Recording executives set to be the Dodos of the modern era

Read this scathing piece by Wired’s Tony Long on the recent activities of the now-notorious Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). They recently embarked on a crusade to sue 26,000 people who are downloading MP3s over the internet to “send a message”. It appears to be a desperate attempt to keep the last vestiges of their big cash cow going. Eventually, they will lose. The internet has changed the model of the music industry, as well as the media industry. But it appears the RIAA will fight to the bitter end…

Says Long in Wired:

So when their first victim, Thomas, turns out to be a single American Indian mother of two making a measly $36,000 a year — latte money for the RIAA boys — you have a hard time picturing these guys nailed to a cross. But that’s the image the RIAA has tried hard to foster since some pimply-faced intern first explained to them what file sharing was. All of a sudden it was, oh, boo-hoo. Poor us.

People will buy music online at an affordable price. I’m happy to pay for music downloads at a reasonable price to get a reliable and fast service. I’m sure there are many people out there like me. Recording artists can afford to make their song downloads cheap as they now don’t have to worry about distributing and packaging their albums as CDs… it’s the disintermediation effects of the internet. It cuts all this middle-man stuff out. In any case, I think the majority of bands will make their money from live performances in the future. I guess we can therefore expect more live performances than ever before and, understandably, expect ticket costs to rise (yes even higher than they are now).

Continues Long:

Some artists are beginning to wise up to this. Thanks to technology (and when have you ever heard the Luddite say that?) bands are discovering that they can, in effect, become their own publishers, cut out the middleman and go directly to their audiences…. If there’s an industry where the Marxist exhortation for the workers to control the means of production makes sense, this is it.

Rather than bring out the guns, the recording industry should re-invent themselves and adapt to the opportunities and challenges the internet model presents. Their actions are making sure everyone on planet earth loathes them and they are not winning hearts and minds. If they continue to act like this, they will accelerate their inevitable extinction. They’ll join the Dodos.

Matthew Buckland: Publisher


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