry (which began in the 1910s/20s but only really took off after WW2) the only way the common person understood music was in the context of someone, usually THEMSELF, playing it. On an instrument. That wasn't plugged into an amplifier.

    And at the time, there were musicians, and some did very well (Salieri wasn't poor, nor was Handel) but even they had a tiny tiny fraction of the kind of wealth exhibited by the ruling classes at the time. Musicians were still, basically, hired hands. They might be rich hired hands, but not like what we know today. The important point is the context: you knew music as a performance, not as a recording.

    Due to the exigencies of technology, music became a commodity, and in classic capitalist fashion, the material costs were reduced to a minimum - finally, they evapourated as data into the interweb thingie. So, now they're trying to put a meter on something that the interwebs have always had a complex and contradictory relationship: data itself. The record companies are not in the business of selling music. They sell CDs. If the CDs had recordings of dogs barking, or were flat out silent, it wouldn't matter to the record companies, as they (in theory) sell what people want.

    What people want is music. What people want is something for nothing. What people want is to wish upon a star and get everything they ever dreamed of, and if they can't do that, then they want the music that takes them there....

    The music biz started with printing sheet music in the 19th century. It will die trying to sell data. It was an interesting ride. But now the amusement park is closed. Time to go home and make your own music.

    Give up on the star system. Make your own, and support the art made by your friends, your family and your neighbours. Give up on this hallucination of Commodity Culture. Learn to play an instrument, and learn to play it well. work with other musicians, and through your own competence and intelligence you will create the hope this world so desperately needs.

    and, in the process, go piss on the grave of the music business.

    RS

  • by GeekZilla (398185) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @06:29PM (#22160770)
    From TFA: "Giving up control of content and giving it away free "

    Uh...who is giving away free music? Ok, iTunes has some free tracks every week and I am sure there are others but here is the point:
    Removing DRM != Giving Away Music For Free.

    More from TFA: "So now it's a good idea to give away music in the hope that people will think you're so cool that they'll pay anyway."
    Sometimes that works. Again, not many people are doing that. The argument is against DRM.

    From TFA: " Sure, we could copy some pages out of a book at the library's photocopy machine, and some people created mix tapes from their favorite albums, and others got in the habit of recording movies from TV to VHS. These were not rampant problems, and no one panicked."

    Uh...actually, there was panic. From Wikipedia:

    "In the early 1980s, the film companies in the USA fought to suppress the device in the consumer market, citing concerns about copyright violations. In the case Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc., the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the device was allowable for private use, thereby guaranteeing market acceptance. In the years following, the film companies found that videorecordings of their products had become a major income source. However, television networks found the widespread use of this device was threatening their advertising business model because viewers then have the ability to either fast forward through television commercials, or pause recording when they are broadcast." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VCR [wikipedia.org]

    Again, TFA: "The music industry's moves have been terrified reactions to staunch the bleeding of millions of dollars in revenue down the drain." So? What caused the drop in revenue? Crappy product maybe? I dunno. Sounds to me like the industry is already crumbling and it has NOTHING to do with them "giving it away for free".

    TFA: "For maybe a year, music companies thought they had the situation under control, but then album sales tumbled. Retailers, musicians, and some music-industry execs thought DRM was the culprit, and they soon joined the chorus of consumers calling for its head. " And what has been the result? We don't know yet. I think it is a good thing. I would rather pay a reasonable price for a single song than be forced to pay an outrageous price for an entire album. "Everyone" likes that. Why does he think iTunes has been such a hit?

    Get a clue, Lance.

    He projects the end of the music industry and blames it on DRM-free tracks. Sorry, the end of the music industry started well before DRM-Free music.
  • by steveha (103154) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @06:36PM (#22160864) Homepage
    Back in the days when a copy of WordStar or Microsoft Multiplan cost hundreds of dollars and came on copy-protected floppy disks, Borland International came out with a line of software that was different. Turbo Pascal, Sidekick, and other products came on non-copy-protected disks and cost $50 or $100.

    If you believe in the claims of the DRM advocates in our big media organizations, you probably figure that Borland must have lost money horribly. Actually, they didn't; their strategy of selling without copy protection at a fair price was very successful.

    The lesson I take away from that is that most people, if you offer them a fair deal, will take the fair deal rather than steal from you. I don't remember anyone ever saying "Borland deserves to have this stuff ripped off."

    If you offer me music without DRM at a fair price, I will pay the price and get the music legally. I think most music fans will do the same. (Especially if they believe that their money will mostly go to the band instead of to the record label.)

    P.S. The flip side of the coin is that DRM doesn't actually work. There's this thing called the "Internet", see, and if anyone anywhere in the world manages to once break the DRM, then everyone who wants to download the DRM-free version can do so. Thus DRM just hurts the actual paying customers, who then might well feel entitled to steal the next product instead of buying it.

    steveha
  • by Eth1csGrad1ent (1175557) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @06:47PM (#22160986)
    FTA:

    Worse yet, if you sign up for a subscription, you're saying that it's okay for the music service to wipe out your music collection if you cancel. Imagine walking into your living room as all your books disappear because you changed libraries, or your DVD collection disappears because you switched from Blockbuster to Netflix.
    Its already OK for the music companies to wipe out your music collection. If you buy an album on CD, you have a license to use THAT CD and that CD only. If it gets scratched or damaged with wear and tear (ie. anyone with kids), too bad - you are required to go and buy another physical copy of material that YOU'VE ALREADY LICENSED. This is what shits me the most with the movie and music mega corps... they can't decide whether they're selling us something physical (the disc) or something ethereal (the content) so they sell us BOTH, and then leverage BOTH. FTA:

    Giving up control of content and giving it away free are not rational ideas in a market economy, yet everyone's cheering.
    Everyone's cheering because the way in which the mega corps have set up the supply and demand chain are also not "rational ideas in a market economy" and in fact, there IS NO market economy. I pay the same $30 for a new Santana CD as I do for the latest (insert your country here) Idol CD. The music industry, even more so than the movie industry, doesn't operate under a free market economy and that is why the industry is hurting so much. People have chosen to go around them. The industry's is not dead... its reorganising itself. Bands can, and should make their money touring. The idea that you can get a band to pump out a couple of songs in a studio and live the high life for the rest of your life my be dying, but thats not a bad thing in my book. The "market economy" is squeezing middle man out of the equation because the middle man is no longer doing his job (facilitating supply and demand). So what. Life goes on. Music will still be played.
  • Proof by Confusion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Crypto Gnome (651401) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @06:55PM (#22161084) Homepage Journal
    Once again, some random pundit proves an assumption by starting with fuzzy thinking and lack of detail.

    THE Music Industry is a myth

    And by that I mean The Myth is that the is one "music industry". Specifically, what I mean when I say "the music industry" is (clearly, obviously) NOT the same thing that THEY (RIAA, etc) of the world mean.

    I would suggest that we (the sane and clear thinking intelligent people of the world) understand that there are TWO "Music Industries".
    • The Industry of Making Music
    • The Industry of Distributing Music
    DRM is all about the control of the distribution of music. What we're seeing here is a failure of that control.
    • Failure to successfully control the distribution (and seriously, any/every playback of music is essentially, effectively, a trivial/minimalistic form of distribution - research "the analog hole" if this statement confuses you)
    • Failure to win the support and acceptance of the people
    • Failure to keep up with the march of modern technologies

    So what if DRM fails? So what if Music Distribution fails? So what if The Music Distribution Industry (which, basically, in its current invocation is nothing more than a protectionist racket like the MAFIA used to run) fails?

    Previously the mechanical complexities involved in the distribution of physical media meant there "was room" (in a business sense) for an entity to "make this happen smoothly" and make money in the process. Now that there's less and less physical distribution, and more electronic distribution, the previous "margin for profit" is rapidly shrinking (ie there's no room for someone to skip BILLIONS of dollars from consumers for no reason).

    As living proof that any idiot can make predictions about The Music Industry .... here's my $0.02
    • Music Distribution will be SIGNIFICANTLY LESS about physical media and more about content
    • Many artists will find this is an opportunity to be more direct with their customers, and thereby collect more of the profits themselves
    • Other distributors will be needed, to help shuffle bits (iTunes, Last.FM, etc)
    • There will be multiple distribution models (sell bits, rent bits, subscription for bits)
    • There will be MUCH MORE of a market for "free stuff" that comes with what you bought (ie "value add")
    • There will be MUCH MORE of a market for premium content (ie the ultimate collectors signed-by-the-artist, gold-plated, diamond-encrusted pack) ... because it's now a significant distinguisher, as more of the market is no-longer physical
    • ....
    • Profit???
    Basically I could ramble on for a few MEGABYTES, but the main point is this:
    • The Entire Industry That Revolves Around Music will be much broader, deeper, richer than ever before.
    Even though "the current distribution and control models" are no longer valid, nor necessary, nor are they even WANTED anymore.

    We need not, we should not, mourn their demise. Like a recently deceased aged relative, we've had some good memories, but towards the end it's just been messy and embarrassing.

    Hold a funeral, bury the body, enjoy the wake, celebrate the new generation.
  • by DusterBar (881355) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @07:13PM (#22161288) Homepage

    For those of us old enough to remember the early days of the personal computer market and, more specifically, the IBM PC market, we will remember that the same types of doom and gloom was said about the software industry. Lotus would die if it released 123 without DRM (ok, it was called copy protection back then) or that dBase or a host of other software vendors.

    But there were some that realized that two things were going on:

    1) Copy protection got in the way of legitimate paying customers so more and more complex methods were invented that did things like put bad data into directory structures on the hard drive to "mark" the machine as valid and other such trick, all of which ended up causing more problems and costing tons in R&D and support efforts.

    2) Those people who would not pay for the software still were finding people who had the skills to work around the security measures and still had illegal copies. In fact, some that actually had paid for the software also got these illegal versions as they did not have this other problems.

    Along the same time, some smaller vendors released software at the right price and without copy protection "features" and did very well. Slowly the other vendors also stopped doing copy protection and, well, the sky did not fall. They all prospered. Those that failed did not fail due to lack of copy protection or due to too much piracy.

    I have seen this cycle actually a number of times. Each time the final analysis ends up showing that more is lost due to trying to "protect" the content than is ever gained by someone maybe paying for the product that might not have done so without the measures.

  • Oh noes (Score:4, Interesting)

    by yusing (216625) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @07:18PM (#22161326) Journal
    "the music industry will continue to crumble."

    As a composer and musician, I ask: so ... what's the problem, then?

    The "industry" (think once more about that word, and what it has meant to *music*) was an anomaly built by pimping pop to teenagers with enough money to buy vinyl. It consumed as many lives as it made dollars. The "star" system, the "underground economy", the proliferation of radio stations choosing what is "worthy"

    Good riddance. Music never needed the cigars, the usury, the chains or the money. I look forward to new Woody Guthries running amok in the countryside, new Dylans popping up in depression coffeehouses. As for all the people who've made a very good living from the creativity of others: go sell Amway.
  • by ShawnDoc (572959) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @07:31PM (#22161462) Homepage
    Well, in the last 2 months I've bought more DRM free music (Thanks Amazon!) than I have DRM'd music in my life time. Why? Because DRM music has been a nightmare. I could never get it to play right on my MP3 player, I don't own an iPod (Well I did, but I returned it) so the few songs I bought on iTunes were essentially trapped on my PC. My mom in the past bought music via the DRM'd Walmart store, but had such hassles she never did again. Instead I've stuck to CD's. Nice simple, easy to copy. But with Amazon now offering up huge amounts of DRM free music I've been buying up out of print albums and guest spots some of my favorite artists have done.
  • by PPH (736903) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @07:35PM (#22161496)
    If you are a music industry exec, I suppose things must look like the End Times. But from where I sit, there are only two important parts of the music industry. The performer and me. Everything else is a necessary(?) evil that gets the product to the consumer.

    As my brother, a musician, tells me, he doesn't make that much money off recordings anyway. Most of his income comes from performances. I can steal the f*cking CDs for all he cares as long as I come to the concerts.

    Keep this all in mind when deciding who will be getting screwed by DRM-free music.

  • Time Travel (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ChrisA90278 (905188) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @07:36PM (#22161504)
    I went ahead in time and grabbed a history book written in the year 5,000 AD. Here is what it had to say....

    "... For 10,000 years musicians earned their money by playing in front of a live audience except for a short 80 year period in the 20th century. Before this period recording has not technically possible and after the period recordings had no commercial value because they could be universally disseminated at no cost...."
  • by Max Threshold (540114) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @07:42PM (#22161580)
    The "digital economy" is doomed to collapse unless they realize and accept that it's based on services, not products.
  • by ardent99 (1087547) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @07:44PM (#22161610)

    The music industry is going through changes analogous to the ones the publishing industry went through over time.

    In the first era, publishing books was a laborious and time consuming process, and only one copy could be made easily. Books cost huge amounts of money, and were hand printed and illustrated. Then when the printing press was invented, it created a second era, which dramatically brought down the price of books due to mass production, and made it possible for countless people to read things they never would have been able to before. It also led to the rise of publishing empires who controlled what and who was published. If you could afford a printing press, you could publish what you wanted, but not many had the resources and wherewithal to become a major publishing machine. And lastly with the rise of the internet era, web sites and blogs, which are essentially free ways to publish and mass-distribute your work, it became possible for anyone to have their writing accessible to all, and to build a following, without the need for a publisher in the middle. Many blogs are now major writing outlets, and don't go through publishers they way they would have needed to in years gone by. Technology has created a whole new market and business model.

    The record companies are in the same state the publishing companies were in during the rise of the third era; technology has made it possible to bypass them and they are running scared.

    But you don't see blogs as a substitute for publishing books. People still buy books from book publishers. Yet blogs have become a huge global force just as important as books. Newspapers, being in between, have suffered and have been forced to become more like blogs. The difference between blogs and traditional printed media is that blogs are streams. The value people find in blogs is that they are a constant stream of creative content from the writer, i.e. a subscription. People see value in getting the latest thing from the writer, in a timely way, with predictability and quality. So what people see as the value of blogs is access to the talent on an ongoing basis, not an individual item of production. And there still is value in producing and buying books, because they are a different product meeting a different need.

    So I see that the music distribution business will change in similar ways. It may become impossible to charge for individual songs, but people will pay for ongoing access to the talent. The musicians will be forced to actually be productive on an ongoing basis, and to create a stream of content, which has subscription value. They will no longer be able to build huge fortunes on a few moments of inspiration, and will have to work for their supper on a continuing basis. But in the end, those who have talent will be able to create that stream of value, though probably not on the scale that musicians get paid today.

    And there will still be a market for high-production quality compilations of music, like CD compilations with good editorial judgment, and high-quality artwork and music. But along side them, as important or more so, there will be talent streams.

    Things will be different, and talented musicians will be able to make a moderate amount of money, and the people who make fortunes today riding a few creative successes probably won't be able to do that. But is that such a bad thing?

  • by NullProg (70833) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @08:54PM (#22162176) Homepage Journal
    He needs to get hit over the head with the internet Clue stick.

    Now consumers are getting their wish, and the music industry will continue to crumble.
    The sales/downloads of Guitar Hero tracks is making Activision rich. http://www.joystiq.com/2008/01/21/guitar-hero-franchise-passes-the-1b-mark/ [joystiq.com]
    Notice that the top downloads do not include todays Pop or Urban Crap (oops) Rap artists.

    The RIAA/Studio over priced music model will decline. CD sales suck, not because of the DRM (that sucks too), but because the product (Music) stinks. I want to buy Lordi's CD but can't find a US seller anywhere. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6VzdtmrP6Y [youtube.com]

    When can Lordi sell me their tracks though Nintendo/Microsoft/Sony? The future will be Music tracks from Band to Fan (Me).

    Not the current model of Band, Expensive Studio, Distribution Conglomerate, Store to Fan tracks.

    Enjoy,
  • Same old story (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Zoxed (676559) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @03:13AM (#22164420) Homepage
    When I was a lad cassette radios were the latest music technology, along with "hi-fi" centres with built in cassette recorders.
    The music industry was horrified that people could record their friends LPs onto cassettes instead of buying more LPs. They tried (and failed) to sue the manufactures for selling equipment that specifically designed to allow easy copyright infringement (LP->cassette or cassette->cassette) (OK, the quality went down a little, but most people did not care).
    They blasted us with "Home Taping is Killing Music". I, and all my friends, taped and taped, off radio, off friends LPs, off library LPs and: guess what ? Home Taping did not Kill Music. There are *still* some artists making a fortune in the music industry, many are still struggling, Pink Floyd are *still* making money off their back catalogue. The sky has not fallen !!

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