Would you steal a car? Yup!

Digital rights management is an important issue but some of the thinking around it is about as inspired as John Howard’s vision for tax reform. We should have a sorry day for having had that clown in power for so long.

So the quaint little ads on DVDs ask whether you would steal a car, or a book or whatever. And the answer they seek from us is a resounding NO.

Problem is that if someone walked up to the average punter and said

“Hey would you like a brand new car, exactly what you want without having to pay for it and you won’t get caught?”

They wouldn’t all say no, a very large number would say yes.

A quick look at how many Australians actually pay tax reveals we have no problem with theft and fraud.

Concurrently the music and movie industry complain about people stealing music (and movies/tv). It is the end of music, of variety, a gaggle of newly starving artists who were formally financially secure.

Yet there are all these new artists about, so many it is almost impossible to keep up. The soft porn music videos are still being made and a bunch of average artists are very rich.

Could it be that music itself is fine, but that some of the ‘industry’ built around it is in trouble? Could it be that the major labels were ‘taking’ a lot more out of the industry than they were contributing to it. Is it possible that they have been gouging us for decades/

I am by no means a peace loving hippy. I am aggressively pro commerce but I struggle to express sympathy for the major labels who  are crying foul after decades of false economies for both the consumer and the artists involved.

Ben Shepherd writes: This ARIA report shows some interesting figures


Digital channels seem to erode album sales and spike single sales.

Maybe moving forward it will be hard to create an ‘album artist’ from someone who has 2 good singles. People will just buy the 2 good singles.

The trends are this
– physical album sales going down
– digital single sales up
– physical single sales dying a quick death
– digital ringtones flat

Liam asked “Could it be that the major labels were ‘taking’ a lot more out of the industry than they were contributing to it.”

Probably. Well … like many industries (including media) music was probably a bit too slow to react and when it did it was trying to defend the livelihood of the physical album.

Labels will need to shift to play on their strengths – marketing. Their role in distribution and logistics isn’t required anymore.

But they are good at creating stars. No matter what you hear about myspace/social networks creating big stars … or artists like Radiohead by passing the major label machine, no one creates music stars and works the system like a good A&R.

A label like Modular seems to have the modern label right (even though they were allegedly in 5m of debt late last year). They are more a lifestyle brand than a manufacturer of music. They have graet bands and are involved in touring, licencing, merch, management, booking, publishing and advertising elements as well as events.

My belief is generally people want to do the right thing and pay for recorded music – but it has to be the easiest and most reasonable option. Otherwise they will take it for free if they can.


2 responses to “Would you steal a car? Yup!

  1. Music is fine but its needs some more forward thinking individuals at the top of the tree before the commercial model thats funded large piles of class A’s can again be profitable (to a more reasonable level) but also provide newer artists with opportunity.

    Maartin Steinkamp is the Eurpoean CEO of Sony BMG. Not too long ago he said ‘CD’s are just one of 5 revenue streams and 4 of them are on the up – live, publishing, sponsorship and merchandize.
    Despite the distribution model offered by the digital world, nothing really good has come out of it in terms of discovering talent’

    The fact is that legal downloads increase in parallel with illegal donwloads so there are a large number of people who are prepared to pay, even if at lower amounts than older generations might. If the music industry moves soon it can prevent a whole generation being used to music for free and won’t budge. Music will be entirely commodotized outside of live.

    Collaboration between the big labels might help fix this. People will pay for downloads but on their terms i.e. unlimited choice. If the labels got together and created a model that allowed access to all of their librarys and people could download a certain amount per month for a standard fee – say $10-$20 – they may have something appealing. As long as to the music fan it provides enough access and music for your money to be appealing.

    Digital radio once its on its feet, will also hopefully create better platforms for host stations playing only new bands – again, maybe funded by the labels. The format of commercial radio means only certain genre’s will ever be played so they don’t ‘intefere’ with ads. Bollox but fact.

    There are already great organizations like Music OZ out there for unsigned bands. Digital can far more easily provide them with airplay which ultimately will generate revenue for them and labels

  2. “A bunch of average artists are very rich.” No sir. A bunch of average performers are rich and a bunch of average record companies are even richer. I haven’t seen a rich artist since… Well…

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