p2pnet.net News View:- I’m sincerely troubled by Andy Lack’s stewardship of Sony BMG. You see I’m just not sure he likes music. And this is a business that doesn’t require a LIKE of music, but a LOVE of music.
The announcement by Sony BMG of CD burning restrictions is so wrongheaded as to make one question if Mr. Lack truly understands not only the music landscape, but the technological landscape. It’s not about piracy, it’s about getting music into the hands of more people than ever, and CHARGING them for it. To initiate restrictions, to do anything to STOP the flow of music is antithetical to business principles. The goal is to GROW your market, not RESTRICT IT! Mr. Lack has been given credit by Howard Stringer for making the trains run on time, but so did Mussolini. Making a balance sheet work is far different from growing, STEERING a company. Just look at Apple Computer. Gil Amelio was brought in to staunch the bleeding, and he did. He made the numbers work, he provided a favorable balance sheet, certainly compared to his predecessor. But, he was running the company into the ground. Making the numbers work on an ever-dwindling market share. Finally Steve Jobs came in and streamlined the product line, heralded innovation, and now Apple Computer is not only a technological and stylistic darling, it is a WALL STREET darling.
Enough already with the DRM. CD burning is so LAST CENTURY! Addressing CD burning is like IBM figuring out a way to protect its rotating ball technology in typewriters. It DOESN’T MATTER! Oh YES, IBM sold some typewriters after the advent of the personal computer, to people afraid of new technology, but suddenly, seemingly overnight, they couldn’t sell a one. That business was DONE! But it’s even worse than that. Who exactly is Sony penalizing with its CD burning DRM? THE PEOPLE WHO BUY THE CDS!! To use the vernacular, this is fucking NUTS! These are your core customers, these are the people you want to PLEASE! Why limit the people who are paying? Why alienate them? Why reduce their usage of a product they have purchased and own outright? To inhibit behavior by those who HAVE NOT purchased the CD?
Theoretically, making CDs uncopyable will force others to purchase CDs rather than settling for burned copies. But, ANYBODY who works at a record store, ANYBODY who actually is a music buyer, KNOWS that if you’re a fan of the band, you won’t SETTLE for an imitation copy. You WANT not only the original CD, but the artwork. Look at it like the people who tattoo themselves with corporate logos. The company is not getting paid, people do it because they BELIEVE! If you believe in a band, you want EVERYTHING THEY EVER DID!
But it gets worse. Because burning, when done, is not about piracy, but making new fans. The fact that Mr. Lack can’t see this is evidence that he knows nothing about the music business. The HARDEST thing to do is make new fans. It’s different from TV, where there are a limited number of channels, a limited number of news outlets, there are TENS OF THOUSANDS OF CDS RELEASED A YEAR! ANYTHING that encourages people to discover new bands, become fans, should be EMBRACED, not TORN DOWN!! This is called killing the golden goose. Radio sucks, MTV plays no music, the only way to find out about new music is through friends and Mr. Lack wants to LIMIT THIS???
But, of course, anybody under the age of twenty five will tell you that burning has been eclipsed by file-trading. DON’T look at P2P as theft, look at it as WORD OF MOUTH ON STEROIDS! Word of mouth you should be CHARGING FOR!
This happens every goddamn day. Not only do I hear from neophytes like Mr. Lack, I hear from music business veterans, lamenting the fact that wares are being STOLEN! Yes, in a 1990s world their logic holds, but not in the twenty first century. These are NEW MARKETS! Think of it like Yahoo!, or Google, they didn’t exist previously, now they bring in boatloads of cash. Online music is a NEW MARKET! To try to shoehorn it into the CD paradigm is like…Time Warner’s Pathfinder. Oh, you don’t know what that is?? Proves the point! Or maybe you should think of AOL… What if AOL sued to prevent people from
acquiring broadband?? To keep everybody on dialup. THAT’S what the labels are doing here. If there was no broadband, there would be no video on the Web, and online shopping would be crippled, for Websites would run too slowly. TRUE, it might be better for AOL…then again, we’re speaking of a fantasyland. AOL couldn’t stop the proliferation of broadband. And now the company is changing its model, becoming a Web portal like the aforementioned Yahoo! and Google. Will they succeed? Will the major labels succeed in the online world? Well, they can’t stop it, they’d better start competing NOW if they want to survive. Or else, maybe they have a sincere desire to be TRAVEL AGENCIES! Enterprises built on an old wave model frozen out by the new technology of booking travel on the Web.
Andy Lack is suddenly a music expert. Quoted in major media outlets. But his grasp of what’s going on in the music sphere is probably less than your average college student.
First there must be passion.
And then there must be intelligence.
Andy Lack is not stupid, but he’s not passionate. And he’s got a blind eye when it comes to technology. I’d tell you to protest his efforts, but it doesn’t really matter. The public is doing so as we speak. Think about it…you want to restrict CD copying when you can purchase the track online and burn it to a CD and strip all the copy protection… Isn’t this like erecting a fence to keep people out but not having the fence cover the complete border?
I respectfully tell Mr. Lack…your head is up your ass.
Please stop pontificating and spend a week on the Web, downloading music, visiting pitchforkmedia and myspace. Zapping files via IM. Frequenting music blogs and interacting with people from all over the world. THEN come back and tell me what’s going on. But you’re not gonna do this. Because you just don’t care enough. Hate to tell you this, but your customer DOES!
Bob Lefsetz – The Lefsetz Letter
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