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Record Store Owners Blame RIAA For Destroying Music Industry 586

Posted by Zonk
from the should-have-thought-ahead dept.
techdirt writes "It's not like it hasn't been said many times before, but it's nice to see the NY Times running an opinion piece about the RIAA from a pair of record store owners which basically points out how at every opportunity, the RIAA has made the wrong move and made things worse: 'The major labels wanted to kill the single. Instead they killed the album. The association wanted to kill Napster. Instead it killed the compact disc. And today it's not just record stores that are in trouble, but the labels themselves, now belatedly embracing the Internet revolution without having quite figured out how to make it pay.' It's not every day that you see a NY Times piece use the word 'boneheadedness' to describe the strategy of an organization."
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Record Store Owners Blame RIAA For Destroying Music Industry

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  • by the_wishbone (1018542) on Friday April 06, 2007 @03:50PM (#18639653)
    FTA:

    "Meanwhile, the recording industry association continues to give the impression that it's doing something by occasionally threatening to sue college students who share their record collections online. But apart from scaring the dickens out of a few dozen kids, that's just an amusing sideshow."

    Threatening to sue? Has the NY Times not noticed that they actually ARE suing a bunch of people? I think the amount of time and money that has been spent in courtrooms over actual lawsuits is a little more than "just an amusing sideshow."

    I dislike the RIAA as much as the next guy, but I just couldn't help noticing that this article downplays the RIAA lawsuits quite a bit...it's not like they're not doing anything, they're just doing the WRONG things.
  • last.fm.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sri Ramkrishna (1856) <sriram,ramkrishna&gmail,com> on Friday April 06, 2007 @03:54PM (#18639709)
    I don't know. Websites like last.fm which not only can expose you to unknown music but it can also tell you when they are coming to town, let you meet up with other people also attending the concert. Last.fm is what the record store used to be. Even though RIAA probably killed the industry, last.fm is showing how online music can be done and done correctly by keeping things open.

    On that note, I hope they don't get bought out by some record label. I think it is important that they use their market power and grow themselves into a force for change in the record industry similar to what Apple has been doing with iTunes.

    sri
  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Friday April 06, 2007 @03:54PM (#18639717) Homepage Journal
    Did they actually stock cds that weren't mainstream? Did they try to make that the thrust of their business? Myabe it's just me, but most record stores try to make the process of buying music(or hell, discovering new music) as bland as expensive as possible. If I want a bland environment with tons of mainstream music I can go to Best Buy and get better prices. If record store owners want to survive, they are going to have to move to where iTunes/Best Buy/WalMart doesn't tread because there is no WAY they can compete with them on price. They need to actively encourage local bands and make sure they have plenty of indie artists and staff who actually listen to the music and can talk enthusiastically about them. Otherwise, what is the point of paying the premium for the record store?
  • by (A)*(B)!0_- (888552) on Friday April 06, 2007 @03:56PM (#18639731)

    ""to all the people that download music, if you think you are only hurting big companies you are wrong. There are two working people with families who no longer have jobs because of music piracy."
    Adapt or die. Even if piracy wasn't a problem at all and everyone was honest, digital distribution is the future - not cd sales.
  • by Jesselnz (866138) on Friday April 06, 2007 @03:58PM (#18639769)
    If I lived by any record stores that had albums I like (semi-underground independent stuff), I would shop there all the time. Unfortunately, the only way to buy albums I like is through online mail order sites.
  • by Kawolski (939414) on Friday April 06, 2007 @03:59PM (#18639787)

    "to all the people that download music, if you think you are only hurting big companies you are wrong. There are two working people with families who no longer have jobs because of music piracy."
    $18-$19 CDs containing 1 good track and 10 other tracks of crap vs. a $.99 single at iTunes might also have something to do with it too. But, hey, must be the pirates...
  • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Friday April 06, 2007 @03:59PM (#18639789) Homepage Journal
    I understand why the people who owned the store near your campus were bitter, but I think TFA provides a good counterargument. The downloaders didn't drive them out of business; the sickness in the music industry did, and a good portion of that sickness can be traced directly to the RIAA. If it hadn't been for the RIAA's stupidity, downloaded music and music bought on CD could have found a way to peacefully coexist. Now, it's too late.

    A whole hell of a lot of working people with families, throughout the music industry, are going to lose their jobs over the next decade or two until this shakes out. The Recording Industry Association of America could have prevented this. Instead, they've done -- and continue to do -- their best to make it inevitable. Yeah, the store owners' anger is understandable, but it's aimed at the wrong target.
  • Bullshit. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Friday April 06, 2007 @04:01PM (#18639825)

    "to all the people that download music, if you think you are only hurting big companies you are wrong. There are two working people with families who no longer have jobs because of music piracy."

    Bullshit.

    I do not own an iPod. I buy CD's. I rip the CD's and listen to them on my computer.

    But I rarely buy any newer artists. And as was mentioned in the article, I don't buy ANOTHER "greatest hits" collection CD. If I buy something now, it is probably directly from the artist or at a used CD store.

    There is too much crap and not enough substance coming from the RIAA now. They've done this to themselves. And it is the RIAA that is killing the smaller stores.
  • by bersl2 (689221) on Friday April 06, 2007 @04:06PM (#18639879) Journal
    Here's the problem with your assessment of this anecdote.

    Technology has increased the efficiency of distributing information. Music is information too. Because the old model based on physical media transfer is being overtaken, there's less overhead. Of course, this means that there's less pie to go around. People and organizations by necessity need to leave the industry or to accept the fact that they're going to get a smaller share if they remain in. Or, like the RIAA, they can try to maintain their share at the expense of everyone else.

    This is the same issue that the Luddites could not come to terms with. Greater efficiency means less work to be done. Less work necessitates fewer employees and/or smaller wages. Instead of coming to terms with the reality and exploring other lines of work, they decided to resort to destruction of property to maintain the status quo.
  • by poliopteragriseoapte (973295) on Friday April 06, 2007 @04:06PM (#18639887)

    I used to be a music lover - I still am, in a way. But 10 years ago, one of my standard weekend occupations was a trip to Tower Records. There, I would buy 5-6 CDs of classical music. I would listen to them all, return a couple of them or so (I often bought the same piece played by different interpreters / orchestras, returning interpretations I found less interesting), and get 5-6 more CDs, and so on and so forth, a visit every other weekend on average.

    Then came mp3's and copying. But I didn't do it. I liked having the albums - for some classical music, the booklet is interesting - and more than that, I didn't have the kind of time required to copy all the CDs I wanted to have. It was beautifully simple - buy, listen, return a few and buy many more. Money was not a problem, as I worked and I didn't have kids at the time. I didn't (and don't) have a TV - what harm there was in spending $40 / week for something I loved? It was below my threshold of attention.

    But then Tower started to decline returns. That very day, I stopped buying CDs, and in the intervening years, I must have bought 10 of them in total - mostly folkloristic music I bought while traveling. I simply could not put up with the idea of plunging $18 to try a new interpretation of a Missa by Bach - and not being able to return it if I didn't like it.

    So I stopped buying music altogether. I don't copy it either, because I still don't have a lot of time. Rather, other hobbies - digital photography, then kids, then other things still - gradually replaced the space music had in my life.

    It is sad, but I am still young, and who knows, perhaps I will live again through an era where I can easily browse through all the interpretations of the Zauberflute, listen to them, and buy them at top quality.

    So in my case, the music industry lost a customer, due purely to their fear of piracy.

  • by mumblestheclown (569987) on Friday April 06, 2007 @04:07PM (#18639895)
    Fair enough, but the point was that they couldn't get into this business, even if it existed, because piracy (and I doubt that their claim is substantively false) intervened. It doesn't matter what you have for sale - if somebody is giving it away for free and there are no consequences, you will lose. I see nothing wrong with the subway going out of business because somebody invents a faster and more comfortable bus. I do see a giant problem with the subway going out of business because massive numbers of people decide that using fake tokens or jumping the turnstile is morally ok because the subway pollutes, is occasionally late, and is a giant impersonal organization that pays its drivers only a relatively small percentage of its total revenue.
  • by gurps_npc (621217) on Friday April 06, 2007 @04:10PM (#18639927) Homepage
    I have to say that I don't think we can really blame them for what happened.

    Both the music store and the RIAA were SOLELY in the business of music promotion and distribution. They made their money off of distribution, but used their promotion as a client getter.

    The internet is pretty much the best means of distributing information.

    Just like the Horse and Buggy, the RIAA and the music stores were pretty much doomed the second that the internet was created, it just took some time for it to happen.

    The only shame is they won't admit it what business they are in, trying to convince themselves and the rest of the world that they are in the production business, when they simply don't do that.

  • by Marrow (195242) on Friday April 06, 2007 @04:10PM (#18639933)

    Radio stations were so bad for so long that people stopped
    listening to the -primary- venue for new groups and songs and
    just listened to the old stuff. People stopped getting excited
    about new groups and new alblums and stopped buying.

    And now Radio cant come back because the quality is so bad
    compared with what they are used to listening to now.

  • by qwijibo (101731) on Friday April 06, 2007 @04:13PM (#18639975)
    A business who didn't know its market and felt they were entitled to a constant flow of profit went out of business. I have a hard time finding any more sympathy for a small business that doesn't understand its customer base than I do for the RIAA.

    I occaisionally buy CD's, but I generally just cycle through the 300+ CD's my wife and I already have. If I find a new artist that I like, I want them to keep making good music, so I buy their stuff. There's any number of reasons for the declined in sales, but most of them come down to not catering to their audience. I don't buy music online because I don't like the idea of DRM. I can bypass the copy protection and make MP3's from the CDs I buy, so I have no problem putting stuff I want on my MP3 player. I haven't downloaded music as a mooch for many years. If I'm not willing to support an artist, why would I waste my time listening to their crap?

    Better quality subscription based radio stations are probably also a notable contributor to this trend. If I cared enough about my commute noise to want something better than the 6 stations and 5 CD's in my car, I'd probably do the same as you.
  • by MikeRT (947531) on Friday April 06, 2007 @04:14PM (#18639993) Homepage
    You have to blame it on the entitlement mentality of many Americans. "I WANT IT RIGHT NOW, I DON'T LIKE YOUR PRICE, SO I'LL JUST TAKE IT!!"

    What is going to happen to our economy if we get to the point where you can build devices and even vehicles using some sort of nano replicator? Will we just tell the companies that make the designs to go fuck themselves, if they thing they should get any return on the design of a new ferrari, space ship, media player, etc.?

    The simple fact of the matter is that music is not a necessity. You will not in any way, shape or form be harmed by it being priced outside of a range that you can afford or are willing to pay for. There is no argument for it being a "human right" except in the most perverse, materialistic, greedy sort of way.

    Stop downloading it. If it is good enough for you to download off of a file sharing network, it is good enough for you to buy and actually, God forbid, support the musician that made it. I'm sick of the sophists who say "well, I'm just hurting the music label." Oh really, you bloody fucktard? What if it's an independent band? How good is their reach? How likely is your "free advertising" to get them a good gig anywhere near you and your "free advertisement?" Huh? Speak up. That's the golden question. All of this "free advertisement" that comes from basically stealing their music and giving away, how much is it actually getting bands good gigs?

    It's been nearly 7 years since the media was predicting that post-Napster, and after broadband became accessible to most Americans, that an alternative marketplace would develop, exploiting the Internet. In another 7 years, we'll probably be no better off, either.
  • by TheLinuxWarrior (240496) <aaron.carrNO@SPAMaaroncarr.com> on Friday April 06, 2007 @04:14PM (#18639995)
    "to all the people that download music, if you think you are only hurting big companies you are wrong. There are two working people with families who no longer have jobs because of music piracy."

    It's not *just* music pirates responsible for the closure of stores such as this one.

    People like me, who see no value in having a CD, but legally purchase their music from online sources contribute as well.

    Why should I pay $13+ for a CD, when I can spend $10 and not have to waste gas going to the store, fight traffic and crowds, and risk the possibility that what I want may not be in stock anyway?

  • Re:boneheadedness (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bluesman (104513) on Friday April 06, 2007 @04:15PM (#18640001) Homepage
    Almost all of the NY Times is an op-ed piece these days. They're just not all labeled as such.

    That said, this particular piece was excellent. Although a bit sad, it makes me hopeful that the 12 or so great musicians/bands of the last 40 years that were actually pushed by the major labels will still find fans online, and that the thousands of artist who are just as good but I've never heard of will be able to make a living that way too.

    And that I'll be able to find them much more easily.

    I think the end result will be that this is the best thing that could have happened to popular music. If you're not a 13 year old girl, or a 45 year old girl with the same taste in music that you had since you were 13, the RIAA companies produced very little of value to you anyway.

    Good riddance.
  • by tgatliff (311583) on Friday April 06, 2007 @04:16PM (#18640013)
    As another business owner, I think I know one big reason why your business is failing... You also forgot who your customer is... What right do you have to tell that kid what he can and cant do because of a major flaw your industries business model? This kid is only doing what makes sense to most logically minded individuals that just paid >= $15 for an album. If your industry charged $2 for that album, do you honestly think that anyone would bother the pain of burning it?

    What your industry should have done is realised that the individual "value" of your product was going down and reduced your prices accordingly to compete. That is what the rest of us do. They didnt, because they (indluding you) forgot that you serve the customer music... You are not the gatekeeper of music.. Those days are over... The internet is not your competitor.

    Also, do not pitty me with your "loose the house" crap. As another business owner, I completely understand this risk, and it is part of being a business owner. It is not societies responsability to prop up a failing industry that is committing suicide. It is dieing and either you change with it or go broke. Oh, and I have a little advice for you since you dont seem to have gotten it yet... Get the heck out of selling music CDs... Close the doors, lick your wounds, and move on. No move or lawsuit is going to save you...
  • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Friday April 06, 2007 @04:28PM (#18640175) Homepage

    Unfortunately it's not illegal downloads that killed that store. My reasons for not going to a music store:

    1. The prices are too high for what I want. Not much the store can do about that. But whatever the reasons are, whatever the store can or can't do about it, it simply isn't worth it to me to pay the price of a full CD when there's only 1 or 2 tracks on it that I actually like. I want to pay, but given the other demands on my wallet I can't justify paying that much per song.
    2. What I want isn't on the shelf. I want individual songs. All the store can get are albums. When again exactly was the customer expected to buy what they don't want just because the RIAA doesn't want to sell what the customer wants?
    3. What I want isn't available. I want my music in digital form, in a format where I can not have to worry about whether or not it'll play on all my equipment, where I won't have to worry about headaches moving it between places I've a legal right to use it.
    4. I can't take the risks legitimate stuff exposes me to. From incompatible DRM modules to Sony's flat-out rooting my machine and exposing it to every black-hat out there, too many legitimate CDs are an unacceptable risk to the stability and security of my computers for me to be able to risk putting them into my drive. And if I can't play the CD where I most often want to, why bother buying it?
    That's more than enough reasons for me to not bother patronizing a music store anymore, and we haven't even gotten to the lack of variety in what many stores carry. Try finding KISS's original albums, let alone albums from the 40s and 50s.

    Oh, excuse me, I don't seem to have mentioned piracy anywhere. Maybe that ought to be a hint?

  • by Simonetta (207550) on Friday April 06, 2007 @04:28PM (#18640177)
    I don't know who is to blame for the major decline in CD sales, the RIAA's stupidly clutching to the old music business model, or the students with 3000+ stolen songs on their ipods.

    Blame the RIAA. The people with 3000+ songs on their iPods are really librarians. They are creating vast banks and quasi-public reservoirs of the cultural products available from the "turn of the 21st century" era. They are ensuring that that music of their generation can not be arbirarily destroyed or removed from general circulation by a corporate decree. They are protecting your music for your grandchildren and for music historians that will study it hundreds of years in the future, not unlike the way people of this time study Gregorian chant.

        Don't believe any of this 'piracy' horseshit put out by the RIAA. They seem to be having the most difficult time understanding that they don't own the music anymore. They only were able to create this illusion for themselves because of the nature that music was distributed during the first era of audio recording technology that existed during the 20th century.

        But it is only an illusion. And fading more every day...
  • by swschrad (312009) on Friday April 06, 2007 @04:29PM (#18640185) Homepage Journal
    I've said it before, I'll say it again. the distributors of choice now are electronic on-demand outfits like iTunes and the rehabbed Napster.

    if you're doing music, go to them. get a certificate of incorporation for "all legal businesses, including but not limited to music production and distribution," at most a couple thousand bucks in most states, see your lawyer. get on the books at the harry fox agency for licensing. then go to the online guys, get their sample contract, check it out, get your stuff up there. make some webnoise and start selling it yourself. don't do an exclusive contract with anybody, keep your own rights, sell your own CDs at your gigs. do something creative, at breaks have your CPFs put on yellow hats and orange vests and walk among the tables selling direct.

    if you're good, and you have a place online to put 64k MP3 samples for folks to listen to, you'll get sales.

    if not, at least you don't have the stench of record company weasels on you.
     
  • Re:Bullshit. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `dnaltropnidad'> on Friday April 06, 2007 @04:31PM (#18640207) Homepage Journal
    ACtually, your complaint(in this matter) is with the labels, not the RIAA.

    Nitpic, but it is important to remember the difference.
  • Piracy? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Todd Knarr (15451) on Friday April 06, 2007 @04:35PM (#18640253) Homepage

    When I hear people talk about piracy, I think about one thing from long ago. When MP3s were brand spanking new, you could find tons of pirate FTP sites and Usenet newsgroups carrying illegal rips of music. And then there was one site, MyMP3.com, that had a different policy: you could download songs only if you could prove you physically had a copy of the CD at hand (by providing a hash of actual data off the CD). Now, if you're trying to drive out piracy, which do you target: the tons of completely-illegal sites, or the one site trying to insure it doesn't hand out illegal copies?

    The RIAA threw all it's resources into driving MyMP3.com out of business, putting almost nothing into tracking down and eliminating the completely pirate sites.

  • by plover (150551) * on Friday April 06, 2007 @04:39PM (#18640303) Homepage Journal
    Our local music store did exactly that. They had lots of indie bands that came through the city stop in for a lunchtime performance or a record signing. They were in a pretty centralized location that had a lot of walk-by traffic (at least at lunchtime.) The people who worked there were cool, they knew their bands. They always had some new disc from some band I'd never heard of playing in the store. If you wanted to hear a disc, they popped it right into a CD player (behind the counter) for you. They were within walking distance of some of the best local concert venues. They specialized in hard-to-find stuff, they carried vinyl, they catered to all the special interests they possibly could. They sold DJ equipment. They sold used equipment on consignment. They did everything you suggested above and far more. They even had prices competitive with the big box retailers.

    They shut their doors a couple years ago.

    What you're asking for sounds great -- on the web. The simple truth is it is no longer profitable.

    Like it or not, those store owners were being truthful. Piracy is killing the music industry. Not that the RIAA labels don't need to be put down like the lampreys they are, but the days of the giants are waning fast.

    The real problem is the industry was entirely constructed on what is no longer a valid premise; that recording and duplicating quality music was expensive. And the labels have tried to make their money in different ways, mostly at the expense of the stupid bands who sign their livelihoods away for half a million dollars up front (you try organizing a nationwide tour for half a million $$ and see what you have left at the end.) The recording industry will soon die, and eventually the only survivors will be the indie bands singing for the love of music. They'll end up as 21st century minstrels wandering from pub to pub, settling for a meager income and drinks on the house, regardless of their talent.

    There will be no more profit in the music industry. It will die, and soon. The EMI anti-DRM move is a great attempt to capitalize on the huge anti-industry sentiment, but it's not going to change the behavior of people willing to climb over DRM to copy music anyway. And EMI won't have anything special once the other RIAA members see how profitable it is to not piss off their customer base.

    The only question mark remaining is: how far away is the MPAA from this scenario? Movie theaters and HDTV may be their only saviors, in that it takes enormous (by current measure) amounts of bandwidth and storage to copy a quality movie. Music is quite compressible, and too many tin-eared fans are willing to settle for crappy-but-tiny MP3 recordings. But as long as people want to share the experience of a movie on the big screen, and as long as HDTV requires a relative firehose of a network connection for high quality, AND as long as they can convince people that quality matters, they'll be able to keep making money on TV and movies.

  • by rhakka (224319) on Friday April 06, 2007 @04:40PM (#18640321)
    well, if there is no artificial scarcity, does that not, in effect, make us all 'richer'?

    for instance, if you could create food out of thin air, sure, you'd put farmers and grocery stores out of business. But, we could all eat, including those people who lost their farming jobs. so are we as a society richer or poorer then?

    Perhaps the only people making the designs would be people who care enough to do it whether they are paid or not. but if they can still eat and be sheltered and enjoy what they do... so what?
  • by Simonetta (207550) on Friday April 06, 2007 @04:43PM (#18640359)
    If it hadn't been for the RIAA's stupidity, downloaded music and music bought on CD could have found a way to peacefully coexist.

    I must disagree. Downloaded music is free. It is easily copyable without loss of quality between copys.

    There is no way that the RIAA can or could compete with this new model. It has driven them insane and they are just thrashing away dangerously in their madness. Woe to the people arbitraily caught in one of sweeps. The RIAA is acting like a mad grizzly bear trying to claw every salmon fish passing by it on a stream in Alaska. But eventually the RIAA's madness will cause it to run out of energy and then just roll over and die.

        However, this pattern of behavior will manifest itself as industry by industry fails to adjust to the new conditions of the modern age. One by one they will go insane and try to take out as many people at random that they can as long as they have the resources to do so. Smart people will recognize the signs of an industry in the grips of a 'death dance' and avoid being sucked into the malestrom of its fury while it dies. More on this way of thought can be found at www.kunstler.com and other sites like this.
  • by TheGeneration (228855) on Friday April 06, 2007 @04:47PM (#18640403) Journal
    That's what this whole situation is. It's all about greed.

    You have the RIAA releasing TERRIBLE full length albums while abandoning the single. You have radio operators like Clear Channel only providing space for 2 or 3 new songs on their national playlists, and demanding that those 2 or 3 new songs be songs that appeal to the target advertiser's say are the most important (13-25 year olds.) 13-25 year olds, not having a lot of money, opt to pirate the ONE song they like rather than pay $20 for a CD full of terrible music. And the circle is complete!

    And let's not even get to how the music, radio, and retailers are failing people over the age of 25. When the hell is the RIAA going to realize that if 13-25 year olds aren't going to BUY the music, they should start making music for the people who will shell out the money (ie, people over 25.)????
  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday April 06, 2007 @04:57PM (#18640535) Homepage Journal

    Like it or not, those store owners were being truthful. Piracy is killing the music industry. Not that the RIAA labels don't need to be put down like the lampreys they are, but the days of the giants are waning fast.

    This is an unsupported statement. What about online sales of CDs? What about sales of other types of media? What about the fact that the majority of the RIAA crap is just that, crap, and the majority of non-RIAA music is underadvertised? Etc etc.

    A lot of retail businesses are closing their doors, not just record stores and other media purveyors, due to the influence of internet retail.

  • Re:Hello, RIAA? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tackhead (54550) on Friday April 06, 2007 @04:59PM (#18640541)
    > That's a great example. "Ozymandias", CD only bonus track on the single "Dominion" by the Sisters of Mercy, rights owned by RIAA member Warner brothers.

    Someone up there made a point about "the guys with 3000 files on their iPod are the librarians of the early 21st century", and he's right.

    The people with 3000 files on their iPods viewed music as a valuable resource. Get that $18 LP or CD this year, because it won't be on the shelves in 5 years. Get that limited release LP or CD wherever you can, because only 500 were ever pressed. Play it once, record it to DAT, and because you'll never find another copy, put the original in a safe place, and listen to it from first-generation analog copy (or high-bitrate MP3, or lossless compression :) forever.

    Today's generation - raised under the RIAA-sponsored business models of "listen for 5 times then forget about it", or "listen to it until you upgrade to a new cellphone in 6 months", or "listen to it until you're tired of spending $15/month" - views music as an ephemeral good, a disposable commodity.

    RIAA's business model of music as an ephemeral commodity is good in the short term - keep 'em paying $0.99 for whatever's coming out of the sausage factory, or $15/month for listening to radio.

    But it's a disaster in the making for the long term. RIAA has made fortunes selling "Greatest Hits Of The Beatles" with every format change (LP, cassette, CD) and every discovery of a lost tape in some recording studio manager's attic. But you can only make those kinds of repeat sales to people who still want to listen to the Beatles 40 years later. How many of today's kids - raised on a diet of music as a disposable "listen-once-throw-in-trash-can" commodity - are going to be interested in "Britney: The Lost Tracks" from a bunch of .WAV files on a hard drive found in a surplus store in 2028, let alone "Titney's Pears, 2031 Edition" when he uses a sector editor to piece together a sixth track out of a FAT full of lost file chains?

  • by noidentity (188756) on Friday April 06, 2007 @04:59PM (#18640545)
    "[...] the labels themselves, now belatedly embracing the Internet revolution without having quite figured out how to make it pay.'"

    You don't make it pay, you offer a service that people pay you for. Hint: DRM is not a service that people want to pay for.
  • by Khaed (544779) on Friday April 06, 2007 @05:03PM (#18640589)
    This is a lot more true than a lot of people who want to blame piracy realize.

    Every time I go into the local record store, there's some really crappy music playing. The CDs cost $18-19, sometimes $21 or so if it's a double CD.

    The selection sucks. The RIAA is putting out a ton of the same. I'm sure this is a hit with certain people, but I don't need five different CDs by five different dyed-blond pop starlets, or five CDs from the newest country hit guy with a mullet, or the black guy with a ten pound gold chain, or the Aryan looking guy who wants to be that black guy and hates his wife, or all the clones of all of these people. Sometimes some of them have a good song or three, but usually, not so much. The goth/punk/emo clone bands are the same.

    I can go to a store like Walmart, or Target, or Best buy, and get these same CDs for $14-16. Or I can get them at Amazon.com for a similar price (and if I get two, it's over $25, and I can get free shipping). Or there's iTunes. Which now offers some tracks without DRM.

    And the local record store? It isn't local. It's a chain of overpriced music. This isn't a family owned business, and I'm sure there are tons of places where the record store isn't the "two working people with families..."

    The RIAA pisses people off. DRM and Sony's rootkit actually did get the attention of non-techie people, at least some that I know. The atmosphere kind of sucks, and the prices definitely suck.

    Further: Book stores that aren't chains are also taking a beating because there are cheaper offerings elsewhere. As far as I'm aware, there isn't a huge problem with book piracy.
  • by OldeTimeGeek (725417) on Friday April 06, 2007 @05:05PM (#18640629)
    No, radio stations don't suck because of the music that they play, they suck because they all play the same music.

    When I was a teenager, almost all of the radio stations in my area were independently owned. They didn't have playlists, didn't subscribe to programming services and didn't play the same music. In fact, you were actually pretty lucky to hear your favorite songs more than once a day. The DJ played what they liked or what they felt like playing. Which made for some very interesting listening, especially at night. I swear some of 'em put on Innagadadavida just so they could slip out for twenty minutes...

    I guess radio stations figured out that they were supposed to make money 'cause they started playing just the top 10, subscribing to programming services or sold out to big media companies. Things went downhill from there.

  • by OakLEE (91103) on Friday April 06, 2007 @05:06PM (#18640639)

    Adapt or die.
    You know, any time someone uses the "adapt or die argument" in the context of the RIAA or MPAA, it gets modded insightful. Yet, when the same argument is used in conjunction with outsourcing, it gets modded as flamebait. Could someone explain the slashdot community's priciple or consistency on this issue. Or are we just all selfish assholes with selective morality?
  • by Kingrames (858416) on Friday April 06, 2007 @05:14PM (#18640735)
    The business MODEL is a failure. You can't make a profit selling mainstream CD's anymore. The system does not work.

    DO NOT BLAME THE CUSTOMER.
    The customer buys what they want/need. If the customer isn't buying your stuff, you can't just blame them and wallow in misery. They are sending you a signal. You MUST ADAPT YOUR BUSINESS.

    You CAN'T RELY ON THE LAW to do your business for you.
  • by TheBishop613 (454798) on Friday April 06, 2007 @05:19PM (#18640783)
    Not only is the internet great for distributing music, it is also a great place to talk to other people with similar (or diverse) music interests. The shop owners from the article mention one of the added values they provided to their customers, information about new and obscure music. This information can now be found online rather easilly, music communities have grown and people are discussing these same things online. It isn't just that people can go online and download music, they can also go online and *discuss* music. The value of the independant music store has decreased because of this.


    I do still frequent independant music shops, and I know several that are doing booming business. The trick is to tap into the local music scene, support the local artists (instore events), and try to encourage your own community. If you're just an indie music shop and your added value is that you know about music, well that's just not as much of an added value these days.


    I do sympathise with these independant retailers as they battle the superstores who get exclusives, but those exclusives are really only for the top 40 acts anyhow. I got the impression top 40 wasn't meant to be the bread and butter of the indie shop anyhow...

  • by quanticle (843097) on Friday April 06, 2007 @05:21PM (#18640813) Homepage

    must disagree. Downloaded music is free. It is easily copyable without loss of quality between copys.

    There is no way that the RIAA can or could compete with this new model. It has driven them insane and they are just thrashing away dangerously in their madness.


    As another poster pointed out, the availability of free alternatives hasn't been a problem for the bottled water industry. In fact, it could be argued that the water industry has it tougher: they have to pay for the distribution of a physical good. The RIAA just has to distribute information. The distribution costs of digital data are nearly zero. At worst, they have to pay for a server farm or two.

    I place the blame squarely on the heads of the record companies for failing to recognize the revolutionary nature of digital distribution and sticking to their old (physical) distribution model even in the face of overwhelming evidence that it was obsolete. Right after the shutdown of Napster, the record companies could have co-opted the pirates by offering high-quality digital downloads. By refusing to do so, they allowed other music piracy sites to become an acceptable place to get music.
  • by Dirtside (91468) on Friday April 06, 2007 @05:22PM (#18640819) Journal

    The recording industry will soon die, and eventually the only survivors will be the indie bands singing for the love of music. They'll end up as 21st century minstrels wandering from pub to pub, settling for a meager income and drinks on the house, regardless of their talent.

    You really think that all the big concert venues (e.g. Universal Amphitheatre) are going to close because the record companies can't sell CDs due to piracy? I don't follow your logic here. People will still be able to find music and get excited about bands and want to see them play live, even if they find the music for free and not because record companies are pimping it. And there'll still be a huge demand for live music, and people will still pay for it.
  • by Mr2001 (90979) on Friday April 06, 2007 @05:24PM (#18640841) Homepage Journal

    What is going to happen to our economy if we get to the point where you can build devices and even vehicles using some sort of nano replicator? Will we just tell the companies that make the designs to go fuck themselves, if they thing they should get any return on the design of a new ferrari, space ship, media player, etc.?
    No, what we'll do is switch to the kind of business model we should've been using all along: paying the designers directly for the time and effort they put into designing stuff.

    That is, the model under which a designer spends a year coming up with a new model of Ferrari, and later hopes to get paid for it by taking a cut of every Ferrari sold, will be superseded by one in which the designer advertises his services to Ferrari enthusiasts, collects a few bucks each (held in escrow) from thousands of individuals, and then releases his new design once he's collected enough money.

    A business model like that one cannot be undercut by new technology. Information can be copied, but labor and talent cannot. The artists' human effort is where the value in music ultimately comes from, and as long as there's demand for new music, there will be demand for musical talent. All they have to do is break themselves of the habit of thinking their job is to sell plastic discs, and realize that if they have talent, people will be willing to pay them directly for the time they spend writing and recording.

    It sounds like a big change, but really it's just bringing the music industry up to parity with, well, pretty much every other industry in the world, where if you want to make twice as much money, you either find someone to agree to pay you twice as much (before you do the work), or you do twice as much work. People in the music industry have gotten used to the idea that they can perform a finite amount of work, but keep extracting more and more money from it indefinitely - which is cushy, but not sustainable.

    There is no argument for it being a "human right" except in the most perverse, materialistic, greedy sort of way.
    Well, I suppose that's one way to look at it. But if you're looking at it that way, there's also no argument for any "human right" to use calculus, or the speed of light, or to include the word "perverse" in your post. You didn't invent that word, did you? Someone else did, and doesn't he deserve to get paid if you're deriving benefit from it? Quick, go find the heirs of the guy who first uttered that word, and cut him a fat royalty check!

    Get real. We as sentient beings do have the right to share information with each other, to use our minds, and to use technology to do what our minds cannot do alone. If you sing a song for me, I have the right to remember it, write it down, and sing it for someone else. You don't own those sound waves once they leave your mouth and enter my ears. You can't own a song any more than you can own a number. If you don't like the fact that people can share your songs once you sing them, then don't go around singing songs for free before anyone has agreed to pay you.
  • Re:boneheadedness (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fyngyrz (762201) * on Friday April 06, 2007 @05:27PM (#18640865) Homepage Journal
    That said, this particular piece was excellent.

    I disagree. The market changed. There's no guarantee that says people with middleman jobs (persons who try to add value by standing between the producer of a good or service and the consumer of that good or service) will have a job forever and a day, even if it seems likely to them. Markets change. People change. For many reasons, some of them you may be in sympathy with, some of them not.

    I used to run a web store, "The Martial Arts Bookstore." Very specialized. I added value by carefully categorizing the books, inventing a "virtual shelves" mechanism that fit the needs of the shoppers. I also did capsule reviews of each book (I'm a martial artist with dan ranking across several disciplines and a scholarly interest in all of them.) I wouldn't even carry the low quality books that plague martial arts; there are plenty that were very high quality indeed. Initially, it did very well. Then Amazon opened; they not only had oodles more purchasing power than I did, they were able to run at a loss for years; I couldn't possibly do that. So I ran a last fire sale (which didn't sell much either) and then closed the site. I wasn't angry, I didn't write a whiny letter to anyone, and in fact, I became a very good customer of Amazon. I moved on to something else that was more appropriate to the times, and I have no complaints at all. It was fun, it was interesting, and it wasn't permanent. I see nothing to bitch about in any of that.

    Things change. Accept it, move on, STFU.

    Music isn't dead, and it isn't going to die. Let's face it - as musicians, as listeners - the producers and consumers - we're going to be fine. As musicians, maybe we'll have to move to a different distribution model, and maybe it'll be different as to how one becomes top of the heap. It'll still depend on your music to some degree, though; maybe moreso. As consumers, maybe we'll have to use different skills to find stuff we like. Surely the radio hasn't been a good source for anything but the crassest pop and bottomfeeder "repeat it until it sucks" marketing mechanisms for years - personally, I look forward to changes in the landscape. As for the middlemen, things change. Maybe I'll have to close my music studio. No sign of that yet in terms of my customers, but OTOH, you can buy mixing and recording equipment for a fraction of what it used to cost, a rack-mount mastering unit that can really do a very good job... there are no guarantees, anywhere for middle people. Not in music, not in written material, and not in video. If you find a niche and you can make it work, my hat is off to you. If it stops working, though, it is you that needs to change - sniveling about how you thought you'd be able to "spend your life" doing something is just despicable.

    So that's why I'm not very impressed with the article.

  • by Dirtside (91468) on Friday April 06, 2007 @05:27PM (#18640871) Journal
    Your subway analogy is bunk. Music can be duplicated at essentially zero cost and with no specific loss to the producer (they still possess all the same objects and money they did before you made your illegal copy). Subway service is a limited resource; everyone who hops a turnstile to ride the subway is taking up space that could have been used by a paying customer.

    This says nothing about whether any of these activities are right or wrong, merely that your analogy is bogus. When will people like you learn to distinguish information from services and physical property?
  • by creed_nmd (1085055) on Friday April 06, 2007 @05:30PM (#18640911)
    Let's be clear about this. We keep talking about the RIAA like they are the baddies. They aren't. They are a smoke screen. They are nothing more than a trade group that represent the record labels, who are the real guilty parties here. EMI, Sony BMG, Universal and Warner hide behind this RIAA label so that they distance themselves from the lawsuits, dumb-ass decisions, etc. Up-and-coming bands still sign every day to these labels because they don't realise that they are the puppeteers pulling the strings of the RIAA. The RIAA itself has not one single artist on its roster. It's classic misdirection. Let this RIAA 'persona' take the flack while the record companies themselves don't get tarred with the same brush. Until people stop talking about the RIAA and its deeds, and starting laying the blame at the record companies themselves, nothing will change.
  • Almost pointless (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Orig_Club_Soda (983823) on Friday April 06, 2007 @05:32PM (#18640919) Journal
    small stores are going to bitch at the larger record chains and WalMarts and whomever. The reality is the small business cannot compete when they dont have an exclusive supply for their community. Small business is ideal for specialization, not in mass marketing.
  • by JurassicPizza (972175) on Friday April 06, 2007 @05:41PM (#18641003)
    I think satellite radio is doing its part to kill the traditional music industry as well. Radio music has sucked for a long time, necessitating the use of CD collections if I wanted a decent listening experience Guess what? I now have lots of commercial-free stations available on satellite radio, many of which are sufficiently specialized to provide just the music I want. I don't listen to particular music over and over, I like to hear a variety from a selected genre or sub-genre, only once in a while liking something enough to buy it.

    One evening just this week I heard two tracks that I really liked. After much research I found them (a couple of reasonably rare imports on Amazon), and decided I didn't really want them that much anyway. There will be new tracks on the radio tomorrow, and I'll like them too.

    The more choices we have, the less we'll use each choice and the more we'll gravitate towards the most convenient ones. Another example: once the cable companies get their act together and have a truly comprehensive library of HD movies available on demand, Netflix and Blockbuster can kiss their business goodbye as well.
  • by ucblockhead (63650) on Friday April 06, 2007 @05:42PM (#18641011) Homepage Journal
    It's not piracy that is killing the record store. It's downloading that is killing the record store. It's iTunes that is killing the record store. The record store is dying because people would rather pay $0.99 for a song than $12.99 for an album.

    If piracy were the problem, then you wouldn't seen iTunes music store sales doubling every year.
  • Re:Mod parent up (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 06, 2007 @05:43PM (#18641015)
    Piracy isn't the cause, though. I was around when MP3 started. It was immediately apparent to anyone who knew about the technology at that time that it was the future of music distribution. Not because it was free; it wasn't. You needed an expensive network connection and harddisk storage wasn't cheap either. Even 5 years ago I talked to people who kept buying CDs and they told me they didn't want to waste time to look for online copies, download them over an expensive and/or slow internet connection, get inferior quality and burn them to CD recordables without covers. Even when confronted with the "free" piracy option, they kept paying the prices that the music industry kept raising. The reason why everybody knew that MP3 was the future has nothing to do with price and all to do with flexibility. The people who started it had no problem with listening to music on their computers, but there was no reason why the advantage of smaller files couldn't be used for better consumer electronics. These people would go to great lengths to have stored playlists, automatic mood-based music selection and direct access jukebox systems. "Information at your fingertips", so to speak. They weren't the average music consumers. For at least 10 years, these people have been pointing to the net, telling the music industry to see the potential and make it happen. For the same 10 years, the music industry has been fighting technological progress, first with ignorance, then with lawsuits. They forced other businesses to cripple their products. If you think that people who have been looking at the unused potential for more than ten years will sit on their hands while the music industry, instead of starting to give customers a better product, ponders strategies for making more money from a less functional product, you're dreaming. By now progress is so far ahead of anything that the music industry has on offer that they hardly have a chance to be more than a nondescript source of the raw music material that other businesses refine into sellable form. Consumers will simply not put up with DRM encumbered devices and services that don't let them do what the pirates have been doing with music for a decade. We've seen the potential, we're not going to buy inferior products.
  • by morcego (260031) on Friday April 06, 2007 @05:48PM (#18641069)

    Like it or not, those store owners were being truthful. Piracy is killing the music industry. Not that the RIAA labels don't need to be put down like the lampreys they are, but the days of the giants are waning fast.


    Lemme tell you why I started downloading music.

    A few years back, I still used to buy CDs. Then suddenly I noticed that I buying a whole album to get a single music. So I was paying (in USA prices) US$ 16,00 for a single track.

    I really don't mind paying $16 for a whole album is I want every single song on that album. I do mind, however, paying $16 for a single track, or even 2 or 3. (And Albums around here cost, taking in consideration both currency exchange and general cost of living, about $40).

    Would you, how are saying they are right that piracy is killing the business, pay US$ 40 for a single song ?

    I'm not even mentioning the fact that you would have to carry 100 or more CDs in your car to have the music you want, in the moment you want (instead of 1 or 2 MP3 CDs). And you can't even rip the CDs you legally own these days to listen in your car.

    The only full albums I've got in the last 5 years are oldies (Eagles, Bettles etc). Those are still worth it, since you can get a album where you are willing to pay, if not for all, for most of the tracks.

    Now, tell me again, how is killing the music business ?
  • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Friday April 06, 2007 @05:54PM (#18641103)
    Or it could be that the people who say "adapt or die" and those who say "outsourcing is wrong!" could be different people. And that the Slashdot community is not a hive-mind. Just a thought, you know.
  • by hurfy (735314) on Friday April 06, 2007 @05:56PM (#18641139)
    hmm, you may have a point there.

    Up here one of the popular formats seems to be classic rock. At least 3 stations vs only 1 or 2 pop stations.

    However, at least 2 of the 3 (i just started listening to #3) slip in a fair amount of newer stuff including fresh releases. Especially the "80's,90's, and whatever" station. Intially "whatever" seemed to be 70's, increasingly it is 2006-2007.....

    Getting annoying, that and i want to strangle them for their ad: What playlist...we don't need no playlist. BS, would you like me to recite your play list for you. It is just as regimented as any other station :( 1000's of songs in no particular order...yeah right. You give em 3 decades of music to work with should get more than 50 songs a month on their non-existant playlist.

    I don't mind being introduced to new stuff on radio that way per se, but they are just as repetitive as on a pop station. I don't want the SAME 3 new songs every day. Not to mention, they don't say WHO is playing. What good is a new song if i don't know who is playing it so i can get it?? I guess i could walk into a record store and ask based on lyrics....oh wait....

    On the up side, the harder classic rock station plays an album each night :)
  • by DogDude (805747) on Friday April 06, 2007 @06:19PM (#18641361) Homepage
    The sad thing is that most people are as clueless as you, and as a result, most of the US looks like one big fucking parking lot. What an empty, depressing life people like you must lead...
  • by Brandybuck (704397) on Friday April 06, 2007 @06:19PM (#18641371) Homepage Journal
    What has industrialization brought you?

    • Cheap computers, the internet, Slashdot, the ability to have millions of people hear your whine

    • Radios, televisions, iPods, and cellphones

    • Books. Cheap affordable books

    • Affordable and available medicine. MRI, ultrasounds, EEG, stents, bypass surgeries, artificial knees, safe childbirth, etc

    • Modern dentistry, healthy teeth

    • Cheap eyeglasses, hearing aids

    • Bicycles, automobiles, airplanes, and the ability to travel the world

    • Cheap clothing and shoes. Underwear affordable enough to wear a clean set every day

    • Central heating and air conditioning

    • The elimination of extreme poverty and destitution

    • The elimination of slavery


    And much much more. Industrialization has given us longer healthier and richer lives. It has made us, in real terms far wealthier than the kings of only a couple centuries past. Don't be blinded by a false nostalgia for the past. The lives of our ancestors were nasty, brutish and short.
  • Re:NY Times (Score:2, Insightful)

    by midnighttoadstool (703941) on Friday April 06, 2007 @06:29PM (#18641471)
    You presume upon me. The NY Times are not comparable to the Washington Times, who I am aware are *not* boneheads. Which doesn't mean that I sympathise with their position. Funnily enough the NY Times is a bit like the Times in the UK : 2nd rate, but once great. And definately boneheaded.

    I'm not familiar with the others you mention.

    "I certainly hope you do not hold any of the major media outlets in any particular significance above any other, they are all equally bad."

    ...in your opinion. And not in mine: I learned to discriminate.

  • by Watson Ladd (955755) on Friday April 06, 2007 @06:29PM (#18641473)
    There is a big difference between a big company serving its educated customers better, and skilled engineers working for peanuts.
  • by surrealestate (993302) on Friday April 06, 2007 @06:35PM (#18641525)
    The RIAA is really off base about piracy, when a major part of their decline is due to the demographic shift of the US population. The baby boomers are older, and have a disproportionate share of disposable income for entertainment. They tend to be less interested in video games, and not as interested in the fare which tends to dominate the movie theatres. In short, a wealthy group of people who grew up listening to music on the radio when there were fewer choices for their entertainment doller and inclined to choose it over most other forms of entertainment.

    So, what does the music industry offer this huge group of potential consumers?

    1) Music acts who have been marketed and chosen based on their appearance on videos rather than musical talent.

    2) Music acts consisting of people who are 18 to 24 years old. 30 year old musicians? Hell, they don't even play those on VH-1 any more. Oddly enough, musicians like Joan Baez, Ry Cooder, and others who were big in the 60s, when these baby boomers first started listening to the radio, can't even get arrested in the music industry.

    3) Music acts who are rehashing the same music baby boomers bought 30 years ago. Music trends are cyclical, and I've already got music from 3 discrete generations of bands that sound like the Stones.

    4) An opportunity to re-buy our record collections yet again. It's bad enough that the RIAA complained when we wanted to tape our vinyl LPs so we could listen on portable devices and our cars. No, they wanted to sell us cassettes. Then CDs.

    5) Reduced choice in an ever-expanding universe of choices. Catalogs are clogged with mediocre music, and the labels are simultaneously taking lots of things out of print. In the meantime, the digital world and business models like Amazon.com are trending towards the infinitely deep catalog, and the RIAA just doesn't get it. I understand that there isn't enough potential business to justify a CD re-pressing of the Fabulous Poodles record from 1980, that's probably at least $2000 in costs, plus the distribution, etc. However, encoding that record from the CD and distributing it digitally is probably less than $2 of labor. I guarantee they'd get a much higher return on investment than they get from letting it die.

    One of the quiet successes of iTunes is its deep catalog of jazz, classical and baby-boomer-friendly acts. For someone like me who is technically quite capable of encoding music from my old collection, but far too busy to bother, 99 cents is a very fair deal for the one song I recall from an old album. I buy new music, too, but so much of what is pushed by the major labels is just not even aimed at me.

    If the RIAA was actually courting customers rather than suing them, they would be much healthier. As it is, their pursuit of the shallow teen dollar is biting them in the ass as their audience continues to skew older. Meanwhile, the teens they are actively pursuing have a completely different outlook about their entertainment choices. Hell, who ever thought that a whole genre of music would ever appear based on cheesy videogame soundtracks from the 80s?
  • by DogDude (805747) on Friday April 06, 2007 @06:41PM (#18641559) Homepage
    Going into a big storem getting what you want cheaper is some how depressing?

    Yes, and it's even more depressing that most people (like you) couldn't care less. Let me guess... you live in a generic apartment (with cable TV!), you wear khaki pants, a shirt two sizes too big to hid your gut, and you drive either a Saturn, or a small Toyota or Honda, right? If I have to explain it, the point is already lost.
  • by sjames (1099) on Friday April 06, 2007 @06:47PM (#18641597) Homepage

    The RIAA's killer is twofold. First, they failed utterly to fathom what was important to their customer. In an era where their customers were happily using lossy compression and cheap earbuds, the RIAA was spending huge wads to get just exactly "the sound" which was lost on their market. Let's face it, Britney's audience WILL NOT NOTICE that you used the nifty ribbon mikes from 1956 or that you spent $10,000 in studio time just to perfect the accoustics. If you just want to record like that, save it for a band that's more popular with audiophiles. All that expensive studio equipment and time (plus generous quantities of coke) costs money, so they raised prices.

    The second killer was the RIAA itself. They thought they could dictate preferences to their customers rather than the other way around. They didn't like the idea that they might actually have to give the talent a fair deal if/when they hit it big, so they pushed the interchangable pop-tarts instead. Not exactly the genre that calls for the ultimate in recording technology.

    Demand for music didn't go away, it just didn't exist at that pricepoint. Since supply of music at the appropriate pricepoint didn't exist, like any other underserved market, a black market sprung up. The RIAA now claims p2p is what's killing them. However, I'll bet that if they waved a magic wand and made it all go away, they wouldn't gain much. On the other hand if they would re-taylor their product to meet demand (scale back the big production costs for disposable albums and cut the retail price for example) the p2p would be largely irrelevant to their profits.

  • by RsG (809189) on Friday April 06, 2007 @06:54PM (#18641659)

    I am sorry if this is offtopic or flamebait, but this is the exact same argument many people claim is facetious in the context of outsourcing. How is this situation any different?
    The argument isn't wrong in the case of outsourcing. It's just uncomfortable. Fact of the matter is, outsourcing is one of those things that's bad from one perspective (that of the now unemployed person in the first world) and good from more than one other perspective (the perspective of the now employed person in Bangladesh, India or wherever, and the perspective of their corporate overlords). How you view outsourcing depends on where you are, and also on how you view the corporations involved.

    The claim that the argument you cite is facetious when applied to outsourcing comes from different people than those who make it in the case of filesharing.

    Note that outsourcing has ethical problems in other areas, unrelated to the one you cite. For example, it is unethical (but not illegal) for a company to move its business to a country where health, environmental or employment regulation are lacking, in order to get away with things they couldn't do here. This has nothing to do with a global economy, and everything to do with the imbalance of power that exists between third world governments and first world corporations.
  • by Trillian_1138 (221423) <slashdot@LIONfridaythang.com minus cat> on Friday April 06, 2007 @07:14PM (#18641817)

    You know, any time someone uses the "adapt or die argument" in the context of the RIAA or MPAA, it gets modded insightful. Yet, when the same argument is used in conjunction with outsourcing, it gets modded as flamebait. Could someone explain the slashdot community's priciple or consistency on this issue. Or are we just all selfish assholes with selective morality?

    I think it's a couple things. First, as others have responded to you and suggested, it's partially a result of two different groups saying things. While Slashdot can have a 'hive mind,' it is made up of individuals and not everyone who might say "adapt or die" about the RI/MPAA would necessarily say outsourcing is bad.

    But I think that is kind of a cop-out answer because as much as Slashdot isn't a 'hive mind,' I think you're right that, on the whole, the site is anti-outsourcing for businesses and pro-'adapt or die' for movie/record industry. So I'm trying to reconcile the two for myself, as I do feel that the current copyright system is broken and the media industries take advantage of it, while I also feel outsourcing is usually not a great thing. These are all my own opinions, and I can't speak for anyone else, but I am trying to respond to how someone can both feel 'adapt-or'die' and be anti-outsourcing.

    First, the media industries. For me, there are two major issues. One is the 'adapt or die' argument: that, just as the proverbial buggy-whip maker needed to find a new line of work when cars became a hit, distributing physical media just isn't as expensive as it used to be and pretending otherwise is silly. Thus, while iTunes, Best Buy, and amazon.com all show (in different ways) that many people are still willing to pay something for media, it may not be what it once was. This, of course, only covers those people who are still willing to pay something for content.

    Then you have copyrights, the other major issue. The copyright system in the US, as I understand it, is based on the section in the Constitution that says (paraphrasing) "limited monopolies on 'concepts' to promote science and the arts.' Now, the media companies are trying to get around the 'limited' part through DRM and repeated copyright extensions. To me, this is trying to have your cake and eat it, too. As such, I have no personal moral qualms about (for example) downloading the latest episode of Battlestar Galactica or Scrubs or copying a movie from Blockbuster. As I see it, if they aren't going to play by the 'rules' (which say that work should eventually enter the public domain) than I'm not going to either. Again, this is not a legal argument and I do pay for things (such as the BSG box sets, certain videogames, and certain movies) that I feel are subjectively "worth it." That said, I don't try to wiggle around the fact I'm downloading and copying media I'm not paying for and have no intention of ever paying for. I don't view it as theft, and I don't view it as immoral - I've made my peace with what I'm doing.*

    And then you have outsourcing. I'm not across-the-board against outsourcing. I don't, for example, think it should be illegal. And I admit I'm not knowledgeable enough about business to have opinions based on anything other than conjecture and emotion. If someone with more information than me can refute what I'm saying, please do - maybe I'm wrong. But I do think outsourcing is in some ways robbing Peter to pay Paul. That is, at some point someone needs to consume your product and by removing jobs in a local market you at least somewhat remove people who could be your customers. Henry Ford is supposed to have raised his worker's wages to the point where they could afford the cars they made. (Not that he was always the model businessman, but still.)

    In addition, outsourcing makes me uneasy because it often seems like companies are being hypocritical. The media companies are again the big offenders here - "We can make our products where it's cheaper, but we'll use legal

  • by 7Prime (871679) on Friday April 06, 2007 @07:45PM (#18642055) Homepage Journal
    What IS sad, however, is that people don't consider $15 a good deal for an hours worth of music. As a musician, that just makes me sad. Maybe the quality of the goods need to go up, but $10-$15 seems like a steal if you've just gotten a great album you're going to be listening to for the rest of your life. Unfortunately, most people don't think of music that way... it's like fast food: you eat it, shit it, and forget about it.

    I don't know about you guys, but I get fast food because my body need neurishment and I'm in a hurry. I wouldn't buy it if I didn't get hungry. We don't NEED music, though. We've lived for eons without walkman or iPods. Why, now, do we need music that badly that we're willing to pay shit to listen to shit? I don't know about you, but I don't see this as victory for the music world in the slightest.

    I'm not defending the RIAA in the slightest... on the contrary, I think they're the biggest culprit in spreading this diseased culture.
  • by Brandybuck (704397) on Friday April 06, 2007 @07:50PM (#18642089) Homepage Journal
    It has made the richest 1% of the people richer, the middle classes havent changed much and those with lower incomes are generally poorer nowadays.

    Don't be so ignorant. The middle class has changed so much it's almost not the same class. And true poverty, as our ancestors knew it, is all but gone in industrialized nations. The poor of today are so much better off than their ancestors of the 18th century that only an idiot would claim they're materially worse off. The poor of today have a problem with obesity, for God's sake! The problems facing the poor today isn't the lack of food, but the lack of education to know that junk food is junk!

    And invading countries over oil/WMDs is nice and clean nowadays. I guess it is for that top 1%.

    Actually, it is nice and clean nowadays! I would much rather be a soldier in today's US Army than under any 18th century army. Go study your military history and the life of the soldier. You may disagree with the justification for this war, but to claim it isn't "clean" in comparison to earlier wars is naive.
  • by DroppedPacket (621464) on Friday April 06, 2007 @08:17PM (#18642275)
    "is that people don't consider $15 a good deal for an hours worth of music." The truth is, most people don't spend an hour actually listening to an album. They put it on and do other things. It is background a lot of time. Now if I played that album 1 time for $15, I would have to compare that entertainment value to other forms of entertainment. I can go see a first run movie for just under $10 (SF Bay Area), so I get 15 minutes of mini-movies plus a feature length (90+ minutes) of entertainment at a price of $5/hour (figure about 2 hours of time for $10.)

    Of course that analogy is wrong because you can't play that movie over and over again unless you buy it for home use.

    Secondly, the argument "you've just gotten a great album you're going to be listening to for the rest of your life." is also not valid. Most albums I buy, I listen to 4-5 songs from for awhile, then they drift off, replaced by new songs. And who knows how long I will be able to play those songs from CD. At some point CDs will go the way of 8-track tapes.

    Insert obligatory comment about the RIAA being a bunch of mindless jerks who will be the first with their backs against the wall when the revolution comes...

  • by Phoenix666 (184391) on Friday April 06, 2007 @08:29PM (#18642355)
    I figured out it was more fun to learn how to play music myself. Longer warm up time, shorter playlist, and more limited portability (guitar doesn't really travel well in the subway). But the enjoyment is about fifty times higher for picking out 'House of the Rising Sun' than listening to recycled boy band song #19.

    Eventually I hope to learn to read music and write my own. And that too will take a while. But I'd rather take the next four years to get to a tolerable level of ability and enjoy every bit of it than give one more dime to an industry and system that thinks it has a monopoly on culture and that it has the right the dictate to you and me what we enjoy.

  • by AeroIllini (726211) <aeroillini@@@gmail...com> on Friday April 06, 2007 @08:42PM (#18642447)

    Let's face it, Britney's audience WILL NOT NOTICE that you used the nifty ribbon mikes from 1956 or that you spent $10,000 in studio time just to perfect the accoustics.
    They sure will. Without all that equipment, Britney sounds like a banshee in a blender.

    They spend all that money on equipment for exactly one reason: to manufacture talent. The record companies are no longer scouting for good bands who will make music people want to hear; that's been relegated to the indy labels. Instead, the RIAA chooses some jailbait pretty face who knows how to shake their hips and expose just the right bits of skin on camera, and then feeds them through all that fancy equipment to sample, clip, modulate, adjust, downmix, blur, airbrush, and edit them into a product. Then they mass market this product to the segment of the population that, while having the most disposable income and highest impulsive purchase rate, also is the most likely to pirate music: teenagers.

    The member companies of the RIAA are not distributors; they are factories. Of course, there are always a few artists who emerge unscathed and with their artistic integrity intact, but they are the special ones.

    The irony of all this is that if the RIAA companies simply did what we all expected them to do, i.e., scout and discover actual, honest-to-goodness good bands and help them sell records the market wants to buy in a way the market wants to buy them, they would be making more money than they know what to do with. But that's not "the way we've always done it," so first they are going to fight inevitability.
  • by myowntrueself (607117) on Friday April 06, 2007 @08:59PM (#18642549)
    What has industrialization brought you?

    Britney?

    Re-read my post.

    Industrialisation can be successfully applied to some areas of human endeavor (eg production of consumer goods), in other areas it is *obviously* mis-applied.

    Industrialisation may be good for some things but it is not a cure-all nor is it the best way to do *anything*.

  • by rsilvergun (571051) on Friday April 06, 2007 @09:31PM (#18642739)
    and while the RIAA is happy to take your money for a Beatles album when you're 40, they don't need it to survive. That's why music sucks so much in this country, and why they've been getting away with $20 dollar CDs. It's all about the Teenagers, with their part time jobs, no responsibilities and lots of disposable income.
  • by RedWizzard (192002) on Friday April 06, 2007 @09:47PM (#18642845)

    What IS sad, however, is that people don't consider $15 a good deal for an hours worth of music.
    I think a big part of the reason for this is that it doesn't compare well to DVDs. Should I consider $15 dollars a good deal for an hour of music that cost $1M to produce when I can spend $20 for 2 hours of movie that cost $200M to produce? (Not that cost is any indication of quality.)

    The RIAA has conviently ignored the impact of DVDs. People spend a lot of money on DVDs, money that in many cases would have been spent on music if DVDs didn't exist. I suspect this is the most significant factor in the music industries declining fortunes, not piracy. People have X dollars to spend on entertainment and that money is being spent on different things than it was 10 years ago. DVDs and games are up, music is down.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 06, 2007 @09:55PM (#18642901)
    There's music on MTV ?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 06, 2007 @10:25PM (#18643047)

    15 bucks is a gouging ripoff for some bits on a 25 cent plastic disk.

    You aren't paying for the bits or plastic any more than you are paying for the pigment and canvas when you buy a painting or a print of a painting.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 06, 2007 @11:54PM (#18643535)
    Read the linked article from the NYT. It is not the same as what you linked to. It is actually a good analysis of how the recording industry screwed up, and is NOT pro-RIAA. The authors still sell recordings, but have gone the internet route. They are not moaning about piracy, but about the stupidity of the recording industry which, like our Dear Leader, has chosen the EXACTLY WRONG response every single time, thus destroying itself. (While, of course, blaming everyone else.)
  • by Maitri (938818) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @12:04AM (#18643577)
    So, what you say is true of the upper-middle and upper class of the first world countries. But are we any happier? Do we have more free time? Is the quality of our lives any better? Do we have meaningful connections with the world around us?

    I took an anthropology class as an elective in college. Do you know that members of hunter gatherer societies had more free time than the average person today? I often sit in traffic and wonder why the hell I am going to work that I would rather not go to so that I can pay for all the materialistic crap in my life. I wish that society offered meaningful alternatives.

    I would also argue with the affordable and available medicine. If you can't afford health insurance in the US today you are screwed. Hell, even with a lot of insurance companies if you have any sort of medical problem you are going to pay an arm and a leg. I think that medical availability was much more egalitarian even 100 years ago than it is now. In fact I think that all we have done with technology is make the gap between the haves and the have nots increasingly wide. And the haves often do so at the expense of the have nots. We have not eliminated slavery and poverty world wide - we haven't even eliminated it in our own country! I feel that what you say shows a lack of understanding of people outside your own social group.
  • by redkingca (610398) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @12:44AM (#18643759)
    I used to own almost 18 feet of vinyl, I used to have a couple of hundred cassettes, now I have dozens of CDs. Notice the trend here? The RIAA obviously doesn't. I stopped buying because they told me it wasn't mine anymore. The music was no longer what I wanted to buy, the music became what they wanted to sell. And the RIAA have no one to blame but themselves, no matter what they say. I used to listen to radio, I used to listen to FM, now I listen to online radio. There is that trend again. How does the RIAA think they will sell music if no one is listening?
  • by plover (150551) * on Saturday April 07, 2007 @01:09AM (#18643863) Homepage Journal
    Do you know what the margins are like in the music retail sector? They're pathetically tiny slivers of money that come off each sale. Mom and Pop stores barely scrape by, and are under stress from every single competitor. There are big box chains that force them to keep their prices low to compete. The labels charge plenty for the wholesale cost, keeping margins thin. Supporting indie bands means keeping a really wide inventory, and that ties up a lot of money. Real estate, rent and labor costs have risen substantially. Discs are easily stolen, so even the small retailers have to go to great lengths at great expense in either hardware or labor to protect their inventory from shoplifters. Mail-order competitors sold six records for a penny, or ten discs for a dollar (anyone else a former member of the Columbia Record Club? :-) And finally, as you say, there's a large percentage of crap music out there.

    But these conditions have existed for the last 40 years. Cheap competition has always been out there. Rent has always gone up. Theft deterrents cost more. And most bands the labels signed have always sucked. Despite all these problems, record stores used to turn a profit.

    What changed? The tubes got fat enough to carry music. Demand dropped like a stone as people started downloading music from all sources, legit or otherwise. You might say that all the internet forces combined at the same time, but you can't deny piracy has been a slice of it. A big slice.

  • by shark72 (702619) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @05:40AM (#18644909)

    "There's also no law that says a CD which cost about $0.50 to stamp out has to sell for $15. Cut the prices back to $5 or $8 per disk and you'll see sales go up. Record albums used to sell for $4 or $5 back in the day, then tapes came along and bumped the price up to about $10 or $12, and then CDs went through the roof. OK already, a CD *player* costs $20 so why are disks still so expensive?"

    You're 100% correct -- before prerecorded cassettes were widely available in the 70's, LPs cost about $5. That $5 LP you bought in 1970 was about $26 in today's money. The average retail price of a new CD release is around $13, so the price has dropped by 50%.

    I was paying around $8 for LPs -- $16 in today's money -- in the early 80's, so if prerecorded cassettes hit $12.00, an educated guess is that this would have been in 1986 or so, where that $12 cassette would be $22 in today's money.

    I started buying CDs in 1985. They cost me around $17 each, or $31 in today's money. As mentioned, they're $13 today; that's a 60% reduction in cost.

    If you're genuinely wondering why CDs are $13 today when LPs sold for only $5 "back in the day," I'm not sure I can do the best job of explaining it, but a good way to start is to think about all the people who touch the CD from start to finish -- including the guy at the pressing plant and the guy in the store who sells it -- and think about how much they were paid by the hour in 1970, vs. how much they make now.

    Music isn't alone in reflecting the effect of inflation. My mother bought a new 1965 Beetle for $2,000 back in the day. Inflation's a real devil bitch.

    If you're wondering why the price of new CDs has settled at $13 vs. $8 or $10 or $16 or $21, it's that other devil bitch, supply and demand. They're $13 because that's the optimal point on the curve (five years ago, CDs were $18, but the P2P explosion and the growth of other competition for your entertainment dollar put a stop to that). The supply and demand god is the same one who dictates that Sears is lucky to sell a shirt for $20, while Kenneth Cole has no problem selling shirts for $120. He can smile on you -- if you're Kenneth Cole -- or he can be one mean SOB -- if you're trying to sell CDs.

    "Do you honestly believe that out of that $15 (or $12 or $18) the musician is receiving more than $0.25 or $0.50? Typically not."

    I think that's a pretty well established fact. Similarly, I'm at the director level for a maker of PC peripherals; I'm responsible for some $40MM of business per year. Yet I don't even see 1% of that. The retail industry is pretty inefficient. You're right -- digital delivery, direct from the producer to the customer, is often the best way to go. I hope your model of releasing your songs for free and making your money on live performances is working for you; best of luck to you on your career.

  • by PCeye (661091) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @10:43AM (#18646603)
    The painting analogy is pretty good. I feel the original "reel" (or studio recording) with the final cut track is the art, and the cds resulting from it are the knock off collection of posters from multiple reels / recordings.

    The problem I have is who is actually presenting me the art copies at a fair price?

    I went to a record shop to find an album I wanted. The shop sold the album for 35 dollars claiming it was an "import". The album was also available from iTunes for $8.99, no such import premium attached to the on-line album. Should I believe the store is offering significantly more, justifying the $25.00 premium for the same music? Sure, the CD copy will have better sound quality, and album art, but is that actually worth the added $25.00?

    HMV in Ontario Canada were having a "special" on several albums ranging from $8.99 to $11.99. Most were marginally interesting, however visiting the regular priced racks, albums of past significance were sold for $22.99, 20.99, etc. This to me is not an example of paying for "Art". Movies require a significant amount of creativity as well, but can be sold for less than an album.

    Someone's work isn't just a piece of plastic, but when entertainment from various sources and formats are compared, the consumer can't help but make commodity like comparisons. Pricing can seem so unjustly different.

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