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[P]
Universal Cut CD prices: About time too...

By brain in a jar in Op-Ed
Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 01:58:22 PM EST
Tags: News (all tags)
News

The BBC website is reporting that Universal music have announced that it will be cutting 30% from the price of CDs in the USA with similar cuts in other markets. Universal believe that this will lead to a substantial increase in sales, and it probably will. Analysts are saying that consumers have piracy to thank for the price cuts.


For a long time now the argument has gone back and forth between music filesharers and industry advocates as to the rights and wrongs of the use of filesharing services to gain access to copyrighted music. The filesharers have argued that the industry overcharges for CDs and used this as a moral justification for their copyright infringement. Others have argued that just because you aren't willing to pay the stated price for a CD this in no way gives you a right to copy it.

The direct reason behind Universal's decision to cut prices is that sales of CDs have been sluggish of late. A situation which could be simply due to overpricing and a slow economy, but may also be due to these factors combined with the availability of free music through filesharing services. Certainly the arguments between file sharers and the music industry have served to put CD prices in the spotlight,and may have made consumers less prepared to pay them. From a historical perspective it is perhaps suprising that we have had to wait so long for this price cut. When they were introduces CDs were priced higher than audio tapes despite being cheaper to produce. Presumably because the industry was targeting "early adopters" and people with money to burn who might just go and upgrade their collection in the first couple of years. Despite the widespread adoption of the format prices did not fall.

The most likely explanation is that the industry was behaving as a monopolist. Not only do record companies often have a monopoly on the rights to particular recording, but also there has been evidence of collusion within the industry to fix prices. Thus the industry instead of reducing prices to the consumer in line with decreased production costs, decided to keep prices fixed and high. This classic monopolist ploy allowed them to make huge profits; receiving a high level of income while only having to face the production costs of a smaller number of units than would have been produced and sold in a competetive market. The real shame of this, is that the production costs of music per unit are small (a large proportion of costs are for promotion) so that if the industry hadn't been fixing prices many more units would have been sold and fans would have had more music to enjoy. Long term the industry may have shot itself in the foot, discouraging consumers interest in music by overpricing their product.

However, the formula made the industry a lot of money for a long time, and they weren't about to change it, until suddenly their monopoly dissapeared. With the appearance of first Napster, then Kazaa, Grokster, GNUtella, Filedonkey etc. suddenly consumers had a choice. Their choice was between free music of lesser quality, downloaded at the cost of a fair amount of their free time and overpriced CDs. If we believe the RIAA (Recording industry association of America) consumers started choosing the free option in droves.

This sent the industry into a panic, a ever intensifying storm of lawsuits and legal intimidation, and the much hated DMCA (digital millenium copyright act, a US law) followed. The industry was standing like king Canute trying to face down the inevitable rising tide of file sharing, which was washing away their rather profitable monopoly: Only now are they starting to realise that it is not going to work.

Universal are now attempting to steal a march on their "competitors" by cutting prices; probably a smart move under the circumstances and it will probably do more to cut down on piracy than the legal intimidation of the RIAA and similar organisations worldwide ever will. Users faced with the choice between a high quality legal recording at a reasonable price and the effort of downloading a number of MP3s, checking their quality, downloading fresh copies of any defective ones, putting them in the right order and then burning a CD are likely to choose the legal option unless they are really strapped for cash. The move may also persuade people who downloaded music illegally for ideological reasons to come back to the fold. The move towards reasonable CD prices should allow people to buy albums from stores without that nagging feeling that they are being cheated. However, the intimidation tactics the industry have been using may have caused some consumers to have become so dissafected that they will not return to buying CDs for some time.

Love it or hate it, filesharing has helped push down the prices for consumers meaning that we all get a better deal. Universal are to be praised for making a good decision and doing something that should have been done a long time ago.

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Display: Sort:
Universal Cut CD prices: About time too... | 94 comments (87 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
Forgive the RIAA? (3.81 / 11) (#2)
by latestringtones2003 on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 04:05:22 AM EST

Unbloody likely.

As an artist signed to Universal, (1.66 / 24) (#4)
by xprt on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 05:08:07 AM EST

I hardly look on this as welcome news. My band has spent years touring, recording our 3 albums (and 1 EP) and working hard to earn our small cult following. But we still owe the record company money, having not sold the massive amounts of CDs that would pay off recording and marketing costs.

To reduce the profit margins even further will make life as a recording artist much more difficult. It makes me ask myself whether I should have chosen another vocation. Do people not value music as an artform any more?

But I doubt this, because it seems most people these days have huge pirate MP3 collections. I think that people don't realize how hard writing music is. Composing music is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. It's hard work making music and artists are some of the most unrewarded workers in society, as much as, say, public school teachers.

To pirate music is no better than stealing the hard-earned property of another person. It's more socially acceptable than mugging, theft or assault but it's no less damaging, in the long term.

----------------------
Check out my band



Lower prices move more units. (4.50 / 2) (#5)
by brain in a jar on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 05:42:19 AM EST

That is the idea. Prices have been too high for too long and this has discouraged people from buying music. It may even be that people are less interested in music than they would otherwise be. Even if this is not the case, people are more likely to take a chance on a band they don't know so well, if the price is reasonable. If it isn't they will probably restrict their purchases to the things they know.

As you point out a lot of the costs arise from recording, promotion etc. CDs themselves are cheap to produce. Pricing the CDs more cheaply can be just as profitable, because more units are sold. The costs of promotion etc. are fixed, and as such become relatively smaller if you move more units.

I really don't believe that the prevailing situation of fixed high prices has helped anyone except the major labels and established artists.

I wish you the best of luck with your band, but if you lose out it won't be due to filesharing. It would probably be more accurate to land the blame at the feet of heavy rotation corporate radio, which probably isn't giving you the airplay you deserve. Filesharing can actually help you get round this problem by getting yourself heard. If people really like what you do they will probably buy the CD if the price is OK.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

xprt (4.50 / 4) (#6)
by Scott Robinson on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 07:38:03 AM EST

It's probably a waste of a post to mention you were trolled. Scroll far down xprt's profile and check out his other posts.

The band he states he's apart of is huge. Linkin Park.

[ Parent ]

trollasaurus (none / 0) (#13)
by iGrrrl on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 09:28:14 AM EST

It's probably a waste of a post to mention you were trolled. Scroll far down xprt's profile and check out his other posts.

Actually, what I want to know is how he managed to turn off all the links on his user page except for the "comments by", which he hacked to link to goatse.cx.

--
You cannot have a reasonable conversation with someone who regards other people as toys to be played with. localroger
remove apostrophe for email.
[ Parent ]

scroll down... (5.00 / 1) (#15)
by pb on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 09:37:39 AM EST

...that's his Bio.  :)
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]
Ah. (none / 0) (#17)
by iGrrrl on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 09:38:27 AM EST

Fully taken in. Thats what I get for being so trusting.

Thanks.

--
You cannot have a reasonable conversation with someone who regards other people as toys to be played with. localroger
remove apostrophe for email.
[ Parent ]

Scroll down (none / 0) (#16)
by rusty on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 09:38:15 AM EST

They're not turned off, they're just imitated with a careful bio and a public key that just the real links way down.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
As someone who has been the victim of stalking, (3.00 / 2) (#18)
by xprt on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 09:51:35 AM EST

I just thought it would be humorous to give potential modbombers an eyeful of goatse.cx. No offence intended to anyone.

[ Parent ]
well, you got me (5.00 / 1) (#31)
by werner on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 01:06:18 PM EST

twat. are linkin park huge? i just thought it was some weird shite my girlfriend's brother listens to. he always listens to weird shite...

[ Parent ]
Please (none / 0) (#19)
by rusty on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 09:53:54 AM EST

mentally insert "pushes" between "just" and "the".

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
A Little Sympathy (4.50 / 2) (#10)
by Chiron on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 08:00:53 AM EST

I disagree, in part, with the article's assertation that it was mainly MP3 piracy that caused Universal to mark down its prices.  There have been other signifigant pressures affecting the labele: price-fixing lawsuits, declining sales, copy-protection incompatabilities and the repercussions of RIAA's adversarial stance.  Until a couple years ago, it was not unusual for my wife and I to purchase two or three CD's a week, based on things recommended by our friends or things we had heard on the radio.

While we do occasionally do still pick up a CD or two, but it has become a chore for us to find new artists to be interested in..  All of our local stations are now firmly under the control of Clear Channel, and before I purchase any CD published by an RIAA label, I have to check whether it will play on my hardware at home.

It is unfortunate that none of these things are directly the fault of your band, or other artists; the cause of your industry's decline lies with your label and its cohorts.


[ Parent ]

As an engineer married to a public school teacher (3.00 / 3) (#11)
by rwa2 on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 08:04:14 AM EST

... uh, I support public education?

Well, until I get laid off, that is :P Then *insert Yakov Smirno joke here*

I still won't spend any money on media entertainment, though. I don't know what's wrong with me... I guess I never developed a strong taste for music outside of what I could get on the radio (broadcast or streaming). Maybe I should rent more videos outside of what I get from in-flight movies. Maybe I should get a TV. Hmmm...

[ Parent ]

the problem is (5.00 / 1) (#30)
by werner on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 12:59:48 PM EST

that people don't see themselves so much as supporting a band by buying the cd, because common wisdom is that the labels take all the cash and the artist gets next to nothing.

the most commonly expressed opinions are:

  • labels take all the money from cd sales
  • artists get the money from concerts and other performances
  • most music in shops and on the radio is formulaic shite not worth the plastic it's stamped on
  • decent, alternative music is marginalized by the big, bully-boy pigopolists pushing their formulaic shite down our throats by monopolizing radio airtime and shelf-space in shops
  • we, the consumers (and the artists, too) have been right and royally arse-fucked by the price fixing labels, who never did a bit of good for anyone.
i cannot comment on the veracity of any of these claims, but i do strongly agree with the last: while labels slashed their production costs by moving to cds, we had the privilege of paying 50% more for them.

any fool can see this, and can hardly be blamed for showing no loyalty whatsoever to these capitalist bastards, especially if they believe the first two points, too.

i haven't bought a cd in years, now. the last time was at a cd fair, where the prices were under $10. i bought 5 or 6 cds. now, if i want a song, i download it. it's the only option i have. if i bought a cd today, like as not i won't be able to play it because i don't have a stereo and the copy protection will prevent me from playing it on my pc. of course, most protected cd's don't say they're protected and shops DO NOT take unwrapped cd's back.

as you can tell from the fact that i don't have a stereo, i'm not really into music. my girlfriend on the other hand, loves the stuff. she sits here and downloads a shit load of music. if she likes it she goes out and buys the cd because she "likes to have the original". that's music lovers for you.

for this reason, i refuse to believe that p2p is entirely, or even significantly, responsible for the drop in cd sales. sure, i won't buy cd's anymore cos they are copy-protected and i have broadband. but i only bought one or two cd's a year anyway. my girlfriend, on the other hand, buys much more music these days because she hears more all thanks to kazaa et al. she certainly buys more than enough to make up for what i don't buy.

i don't doubt that many musicians work extremely hard, but to equate it to teaching is laughable: what's the best a teacher can expect? to become headmaster one day? honestly, the bands that play in my local pub make more money than teachers (i should know, i'm a teacher). those that make it live a life that teachers can only dream of.

sure pirating music is stealing. just remember that people don't perceive it as stealing from you, the artist, but rather as not being raped by the labels.

finally, i would suggest that it is possible that a drop in price could well increase your earnings: every person who goes into a record shop with $30 can now buy 3 cd's instead of 2. why shouldn't a lot of those 3rd cd's be yours?

it would be most interesting to know exactly what the artist gets from each cd sale. i would be most grateful if you could tell us exactly where the artist fits in financially in the scheme of things.

[ Parent ]

As someone who has financial problems, (3.00 / 2) (#32)
by xprt on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 01:06:42 PM EST

I may not make much per CD, a few dollars, but overall it's a core part of my income that means a lot to me. To deprive me and fellow musicians of our livelihood and still call yourself a "fan" is a sick irony.

And it amuses me that you are so concerned with how much the record company "fixes the price". I don't see people quibbling over how much publishers charge for book sales, or film studios charge for box office tickets. Why is music so much different from these other media?

Because it's easy to steal, that's why. Everything else is just justification.

[ Parent ]

If you pay attention (5.00 / 1) (#38)
by Graymalkin on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 03:18:34 PM EST

You'll see plenty of people bitching about the price of movie tickets or book prices. I nearly hit a dude at Barnes & Noble when he told me a trash sci-fi paperback I was picking up cost $6.99. That is a dollar to a dollar and a half more for the same book in a previous printing. It isn't like the books cost more to print or distribute. Hell most books cost a fraction of the price to manufacture than they did as little as ten years ago. Paper is cheaper than it has been in a while, especially the tissue most paperbacks are printed on. Digital workflows and DTP systems have reduced the overhead costs of printing significantly over the past couple years. A prepress department can be pretty much anywhere in the world and send a publication to the company who will print, bind, and ship it for the lowest price.

People also get pissed off about movie ticket prices. The movie industry has made the same mistakes as the music industry and is now paying for it. Movies tend toward sucking. Out of the host of films to be released in any given year most of them will suck horribly, a few will suck less than others. Occasionally a movie that doesn't suck will be released. Now more than ever people are seeing fewer of the sucky movies. It is trivial to pull up your film review site of choice and decide which movie to go see using the interweb. You can also fire off an e-mail or instant message to your friend asking if they've seen the movie and if it's worth your money. Before internet access was widespread there was either Siskel & Ebert's movie review or the local paper's movie reviewer of the week. There were simply far fewer chances for you to get a message in big flashing letters, "This movie sucks ass!".

Your whining about stealing is a pretty lame. You are the one who decided to sign a hideously unbalanced and unfair contract with a record label. The only thing your record company has done for you is increase the usable volume of your colon. You've been had by a loan shark. I really hope you'd have figured that out by now. Besides you talk about people downloading music as if they were going to be a paying customer in the first place. There's two types of file sharing people. Those who will probably buy the album they downloaded and the people who would have never bought it. My friend has a a lot of music he's downloaded off Napster/KaZaa/Morpheus. Had those services not existed he wouldn't have thought twice about buying the record. You're losing exactly zero dollars by him downloading your record. The benefit to you however is I've bought several records he has MP3 versions of. I liked the music and wanted to make a higher quality encoding to put on my iPod. By him exposing me to your music you made money. If you bitch only about him downloading it without realizing that exposes a number of his friends to your music it's no wonder you're in such a crappy deal with a record company.

[ Parent ]

you, me, and a few others (none / 0) (#41)
by werner on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 04:11:26 PM EST

have been properly trolled. read the rest of the thread. this guy's good.

[ Parent ]
IHBT n/t (none / 0) (#43)
by Graymalkin on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 05:52:34 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Let alone comics (none / 0) (#87)
by Belgand on Thu Sep 11, 2003 at 02:08:28 AM EST

Ever looked at the price of comics these days? $2.25-$3.50... for 22 pages of story, with ads (about 6 or so) not to mention ads for other products by the same company. Role-playing products are about the same $15 for a soft-bound sourcebook with about 100 pages of material.

[ Parent ]
Well. (none / 0) (#56)
by Eivind on Tue Sep 09, 2003 at 04:20:43 AM EST

It's a tricky issue. Part of the problem is that for many of us, the hate for RIAA is now atleast as big, if not bigger, than the love of the artist.

Sure, ethically you'd then just stop listening to music, or tape it of radio, or borrow the cd from the library and make a copy, all of which are perfectly legal atleast in Norway where I'm from.

Thing is, none of these would give the artist any more money, and it's more of a hassle.

[ Parent ]

How to teach stores w/ no-return policies a lesson (5.00 / 1) (#52)
by pin0cchio on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 11:13:18 PM EST

shops DO NOT take unwrapped cd's back.

Say it's defective. If the store replaces it with another corrupt disc, do the same. Continue until you've depleted the store's inventory of that title.


lj65
[ Parent ]
Another way (none / 0) (#54)
by Josh A on Tue Sep 09, 2003 at 01:12:54 AM EST

Use your credit or debit card to make the purchase.

If they won't take it back, threaten to dispute the charges AND keep the CD.

If they still won't, dispute the charges. You will win. Sell the CD on eBay or something.

---
Thank God for Canada, if only because they annoy the Republicans so much. – Blarney


[ Parent ]
If you don't want it to be heard... (none / 0) (#51)
by moonpolysoft on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 10:37:34 PM EST

then don't play it.

A large part of the marketing strategy for music is tying a persons identity with their preferred musical tastes. So don't be surprised when people find no wrong with claiming parts of their perceived identity.



[ Parent ]
liar. (none / 0) (#68)
by Wah on Tue Sep 09, 2003 at 12:52:25 PM EST

liar.

pants on fire.
--
kewpie
[ Parent ]

Prolly a troll, but there is a nice point here. (none / 0) (#80)
by Skid on Wed Sep 10, 2003 at 10:16:43 PM EST

You see, you seem to be falsely assuming people would buy those CDs before the price cut.

The choice isn't between people paying $20 (or whatever) a CD and $14. It's a choice between $14 or me giving you the finger and not purchasing your music at all.

Well, maybe not the finger bit.
"The problem is, there's no shit... people shit, animal shit. You ought to spray everyone with shit as they walk in." - Hob Gadling, The Sandman
[ Parent ]

CD pricing (none / 0) (#94)
by peter318200 on Sun Feb 06, 2005 at 06:31:21 PM EST

mate if i thought for a minute you and not some cocaine sniffing f***wit in an armani suit would get the money id be all for it but was close enough here in australia to a record company(mushroom)to know the complete indifference to anything except money these people exhibit and at one time mushroom were the good guys! this is 10+ years ago on the whole these people despise evrtything about the record buying public except their money. Why do you owe them money? they were paid to produce a result for you sales,and they have failed to deliver. cut them loose and find a new way most people dont mind paying for music its the useless infrastructure they would like to ditch. buy a buggy whip anyone?

[ Parent ]
Well, (4.62 / 8) (#9)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 07:54:13 AM EST

I'd still argue that if the CD business was booming, Universal wouldn't care less about file sharing. Sure, they *blame* file-sharing for the loss of revenue, but it's still not clear to me that that's the real cause.

Couple of points:

  1. The major purchasers of music are the 18-24 year old crowd. This segment of the population is shrinking across the developed world.
  2. The guys funding $100/ticket Rolling Stones concerts (the boomers) have every record they'll ever want. Other than buying replacement copies of "Abby Road", the largest marketing segment in the US is done buying music.
  3. Personally, the pricing had just become intolerable. I never download music. In my purchasing habits, I'm a bit unusual in that my 5 younger brothers and sisters kept introducing me to newer bands. This meant that I kept buying music right thru the 90's - but the prices are so high that it really, really had to be something special for me to buy a CD in the 21st century...

--
Listen children, to a story, 'bout a web site, long ago..
Of the stories in the sub-q and the ugly trolls below...


Well.. (none / 0) (#20)
by kableh on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 10:24:25 AM EST

Profits were at a record high in Napster's heyday, and the economy was still looking good, and the record industry was pretty damn pissed. Granted, it was nothing compared to their latest lawsuit-fest, but they certainly didn't have anything to complain about.

I agree about pricing, but it remains to be seen if this will affect my CD buying at all. Most of the "media" I buy these days is video games or DVDs, and Netflix has seriously reduced my DVD purchasing. As for music, downloading bootlegged dance music mixsets keeps me in so much new (vaguely not-illegal) music I don't know when I'll buy a CD again...

[ Parent ]
couple things (5.00 / 3) (#21)
by SocratesGhost on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 10:31:29 AM EST

I once read a couple of report that had surprising bits of information.

1) the largest CD buying audience is not 18-24 year olds. It's 35-45 year olds. Can't find the reference, naturally, but they cited that the decline in sales was heaviest in this demographic because of all of the teeny-bopper pap and the music industry's desire to gain the loyalty of the youth markets (to make them loyal when they get older) at the expense of the established markets. Also, youth markets generate more publicity; Yanni and Kenny G just don't draw headlines, and this doesn't even talk about the popularity of country music. Also, older generations have record and tape collections to replace. I know this is true for me, I buy more music now in my 30's with my greater disposable income than I did in my college years, but no, I'm not going to replace my vinyl Terrence Trent Darby. His time came and went.

2) The decline in sales for CD's presages a rise in online music sales. Consequently, the CD is going the way of the 8 track tape. Universal's price adjustment is a reaction to this Forrester Research report. The threat to CD's isn't file trading since even file trading will succumb to legit online distribution channels.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
Is 30% enough? (3.00 / 4) (#14)
by latestringtones2003 on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 09:33:35 AM EST

I know it's a start, but is it enough? (rhetorical question)

i think the main (none / 0) (#28)
by werner on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 12:18:39 PM EST

thing for universal is to steal a march on other music labels by choosing this price. of course, $10 is kinda a magical number. $9.95 would be better. course, it's still a rip off, but cheaper than buying from apple online (99c a track, i think) if you really want the whole cd, and you get a nice case, too.

[ Parent ]
Price means very little.. (3.00 / 3) (#22)
by McMasters on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 10:58:17 AM EST

..all over the world, CDs go for the equivalent of 30$US a pop. Of course, the artist gets 16$ of that, so everyone is happy.

Instead of cutting prices by 30%, why not announce that you are giving your artists an additional 30% of the CD's cost?

What world do you live on? (3.00 / 2) (#24)
by tkatchev on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 11:33:57 AM EST

On the planet Earth, most people buy CD's for around $1-$3 dollars per disk.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

Egretious extortion. (2.00 / 3) (#48)
by valeko on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 07:33:05 PM EST

$1 is about tops.

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Well, (none / 0) (#57)
by tkatchev on Tue Sep 09, 2003 at 05:08:28 AM EST

I cut back some slack for currency fluctuations and local surcharges. (Graft, kickbacks, marketing and distribution margins, etc.)

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

not what i heard (none / 0) (#27)
by werner on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 12:16:06 PM EST

where's ya proof that artists get so much? i was under the impression that they get far, far less than that.

[ Parent ]
Can I have a hit off that doobie? (none / 0) (#34)
by ObviousTroll on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 01:27:01 PM EST

You must be smoking some serious shit, my man.

Like I really believe the Iraqi store owner who was stamping out CDs in front of the NPR reporter was really going to send 50% back to the original artist...


Somewhere in America / There's a street named after my dad / And the home we never had.


[ Parent ]
Well, no. (5.00 / 2) (#59)
by tkatchev on Tue Sep 09, 2003 at 05:23:13 AM EST

AFAIK the pirates usually operate under a fixed-price scheme where they just pay the author a lump sum for exclusive rights.


   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

Why I haven't been buying CDs (4.33 / 3) (#23)
by antizeus on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 11:04:54 AM EST

I haven't been buying CDs because I haven't become aware of CDs that I want to buy. Except for the occasional premium that I get for a donation to a non-commercial radio station. The commercial radio stations aren't of any help -- even when I do listen to them, it's all crap or else stuff I've already heard a million times.
-- $SIGNATURE
That's just it (5.00 / 4) (#29)
by IHCOYC on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 12:42:13 PM EST

Unless you live in an area with access to a college radio station or some similar non-commercial station with a varied playlist you find attractive, you just aren't going to hear much interesting new music. Your only opportunities are downloading or having someone introduce it to you in person.

The sclerotic, tightly controlled playlists of commercial radio, and the relentless, rigid formatting are Sony/Universal's main problem. I haven't heard a pop song that made me think "I must get that record" since Hurt as performed by Johnny Cash. People aren't going to buy records unless they hear the music first. Music that fits the formats to a T is music made by committee, and it's unlikely to set anybody's pants on fire. Music that breaks the formats is likelier to make someone's ears perk up, but nobody is ever going to hear it.
 --
Quod sequitur, sicut serica lucis albissima tingere rogant;
Quod sequitur, totum devorabit.

[ Parent ]

You're right. (none / 0) (#40)
by ethereal on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 04:04:33 PM EST

My pants are on fire, but I doubt it was the RIAA.

--

Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

College? Good luck. (none / 0) (#84)
by Belgand on Thu Sep 11, 2003 at 01:48:21 AM EST

Heh... I live in a college town (Manhattan, KS a terrible place to live) and the local college station is horrible. Definitely not a way to be introduced to new music. Probably because they bill themselves as an alternative station (the entire evening segment is devoted to rap, actual interesting shows covering local music or such are hidden around 1am or so) and train their staff for a job at ClearChannel made up of playing bland pablum, doing what they're told, and learning to erase any possible personality they might have (the campus paper is the same way... it's grooming your future USA Today writers).

Perhaps this is an isolated incident (another nearish college has an excellent radio station, but they also have a local music scene and I rather enjoy the station at Swarthmore where a friend has a show) but I'm afraid that colleges are functioning more as a technical academy to train people to do what they'll be expected to do in the future, rather than training them how they should be doing it.

[ Parent ]

Good start, but not enough yet (3.00 / 4) (#33)
by kphrak on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 01:15:23 PM EST

At first glance I thought, "Wow, 30% is quite a bit", but then I actually did the math. Given the $20 average CD price in the US right now, 30% would be $6. So the final price would be $14, which brings it back to the level of about 7 or 8 years ago, when tapes still shared shelf-space with CDs. Not bad. If I recall, the industry was swearing that these would become as cheap as tapes, but since tapes were selling at $10, they have a ways to go. And before you ask, I do mind paying that extra $4 to the record company.

After it gets as cheap as a tape currently costs (which still gives the record company a profit of approximately 400% at the minimum), then we can talk about the next change they'll have to make before I buy their album. They have to put out something worthwhile. If they're only concerned with getting the teenage demographic, they can keep manufacturing pop singers, rap-metal bands, and angst-ridden folk rockers (let's face it, the Goo Goo Dolls don't sound quite like they used to). But if they want me to buy a new CD, they'll have to put out something with a melody, sung by someone who can carry a tune and has a decent voice. Something that was not composed and played using a computer, and preferably a song that does not require a gyrating, nearly-nude body to make up for its shortcomings. Right now they have a few good artists, but far, far too few -- and the worst ones seem to get the most airtime.

I don't care much about the band or whether they've sold out or not. I care about music, I like a good melody, and I keep a fairly high standard (**hiding my Stryper CDs behind my back**). The criteria above are mine; others may like the message or politics of the song, or the rhythm more than the melody, or whether the artist gets paid more than a few cents per album, and the record companies will need to deal with that -- supply and demand, folks. But they've alienated their customers, most of whom don't buy music just because it's cool anymore. They need to reevaluate their priorities and try to figure out who's willing to pay for music, how much they'd pay, and why.

If they accomplish this, they just might have themselves a growing business again.


Describe yourself in your sig!
American computer programmer, living in Portland, OR.


Get Thee to a Best Buy (5.00 / 2) (#36)
by dcheesi on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 02:47:16 PM EST

Given the $20 average CD price in the US right now, 30% would be $6.

Whoa, where have you been buying from!? Not even Sam Goody charges those kind of prices around here. It's usually ~$16-18 at the mall stores, $14-16 at "real" record stores, and $11-13 for discount megalo-mart chains.

Is there some kind of regional price differential that I'm not aware of? Or is this just a bit of hyperbole?

[ Parent ]

don't forget Uncle Sam (none / 0) (#67)
by Wah on Tue Sep 09, 2003 at 12:23:15 PM EST

or whoever gets the taxes in other countries.

$18 x 1.0825 = $19.49

So $20 is a somewhat accurate rounder, although as you mentioned, it is the high end.  Or was, as the case may be.

--
kewpie
[ Parent ]

shameless band plug (none / 0) (#42)
by sykmind on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 05:23:27 PM EST

check out a band called Coheed and Cambria. the name of the band comes from a graphic novel the lead singer is writing. all the songs are developments in his story. its a worthwhile investment.

[ Parent ]
techno? (1.00 / 1) (#50)
by pin0cchio on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 10:32:50 PM EST

Something that was not composed and played using a computer

Do you hate all techno?


lj65
[ Parent ]
techno? (none / 0) (#86)
by Belgand on Thu Sep 11, 2003 at 02:03:08 AM EST

No. Just 99.8% of it.

I think the author intended this to mean that he wants music you know... something played by humans with instruments. Not the latest ProTools composition shat out onto a chunk of plastic with someone whining on top of it and calling it music when it's little more than an excuse to cash in on some passing fad. Not techno. Techno sucks for other reasons ;)

[ Parent ]

Inflation? (5.00 / 1) (#70)
by Lagged2Death on Tue Sep 09, 2003 at 01:22:13 PM EST

So the final price would be $14, which brings it back to the level of about 7 or 8 years ago, when tapes still shared shelf-space with CDs. Not bad. If I recall, the industry was swearing that these would become as cheap as tapes, but since tapes were selling at $10, they have a ways to go.

Not to leap to the defense of poor helpless Universial Music, but inflation surely plays a role.

Assuming 2% average inflation for 15 years, a CD that sold for $14 in 1988 would now be (1.02 ^ 15) * $14 = $18.84, about what a lot of CDs do sell for.

Even if inflation averaged just 1%, you'd still expect a 16% price increase, and the $14 CD would now be $16.25.

Of course, I'm just making these numbers up for illustration; I've no idea what the average rate of inflation has been for the last 15 years. I'm guessing that, if we really do see $14 average retail prices, that will mark a historic low, at least in constant dollars.



Starfish automatically creates colorful abstract art for your PC desktop!
[ Parent ]
Earnings... (5.00 / 1) (#85)
by Belgand on Thu Sep 11, 2003 at 01:59:39 AM EST

I'm a college student (and incidentally in the largest demographic for music) which means that I'm poor as hell. Ok, I'm not living in abject poverty, but I sure as hell don't have very much disposable income. As a result of being a full-time student (incidentally a hard science major so I put in a pretty good ammount of time in original research as well) I don't have much time to hold down a job in. Thus despite "inflation" my income stays pretty close to "fuck-all" as it was 5, 10, 15, or 20 years ago. Even if I did have a job I'm not likely to be making much more than I would have 5 years ago when I was in high school.

Maybe it's just me, but goods and services seem to keep getting a lot more expensive while I just seem to continue getting poorer. Don't know about the rest of the world but unless income is advancing at the same rate as inflation it's a pretty shitty explanation.

[ Parent ]

I'm still not going to replace my old tapes (5.00 / 1) (#35)
by hatshepsut on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 02:02:17 PM EST

At this kind of price, I might consider buying anything new that strikes my fancy.

I still feel perfectly justified downloading songs that I purchased on tapes years ago. I paid for it already, fair use and all that (I live in Canada - we pay a premium for "storage devices" including blank tapes, recordable CDs and hard drives, supposedly to cover the lost revenues from copying music for personal use).

You don't feel ripped off? (4.00 / 1) (#64)
by Golden Hawk on Tue Sep 09, 2003 at 10:38:07 AM EST

I paid for it already, fair use and all that (I live in Canada - we pay a premium ... to cover the lost revenues from copying music for personal use)

So you paid for the same song twice?
-- Daniel Benoy
[ Parent ]

Slightly Off-Topic: Downloadable Video (5.00 / 4) (#37)
by ewhac on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 02:49:10 PM EST

I have a young friend who is into anime, and is developing an affinity for a show called Tokyo Mew-Mew. Problem: Tokyo Mew-Mew hasn't been released in the US yet. Her mom found a copy of an episode on WinMX, but couldn't get it to play back, and enlisted my help (which explains my involvement).

I downloaded the DivX codec and player (WMP sucks), and played the 180MB file. Now, I have some familiarity with video codecs. I can easily see MPEG and DCT block artifacts on our digital cable service, for which we pay a usurious sum. As such, I was convinced this downloaded file was going to look like $#!+ -- a bad, blocky, color-drifting, low-res dub from a wobbly VHS off-air recording. I was startled to see a full-res, full frame rate, sharp, stable image. Moreover, it had well-done English subtitles, complete with cultural commentary.

It shook my worldview a bit. As a computing professional of over 20 years, I'm convinced that copying is a natural property of computers that cannot, and should not, be suppressed and people will just have to live with it -- and the way you live with it is by building a reputation as doing a better job than the "free" alternatives available, or by providing additional goodies/services that the "free" sources can't provide. But if the "free" stuff has this level of quality -- quality that exceeds my ridiculously-priced cable service -- then I can begin to see why large publishers are at a loss for ideas on what to do. (For example, animators can't exactly do live tours.)

BTW, when a sanctioned DVD of Tokyo Mew-Mew with English subtitles is available in the US, I'll buy her a copy.

Schwab
---
Editor, A1-AAA AmeriCaptions. Priest, Internet Oracle.

Well, here in the rest of the world... (5.00 / 1) (#58)
by tkatchev on Tue Sep 09, 2003 at 05:20:56 AM EST

...bandwidth is typically much more expensive than production costs for "hard" media like disks and tapes.

The fact that this situation is reversed in the U.S. is simply an abomination caused by the retardedness of the media conglomerates.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

Not unusual (5.00 / 1) (#61)
by cpt kangarooski on Tue Sep 09, 2003 at 09:45:21 AM EST

Back in the old days, there was a pretty strong community of fansubbers who would acquire copies of videos from Japan (preferably on LD), translate and subtitle it (often with cultural notes), and distribute it at cost on VHS by mail.

Now that computers are good enough to play back video well, and people have fast enough connections and enough storage space to share them with each other over the net, the transition of fansubbers to the net was a no brainer.

Honestly, a LOT of subs are as you describe. When they aren't, I find it's often due to difficulties getting the source material in a high quality form to rip from. Not everything was ever released on LD or DVD, unfortunately.

Of course, there are some bad translators out there, and there's not enough editing of the subs (which often exhibit poor grammar, spelling, or could've been translated better). But on the whole it's a pretty good scene.

And if there's ever a licensed copy of Ebichu the Housekeeping Hamster in the states, I'll be pretty damn impressed.


--
All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]

It's Sanctioned! (5.00 / 1) (#72)
by ewhac on Tue Sep 09, 2003 at 02:06:49 PM EST

Since writing the parent post, I've since discovered that, at least in the case of Tokyo Mew-Mew, the transcoding and subtitling are done with the original studio's permission (or, at least, their knowledge and tacit approval). The idea, apparently, is to generate interest in these shows outside Japan, so there will be a ready market if/when the DVD shows up.

Apparently, this sort of relationship between anime studios and foreign fan clubs is not uncommon. Would that domestic media companies had half as much foresight.

Schwab
---
Editor, A1-AAA AmeriCaptions. Priest, Internet Oracle.
[ Parent ]

Why the music industry is really screwed... (4.25 / 4) (#39)
by wvenable on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 04:04:04 PM EST

I have a 6 year old daughter and she really enjoys quite a range of popular music (rock, pop, R&B, hiphop, even some country).  She has never  listened to "kids" music (probably because her parents were 19 when she was born).

BUT...  my daughter has never heard a store bought CD in her entire life.  All the music she has ever heard has come from the radio or MP3.  And she's not alone.  Pretty soon there will be an entire generation of kids who've never bought a CD!

That's a problem that simple price cuts aren't going to solve.


Rather isolated (none / 0) (#81)
by Belgand on Thu Sep 11, 2003 at 01:35:00 AM EST

This seems like a very small segment of the population. I really doubt that there are a number of children growing up with parents that listen to mp3s exclusively. I would further guess that the majority of people who download a significant number of mp3s are not parents or at an age where they give up and squirt one out.

A comparative situation would be children whose parents never really listened to much music. While this certainly depends on your parents it seems to be pretty common to me. Just because the only time your parents listen to music is on the radio in the car does not mean that those children do not go out and buy cds.

[ Parent ]

good start, fast deviation, marketspeak only (5.00 / 1) (#44)
by chimera on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 05:53:49 PM EST

the Universal Music price cut is NOT to be effected in Sweden "or other parts of the world". This according to Mårten Aglander, head of Universal Music Sweden. (source, swedish only: http://www.dn.se/DNet/jsp/polopoly.jsp?d=1058&a=178527  )
the relevant quote from source article goes as follows (my translation):
"There is no immediate plan to lower prices of CDs in Sweden or other parts of the world. This is a huge and bold step taken in the US as part of a test  to see if we in this way can lower the gap illegal downloading from the Internet [has on us], and thereby to heighten the experienced value of the CD in the eyes of the consumer."

continued quote (my translation):
"We are today already releasing CDs of well-established artists in a lower pricing range, and are actively working with the pricing of our whole catalog. We notice there is a trend among consumers to be sensitive to pricing. Lowering prices is only one of many measures taken to get our customers back. We are also working actively to find solutions for a legal distribution [of music] on the Internet"

It seems that this statement runs just about counterwise to the statements of Universal music US in terms of pricing on CDS. Or... it doesn't but is sufficiently deviated to either signal an absolutely clueless swedish boss or the regular market fluff speak targeted at calming the US consumers while yet again ignoring other markets.  Quite similar to the previous decision by the US FTC on price fixing among the Big Record Co's that had a public refund, it too was only valid for the States and ignored the fact that CD prices (atleast in Western Europe) has mimicked pricing  in the US (with the notable addon that sales prices are even higher) to the extent that they are carbon copies, and not at all following inflation or wage hikes on the local markets as should be the case in a functioning market according to y'all Greenspan chum theories.

So the basic of this comment is, sure nice price cut. But I won't see it as I don't live in the US.   Fuck US. Fuck record companies. Bring on the file sharers! It is about time we get to really work that fatcat ass.

You didn't get the refund... (none / 0) (#79)
by mold on Wed Sep 10, 2003 at 09:16:18 PM EST

Because the US isn't in charge of your country. As far as I know, that sort of price-fixing might be legal there.

Don't get pissed that the US isn't trying to run your country (Isn't that the opposite of what most people complain about the US over?). Get pissed that your country didn't get involved over the price-fixing.

---
Beware of peanuts! There's a 0.00001% peanut fatality rate in the USA alone! You could be next!
[ Parent ]

No I didnt get the refund... (none / 0) (#92)
by chimera on Fri Sep 12, 2003 at 12:35:55 AM EST

... but it would have been impossible.
See, the prices of most CDs here doesnt reflect prices on products produced within the EU to where I belong. Most CDs on sale are solely based on the Big5's american operations. It's not like Eminem becamse a Dane just because his stuff got popular there too. He is an American just as Cher or most other of top 40 artists around the world.
Nowadays a lot of CDs on sale are not even manufactured in the EU, but are pressed in the US and simply shipped over.
So it is import, and import, and import.
There is noone here that can even take the blame for hiking the base prise of a CD. It's all decided in Tallahooka, Kentucky or wherever.

and then, it hasn't been legal in my country until last year to perform mass-suits in the way that consumer organisations of US has done. The same goes for many EU countries.

CDs isn't the only thing that has price-hiked tremendously point by point with it's american sibling/copy. The same trend can be spotted in movie ticket pricings and concert ticket pricing (does doubled prices in two years ring a bell?), computer games, shoes, take a pick. Plenty of products that are truly global and huge on sales and dependent on a few select companies in the US for IP rights or marketing financing does not follow the local flow of economy any longer, even if the content of the product itself is locally produced and targetted locally. Particularly sensitive products are those that have global sales but a high dependance on the american market for profit.

but basically yeah, record companies refunded you with my money which they stole from me when they also stole money from you, and now they are playing the trumpet that they are lowering prices for their product when they are in fact lowering their prices on their product only for you because they know they will get away with selling you and your little shitty market at a lower profit and still reap the base of their income on markets such as mine by continuing stealing from me and my fellow non-americans. it makes about one blip in their twelve percent profit curve while a systemwide pricecrack would make them look an awfully  lot like onepointfivepercent profit dairy waste companies which just plain is about as bad as corpulating with your own craphole if you are an american pin stripe suit that got an mba at harvard with the president for christsakes. it's not like you can ever go to aspen or the golf course when other people know that you sold out profit for credibility and did not follow the number one rule of consumer business which is

SCREW YOU! ALL YOUR MONEY ARE BELONG TO ME!

[ Parent ]

So? New music sucks (3.00 / 4) (#45)
by Big Sexxy Joe on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 06:04:33 PM EST

It is a sign of the times when the White Stripes, which make merely respectable music are heralded as the new Beatles.

I'm like Jesus, only better.
Democracy Now! - your daily, uncensored, corporate-free grassroots news hour
close... (5.00 / 2) (#69)
by suntzu on Tue Sep 09, 2003 at 01:17:23 PM EST

new popular music mostly sucks.

there's plenty of good stuff in electronic, hip-hop, and rock. most of it's more "underground" or "indie," or whatever you want to call that sort of thing, but it's there if you look a little.

[ Parent ]

computers and copying can be a good thing (5.00 / 1) (#46)
by pheta on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 07:09:56 PM EST

It is a shame that the music industry is backing themselves into a corner instead of embracing this new technology as a way to make more money (that is the bottom line). I guarantee that the first label to come out with a slick online distrobution system with a good choice of music will make money hand over fist. It is a shame that Richard Branson is no longer the head behind Virgin Music, otherwise they would be a great candidate.
If a label created a webpage with a slick interface and made it easy to:
  • Find music you want
  • Find music you MAY want
  • purchase said music
they would find more customers than they would know what to do with (hah, yah right business people always find a way). Think about it... when you want a song, you dont want to order it and wait a few days for it to come in. You dont want to get off your ass and drive to the store... you want it now. If they made it easy (and priced it well) people would buy a lot more music than they do now.

The labels are definitly worried about piracy. But all they have to do is throw a little money into R&D costs to find a solution that allows them to distrobute eletronic copies of their music in such a way that their piracy rate drops to acceptable levels. Dropping this money into R&D now will pay off big time in the long term. Think about the slick web based system mentioned above... Now picture this:

1) User finds 5 songs they want to purchase from said system, and the system prepares them for downloading
2) Selected songs are watermarked with enough information to identify who paid for the song. The user becomes responsible for that song. 3) User enjoys the music on their home computer... yay!!

Sure a user could distrobute the song and claim that it was stolen from their computer or something silly like that. But atleast the copy out in the wild would be marked with identifying information. It wouldnt be very hard to identify users who 'lost' their copies often.

Sure a user could capture the raw audio as it goes to their sound card and 'scrub' it so the watermark is no longer present... but with clever enough watermarking techniques the amount of people doing this successfully would be small enough to be acceptable to the labels (remember, they higher really smart bean counters to figure this out).

Maybe I am too optimistic, but I think if they made the system slick enough so that it was an enjoyable experience to find new music, pay for it, and listen to it as the music lover sees fit people would rather pay for the music than spend a few hours looking for all the songs on a p2p network.

Such a system can be created already today. There are plenty of smart people out there that could implement this and make it successful. The record labels just need to realize that they can use this technology to their advantage. They get so many benifits from such a model:

  • dirt simple distrobution
  • cheap distrobution
  • free promotion! they can promote their artists through their own system
What I find odd is that if it were feasible to do a similar thing with movies, companies like BlockBuster or Hollywood would be all over this!

The watermarking. (none / 0) (#47)
by valeko on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 07:29:19 PM EST

I think this system is a nice idea, but I wouldn't want anything to do with it if it incorporated your watermarking system without some serious qualifications. I don't need my freedom to play my music on a certain medium restricted. When I buy a CD, at least I can play it in any CD player, including (for the most part) my computer's CD reader. Imagine if you had a 'watermarking' scheme that only allowed the disc to be played in your home stereo. Would you want it? I wouldn't.

The other problem is that this would just reinforce a tragic corporate niche. Monopolists like Microsoft would cash in on the ability to expand and truly realise their phallic dream of a Palladium-like "digital rights management" universe. I don't think I'd be able to play these watermarked/purchased files in an "orthodox" way on my Linux workstation, somehow. There's just too much specific, proprietary technology involved that does nothing but curtail my ability to enjoy music.

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

mp3's can be watermarked, too (none / 0) (#49)
by pheta on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 07:48:36 PM EST

In fact... a good watermark algorithm will survive format conversions. So if you were to say burn a cd the watermark would follow.

[ Parent ]
Really. (2.00 / 3) (#76)
by valeko on Tue Sep 09, 2003 at 10:06:46 PM EST

I'm sure someone clever enough to deal with psychoacoustic models can pick up the checksumming algorithm. Perhaps it can be done by capturing the raw audio output, encoding it sans watermark, performing some kind of reduction on both which would compensate for the bulk of the differences between analogue output and digital ripping, and then detect data anamalous to a certain model. It'd be time-consuming and exhaustive, but since the algorithm is consistent, once it's found, it's found.

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

the goal isnt to make it infallible... (none / 0) (#78)
by pheta on Wed Sep 10, 2003 at 04:40:32 PM EST

The goal is to make the entire experience so good that cracking the watermark scheme wont have a significant impact on business.

Say some really bright kid studies his watermarked collection of music and finds a way to easily remove the watermark... This would enable some release group to download songs from the label's service (and pay for these songs), remove the watermark, and release them on irc, kazaa, emule, dc, yada yada yada. This really isnt such a big deal, the songs are already out there on these file trading programs! The question still comes back to is the service worth using or is it better to spend 5 hours on kazaa looking for the song you want at a good quality yada yada yada.

But also keep in mind there are many methods that can be used to watermark an audio recording. And there is no reason why they couldnt use 1000 different methods... each song and each downloading of the same song can be watermarked differently. I am not a cryptologist by any means, but there are plenty of smart people out there that are and can come up with some really clever things to do. If you knew that the songs you downloaded were encoded with your information, how much care would you take before willingly sharing your music to strangers on the internet?

[ Parent ]

Watermarks for ID, not restriction (none / 0) (#66)
by dcheesi on Tue Sep 09, 2003 at 11:40:37 AM EST

I think the poster's idea was to use watermarks for identification rather than use restriction. Basically, you let the pruchaser do whatever s/he wants with the recording, but if it turns up on 'net in a million places, you know who to go after. As the poster pointed out, you'd probably have to show a persistent pattern of illegal redistribution to eliminate "oops, I lost it/ had it stolen" defenses.

[ Parent ]
Well, that's not good either. (2.50 / 2) (#75)
by valeko on Tue Sep 09, 2003 at 10:04:39 PM EST

I don't need this blame-game infrastructure. Computers are great precisely for their uncanny ability to copy data that they store. That shouldn't be interfered with.

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

check out rhapsody (none / 0) (#53)
by sykmind on Tue Sep 09, 2003 at 12:17:57 AM EST

This is a new online service where you pay $10 a month for free streaming music, $0.79 (don't know where the cent key is) for a download. It offers individual tracks as well as a number of radio stations that play mainstream as well as "underground" music. This is the best internet service I have seen so far.

[ Parent ]
Alas (none / 0) (#63)
by Golden Hawk on Tue Sep 09, 2003 at 10:29:25 AM EST

The record companies aren't interested in legitimate business.  The internet threatens almost all of their many strangleholds on the music industry.

Essentially, they wouldn't be able to control distribution anymore.  This means two things.

1) They wouldn't be able to price-fix insane costing music anymore.  In order to defeat underground copying, the prices would have to be appealing.  Something the recording industry isn't at all interested in (at least, not until iTunes).  $10 for maybe one or two songs you like is NOT appealing, no matter what Universal thinks.

2) instead of building up bands into cash cows, the bands would have to survive on their merits alone, and their monopoly of superbands would be opened up to independant competition.  No longer would "Getting a record deal" be the defining point in an artists career, and the recording industry has an interest in maintaining that current system so that they can put anthing they want into those contracts, even ruin and suck dry the new band when independance is not an option.

The RIAA is, as the post says, fully capable of starting a lucrative legitimate business from this great oppurtunity.  But their illegitimate business is far more lucrative.
-- Daniel Benoy
[ Parent ]

they still control distrobution, and then some (none / 0) (#73)
by pheta on Tue Sep 09, 2003 at 03:40:19 PM EST

Just because they develop a new method of distrobution, doesnt give them any less control of the bands. It just provides them with a huge source of revenue. It could easily be a lot better than what they are making now. A lot of people would continue to buy cds because they want the physical media, a lot of people will switch to downloading it online. Either way the label wins.

In response to controlling the bands through contracts. This could still be easily done. All they do is put something in their contract saying the band must use their internet service to distrobute their music and they have the bands exactly where they want them. You forget that the RIAA and friends have many many many many many very smart lawyers and sharp business men working for them. They could make this work.

In response to your point about having to price it below a certain amount so that people just wont pirate it... you do have a point, however I don't think that point is so low as you would think. I have a little theory, let me know if you agree... "If you make it easy for people to spend their money on something they want, they will." It is all about convience. I dont want to spend several hours a week cruising kazaa for songs that fit my taste. I dont want to wait 30 minutes for a download and finds its shitty quality or not the song I wanted. If I could search through this service and find the exact songs I want at a good quality, and spend a fraction of the time doing it I would gladly shell out money for it. In addition to that, it would be a legit copy and I know that atleast a portion of it will make it to the band. Not to mention this service could provide other features that make it worth using BESIDES making it easy to download and purchase music. It could recomend other bands/songs that you might like based on your previous tastes. It could provide rating systems, chat forums, user feedback to help users find more music they might like to purchase. They could let you stream 30 seconds of a song to see if you like it before you purchase. These little things make it worth my while so that I dont WANT to pirate the music with kazaa.

Heck, paying for this service might even be worth it so I dont have to waste my upload bandwidth on kazaa or dc or emule (I have ADSL with shitty upload, many people do too or have a cable modem that is capped).

I do agree with you though... the record labels DONT want change. But I promise the first one that DOES change and provide a service like the one I described (which is more that feasable NOW) will make a shitload of money. iTunes is a GREAT start. Dont get me wrong, Apple is great... they have been making great products and software lately... but they are just making connections in the music industry. Now imagine of a big record label put together something like this... someone that already has a huge catalog of music to offer... a company that can leverage their relationships in the industry to get other bands to use the service.

What would happen if the service got huge?? What if it became the most popular way of getting music... whatever label that owned it could attract so many bands! There is nothing more lucrative to a label than signing a good band. Someone who consistantly releases albums that sell.

Its all there... why not exploit it????

[ Parent ]

Maybe it's just me... (none / 0) (#82)
by Belgand on Thu Sep 11, 2003 at 01:40:51 AM EST

but I'd much rather have dirt-cheap cds than buy my music online. Buying music online just seems like... a bad thing. I don't have a cd burner and don't really desire one so once I have the track it's hold is rather tenuous. Sure it'll get tossed onto the iPod, but a number of problems could easily destroy all the music I own. CDs just seem more... permanent to me. They have better backwards compatibility and are easily transportable. Not to mention that the medium of delivery is entirely my problem. if for whatever reason I'm using a slow connection I have to sit around forever just to get my music.

If the choice was between $0.50/track online or $7-8 for a cd (about what I pay for used cds, otherwise assume that the physical disc is about a dollar or two more total) I'd definitely go for the real, physical disc even though I'm a dirt-poor college student.

[ Parent ]

So what... (5.00 / 2) (#55)
by the77x42 on Tue Sep 09, 2003 at 03:47:33 AM EST

... I'm still going to buy my vinyl and be a lot more happy with my interactive format (mixing/scratching) than listening to something I can otherwise hear on the radio or download for free.


"We're not here to educate. We're here to point and laugh." - creature
"You have some pretty stupid ideas." - indubitable ‮

Here's a nickel kid (none / 0) (#93)
by kraant on Mon Sep 15, 2003 at 01:03:53 AM EST

Save it and buy a real musical instrument.
--
"kraant, open source guru" -- tumeric
Never In Our Names...
[ Parent ]
Only in the US (5.00 / 1) (#60)
by Cameleon on Tue Sep 09, 2003 at 09:37:44 AM EST

Too bad this price cut is only in the US. Where I live (the Netherlands), new CD's still cost about EUR 20, which is slightly more than USD 22. At the biggest record store (ironically named Free Record Shop), you even pay EUR 22 ($ 24,50). It's even cheaper to order the my CD's one at a time at amazon in the US, and have them shipped here, than to go to the store and buy them. I really can't understand that.

I haven't been able to find out if, and if so, when, these price changes will propagate to Europe and the Netherlands. Until then, I will buy my CD's online (amazon UK seems to have really good deals and lower shipping than the US variant) or not at all.

Where is the onus? (3.00 / 4) (#62)
by Golden Hawk on Tue Sep 09, 2003 at 09:48:23 AM EST

For a long time now the argument has gone back and forth between music filesharers and industry advocates as to the rights and wrongs of the use of filesharing services to gain access to copyrighted music.

What is it that places the onus on the infringer to morally justify their behaviour? I would argue that copying thing is a natural human behaviour. Some may agree and say that even so, it's still morally wrong.

The onus, however, is on the proponent of copyrights to make a case against infringement, not the other way around (as in the case of all victimless human behaviour like prostitution or workaholism or religious zealotry).

The copiers don't have to 'justify' their behaviour, and claiming that they do perpetuates the ignorance of the real issues of wether or not the system is flawed.
-- Daniel Benoy

Yes they do (3.50 / 2) (#65)
by zakalwe on Tue Sep 09, 2003 at 11:07:59 AM EST

The onus, however, is on the proponent of copyrights to make a case against infringement.
They've already made their case, back in the 18th century. The basic argument was that copyright would provide a means for artists to earn money, and hence provide an incentive for the creation of such works, benefitting society. The argument was found persuasive, and so we now have laws against copyright. As the ones objecting to the existing status Quo, it is up to the copyright infringers to justify their claims. Under the current rights society grants, copyright violation isn't victimless - it deprives creators of a means of making money.

[ Parent ]
No they don't (none / 0) (#71)
by Golden Hawk on Tue Sep 09, 2003 at 01:24:56 PM EST

As the ones objecting to the existing status Quo, it is up to the copyright infringers to justify their claims.

Like I pointed out, there are those who violate the status quo who aren't expected to justify their actions. My examples were religious zealots, workaholics, and prostitutes. None of which would be asked to justify their actions, rather the reverse occurs, they get scoulded by the proponents of the laws and stigmas against them.

Such is the way it is with other social faux pas and victimless crimes, except for copyright infringers, for whom we expect excuses for us to justify our morality.

copyright violation isn't victimless - it deprives creators of a means of making money.

I don't consider people I deprive of making money my victims. If I fail to give a few bucks to the bum on the street corner, they're not my victim.

Arguments of morality aside, my point is that the wording of the article that we must justify our behaviour when copying implicitly draws a conclusion that copying is an overt act which actively removes money from the pockets of the RIAA.

This simply isn't true. It's a passive act which may or may not have the consequence of costing the RIAA money, depending on wether or not an investment was made with the expectation of a return.


-- Daniel Benoy
[ Parent ]

Any change needs a reason. (5.00 / 1) (#77)
by zakalwe on Wed Sep 10, 2003 at 04:44:39 AM EST

My examples were religious zealots, workaholics, and prostitutes.
Last I checked, there was nothing illegal about being a religious zealot or workaholic, so there is no reason why they need to justify the legality of their actions (Though they might have to justify it in their personal lives) Someone who wants to establish a legal right to workaholism obviously doesn't have to make any kind of justification - they already have it.

If you think prostitution should be legal (assuming it isn't where you are), then you do have to justify that. You are on the side that doesn't have what it wants, and so you have to argue why things should change. I think there are many good points that can be made to justify this, and they have been successfully made in some places. If you want change though, its up to you to give reasons.

I don't consider people I deprive of making money my victims. If I fail to give a few bucks to the bum on the street corner, they're not my victim.
Because there's no law that says you have to. Society sees no real merit in subsidising bums, so hasn't granted them any rights to make money in such a way. On the other hand, society has seen mutual benefit in supporting the notions of physical property, prevention of murder, and intellectual property.

It might be possible for a society to exist with no ownership of private (physical) property, though that would, I expect be bad, because it removes the incentive to create goods if doing so gives you no right of ownership. However, since I don't live in such a society, I'm damn well going to have to justify any moral or legal right I have to walk off with your TV. Under my rules, I'm not causing direct harm, since you have no ownership of that TV just because it was in your house (just as you don't acknowledge the IP rights society grants for 'ownership' of music.)

Arguments of morality aside, my point is that the wording of the article that we must justify our behaviour when copying implicitly draws a conclusion that copying is an overt act which actively removes money from the pockets of the RIAA.
No it doesn't - it merely states that it is against the current mores of society, so any kind of legal or moral point that you want society to acknowledge will have to be argued. Your justification so far is that you are not harming anyone, but under the current framework of society, you are. If you want to establish a right to copy you need to present a very good case to justify why that framework should be changed.

[ Parent ]
They still don't (none / 0) (#83)
by Golden Hawk on Thu Sep 11, 2003 at 01:48:04 AM EST

Last I checked, there was nothing illegal about being a religious zealot or workaholic, so there is no reason why they need to justify the legality of their actions

Who said anything about justifying the legality? It's clearly illegal to copy works protected under copyright. The point is there's nothing illicit about it.

If you think prostitution should be legal (assuming it isn't where you are), then you do have to justify that.

Probably, true. But still my point is morality, a far cry from legality, and I'm not interested in changing the subject.

As for moral justification, no one expects that from them.

Because there's no law that says you have to.

So if I managed to get a law passed that said I have to be felated by all who I gase upon, anyone who failed to do so would be victimizing me? Some laws are just plain ludicrous

No amount of legal power gives someone the god like ability to rewrite the definition of a victim (to suit their own ends.)

It might be possible for a society to exist with no ownership of private (physical) property, though that would, I expect be bad, because it removes the incentive to create goods if doing so gives you no right of ownership. However, since I don't live in such a society, I'm damn well going to have to justify any moral or legal right I have to walk off with your TV. Under my rules, I'm not causing direct harm, since you have no ownership of that TV just because it was in your house (just as you don't acknowledge the IP rights society grants for 'ownership' of music.)

Alright then, I won't involve the people I copy from at all. I won't even associate with them in any way. I respect their right to be left alone, and not have their freedoms eroded and violated.

The feeling is definatly not mutual. They will gladly take my TV from me simply because they feel it is morally justified. That is legal theft, and they must be sourned and held to explain their motivations. Not the infringer.

Really, there is no property involved here at all. That's simply a convienient metaphor that some will put upon their copyrighted works. What's really happening here is control. If I remove a TV, I commit an overt act against someone's TV. If I copy something, the overt act takes place with the person I'm copying from, the origional author is not involved.

No it doesn't - it merely states that it is against the current mores of society, so any kind of legal or moral point that you want society to acknowledge will have to be argued.

Yes it does - The insinuation exists and I don't appreciate it at all. Which is my origional point in posting.

Your justification so far is that you are not harming anyone, but under the current framework of society, you are. If you want to establish a right to copy you need to present a very good case to justify why that framework should be changed.

I don't have to justify my actions (I think I mentioned that several times). I'm the one whose freedom is threatened. The aggressor here is the one that needs to justify their crusade.
-- Daniel Benoy
[ Parent ]

Ok then, (none / 0) (#88)
by zakalwe on Thu Sep 11, 2003 at 08:49:01 AM EST

Probably, true. But still my point is morality, a far cry from legality, and I'm not interested in changing the subject.
The only reason for justifying your actions to anyone, morally or otherwise, is if you want to convince them you are in the right. I was assuming you were talking legally, in which case its society you have to convince to get laws changed. Morally, however you really only have to justify your actions to yourself, unless you want to convince others who believe otherwise. I think most people do believe it is immoral to take anothers work (IP or otherwise) though, so if you want to have the majority of people share your viewpoint you do have to justify it - just as I'm justifying my reasons against it by arguing that you are harming people.

Really, there is no property involved here at all. That's simply a convienient metaphor that some will put upon their copyrighted works. What's really happening here is control. If I remove a TV, I commit an overt act against someone's TV. If I copy something, the overt act takes place with the person I'm copying from, the origional author is not involved.
But the only thing making that TV 'property' is the law, and societys collective agreement of the law - exactly as with IP. If we didn't have legal recognition of property then taking someone's TV would not be an overt act afainst someone, or rather there would be no such thing as "someone's TV" - just "a TV" It can't be an action against you if its not your TV.

When you copy something, you are refusing to obey another legal notion of ownership, though one that differs from "physical ownership" in some ways. I agree that calling it IP is just a convenient metaphor because they are similar in some ways, though different in others. However, that doesn't change the fact that the underlying justification for both IP and physical property are exactly the same - the law

I don't have to justify my actions (I think I mentioned that several times). I'm the one whose freedom is threatened. The aggressor here is the one that needs to justify their crusade.
They aren't threatened - they were already taken away, long before you were born into this society, along with your freedom to commit murder, take other people's property and do drugs. If you want some of those rights back then you have to be the aggressor. Some of those freedoms I think should not be granted (murder and theft), and some I think should (drugs) - in all cases because I think society would be better for such measures. IP falls into the range of things I think do benefit society, for much the same reasons as physical property - I think its a good thing to provide an incentive for creators, because I like things that such creators produce. (I will agree that the rights granted by IP currently go beyond what I think is needed for such incentive, and in some cases (retroactive copyright extension) make a mockery of the whole notion)

[ Parent ]
Re: Ok then, (none / 0) (#89)
by Golden Hawk on Thu Sep 11, 2003 at 10:10:38 AM EST

The only reason for justifying your actions to anyone, morally or otherwise, is if you want to convince them you are in the right.

Ahh precicely :) Now for my origional point once again, the article is making the implication that it needs to be justified, regardless. Most of the time, I have no intention of convincing people of my viewpoints, just in defending myself against their assaults.

But the only thing making that TV 'property' is the law, and societys collective agreement of the law

Sure. If people don't respect that, they don't have to. As long as they leave me alone. Just as I'm leaving the copyright holders alone.

Another important freedom is the freedom of autonomy. People have the right to amass wealth via exchange without the interference of those who don't choose to involve themselves. Without it, we'd be have reliance on the state forced upon us. Thieves violate that freedom. Copyright violaters do not.

The inverse freedom is required though, if someone chooses to join a commune, they should have the right to be free of the conserns of 'property' within that group. A freedom which I think is provided in our society.

They aren't threatened - they were already taken away, long before you were born into this society, along with your freedom to commit murder, take other people's property and do drugs.

Our freedom to persue happyness is paramount. Laws violating the freedom of murderers or hard drug users are designed to *protect* my freedom (and by extention the freedom of the murders and drug users themselves) from the malice of others, not to incroach on the freedoms of the murderer. The same can not be said for copyright, which is designed to limit freedom for the benifit of a select few, or for laws against recriational drugs, which don't cause people to become violent.

Although I may agree that our freedom isn't total, as it should be. Which is why we must be ever vigilant for the moral implications of laws like copyrights.

If you want some of those rights back then you have to be the aggressor.

Passive resistance is a far better approch.

I think its a good thing to provide an incentive for creators, because I like things that such creators produce.

So do I, but some things are more important than pop music and new Simpsons episodes. Plus, many will argue that before commercialization (and in non-commercial applications today) the art humanity created regularly was actually better. Copyright may work in theory (despite being an incroachment on our freedom) but in practice there's a vast amount of historical evidence that rampant copying does not adversely effect the art humanity produces. Plus, there's the argument that current IP rewards are excessive anyway, and even if there was rampant copying, most if not all producers of art will still be able to make a modest living.

Although that's a point of debate, it's not quite as ludacrous as the notion that just because something is a law, we should obey it, regardless of moral considerations.

I will agree that the rights granted by IP currently go beyond what I think is needed for such incentive, and in some cases (retroactive copyright extension) make a mockery of the whole notion

Some IP is good. Trademarks for example are very useful to protect consumer confusion from decietful con artists. Although some applications of it aren't entirely noble. Some use it to quash people's right to speak ill of the trademarked company, or to use the name of the company in comedy or politically unpopular speech.

I think most people do believe it is immoral to take anothers [IP] work

Perhaps you should ask them. You'll be surprised.
-- Daniel Benoy
[ Parent ]

Copying (none / 0) (#90)
by zakalwe on Thu Sep 11, 2003 at 12:23:26 PM EST

Ahh precicely :) Now for my origional point once again, the article is making the implication that it needs to be justified, regardless.
Fair enough. I'll grant that you have no obligation to justify your morality to anyone unless you wish to. I'm not quite sure that the article is implying this (in moral, rather than legal terms) but I'll concede this point.
Sure. If people don't respect that, they don't have to. As long as they leave me alone. Just as I'm leaving the copyright holders alone.
But the point is that someone taking that TV who doesn't respect the law of property is leaving you alone by their lights. If theres no property, that TV has absolutely no connection to you, so they're not infringing your rights in any way. By the limits imposed by IP, you are not "leaving copyright holders alone" by their terms anymore than a "property infringer" is leaving you alone by yours.
Another important freedom is the freedom of autonomy. People have the right to amass wealth via exchange without the interference of those who don't choose to involve themselves.
Where did this right come from? Why is it more important than the "right to amass wealth via exchange of IP" In my opinion, the only reason for imposing restrictions is if it will improve society to do so. Restrictions on killing clearly does so. Property laws do so too (though there are some anarchists who may disagree with this). IMHO, IP laws also fall in this category for the same reasons as property.
but in practice there's a vast amount of historical evidence that rampant copying does not adversely effect the art humanity produces.
Agreed, a limited amount of copying doesn't really cause much harm. It would be a different matter though if copying was as easy for everyone as for the author though (ie. no legal / practical restrictions) since there would then be very little incentive for the creator, since it would give him no advantage.

Although that's a point of debate, it's not quite as ludacrous as the notion that just because something is a law, we should obey it, regardless of moral considerations.
I'm certainly not trying to claim that. Laws should have moral justifications, rather than defining morality. IMHO having a society with enforced IP law benefits nearly everyone in that society more than it harms them, so it is justified to have such a law, and to enforce it. I suppose this isn't quite the same as saying that it is immoral on an individual level to copy files, so I'll deal with that below:
I think most people do believe it is immoral to take anothers [IP] work
Perhaps you should ask them. You'll be surprised.
I find that it very much depends on whether the work in question is their own or someone elses. Personally I think that if someone creates something, whether physical or mental, it is right that they should have the ability to dictate what people can do, and wrong to agree to those terms just to get what you want, and then break them (eg. buy a CD and then distribute it to lots of others, despite the author's wishes)

[ Parent ]
Re: Copying (none / 0) (#91)
by Golden Hawk on Thu Sep 11, 2003 at 04:49:24 PM EST

Where did this right come from? Why is it more important than the "right to amass wealth via exchange of IP"

Like I said, that freedom to make money and be autonomous is respected in our society, and so is the freedom to reject it if someone decides to live in a commune without 'property'

As for the issue of the freedom of restricting people from taking what they don't recognize as 'property, such is a required evil in order to protect our more fundimental freedoms. Basically, without this one, we could die from starvation, or die from squalid conditions, and dead people have no freedoms. Also, less basic freedoms are threatened, like our ability to avoid reliance on others (No one who could easily be blackmailed and lose everything at the hands of the commune is truly free)

None of this applies to copyright. It is not required to protect our lives unless we are so foolish to purposely depend on them for survival (in the case of resources, we have no choice.) And freedom can still thrive in the absence of art, but not in the absence of resources.

Agreed, a limited amount of copying doesn't really cause much harm. It would be a different matter though if copying was as easy for everyone as for the author though (ie. no legal / practical restrictions) since there would then be very little incentive for the creator, since it would give him no advantage.

Really? What insentive did the author of this article have? He even got rejected for poor quality and wrote it again, better. He will never hear a thank-you for the enlightenment he's provided, or from the stirring debates he's inspired. He'll never see a red cent for his repeated efforts. Why don't we ask him if he has any regrets wasting his time?

Just because multi-million dollar massive budget blockbusters will diseappear doesn't mean that art in general will suffer.

However, those who appreciate art which was artifically inspired by money instead of comming from natural vision and talent are in the vast minority.

I'm certainly not trying to claim that. Laws should have moral justifications, rather than defining morality. IMHO having a society with enforced IP law benefits nearly everyone in that society more than it harms them.

Then I apologize for the accusation of the contrary.

I find that it very much depends on whether the work in question is their own or someone elses. Personally I think that if someone creates something, whether physical or mental, it is right that they should have the ability to dictate what people can do, and wrong to agree to those terms just to get what you want, and then break them (eg. buy a CD and then distribute it to lots of others, despite the author's wishes)

That raises an interesting point. Perhaps people who are primarally authors and secondarally consumers won't truly understand what they're putting people through, and may simply feel morally justified to sue people because of a lack of empathy for being in the shoes of the defendant.

Personally, I try to be empathetic as much as possible. I try to do unto others as I would have them do unto me, the Golden rule. I'm a free-sofware writer.

As for 'agreeing to those terms just to jet what you want, and then break them', I totally agree. If someone is bound by honor not to distribute it they should not. It'd be a stretch, but this may apply to copying CDs. However, it does not apply to a second generation copier. They made no such agreement, express or implied.

Although my personal distaste for liars and agreement breakers does not give me the right to sue them or otherwise violate their freedom unless they cost me directly.

Moreover, nothing says that the money will stop if copyright is abolished. I used to think it would too, and that it was worth it for freedom. But I was wrong. Even kuro5hin is managing to sell ads, but the Scoop engine is completely copylefted. Moral considerations aside, the copylefted system seems to work well, it's just a matter of changing our business models to match the changing society.
-- Daniel Benoy
[ Parent ]

broken is still broken no matter how cheap it is.. (5.00 / 1) (#74)
by bigbigbison on Tue Sep 09, 2003 at 07:57:56 PM EST

Remember that Universal is the compay that is going to copy protect all of their cd's.  So no matter how cheap they make their cd's they are still broken so that they will not play in your computer or (i have been told) many car cd players as well.  


Universal Cut CD prices: About time too... | 94 comments (87 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
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