How to end piracy

We rarely buy video games anymore (we already bought well over 250 games for PSOne/PS2/PS3/PSP/GameCube/Wii/GameboyAdvance). These days we are using Gamefly to rent games. We are very happy with their service so far.

Netflix works incredibly well for us as well. Two physical discs are shipped each time, at an unlimited rate, and we pay just $10 per month! This usually means a maximum of 20 movies per month, although we usually don’t do more than 5-7. When using their online viewer, it’s unlimited viewing — as many movies as your bandwidth allowance from your ISP allows. I finished watching “Earth 2” this way, by watching it online. Worked really well. Like with the games, it has also stopped us from buying DVDs.

The interesting thing with Netflix is that because it’s so easy getting access to a movie or a show, that you don’t think of ripping the DVD and keeping it locally. It just doesn’t cross your mind anymore, the service is that transparent. So if Netflix and Gamefly work so well, save money, get us what we want, and it takes away any conscious need for piracy, why not do the same for music?

A flat rate of $5 per month (let’s face it, creating music is cheaper than creating a movie or even a good video game). A world-wide RIAA-endorsed online service (it would be best if iTunes itself changes to become it) that allows you to download unlimited 192kbps MP3/WMA/AAC/OGG non-DRM music. P2P among members is now legal (in fact, it’s endorsed, as it would save bandwidth to RIAA/iTunes). Pay an additional flat fee of $20 per year and you get the ability to be sent physical CDs (when requested) that you can then rip yourself in FLAC or other lossless codec if you want — or pay $2 and keep the CD you were sent. Eventually, physical media will disappear anyway. A fine idea is also “bulk licensing” for education institutes, no more school penalizing.

Sure, this might mean less money for the RIAA wolves, and artists will have to tour more to make more money and the most successful ones would negotiate better cuts from RIAA, but you know, times are changing and if they are to keep any potential customers, they have to come up with a model that saves time and money for the consumers. And honestly, seeing how well Netflix and Gamefly works, the model would do good for music too. I don’t believe that profit will be marginalized that much, because given the fact that most people don’t buy more than 4-5 CDs per year, that’s already the price you pay for the subscription model, so it all evens out.

Entertainment corporations keep hanging in the old ways of doing business. A model that just doesn’t work anymore. Music can still sell, but it has to become easier to get in bulk so it gives the feeling to the consumer that it’s free and unlimited.

9 Comments »

Dave Rosky wrote on February 28th, 2008 at 4:12 PM PST:

I think this is a good idea and I think we will eventually get there. Some services are already starting to remove DRM from music (albeit they do charge a little more).

In particular, I find interesting the comment about artists touring more to make money. Recording and broadcasting are, in fact, relatively new on a historical time scale – only 100 years old or so. Before that, *all* music was either performed live, or you played music yourself on your own instruments. Around 80 or 90 years ago, recording then became the dominant delivery of music, but who’s to say it has to stay that way forever just because it’s been that way for the past 80 years or so. Recording will obviously always be here, but maybe there will be a closer balance between recording and live performance, which might not be a bad thing.


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Eugenia wrote on February 28th, 2008 at 4:16 PM PST:

Yup. Besides, if you are Madonna or Green Day, and therefore too popular, you can always re-negotiate your cut from RIAA. This way, the popular artists can still get rich — if this is one thing that artists do like a lot from the current business model. So in reality, nothing changes in terms of profit for either labels or artists, it’s just that the way they distribute and differentiate music products does.


Jim wrote on February 28th, 2008 at 7:03 PM PST:

It is my understanding the market for independent music is as large for commercial music. The fact is most musicians that are producing CDs, writing and recording their own music will never make more than a couple hundred dollars in their lifetime from it. Considering that independent music is as large as commercial music this is a huge factor. Rodney Dangerfield the comedian (so you folks under 40 will know) used to say that he doesn’t get much respect. Commercial music is getting all the attention, but I surmise that one of the reasons that independent music is so huge is because of the greediness of the record companies and the music produced by independent musicians is for the sheer joy of it. The music I am recording now for my upcoming Musical, I am putting in a few bucks and hiring some special musicians because I want that extra polish, but world class musicians are even working for me for cheap.
I think that in making predictions for the music industry that they have cost themselves market share, by hogging the economy and forgetting who their customers are, the customers are going elsewhere.
BTW Eugenia, thank you for being so honest about yourself and JBQ is fortunate and rich man for sharing life with you.
for the rest of us, let us share some music both around the campfire and the stereo


jeff wrote on February 29th, 2008 at 9:22 AM PST:

Just go to imeem.com. Its a social music site, You can listen to any song someone wants to share, and you can create your own playlists also. I found a playlist “coffee starbucks 2 jazz fusion” that I’m in love with. I believe that big corporations aren’t filling all the voids in the market place. There is some really good stuff coming from South America that Target and Walmart don’t feel like it would be profitable enough to sell. The problem is with distribution. In reality, I’d say a CD is only worth like $5. The old CD price is way to high, with online distribution they should be dropping by they haven’t.

I Enjoy it while it lasts, and don’t have a drop of sympathy. High school kids don’t have a lot of money but have the most drive for music, that’s a fact based on life experience.


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Eugenia wrote on February 29th, 2008 at 12:00 PM PST:

Imeem does not do what people want. They want popular artists, not just indies.


jeff wrote on February 29th, 2008 at 1:08 PM PST:

everything is on there dummy, just do a search of any band, you’ll find it.


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Eugenia wrote on March 1st, 2008 at 12:07 AM PST:

I don’t use sites that are of questionable legality. This is why I wrote this blog post to suggest a universal, legal, solution.


Bob wrote on March 1st, 2008 at 6:05 AM PST:

Interestingly, I’ve talked to a VC acquaintance who says that they’ve been tryoing to get the music industry to do something like that for a long time. Apparently, there are a lot of people in the music industry with a vested interest in counting each and every bean.

Think about it… bulk licensing would save a lot of money just in accounting costs. Or, phrased differently, it would kill some jobs.


jeff wrote on March 1st, 2008 at 9:31 AM PST:

For DVD’s, on-demand distribution services such as amazon’s are working well. I agree that some DVD’s are worth way more than others (ie. planet earth type documentaries should be worth 2-3 times blockbuster movies). But for music, that’s a little grey, because John Mayer can sit down with cheap equipment and still put out some great hits, so its hard to measure the costs of such performances. But at the same time an artist with expensive equipment may put out trash. If your proposal happens, artists will negotiate their cut off each download, and I bet you they will want a lot. If Apple or amazon controlled these negotiations, there would be no RIAA. OF course I’m not sure if their cuts will improve since Amazon is known to be very very lucrative (they take 50% of the sale price for on-demand books/DVD’s).


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