Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Changing Music Model - Codified

BoingBoing is such a handy receptable of copyfight news that it should come as no surprise that I tend to pull from it quite often. Today they've put up a fantastic, heartwarming address from Ian Rogers about the changing music industry, which codifies the way things are changing quite nicely (and reprints all of his slides to boot!):

The gist of this is a shift to a more intimate commercial model - one which offers far more freedom for artists and consumers, as well as offering a space for smaller-scale musicians to eke out a modest living without needing a record label or even complete albums to get started. Naturally, the record companies, who are rapidly finding themselves less and less useful as music becomes more and more consumer-driven, are trying to impose artificial boundaries and ridiculous business models in place to continue to consolidate their power. It's a house of cards that has already fallen, and they don't even know it.

All this as the actual value of music begins to decrease. People are listening to more and more music and have a greater ability to find out what they like and don't like before making a purchase, meaning that an individual album is no longer the investment that it used to be and people have the chance to pay much closer to the actual worth they see in a record. It's the same reason movie theaters offer "overpriced" popcorn and candy. Some people really do enjoy the film enough that a $3.75 Coke isn't that much of an investment. It allows the theater to fill in the cracks while keeping tickets relatively affordable. If movie theaters began searching movie patrons for outside food and drink they'd see an immediate decline in attendance.

The best part of this is that this shift is inevitable. For the first time artists have the freedom to make most of their income from shirt sales or concerts or digital donations or any other number of products they can offer. Fugazi has been doing it successfully for years, only now we have an entire worldwide technology platform dedicated to communication, sharing. Record labels still have their uses, but they're no longer as relevant to the market as they used to be, and no amount of consumer-diddling will alter the fact that things have changed forever, and changed for the better. There's no reason to get frustrated at the RIAA, DRM, labels or music moguls. It's over, their days are numbered. Creative expression and people will win out in the end. The alternative is trillions and trillions of dollars of lawsuits to fight inevitability, like trying to build a dam by pouring jello mix in the Colorado River.

Those are my words. Now read Ian's. And read this while you're at it.

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