RIP*, Music Labels?

The Time magazine makes a really good story about the latest album of Radiohead, In Rainbows.

The biggest issue around this album is not the music, but the fact that the band is leaving the price to the customer! Yes, indeed! When you go on the website for the album, In Rainbows, you will be prompted to enter the amount you want to pay. If you click on the “?” question mark, it tells you, “it’s up to you” [what amount to put for the album]. So you can choose anything between 0.01 pounds (2 cents) for the whole album, or whatever you want.

Great, isn’t it?

The Time has named their article, Radical Remix, and I think they are right. It’s radical. It’s the end of the Music Industry as we know it.

And here’s how they actually are making their money, as Time explains:

Meanwhile, as CD sales decline (in early 2007, they were down 20% from early 2006 in the U.S. alone), the concert business is booming. In July, Prince, long underestimated for his business acumen, decided to turn his most valuable asset—a buzzed-about record—into a loss leader, flooding the U.K. with 3 million free copies of his Planet Earth CD through the Mail on Sunday newspaper. He was ridiculed for going down market, until he announced 21 London concert dates—and sold out every one at prices five times the suggested retail price of a CD. Not surprisingly, Radiohead has an extensive tour planned for 2008.

What’s next? In Bulgaria, not much. The local music labels will continue to chase down the end-users blaming them for the decrease in sales. And the end-users will continue to download music free from the Internet. Until the local labels learn the lesson – you can’t stop progress. You may try to stop it, and certainly there will be some victims, but at the end you will give up.

The problem of the labels is they lost their link to reality; they connection with the authors is broken. Perhaps they still don’t realize it, but their end if already here. Either the labels will adapt, or like the dinosaurs, they will disappear. Come on, guys! Change your model! I wrote about it on June 6, 2006, perhaps you need to read more carefully;-)

In this context, the news from the New York Times about Jammie Thomas, who was sued and found liable for copyright infringement for sharing music online and charged to pay $222,000 in damages, sounds like the last attempt of the labels to prove their point. You can’t prove it, not anymore. And as for the jury verdict, which called for $9,250 in damages for each of the 24 songs involved in the trial… the members of the jury probably have a serious issue understanding the value of a song, being downloaded from the Internet. Whoever downloads the song, if they have to pay for it BEFORE they’ve heard it, most probably will NEVER buy it. Give the fans some more freedom, guys. And to the US Congress – change your old-fashioned copyright laws, and face the new realities, ladies and gentlemen, or else you will lose even more in the future. And the labels will be still out of business, regardless of the tough laws.

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* RIP – Rest In Peace (v.m.)

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