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Investors, "Beware" of Record Companies 301

Posted by kdawson
from the rats-heading-down-the-hawsers dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "The Motley Fool investment Web site warns investors to beware of 'Sony, BMG, Warner Music Group, Vivendi Universal, and EMI.' In an article entitled 'We're All Thieves to the RIAA,' a Motley Fool columnist, referring to the RIAA's pronouncement in early December in Atlantic v. Howell, that the copies which Mr. Howell had ripped from his CDs to MP3s in a shared files folder on his computer were 'unauthorized,' writer Alyce Lomax said 'a good sign of a dying industry that investors might want to avoid is when it would rather litigate than innovate, signaling a potential destroyer of value.'"
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Investors, "Beware" of Record Companies

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday January 03, 2008 @11:03AM (#21894446)
    The traditional music industry is like a wounded animal at this point. They're hurt and desperately striking out at anything, in hopes of somehow surviving. They missed their opportunity to innovate a long time ago and now they're just the walking dead, stubbornly digging in their heals and refusing to just lay down and die.

    They may get to the point where lawsuits are the only real income they have left. When that day comes, and all their Congressional bribe money has dried up, I think we'll see the courts and politicians finally start to hit back hard and finish them off. And they'll die still clutching their outmoded CD's, like pathetic John Henry's fighting innovation to the bitter end.

    • by altoz (653655) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @11:12AM (#21894568)
      Oh, they'll be dead before that. Artists are leaving record companies in droves. They'll start producing their own music and hiring niche marketing agencies to create demand instead. Even now, the smart ones are already moving in the marketing/concert promoter direction.
      • by PhotoGuy (189467) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @11:50AM (#21895090) Homepage

        Oh, they'll be dead before that. Artists are leaving record companies in droves. They'll start producing their own music and hiring niche marketing agencies to create demand instead. Even now, the smart ones are already moving in the marketing/concert promoter direction.

        While I agree with the sentiment, are artists really leaving in "droves?" Other than indie artists maybe never pursuing a label to start with, how many already-signed artists are leaving the labels? Can you list more than 10? More than 20? Even if you listed 1000, I'm sure it would be something like a tiny single digit percentage (or less) of the total artists on labels, hardly qualifying as droves.

        I think it *will* happen, and hopefully at an exponentially increasing rate. But for now, they still have the stranglehold on the artists.
        • by Shajenko42 (627901) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @12:10PM (#21895508)

          While I agree with the sentiment, are artists really leaving in "droves?" Other than indie artists maybe never pursuing a label to start with, how many already-signed artists are leaving the labels?
          How many have the legal right to do so? Aren't most artists working for the big labels locked into Draconian contracts that restrict them to either selling their work to the labels, or not selling their work at all?
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by jcr (53032)
            Contracts expire. When they do, if you're a musician who has the prospect of distributing his work online and taking the lion's share of the revenues, or cutting a deal with a venture capitalist who'll pay you under 10% of the proceeds, what option would you take?

            The record companies are a 20th century business that is rendered obsolete by the internet.

            -jcr

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by marcosdumay (620877)

              "Contracts expire."

              Yes, but copyrights don't. Only artists that retain their copyrights can walk away.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by CodeBuster (516420)

            Draconian contracts that restrict them to either selling their work to the labels, or not selling their work at all?

            More like trading their work to the labels in exchange for "promotion" and then owing the labels money for the studio bills, payola, and other concrete expenses associated with "promoting" the artist. As for the term of the contract, does "the rest of your prime working life" sound reasonable to you? BTW: If you want to break the contract early then they charge you penalties with interest for all of the "promotion" fees that you will be denying them from that point on AND you still owe them for the loans.

        • Sure, the artists you hear on the radio won't immediately leave the RIAA but after a while some groups and artists notice that they are not getting what they deserve and can get much better income elsewhere. Then they'll start switching. Another problem is that once you signed up with the RIAA, you can't really go back. Everything released from then on is their property and if you leave then you can't take your own work with you.

          RIAA-safe albums as found on riaaradar.com (the top100) include some well known names though. Some artists that have actually dumped the RIAA include Madonna, Nine Inch Nails, Oasis, Jamiroquai, Radiohead, Courtney Love and Canadian labels Anthem, Acquarius, The Children's Group, Linus Entertainment, Nettwerk and True North Records and there has been some commotion between EMI and the RIAA too so they might pull out completely pretty soon too.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by dimeglio (456244)
          Madonna recently [usatoday.com] left Warner for Live Nation apparently for the cash. Interestingly, Live Nation does not appear in the members list [riaa.com] of the RIAA. Coincidence?
        • How many non-indie artists can you name that are regularly putting out records? Just the 20 or so constantly played on the radio.

          Artists aren't leaving in droves, the contracts prevent them from leaving. But contracts aren't getting renewed, artists are giving up the business rather than completing their contracts, and artists now know not to sign with the RIAA's members.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by hedwards (940851)
            I do wonder if that's the only reason why they're leaving. Sure there is a profit motive in many cases and not being associated with an outfit that hates their own customers, but there are other reasons why an artist would jump ship.

            What I'm talking about is sound quality, control over content and controlling how and where the music is played, rather than the label. Those are compelling reasons to switch, the labels have for many years tossed their formerly best selling artists out in the cold when they hav
        • by moderatorrater (1095745) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @12:41PM (#21895968)
          In the past year, we've had McCartney jump to a new label, Radiohead release their own album, NIN doing their thing, and Prince bucking the trends, signing a deal that is unheard of from a record label, and distributing his cd in a way that pissed all the industry folks off. I agree that leaving in droves might be an overstatement, but it was the first year where labels started losing out in a high profile way because artists weren't playing along.
          • by RobBebop (947356) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @01:21PM (#21896676) Homepage Journal

            Also...

            Madonna signed with LiveNation concert promotion group (I don't know if they are embedded or not).

            Harvey Danger (90's one hit wonder) released a free CD

            Barenaked Ladies have interesting views on releasing music (I can't remember the details, but they distribute through a non-traditional site)

            Beastie Boys have put out at like one Creative Commons song and I think their latest album was somehow independent

            But my favorite is any musician with decent music posted on Jamendo [jamendo.com], where provides BitTorrent downloadable Ogg-Vorbis albums under Copyleft licenses. The site is a virtual treasure trove of exciting artists waiting to be discovered.

        • by elrous0 (869638) *
          You can bet they'll start leaving when the money starts to dry up. Sure, they sign when the studio can offer a huge signing bonus and stay as long as the gravy-train keeps flowing. But, as CD sales decline and the bonuses and payouts become smaller, the studios will eventually reach a point where the band says "Hey, we can do better than that selling our stuff directly and touring on our own."
    • The parallels with SCO are amazing, especially given the sizes of the companies we are talking about. That they could fail to see the future coming at them and more importantly read the trends (i.e. Napster) and react to them in a positive, money-making fashion, is an indictment of the corporate system, where over-priced CEOs sit in their glass-lined offices looking like suit-wearing fish and providing just about as much value to their company. When you start treating your customers as criminals, you have slipped over the edge and down the slippery slope toward oblivion.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by timeOday (582209)

        That they could fail to see the future coming at them and more importantly read the trends (i.e. Napster) and react to them in a positive, money-making fashion, is an indictment of the corporate system

        I'm not convinced there's any way to die gracefully when your business becomes outmoded (SCO, too). You make it sound like all they had to do was "adapt," but what does that mean? They had a sweet setup selling CDs in shopping malls with no competition, but once the Internet made all that unnecessary, I th

        • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

          by Billosaur (927319) *

          Perhaps, but adaptation would have given them the chance to remain relevant, as opposed to going on the offensive and driving customers away.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Mondoz (672060)
          "I'm not convinced there's any way to die gracefully when your business becomes outmoded..."

          A long time ago, the tobacco companies saw that eventually, their product would be regulated, lawsuits would ensue, and their profit margins would eventually shrink.
          They diversified into food products so heavily that they're making more money on food than they do on tobacco. (They keep most of their holdings in food so they can't be sued for it as well...)

          The music companies could have diversified into so many other
          • Mod Parent Up... (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Penguinisto (415985)
            Seriously - he's right. The Tobacco Industry saw it coming a long time ago. Because of the diversification, they are able to sell a pack of smokes at a loss (the vast majority of the $4.00 or so you pay for a pack of smokes goes to taxes, followed by retailer mark-up. Most convenience stores IIRC make a huge chunk of their income not on gasoline --which is a loss leader for them-- but by selling ciggies). Tangent aside, most cigarette brands are sold on razor-thin margins or at periodic loss for the manufac
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by mgblst (80109)
              This is a moronic statement. Why would they continue selling cigerattes if every packet was a loss for them - this statement simply makes no sense at all. If they make money from the food holdings, then why not stop selling cigarettes, or sell of the brand, and keep with the food.

              This sort of mindless rant doesn't help anyone. You do realise that taxes are a percentage of the cost of cigarettes??
        • failing to adapt (Score:3, Insightful)

          by zogger (617870)
          They have a 20 year old notion of how much a "unit" they need to make. This notion is ludicrous given the tech advances we have. They failed to keep dropping prices for their disks when they could. Instead of using the volume sales concept, they stubbornly stuck to making dollars profits on cents worth of plastic and paper. They just don't get it that price gouging doesn't work. The ultimate decision makers in that industry who decide pricing levels are *all millionaires*, they just can't relate to what stu
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by mpe (36238)
          I'm not convinced there's any way to die gracefully when your business becomes outmoded (SCO, too).

          Of course there is. It's known as "voluntary liquidation"... If it's timed right the business owners might even still have made a profit.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 03, 2008 @11:30AM (#21894822)
      Bad comparison! John Henry was a champion for the dignity of human work. He illustrated the very real danger of big business treating individuals as disposable ever since the industrial revolution. John Henry as the RIAA? Ridiculous.
      • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday January 03, 2008 @11:54AM (#21895182)
        No, he was a damned fool. Stubbornly digging your heals in, refusing to change, and fighting innovation to the bitter death isn't dignified and heroic. It's pathetic and stupid. It's like the old man who's afraid of computers, and who, instead of conquering his fears and adapting to the changing world, simply refuses to use them and becomes a goddamned living relic.

        If America were full of John Henry's, we'd have become a third-world backwater a long time ago.

        • by c_forq (924234)
          Damned fool for fighting to keep the jobs of himself and his coworkers? I would argue that you are a damned fool if you lay over and no longer put food on the plate for your family. This isn't something where he had the choice to switch from a typewriter to a computer, but a case where a machine was going to entirely replace him and others. For modern perspective look at the fight between labor and automation in the auto industry.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by elrous0 (869638) *

            Damned fool for fighting to keep the jobs of himself and his coworkers?

            No, he was a damned fool for not realizing that the era of hand-mining was coming to an end and looking for a new line of work. My great-grandfather was a coal miner back when it was booming. When it started to go out and the continuous miner came in, he went to work in a local textile plant--eventually rising to a pretty high level there before he retired. He made it possible for my grandfather to go to college. He didn't kill himsel

            • by c_forq (924234)
              You have to remember the circumstances and context. John Henry was a black man in a time when employment prospects for black men were few and far between. Henry Ford for a long time refused to employ any blacks, and when he finally caved he only allowed them to hold janitorial positions. At the time a John Henry there were not near the same opportunities and services for someone to take advantage of, in addition to limits of transportation to and difficulty finding out about new jobs or opportunities due
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by cayenne8 (626475)
            "Damned fool for fighting to keep the jobs of himself and his coworkers? I would argue that you are a damned fool if you lay over and no longer put food on the plate for your family. This isn't something where he had the choice to switch from a typewriter to a computer, but a case where a machine was going to entirely replace him and others. For modern perspective look at the fight between labor and automation in the auto industry."

            I guess I miss your point.

            I see nothing wrong with a machine taking over

          • by dekemoose (699264)
            > Damned fool for fighting to keep the jobs of himself and his coworkers?

            Yes. They were rendered irrelevant by new technologies. Happens all the time, your choices are to fight it or to adapt and get a new job. Those who fight it either a) Doom themselves to failure as industry passes them by or b) Doom their company to failure as industry passes it by. It may seem like it's easier for me to day than do, but I work in the tech industry and my job is under constant threat, so I have to keep myself updated
    • by jddj (1085169)
      Y'know, I think the industry are generally scum, certainly are doing themselves no favors with all the lawsuits against their own customers, but I still WANT to be able to walk into a store and browse and buy CDs. I'm not interested in pirating music, not interested in the DRM-laden iTunes Music Store experience, and want uncompressed, full-resolution pressed CDs as a backup and a tangible item.

      It's been quite depressing to watch the CD selection shrink at Fry's, Best Buy and other major retailers, particul
  • Sounds familiar (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Mick Ohrberg (744441) <mick@ohrberg.gmail@com> on Thursday January 03, 2008 @11:08AM (#21894504) Homepage Journal

    [...] rather litigate than innovate [...]

    Now where have I heard that before... Oh, that's right. SCO. And look where they're at...
    • Re:Sounds familiar (Score:4, Insightful)

      by garcia (6573) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @11:32AM (#21894838) Homepage
      Now where have I heard that before... Oh, that's right. SCO. And look where they're at...

      Yeah, but they didn't have much to market and a very small group that they could actually market their products (invented or real) to. SCO had to invent the "Pay us for Linux or we'll sue later" shit in order to have something that some companies would actually be willing to pay them for.

      Those involved with the RIAA still have a product that is mass marketable and that plenty of people will continue to purchase. Just because the Slashbotters (me included on this one) refuse to support RIAA music doesn't mean that anyone else really gives a shit. Yes, artists are starting to come around and going around the RIAA by distributing their music online, and it's working, but it's still not to the point where it's a 100% viable method to get your music out.

      It will be at least 5 years and more like 15 to 20 before we really see the fuckers die off -- as unfortunate as that is.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by garcia (6573)
        Oh and I forgot to add:

        Because they own copyrights on already recorded music that people like and will continue to buy for the foreseeable future, they will continue to have viable income for at least another 125 years. So while they might start faltering in 20 they won't be dead until the copyrights run out. Problem is that they will never run out because we'll never get those douchebags in Washington to fix the mess they were paid to create.
        • by darthflo (1095225)
          Old records don't sell too well, so reduced to the copyright sector their funds would be quite a bit smaller as compared to now. Without their current kind of liquidity their political weight would end after the terms of already bought politicians, lobby work couldn't be done as effectively as it is now. Consumer rights groups (supported by just about any somewhat intelligent lifeform) would have better chances to reform copyright to more sensible terms, killing off the big four's last income stream.
          Availa
      • If it was just Slashdotters that were no longer buying CDs, the RIAA wouldn't be so panicked. It's all the college students that can install a BitTorrent (or whatever) client and download music. It's all the people that buy music downloads from non-RIAA artists. It's even the legal download services that legally sell RIAA music, because the RIAA mindset still hasn't fully adopted that market strategy (hence DRM).
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by AmberBlackCat (829689)
        Don't forget, SCO was threatening rich corporations while the RIAA is threatening poor humans.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Drewmeister (1036004)
      "Now where have I heard that before... Oh, that's right. SCO. And look where they're at..." Who?
  • by Presto Vivace (882157) <marshall@prestovivace.biz> on Thursday January 03, 2008 @11:09AM (#21894524) Homepage Journal
    I guess the sue your customer business model isn't working out for them. Who knew?
    • by mea37 (1201159) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @11:27AM (#21894776)
      Or rather the columnist believes that's the business model they're now in and predicts it won't work well for them.

      The inference people here seem to be drawing (that the labels are in trouble because of the lawsuits) resonates well -- we want to believe that kind of justice works in the market -- but really it has the cause and effect reversed. Sales dropped first, then the law suits started.

      Now, the thesis is correct in so far as "sue the customer" is not a productive response to an adverse market. They continue to spiral not because they file the lawsuits, but because meanwhile they do nothing to address the orignal failure of their position in the market.

      The "ripping mp3s is unauthorized" angle is FUD all around, though. FUD on the RIAA for using that wording in the first place (yes it's unauthorized, in the same sense that I'm not authorizing you to disagree with my post), and FUD on everyone who cites this as the moment where the RIAA calls all users thieves.

      Now, sure, the bad press from the lawsuits doesn't help the RIAA... among the small part of the market that sees what's going on and cares. Don't get me wrong, I'm among that small part of the market (not anti-copyright, not convinced that everything the RIAA says is wrong, but on the whole opposed to their actions over the past few years); but don't be fooled into thinking that slashdot is the world.

      As to the investment point of view... yeah, to a point, I wouldn't want to be putting money behind the major labels right now. But Sony? What would be the total impact on Sony if their record label arm spun off or died out completely?
      • But Sony? What would be the total impact on Sony if their record label arm spun off or died out completely?
        You're right the record label arm is totally dragging down the highly profitable blu-ray division. Now, all kidding aside, if the consumer electronics part could divorce itself from the entertainment part, then perhaps Sony could go back to making consumer electronics that didn't suck.
      • by Aladrin (926209)
        They don't have cause an effect reversed, and neither do you. It's a cycle and that was the wrong choice for them. Suing your customers really will result in fewer customers, and choosing to sue your customers was one of the options they had after poor sales.

        But I don't for a second believe that's -why- they are suing. Even if sales were good, they would -still- be suing to attempt to gain every penny they could and rid the world of 'piracy'. It's doomed to fail, but they can't see that.
    • by Billosaur (927319) *

      It's not really a business model, as they are still trying to do business the old-fashioned way, and that's where they are getting into trouble. They've failed to realize that the Internet has allowed a music artist to move beyond the need for a big-name music company to "discover" them. An artist can now produce their own music, create their own artwork, package and distribute their own material, and place it such that it's easily accessible by their fans. Their fans provide the publicity by blogging and c

  • Shared Folder? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 03, 2008 @11:13AM (#21894574)
    I wonder how they define a shared folder? I'd imagine an shared folder to them is any folder on a computer that is connected to the internet, WAN or LAN, has a CD or DVD burner in it, has any kind of magnetic removable drive, or any computer in which the hard drive can be removed.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jcaldwel (935913)

      I wonder how they define a shared folder?

      Any letter drive under Windows. [google.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by westlake (615356)
      I wonder how they define a shared folder?

      I'll take a wild guess and say that they define a shared folder as the shared files folder used by your P2P client.

  • Heh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ilovegeorgebush (923173) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @11:13AM (#21894578) Homepage
    I've personally never thought - during all this suggestion from various websites - that the Music industry will ever die. In fact, I just think that the current status is a precursor to it revamping itself and embracing the digital era.

    The more I read things like this though, the more it seems the downfall of such companies could actually happen. I kinda like it, too. It rumbles in my belly...
    • I've personally never thought - during all this suggestion from various websites - that the Music industry will ever die.

      Music will live on. The Music Industry will go the way of the Telex. A sea-change in technology left it a business model without a business.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ajs (35943)

      The more I read things like this though, the more it seems the downfall of such companies could actually happen. I kinda like it, too. It rumbles in my belly...

      No, the industry isn't going anywhere. There are some large companies that will likely be shaken up, broken up or re-build as a result of change, but the fundamentals of the music industry are sound. People do want to buy music, it's just that a) the prices have become obscene while the technology has commoditized the "song" b) it's well known that buying music doesn't support artists because of predatory contractual bondage that they must accept from the publishers c) good music (which I define as any mus

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by MightyMartian (840721)
        I don't think the song is the problem. Prior to the emergence of the long-play record, it was all about the song. 78s and 45s could only fit a limited number of songs on them, and so was born the idea of the "single". Some guys, like Phil Spector and Brian Wilson, basically built careers around the single. They spent fortunes creating two and three minute songs, because you could make a lot of money off a single.

        The long-play was attractive because a) it wasn't that much more expensive to manufacture b)
  • by cashman73 (855518) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @11:26AM (#21894758) Journal
    Seriously, I'm no fan of the **AA. But if more investment companies warn folks not to buy their stock, and since these guys seem to be motivated primarily by the almighty dollar, maybe if they see their stock shrivel up into nothingness and their retirement blasted into oblivion,. . . maybe they'll finally, "get the memo," that their 19th century strategy isn't exactly working out in the 21st century. All we need is for one of the big fish to declare bankrupcy, the and rest will see that and stop their litigous ways and actual get back to giving consumers what they want,... And if they don't, then f*ck 'em!

    • All we need is for one of the big fish to declare bankrupcy, the and rest will see that and stop their litigous ways

      No, they'll all claim "ZOMG!!! T3h Pirates!!!" and sue more than ever since they would have to get money from somewhere. Part of me thinks this is a good thing to help them "get the memo" but they still won't put covers on their TPS Reports...

      Besides, Most of these companies are big media and have more than just the record section correct? Warner, Sony, ETC.?

      • No, they'll all claim "ZOMG!!! T3h Pirates!!!" and sue more than ever since they would have to get money from somewhere.

        What worries me is that the RIAA will talk Congress into subsidies... [wikipedia.org]

  • by emeb2 (536129) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @11:30AM (#21894814) Homepage Journal
    A lot of discussion centers around the apparent change in the RIAA's position on ripping for personal use. With the recent change in their website removing language that suggests they're OK with it and the statements from the Washington Post article about 'steals one copy' it sounds like they're taking a harder stance on it. Meanwhile there is this article http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/0103music0103.html [azcentral.com] which quotes a representative who says that it's not an issue.

    I suppose they want it both ways - keep people on the edge and they're easier to control or something.

  • Oh no! My money! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by maclizard (1029814)
    It's about time the recording industry collapsed. Maybe I'm just bitter, but last CD I bought cost $17, very little of which went to the artist. 90% of the money made in the music industry is not music sales but concerts, t-shirts, bobble-heads... you get the picture. Free the music!!
    • by Sanat (702)
      It is more than just the money. The RIAA represents "old energy" that is stagnate and therefore it will not be able to survive in the lighter energies of today and even more so... of the tomorrows. Each day the differential becomes greater and each day the RIAA becomes more like a dinosaur in our modern day. (The comparison to SCO is more than coincidental)

      I believe that we will see many infrastructures such as the **AA crack and fall apart in a similar way. The next major demise will be "Insurance". Watch
  • Magnatune.com (Score:5, Informative)

    by ProteusQ (665382) <dontbotherNO@SPAMnowhere.com> on Thursday January 03, 2008 @11:38AM (#21894916) Journal
    Might be a good time to listen to a [magnatune.com] few [magnatune.com] tunes [magnatune.com] from a label that's not evil.

    [Caveat: I don't work for them, own any part of the company, or know anyone personally who's released a CD through them. I just buy their stuff and dig Shannon Coulter's sultry voice.]
  • Stock shares? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SharpFang (651121) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @11:40AM (#21894950) Homepage Journal
    Actually, I wonder how their stock shares fare.

    Many companies have been proclaimed dead or dying while their shares kept going up, and they keep going up still. Some portals were proclaimed to be dead because their percentage market share vaned comparing to Google, but they actually gain users as the net grows, and they actually grow and note profits each year.

    So how's it for the record industry?
  • Still curious (Score:3, Insightful)

    by edwardpickman (965122) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @11:40AM (#21894956)
    I know it's fun to burn the school down but then you're left wondering what will replace it? I know the current preference is a pay if you want/download for free if you don't business model but it isn't exactly sustainable. The problem is always people will eventually get tired of paying and stop since they don't have to pay. Look at what happened when the 55 mph speed limit was lifted. I was living in LA at the time. For the first month people drove 55 out of habit but after that they slowly increased speeds to the new 65 limit and within three months they were already back to speeding. If you made the speed limit 100 mph some people would still speed. If the groups released their albums for free but asked people to not post them for download and to please only download them from the official site there'd be a copy on a file sharing web site with in the first hour. They can try to make money off ads on their web sites but like I say the majority will probably download from file sharing sites. Eventually the professionals will give up on releasing albums and songs entirely and just go back to playing live. Odd that things might go full circle to the pre technology days. Technology created the music industry we know and it's likely to kill it in the end.
    • by morari (1080535)
      That might be a problem in LA, where the roads are already heavily congressted and most drivers are assholes (like in any city). 55mph is a ridiculous speed limit in most circumstances however. I hate how the completely straight, flat, barren highways around here have an imposing 55 to 65 limit on them and are heavily enforced. Then again, law enforcement has already been good at wasting my tax money by enforcing nonlaws. :P
    • I know it's fun to burn the school down but then you're left wondering what will replace it?

      This isn't "having fun burning down the school"... schools serve a useful purpose. The (slow but eventual) death of the current music industry will be more like the tearing down of the Berlin wall.

    • by Solandri (704621) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @01:38PM (#21897046)
      Before cheap scanners and color inkjet printers, most wedding photographers would shoot the wedding for free or at-cost. They would charge up the wazoo for the prints and reprints. When scanners and color printers became cheap, people just started scanning the prints (or sometimes the proofs) and running off all the copies they wanted. In response, wedding photographers have mostly moved to a model where they charge all the money for shooting the wedding, then give the prints away for free or at-cost.

      I suspect musicians will go the same route. Songs will be given away as free advertising, and they'll make their money by booking performances and concerts (and selling memorabilia at such). For all practical purposes that's the way most of the RIAA-contracted musicians work anyway right now, since the studios keep 95% to over 100% (the band owes them money) of all the proceeds from song sales.

  • by zappepcs (820751) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @11:43AM (#21895008) Journal
    If anyone here thinks that the Fool will harm the **AA's business, think again. The Fool is only telling us what is happening. In a family gathering of more than 25 people for present opening ceremonies this year, I watched quite gleefully to find that only ONE CD or DVD had been purchased. ONLY ONE! There were cameras, books, clothes, presents galore... but only ONE lonely little DVD.

    My in-laws really don't care about the **AA and their ways, CDs and DVDs are JUST TOO EXPENSIVE. Never mind the lawsuits, their crap products are priced way out of order.

    Time to start ePhoenix records I think....
  • by phobos13013 (813040) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @11:47AM (#21895052)
    Take a look at Warner Music Groups stock price over the last two years [google.com] (WMG is the only publicly traded music label, in the last year it has decreased by almost $20! You screwed yourself in 2007 if you sided with the RIAA. But look at the long-term, its not just the lawsuits that make music labels a bad investment now or the last five years. Its a dying industry without the lawsuits. The digital age is here, nothing can be done to stop it. There never was anything that could be done. The industry can still exist, but its market share had decreased enormously and they need to accept it. Sorry for anyone who bet the farm on these guys, cause all you have is a cow left. Not even a cash one sadly.
    • by EMeta (860558)
      This would be a more useful comment given a percentage fall or some baseline for that $20 per share drop. The high a year ago was close to $25. It's fallen very hard.
  • where polotically correct in this sense is sensitivity to the dying music industry: maybe there really is no more money in this business

    we all talk about "embracing new models", and anger at the industry for seeing napster and fighting them tooth and nail, rather than changing their business model. we yell at the music industry for not using the internet to their advantage... well what if the suits are right? there is no advantage in the internet. that it's simply death for them?

    of course there is still money in concerts and movie theatres, those are real world venues. also advertising plugs. but everything that goes on media: movies, music, maybe there really is nothing but a black hole of no cash for the music and movie industries

    not that the industries can do anything about it

    and copyright of course means shit: it's simply unenforceable. you can trap a few scurrying mice here and there and extract a few pennies from soccer moms and college kids, but everyone will trade anyways, with just more and more bulletproof protocols and apps

    not that i'm worried or complaining about this new world. one music exec assholes financial riches gone means our cultural riches greatly improved. there's more than one way to measure richness than just cash in the bank

    it's a wonderful new world in fact

    long live the death of the music and movie industries

    this is really wonderful

  • by totallygeek (263191) <sellis@totallygeek.com> on Thursday January 03, 2008 @11:55AM (#21895210) Homepage
    Really, at this point, I purchase compact discs for one purpose: to have a real product to carry from the store and then store on a shelf. I rip all my CD's so that I may listen to the music on the device of my choice; one that holds far more information than any single or group of discs. It is getting this way with movies too. I figure that I will start ripping my movies to large storage systems and build a video-on-demand device at home. Don't get me wrong though, I do not like downloading music nor movies. Perhaps I am a relic, but I want a real 'box' product. In addition, I have hated downloading music within iTunes only to be told that I cannot make a mix mp3 CD (for my truck, which reads mp3 discs) with some of the music I just paid for the right to use. I feel the same way about movies, and to take it a step further, I feel most of my drive space is something expendable. If I lose an mp3 from a rip, I simply rip again. If I lose a download, I am SOL.
    • by Nonillion (266505)
      You're not the only relic here, I more or less agree with what you stated here. I still like to buy a physical product. I have no intention of selling copies of copyrighted works (real piracy). When I rip my CD and DVD's to the computer I consider that to be FAIR USE and expect it to apply the same as if I recorded my CD onto a cassette, Hi-Fi VCR, mini-disk or even 8-track tape. When I rip these products, I do so for convince, not to make these works available to every Tom, Dick and Harry on the Intertubes
  • Many people have umbrella policies in their home owner's insurance. I do.
    Now many people who own computers and are connected to the internet are buying music
    from itunes, have a home network to inter-connect more than one PC for resource sharing
    among computers. And many people own iPods and rip their own CD's using iTunes, leaving
    the music files on the computer. We all KNOW how secure Windows is against intruders from
    the internet. It's possible that some downloaded Trojan or Virus could somehow open up
    ou
  • Just out of curiousity, what happens to all that music these companies "own" if they all go down in flames? Does it all get buried under litigation for potentially decades until our legal system can define who owns what? If so, we might well be headed back to the age of "talkies", where the only music that accompanies anything is created in the present along side the content itself.
  • I've got to say it - the big labels really are at the point of deserving a Darwin Award at this point in time. They couldn't do a better job of committing suicide if they tried. Actually, I'd be amazed that if they had any good will left at all.

    Each of the mistakes they have made is a killer:

    1. Alienating their own creative talent. Copyright exists for a reason, and it isn't what the RIAA would have you believe it is - it's there to protect creative artists from the sort of treatment that the RIAA labels
  • AC/DC recently hit the 22 million mark on "Back in Black", so I refuse to believe that albums won't sell. I do, however, believe that crappy albums will no longer sell, and that you can no longer trick people into buying a crappy album (or endorsing the band behind it) with one over-produced song.

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