Rummys Blog An world of endless Monday

Tuesday, 22 September, 2009

File Sharing

Filed under: World of Warcraft — Andrew.Rowbottom @ 12:02 pm

There’s an article on the BBC news today, order Music stars at war over file-sharing, purchase about a coalition of “pop stars” who are against downloading music without paying for it. Well, global burden of disease broadly speaking, that sounds pretty reasonable.

But there were a couple of things in the article that stuck out…

meaning 95% of all digital music was downloaded illegally….Worldwide album sales have halved…

Big numbers and the visceral impression is that album sales will jump 20 fold if there weren’t any illegal downloading. Ahh, but they’re probably talking about tracks and not albums, so assuming 10 tracks per album we amazingly get a factor of 2, a perfect match! OK, I accept that people may well only be downloading single tracks, but that should be compared against singles sales and not album sales. Are we being fed apples instead of oranges here?

The bit I most liked though, was

.. who now regularly sell out arena tours (which they can do only because of how popular they became in the ‘good old days’ [before download piracy]

This can only be sour grapes, surely if loads of people are freely downloading your music and liking it then you too will become popular enough to sell out an arena? Or am I missing something?

I am all for musicians getting the royalties they deserve, but I find most current music DRM distasteful. In the good old days I bought an album (vinyl/CD) and taped it for my walkman and I probably made another copy for one of my friends. In return they would probably make a copy of something for me.

Piracy? well yes, but a limited form of piracy. I think the music industry should have accepted that this was current practice and sold two licences for every song, one for you  and one for a mate. After all that was common practice.

Instead some assh*t in an office thought to themselves that they could double their profits by making it impossible to copy at all! So, rather than bring the kids and new listeners into the fold they made it so that teenage “stick it to the man” antisocial tendencies were sent into overdrive and they estranged a whole load of them.

On a personal note, in the past I have downloaded stuff for free off the internet, and as a direct result have bought some CDs – or deleted the music as not being worth listening to. So, even I have contributed to the download figures quoted. Except that had I not been able to access tracks for free I would also have bought fewer albums – you don’t get to hear Gordian Knot or Liquid Tension Experiment very often on the radio.

Recently I’ve bought a couple of ebook readers, and the books for them come with DRM, but the DRM is for 6 devices (5 if you discount the computer they were bought on). Now that seems fair or even more than fair. (a small point, I usually strip the DRM because I don’t really like having my purchases tied to a computer I’m absolutely guaranteed to replace). Again I have downloaded some ebooks off the web to read, but I’m a bit on the honest side and I’ve only read books that I either already have (just downloading for the convenience) or could get my hands on from a friend. That is, the artist has already received appropriate royalties.

I do wonder what would have happened if the original music DRM had been more generous? Too late though, the horse has bolted.

Music stars at war over file-sharing

1 Comment »

  1. I see DRM for music becoming a thing of the past. One of those “What were they thinking!” moments that people will look back on 10-20 years and laugh.
    The music industry is trying so hard to crack down on the “illegal” sharing of files, and yet there’s not one bit of evidence to show that it’s hurting them.

    The music industry has always been a bit backwards. In the 90’s they’d try and sell you a single CD for a few quid, and charge you a fortune for an album.

    These days you can buy any single you like for 50p to a pound, and I’m pretty sure iTunes doesn’t make a loss, and neither do the record companies.

    They’re happy for their music to be played on free-to-air radio channels at digital qualities, for anyone to lsten to, but if you give that same song to someone else digitally, for them to listen to it’s a terrible thing?

    It’s about supply and demand. The demand is there. Now they just have to supply it efficiently.

    For a while TV content providers were panicking that file-sharing would kill their income too. But in a lightbulb moment of genius they decided to actually put their content online for free and cover it in ads. Just like they do on TV. Hey Presto… BBC iPlayer, ITV iPlayer, Channel 4 OnDemand etc… all making them a nice little profit.
    Given the choice, would you rather wade through pop-up ads, malware and trojans to find the latest episode of Fawlty Towers, or just log on to the BC and click one buton to watch it legally, even if it did have ad breaks?

    Comment by Smyth — Tuesday, 22 September, 2009 @ 3:26 pm

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