Thursday, March 13, 2008

And the Band Played On

The "leaders" of the "music industry" continue to publicly display their complete lack of relevance as well as morals.

Meanwhile, Nine Inch Nails is raking in the big bucks after telling their record label to piss off, in spite of the fact that their new album is all over the P2P networks.

  • Price is everything. I am hardly a NIN fan. In fact, I have probably only heard one or two of their songs prior to buying Ghosts I-IV. At conventional CD pricing, those 36 tracks would have cost at least $50 and likely more. I would have never paid that. I was happy to pay the asking price of $5, even after listening to them and deciding about half the tracks are collections of random noise. I'll risk $5 on something I know nothing about. Never $50.
  • People who can pay will pay, even when what you are selling is available for free. It was worth $5 to grab all 36 tracks plus a bunch of artwork and other extras in a single zip file from a reliable source rather than deal with all the hassle of P2P. NIN also has more-expensive packages all the way up to an Ultra-Deluxe Limited Edition for $300, which sold out in less than 24 hours.
  • Radio? What's radio? I think I heard my grandpa mumbling about the "wireless" once. Seriously, does anyone under 30 listen to the radio? I have an iPod Nano that holds enough music that any given track will only repeat once every six days or so if I listen 24 hours a day. On iTunes, I have 4,500 tracks that would take over two weeks to play through. The last time I listened to the radio, I couldn't go more than 45 minutes without a repeat.
  • Labels may still have a role to play, but they aren't.
  • The RIAA has completely succumbed to Jerry Pournelle's Iron Law.
The internet is a disruptive technology. We are watching the music business being disrupted. Broadcast TV and radio are dead men walking. Movie theaters will stay around because few people have the room in their home or the money to duplicate the immersive and social environment you can get in a theater for $10. (Or free, if you happen to be married to a good travel agent working for AAA....) But the rest of the industry is going to change dramatically. For starters, Pixar and the like are going to drive the price of talent down by a couple orders of magnitude. The days of being paid $25 million to pretend you are a fictional character in front of a camera are numbered.

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