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U2FU?
January 28, 2008 10:54 PM   Subscribe

U2FU? Paul McGuinness, longtime manager of the band U2, has called on governments to compel ISPs to introduce mandatory French-style service disconnections to stop unauthorized downloading.

McGuinness criticized Radiohead's "In Rainbows" pay-what-you-want business model, saying that "the majority of downloads were through illegal P2P download services like BitTorrent and LimeWire".

He accuses ISPs, telcos, device makers, and numerous specifically named companies such as Apple, Google, Yahoo!, Oracle, and Facebook of building "multi billion dollar industries on the back of our content without paying for it", and of being "makers of burglary kits" who have made "a thieve's charter" to steal money from the music industry. The full text of his speech has been posted on U2's website.
posted by markkraft (68 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
The members of Metallica counseled him, "Dude, this will totally work."
posted by mullingitover at 10:58 PM on January 28, 2008 [7 favorites]


What does Oracle have to do with illegal file sharing? I'm genuinely confused.
posted by cmonkey at 11:04 PM on January 28, 2008


cmonkey writes "What does Oracle have to do with illegal file sharing? I'm genuinely confused."

People don't share music, massive database corporations share music.

MySQL respects the artists.
posted by mullingitover at 11:13 PM on January 28, 2008 [4 favorites]


Et tu, U2?
posted by cmyk at 11:21 PM on January 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


Good Christ. This guy makes Bono look like a genius. Scary.
posted by dobbs at 11:21 PM on January 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


And I've got $10 that says this blog entry is removed, edited, or "clarified" within one week. Any takers?
posted by dobbs at 11:24 PM on January 28, 2008


McGuinness criticized Radiohead's "In Rainbows" pay-what-you-want business model, saying that "the majority of downloads were through illegal P2P download services like BitTorrent and LimeWire".

OK, I'm not claiming to be an expert on P2P or online file sharing in general, but why on earth would you bother downloading In Rainbows from Limewire? You could download it from the Radiohead site and pay nothing, if you chose - that's what I did. Why bother with Limewire? Am I an idiot, or is McGuinness?
posted by Infinite Jest at 11:56 PM on January 28, 2008


Wow, what a dinosaur. A blanket tax to record labels for every mp3 player sold? ISP filtering out p2p traffic? Disconnection for repeat offenders? More closed platforms?

No thanks. I think there will be a need for a new model - something like a monthly payment ala netflix, with revenue divided amongst artists by determining playback through an audioscrobbler implementation.
posted by scodger at 11:58 PM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


OK, I'm not claiming to be an expert on P2P or online file sharing in general, but why on earth would you bother downloading In Rainbows from Limewire? You could download it from the Radiohead site and pay nothing, if you chose - that's what I did. Why bother with Limewire? Am I an idiot, or is McGuinness?

This might be one reason [self link]
posted by null terminated at 11:59 PM on January 28, 2008


He's just pissed off because no one is actually downloading U2.

And that's the letter U and the numeral "2" and these guys are from England and who gives a shit!?
posted by loquacious at 12:06 AM on January 29, 2008 [4 favorites]


Man, most people try to have their temper tantrums in private.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:14 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think this guy's an ass, and one of the most straightforward reasons is that he says people who downloaded In Rainbows by any channel other than the original site (while it was free) were stealing it. WTF? If I hand out free books, and someone gives one of them to his friend, that's not stealing. Stupid damn dinosaur, why should I give a shit about anything else he said if he's already betrayed that he doesn't even share a language with me?
posted by jacalata at 12:51 AM on January 29, 2008


U2 need to find a new manager. This guy is supposed to be their business brain, right?

His business plan for overcoming the challenge of free downloading? Plead for a special tax that would pay money to someone else (the labels)?
posted by mr. strange at 12:58 AM on January 29, 2008


re: "multi billion dollar industries on the back of our content without paying for it"

If I were a major ISP, I'd be conter-accusing QTrax (The P2P legal download service backed by the record industry) of building a multi billion dollar industry on the back of our bandwidth without paying for it
posted by seanyboy at 1:01 AM on January 29, 2008


This system is already in use here in Cannes by the MIDEM organisation and is called SIMRAN. Throughout this conference you will see contact details and information. I recommend you look at it. I should disclose that I’m one of their investors.
posted by matteo at 1:08 AM on January 29, 2008


Why bother with Limewire?

Apart from the reason null terminated mentioned, there's also the reasoning that people got the album in the same way they're getting all their albums these days. If you've used a p2p application to download, say, five albums last week, and you used the same torrent website to find them, AND the Radiohead album is available in the exact same way on the exact same torrent site, you're not going to jump through an series of unknown hoops to get the album in a completely different way just because that new way allows you to be counted by the band. The choice between two free methods, one of which you know, is an easy one.

Of course, this also means that the music industry has lost and might as well give up, because whatever new method of distribution they come up with will fail to reach those who already use p2p.
posted by DreamerFi at 1:11 AM on January 29, 2008


U2's manager is about as laughably out of touch as I'd expect him to be. It's telling that he spends most of his time talking about technology when he clearly has no understanding of how it works (in the broad sense). I also liked how he barely mentioned consumers of music at all throughout. "What I’m trying do here today is identify a course of action that will benefit all: artists, labels, writers and publishers."

This little nugget was also pretty awesome:

People all over the world are going to more gigs than ever. The experience for the audience is better than ever. This is proved by the upward trend in ticket prices, generally unresisted.

Indeed, a better experience at the show is a natural consequence of higher ticket prices. Chin chin!
posted by whir at 1:11 AM on January 29, 2008


Christ, this blanket tax broad-brush business annoys. I own nothing by U2. Zero. None. Can't stand the fuckers. And yet somehow they deserve to make money off of me, just in case I pirate their shit? (in which case they also reserve the right to sue the pants off of me and suck the marrow from the bones of my ancestors). GET OFF MY LAWN, PAUL MCGUINNESS. And take your damned Zune with you.
posted by mumkin at 1:31 AM on January 29, 2008 [3 favorites]


Because U2 have have such a Great Record of smart thinking on copyright issues.
posted by tallus at 2:04 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Although in Canada, the upshot of such a user fee was that p2p was declared legal, at least briefly (as I understand it, the matter is still being decided in the higher courts there). I doubt this is what U2's handlers have in mind.
posted by whir at 2:07 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Isn't the very name U2 pirated? Couldn't they have come up with their own name rather than steal one from the USAF? When oh when will the US DOD introduce a tax on musicians to pay for infringement of their trademarks?
posted by davemee at 2:07 AM on January 29, 2008


Your band's favourite manager sucks.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:47 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also: standard piece of misdirection.
The question is, 'Who is making all of this online money, and why aren't they sharing it?'
The question should be: 'Who is making all of the money, and why aren't they sharing it?'

But the answer to the second question would be 'Middleman pimps like me are robbing you, and we're not sharing because you're all suckers and marks who are easily distracted by our spurious claims that your audience are the people who are really robbing you -- not industry fat cats like me.'
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:56 AM on January 29, 2008


> And that's the letter U and the numeral "2" and these guys are from England and who gives a shit!?

Ireland. These guys are from Ireland.

There are so many things wrong with McGuinness' speech, it's impossible to pick a few salient points and counter them. He patently fails to acknowledge that there might be any legitimate reasons for "huge downloaders", or p2p at all. He makes the logical fallacy that because people download his "content" (and thus, omfg, "[his] money") through their ISP's connection, that no-one would pay their "internet subscription" if that content wasn't available. That phrase "our money" appears just too often for my liking anyhow - it's not their money, it's ours and we choose who we give it to - if he offered a better product, maybe he'd get it instead.

The whole thing is underpinned by an unwavering arrogance, the belief that without the content of him and his peers, the Internet would crumble and fall, and only with it have we reached the technological heights that the "hippies" and "deadheads" he caricatures have raised us to.

Fuck him, frankly. Whatever systems he and his cronies implement, there'll be ways around them for those who wish to find them. And people will wish to do so just as long as the record companies, artists and publishers consider the crap they produce "[their] money"...
posted by benzo8 at 2:57 AM on January 29, 2008 [5 favorites]


i wonder if, when he managed the U2 special edition 30 gig ipod, he actually thought that owners would download only legitimate, paid-for content? I wonder if he thinks that each and every ipod is filled with thousands and thousands of dollars worth of music? tosser.
posted by galactain at 3:08 AM on January 29, 2008 [3 favorites]


Is he the guy that says, 'sure Bono man, those glasses are really you'?
posted by mattoxic at 3:36 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


In this picture, Paul McGuinness is seen accepting the Ireland's presigious "Donn Mahone" award, as he tries to describe the giant sucking sound that his vision of the Internet would bring to music fans worldwide.
posted by markkraft at 3:44 AM on January 29, 2008


benzo8: "Ireland. These guys are from Ireland."

You're no Casey Kasem.
posted by flatluigi at 3:48 AM on January 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


benzo8: “The whole thing is underpinned by an unwavering arrogance, the belief that without the content of him and his peers, the Internet would crumble and fall, and only with it have we reached the technological heights that the "hippies" and "deadheads" he caricatures have raised us to.”

While this is certainly true, I think it’s only part of something far bigger, also underpinned by unwavering arrogance and a sense of entitlement that would make George Bush blush.

In the 15 to 20 years that run from the advent of the CD to the average cheap PC coming with a CD burner, the music industry made just simply staggering amounts of money for the following reasons. 1: the primary means by which people consumed music was the CD – a high-margin medium which, for the majority of the public, was difficult to copy at anything approaching a similar quality, and generally they couldn’t copy it in anything other than real time. 2: the arrival of the CD meant a whole new market for music which had already paid its costs and reaped enormous profits for labels, namely everything released on vinyl from the rock boom of the 1950s onwards. Rereleasing and repackaging this was both cheap and sidelined the risk in developing new artists’ careers. 3: in addition to this, acts like, oh, say, U2 continued to release and sell vast quantites of new music.

Essentially, they had a lock on their market and continued to assume – for far longer than they should have, which I think we all know – that this model would work indefinitely. They ignored the advent of digital music until they could no longer get away with doing so, because doing so would be to acknowledge that they’d failed to see what was coming. By the time that there was a means of copying music both faithfully and (almost as important) extremely quickly – a dangerous enough situation of you run a major label – there was something else they didn’t want to deal with: the ability of their customers to distribute these copies without their prior approval.

So all of a sudden, their money-making model is fucked, and they’re extremely pissed off about it; they feel entitled to that cash. It is their right! It is their retirement plan! And they don’t know what to do. To make matters worse, they – the biggest brains around, the best and most talented executives going – didn't even see it staring them in the face.

That the people at the top of this industry failed to prepare for any of this in any way approaching meaningfully is a harsh indictment of their suitability to run the companies they do. But it’s also worrying in a wider sense, namely one of, for want of a better phrase, cultural responsibilty. (This is touched on in the Arstechnica piece linked, but, as usual, the music industry got it wrong.) These people are, in some ways, guardians of much of popular culture: if they have a right to profit, then they also have a duty to protect what they profit from, and not just in a financial, self-interested manner.* The music industry does not consider this its core responsibility; fair enough, they’re there to make money. But the fact that they don’t consider it a responsibility at all is shameful. And the sooner they are forced to adapt by the larger forces of technology and cultural shifts, the better.


*(Look at the situation in the film industry: nearly half of all films made before 1950 have been irretrievably lost, because studios failed to preserve their archives properly. Imagine how many of them could have been preserved had movie fans been able to make enormous numbers of identical back-up copies distributed on computers the world over!)
posted by Len at 3:53 AM on January 29, 2008 [13 favorites]


You're no Casey Kasem.

One of the many things for which I regularly give thanks... :-)
posted by benzo8 at 3:57 AM on January 29, 2008


Quick! Somebody call Negativland! There's a whole new album for them here!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:14 AM on January 29, 2008


"a thieve's charter"

In his defence, he actually said "a Thieves' Charter"
posted by biffa at 4:28 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


If the ISPs, telcos, Apple, Intel, Google, Facebook et al. are really making so many billions off the back of pirated music, then they should get together and buy the entire music industry outright, then use music as a loss-leader for their real products.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 4:34 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


He's a ripe old dragon sitting on a trove.
You know what happens to dragons and their troves.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:42 AM on January 29, 2008


I dropped an email to Mark from Negativland, as I felt it would be the appropriately humorous thing to do.
posted by markkraft at 4:43 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


It is clear this guy is completely out of his mind.

They are as ambitious and hardworking as ever, and each time they make a record and tour, it’s better than the last time. They are doing their best work now.

Unless, of course, the guy wrote this back in 1991.
posted by mckenney at 5:14 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


This bit is important, and easily missed:

"There is technology now, that the worldwide industry could adopt, which enables content owners to track every legitimate digital download transaction, wholesale and retail.

This system is already in use here in Cannes by the MIDEM organisation and is called SIMRAN. Throughout this conference you will see contact details and information. I recommend you look at it. I should disclose that I’m one of their investors."
posted by tiny crocodile at 5:32 AM on January 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


Zooropa rocked. U2 and their posse can say whatever dumb shit they want to from now till the day they die: they've earned that right. Everyone in this thread griping, where's your platinum album? Yeah, didn't think so.
posted by chunking express at 6:10 AM on January 29, 2008


Some people clain that free downloading helps the artists, because more people come to their concerts and buy their tour t-shirts. The new trend (but old idea) is 360 management, or "multiple rights":
"the record label essentially takes a percentage of an artist's tour revenue and money from merchandise sales. (...) A classic 360 case is the career of the true country music legend, Hank Williams. He was signed to Acuff-Rose in Nashville virtually out of the backwoods of Alabama and agreed to anything. (...) The only thing they weren't was his record label, but they handled Williams' deal with MGM records. They planned their own record label and launched Hickory Records the year of Williams' untimely death at age 29."

Madonna is now on a 360 deal.

It seems the record companies will get their money somehow, and that many artists prefer this to 100% independence.
posted by iviken at 6:59 AM on January 29, 2008


After I read this (already quoted by mckenney),

They are as ambitious and hardworking as ever, and each time they make a record and tour, it’s better than the last time. They are doing their best work now.


I knew that this guy was either deluded by his own greed or a willing liar. That said, I recently read this article, which gives some fabulous insight into why we should not feel sympathy for the major labels from a man who has been around.

So yay for U2's brilliant business sense and all, but why are dinosaurs trying to talk about the future? They were successful at working a system that should never have been; they should count their money and shut their mouths.

But, tiny crocodile and seanmpuckett both said it well. Buckets of money already made do not satisfy. The dragon never sits on his gold forever; he's made for pillaging.
posted by nosila at 6:59 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


What're you talking about chunking express? U2 jumped the shark with "Joshua Tree". Ever since then they've been part of the same old pap that brings us "American Idol" and Britney Spears.

And this guy is obviously out of touch.
posted by Eekacat at 7:01 AM on January 29, 2008


Negativland.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 7:09 AM on January 29, 2008


In the UK, most ISPs offer different tiers of services, with a higher monthly fee for heavy downloaders. Why are there ‘heavy’ downloaders? Isn’t that our money?

Um, no. Unless U2 expect me to pay them a couple of quid when I download a movie.

The dicks.
posted by influx at 7:19 AM on January 29, 2008


He accuses ISPs, telcos, device makers, and numerous specifically named companies such as Apple, Google, Yahoo!, Oracle, and Facebook of building "multi billion dollar industries on the back of our content without paying for it"

Again, this is someone who is confusing the "music industry" with "music". We do not need a music industry, and without one there will still be people who make music.

But let's set that aside. Why should the music industry take precedence over the technology industries? Why does the music industry get to decide what happens in high tech? Why not the other way around?

In fact, I would venture that the technology industry employs more people at a broader diversity of income levels than the music industry, and in particular U2. And even people who aren't directly employed by the tech industry can participate in its growth by buying stock that appreciates or pays dividends. If I knew in 1983 that U2 was going to be huge, how could I have participated in that growth?

And what arrogance this guy displays. He names Apple and Google, but why doesn't he name Palm? Palm has just as much of a connection to downloading music as Oracle and Vodaphone, two companies he does name. So why not Palm?

Oh, that's right, because Bono owns Palm through his investment in private equity fund Elevation Partners.

What a bunch of tools.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:51 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Everyone in this thread griping, where's your platinum album? Yeah, didn't think so.

Not to start an argument or anything but are you genuinely suggesting that if we have not achieved something then we should have no say about it? So basically, since I have not won a Nobel Peace Prize I should have no opinion regarding it's winners? Is that what you are trying to say?

That's going to limit the conversation come the Academy Awards you know.
posted by longbaugh at 8:20 AM on January 29, 2008


chunking express writes "Zooropa rocked"

Anything after The Joshua Tree sucked. Sure, there was some good music in there, but they are just insufferable twits since they've embraced the pop-star sentiment.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:33 AM on January 29, 2008


In this picture, Paul McGuinness is seen accepting the Ireland's presigious "Donn Mahone" award, as he tries to describe the giant sucking sound that his vision of the Internet would bring to music fans worldwide.

Markkraft, did you mean Póg ma shón award (pron. Pogue Mahone)? cos the ass kissing goes beautifully with that photograph!
posted by Wilder at 9:15 AM on January 29, 2008


"makers of burglary kits"

*verifies contents of burglary kit*

Lockpicks? Check.
Glass-cutter? Check.
Rope? Check.
Ascenders? Check
Mask and Gloves? Check.
MP3 encoder? Check.
P2P Client? Check.

Ok, I'm good to go.
posted by quin at 9:23 AM on January 29, 2008


longbaugh, I was being sarcastic. Was it not obvious enough? I'll try harder next time.

Well, to be more precise, I was being sarcastic about everything except the fact that Zooropa rocked. That album did rock. Fuck Yeah. Zoorapa Baby.
posted by chunking express at 9:45 AM on January 29, 2008


It's pretty cute how the negativland club meets in every U2 thread. For my part, here's some danish, and I say those bastards went whole-hog for copyright hypocrisy the second they launched the ZooTV tour, and played hip by broadcasting footage that didn't belong to them. U2 is indistinguishable in every way from their laywyers.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:07 AM on January 29, 2008


/switches sarcasm device to "on" position.

"Hey Bono, I really like those sunglasses you wore in the video for 'The Fly'"

Yep. Appears to be working now. Cheers, chunking express.
posted by longbaugh at 10:17 AM on January 29, 2008


Heh....this writeup was just about copied word for word for someone's submission to Slashdot.
posted by inigo2 at 11:00 AM on January 29, 2008


From what I've seen so far elsewhere, U2's fans aren't so keen on this development either. For what it's worth ... I just didn't want all the U2-bashers to feel lonely or anything.

My favorite band's manager sucks.
posted by corianderstem at 12:18 PM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


You know what's really depressing? Despite his clear and complete failure to grasp the nature of technology, strong encryption, whether all ISP users owe him a living regardless of their consumption of U2's music, or whether ISPs should completely destroy their users privacy at great cost in order to try and fail to prop up his failing business plan of 'I deserve lots of money - they have lots of money - I want some of it for nothing'... Despite all that, THIS bullshit is what politicians in France and the UK are listening to, and going to force ISPs to implement.

Screw the users, screw privacy, screw that strong encryption beats deep packet inspection so the only people who won't lose will be infringers. What's next, opening everybody's post to see if they're shipping bootleg discs? Roadblocks to search for contraband personal CD copies? Making the telecoms companies listen to all phonelines to make sure someone isn't singing happy birthday down the line? (should be easy, just use the NSA taps)

It's police state bullshit to screw one successful industry to prop up one failing industry that's managed to piss it's customers off so much they're boycotting in droves.
The technology and telecomms industry absolutely dwarfs the music industry in number of jobs, income and profit. It's about time they stopped letting themselves be the music labels' gimp.
posted by ArkhanJG at 12:35 PM on January 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oh, and the techie boys that told him 'encryption isn't a problem' are either full of crap, or he didn't understand what they were telling him. Bittorrent 'encryption' is barely worthy of the description. All that is encrypted is the packet header that normally says 'I'm a bittorrent packet'. The rest of the packet is unencrypted, and easily identifiable if you throw enough horsepower at it to check in real time. Failing that, just cripple all encrypted traffic like pipex do.

Strong crypto is what you get on secure websites, like your bank or webmail login. That's specifically designed so that the entire web traffic from start to finish is wrapped up in encryption that would take years to break. Worse, vpn connections encrypt absolutely everything (if DNS is also routed through the VPN). The whole point of strong crypto is a man in the middle, like the ISP, has no idea what is being transmitted, only where it's going to.

Bittorrent was designed to be fast, not anonymous. New services coming up, like that from the pirate bay, or older ones like WASTE, or even SSL connections to usenet servers will be utterly indistinguishable from legitimate encrypted traffic like bank pages, and connecting remotely to a company vpn.

The only people who will suffer will be the ordinary users who have everything they do online recorded.
posted by ArkhanJG at 12:47 PM on January 29, 2008


[quoting an entertainment lawyer] “God forbid that one of these acts in a 360 deal has success. The next thing that will happen is the manager gets fired and the lawyer gets sued for malpractice.”
God forbid!

Does anyone remember Abbie Hoffman? He was one of the “Chicago 7” the ‘Yippies” of the Youth International Party who tried to disrupt the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago and got beaten up and put on trial by Mayor Daley’s police. He put out a book with the title “Steal this Book”. I think he has a lot to answer for.
It's all the Yippies' fault that the recording industry is fucked! Who knew?

Kids don’t pay $25 a month for broadband just to share their photos, do their homework and email their pals.
$25 a month? Could you post the name of that ISP, please.
posted by CCBC at 12:48 PM on January 29, 2008


I couldn't give any credence to his argument when he started talking about "our" money.

Dude, you're not a musician, you're the idiot who makes sure Larry Mullen has his preferred lunch meats at the catering table backstage. You're not creative. You've put nothing out into the world. It's not your money! Shut up! Go get Edge a Fiji Water!
posted by Dreama at 12:48 PM on January 29, 2008


Damn hippies and their computers.

Sadly, the recent innovative Radiohead release of a download priced on the honesty box principle seems to have backfired to some extent. It seems that the majority of downloads were through illegal P2P download services like BitTorrent and LimeWire even though the album was available for nothing through the official band site. Notwithstanding the promotional noise, even Radiohead’s honesty box principle showed that if not constrained, the customer will steal music.

He's wrong; Thom just said on the BBC last Saturday (on Jools Holland's show on Radio 1) that they'd averaged about 4 pounds per album through the download-- that they'd "done very nicely out of it". (I also notice that In Rainbows is still in the Top 5 in the Billboard charts, which would seem to imply that large numbers of people still buy their music on CD only, but whatever.) The strategy didn't "backfire" at all; if a thousand people were going to download Radiohead's seventh album for free when (and they knew that this would be inevitable) it leaked before release, and they then instead got a hundred of those people to pay the full CD price for it, then they come out ahead. And all those people who downloaded it for free left their contact information on the site; that database in itself is valuable.

I'm a little surprised that he doesn't get any of that.

Pompous twit. I download lots of music through subscribtion (Emusic) and from places like bleep.com and 7Digital (or directly from small labels). I always pay for it. However, a band like U2, who has sold, as McGuinness said, 150 million albums? How much more money do they need? They should be grateful that we're still listening, I can't help but think in a petty sort of way.
posted by jokeefe at 1:39 PM on January 29, 2008


Hugh MacLeod (from the gapingvoid.com blog) has put it into words much better than I could do in a thousand years:

http://www.gapingvoid.com/Moveable_Type/archives/004432.html

posted by jgbustos at 1:41 PM on January 29, 2008


Notwithstanding the promotional noise, even Radiohead’s honesty box principle showed that if not constrained, the customer will steal music.

And this is worth repeating-- he doesn't get that the "promotional noise"-- which included articles in major newspapers, discussion in mainstream magazines, spots on the evening news, blah blah-- was worth a huge amount in the economy of attention and consumer awareness. It's called marketing, and he's supposed to know how that translates into monetary value.

And this "the consumer must be constrained". For fuck's sake. The feeling's mutual, buddy.
posted by jokeefe at 1:42 PM on January 29, 2008


scodger: "I think there will be a need for a new model - something like a monthly payment ala netflix, with revenue divided amongst artists by determining playback through an audioscrobbler implementation."

This is close to what (new) Napster was trying for, but mostly failed to achieve. Conceptually it was not bad; one price for all-you-can-eat music, either on your PC or portable player, plus it had lots of neat themed playlists.

But they failed for a number of reasons. First was that it didn't work with the iPod because it used the WMA/PlaysForSure DRM scheme,* when they really should have gone with nothing at all. Second was a limited catalog of music. Third was crummy software. Fourth was price; while it wouldn't have been a bad deal if the service had been good, they asked for too much money.

That said, I think all-you-can-eat subscription services would be a pretty good thing overall, if they can get over the DRM issue and go to MP3 files or another standardized/open format. Of course, they'll probably never do this, because they'd be terrified of people downloading lots of their 'product' and then walking away with it. But this is just because the music companies don't get their core problem: they need to learn how to sell a service, not a product.

They're so used to stamping out little plastic discs and selling widgets that moving to a music-as-a-service model terrifies the hell of them (and admittedly, many artists don't seem to get it either). But it's where we're all going, might as well get on the train now.

* Which is made of fail. If you don't regularly plug your FauxPod into your computer, all the music you have on it magically stops working. Very uncool if you keep your player in your car or gym bag.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:59 PM on January 29, 2008


Heh....this writeup was just about copied word for word for someone's submission to Slashdot.

Perhaps that's because the Slashdot user sleeplesseye and the mefi OP markkraft are both, in fact livejournal's insomnia. It's not plagiarism, he's just carpetbombing.
posted by mumkin at 2:10 PM on January 29, 2008


dammit. insomnia.
posted by mumkin at 2:23 PM on January 29, 2008


Brazen.
posted by klaatu at 5:17 PM on January 29, 2008


Notwithstanding the promotional noise, even Radiohead’s honesty box principle showed that if not constrained, the customer will steal music.

Damn, think of all the music the world could have listened to, if it weren't for those damned thieves. Now it's stolen, so we'll never be able to enjoy it. And I would never have been the wiser if it wasn't for the child molester* Paul McGuinness. Paul McGuinness, rapist of children that he is, knows a thing or two about music theft. The infant poker Paul McGuinness also knows a thing or two about abusing the English language to change the meanings of words to suit your own purposes.

* Child Rapist: (n.) One who expects children to pay $15 for a CD.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:27 PM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've been following the discussions over new ways to promote music with interest, but I would like to know how it would affect the following: fans in non-first-world countries who have enthusiasm and some money to spare, but who hardly get to hear about most of the artistes to begin with.

I'll give Malaysia as an example. When CDs were hot in the rest of the world (98-99), the young people (major music buyers) here were buying cassettes. They were half price, most people have Walkmans because they were cheap, and cars weren't fitted with CD players yet but they had cassettes. People also made mix cassettes of their favourite tracks regularly.

I won a YEPP MP3 player in 2000 - this was before the iPod boom. However, my computer was too slow to manage it so I never got to use it, but it was an interesting proposition. YEPP seemed to be one of the first companies to get MP3 as an alternative to Walkman; if it weren't for Apple they probably would have been pretty popular.

As cassettes grew out of style and CD players became MUCH cheaper, people started buying CDs. Problem? CDs were still pricey. Also, a lot of artistes never released CDs here (or released them late) because apparently we're not a big market. About the only music that gets sold here is super mainstream Top 40 stuff. Good if that's your taste; bad if you want a varied taste in music. What did take off was piracy. Pirate CDs were dead cheap, and played decent. Cover CDs sold well even though they weren't even sung by the original. (Pirate DVDs and software is particularly lucrative.) The media industries make a big hue and cry over how piracy is a crime and how we're supporting crime bosses etc - but when censorship and lack of choice gets in the way, and radio was playing the same songs over and over, what other option did you have?

It was somewhere around 01-02 that things started to change. While KL did often have foreign bands playing (most opted for Singapore instead), after 9/11 our area SUFFERED because we were suddenly a terrorist hot spot. Bands were cancelling gigs 18 months later blaming 9/11. No South-East Asian country was involved with 9/11! Sure, Bali got bombed, but gigs were being cancelled in Singapore - which is ironclad safe. Now things are getting slightly better tour-wise, but South East Asia still loses out on gigs.

Tours get mentioned often as a viable means of support - but hardly anyone ever tours here! The only bands that tour here are super mainstream ones. They sell out quick, but they don't show up often. Some may argue that Asia's too far off - however, a lot of indie/non-mainstream bands show up in Japan and do well. Japan is the one Asian country that is able to support any sort of music, mainly because non-Asian bands think Japan is "trendy". Yet there are willing and open fans waiting in the rest of the continent who don't get access. Merchandise is expensive - why should we pay US$20 for a band t-shirt? That's RM80, which could go to much better quality clothes. (Malaysians are hard bargainers.)

Internet connections are gradually speeding up, so downloading and p2p has become an option. This is more of a country-specific thing - Singapore is blazingly fast, Australia has quotas, Malaysia is hit-and-miss. However, buying music online is a pain. Most young people don't have credit cards - the only option iTunes take. I can't even register for an iTunes account because I live in Australia but my CC is billed to my dad's house in Malaysia (it's a supplementary). Paypal is severely limited - it was only recently that Paypal allowed Malaysian accounts, but you can't link to a Malaysian bank account.

With all this hassle, why do you even want to buy anything online, particularly from a foreign country? Might as well get it for free, right? Get stuff off your friends! The next few years would be interesting though, as a few banks and companies have started offering prepaid Visa cards geared towards young people (about time!!!), which may change how young Malaysians shop.

But still. Even if they bought the music online, what incentive do they have to follow the artist, to support him/her/them? The artist doesn't come to their country for tours, the artist doesn't make themselves accessible to people from other countries, the artist doesn't even seem to think this whole other region (except Japan) exists. Where's the experience?

Local bands do fairly well; I'm not into the local music scene (save for knowing a few friends who are a part of it) but from the looks of it, they're doing well locally and regionally. This is a very recent development though, particularly for English-speaking musicians. It would be totally awesome and well-deserved if they got international attention, but because they're Malaysian (and not Japanese or some other trendy wealthy country), they get left out. Their promotion only goes so far. MTV and [V] are doing their best to promote local music, and they're the ones working their asses off with touring et al, but the competition is intense.

What options do people from those countries have? Seeing as they're usually hubs of piracy, what can we do?
posted by divabat at 8:56 PM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


YEPP seemed to be one of the first companies to get MP3 as an alternative to Walkman; if it weren't for Apple they probably would have been pretty popular.

Aside: Yepp is just a Samsung brand name for their mp3 player product line. The players are certainly better (along any axes I can think of) and more reliable than Apple's shoddy crap, and sell orders of magnitude more units here in Korea, as are and do iRiver, another Korean brand.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:32 PM on January 29, 2008


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posted by bonaldi at 4:33 PM on February 6, 2008


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