Monday, November 24, 2014

What happens when music purchases are a small fraction of their current numbers?

.... asks Billboard magazine.

The DCE comment:

The author is quite right to note this trend, which shows no signs of abating.  The problem? 
Look no further than the weak definition of "Permanent Digital Downloads (PDDs)" contained in CFR 385.2 ("means a digital phonorecord delivery that is distributed in the form of a download that may be retained and played on a permanent basis.") and by Harry Fox Agency ("A download that can be retained and played permanently, like songs downloaded to your PC or phone").

What does a purchaser get when he purchases?  Not much. What does "permanently" mean anyway?  Is it any more permanent than an illegal download?  Not at all.  They both are given the same "full faith and credit".  

What is needed is to devise a way that ownership can be given value again.  The Digital Content Exchange is one way.

All this focus on "streaming" is misplaced or at least a misnomer.  What Spotify, Youtube, Netflix and Pandora really are is "renting".  You are renting a universe of songs for a month. They could be gone next month. Or the rent could be raised to $50 a month (beyond your budget). Owning is the only sure way to guarantee access to a movie, book, game or video that you really like and would want to play again.  But the industry is offering no alternative for those who want to own.  In music, there is no fluctuating marketplace, just $.99 or free from Bit-torrent or a "streaming" service. Digital Rights Management was and is a bad idea.  So because of that, the entire content industry gives up on finding a good idea??

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Where We've Been/Dialogue on

Although we have been busy practicing law, raising a family, etc. the Chronicle of a Solution continues unabated. The content industries (movies, music, books and games) are no closer to a solution than they were when we last posted. We had a meeting with Neal Harmon recently who obviously "gets it".  

We have also been active on various comboxes and message boards. A notable one of which is a recent exchange on, reproduced below.   The dialogue started around the article about industrial-rock pioneer Trent Reznor, who has been hired by Apple to do... well, er, something.   

"Ownership is waning. Everybody is comfortable with the cloud -- your documents, who knows where they are? They are there when you need them. That idea that I've got my records on the shelf doesn't feel as important even to me as it used to. I just think we haven't quite hit the right formula yet."

  • Trent is confusing ownership with location. I own my stuff in the cloud, too. I better, anyway, or we have a problem... No, I dont care "where it is", but I do own it.

    2) Laz Laz  2 days ago
    This is one of the best interviews I've read, props to the interviewer. Some really excellent questions, and TR really comes across as a smart guy. He's an artist who's been on the cutting edge of the writing/ packaging/releasing music for decades, it's interesting to see what happens next - combining the weight of Apple and the expertise of Reznor...

    Have to disagree. Being on the cutting edge of writing/ packaging/releasing music has nothing to do with coming up with something unique to solve the technical/design/business problem

    I don't get that. I didn't say TR would be the guy to 'run' the business. But there's very few people with MORE knowledge about what works and doesn't work in the music industry. If anyone can come up with how to transform the music industry, TR is a good bet.

    I get that. Maybe we disagree about what the problem is, then. It is not a problem of what "works or does not work in the music industry", like a problem of which genre, which sound, which album cover, which marketing campaign.
    What we have is a technical problem. It is a problem that was unleashed in the 1980s when the record industry rushed headlong into selling a new product (CDs) in the same old way that they had sold the old product (vinyl and cassettes). That problem has never been addressed. Instead, the problem has been ignored, with everyone just hoping, with blind fideism, that some new revenue stream will make everybody forget that there is a problem and just be happy with the money they are making. Hence, the freefall that the music industry has been in ever since then. (Incidentally, it has never been solved for videos, books, and games either).
    If you keep turning to "music guys" (e.g., Jimmy Iovine, Dr. Dre, Trent Reznor), the problem is never going to get fixed. Like any other problem that you want fixed, you have to turn to innovators, i.e inventors. We are actually a very innovative country (the USA). There has hardly been a problem we have not been able to solve. But you have to actually turn to the people to fix it, or it is not going to get done. The music industry has never had to do that in its entire history. (Sure, scientists have brought them new technologies, and they have employed them. But they have never had a technical problem before that has cratered the industry like this one).
    What about Google, Apple and Amazon, you say? Aren't they innovators?? Yeah, sure. And they could fix it if they wanted to. But it is not their problem, it is the content industries' problem. Why should they fix the content industries' problem? The chances of it conflicting with one of their business models are too high (e.g. the venerable "Opt-out" rather than "opt-in" at Google.)