|Spoon's Audio Guide: Music Industry|
If the music industry could be characterised as a person, it would be:
The music industry bands together and has a collective mouthpiece / legislator the RIAA. Through the RIAA they prosecute old ladies for file sharing (even though said old lady has never seen a computer), buy new laws (DCMA), influence international relations (Russia's joining of to the WTO).
Rather than list all the nasty business the RIAA enters into, we will add a little humour by parodying the music industry as characters from the Mister Men series of books.
1990 to 2000
Four devastating innovations clouded Mr Greedy's world:
CD drivesinitially read only, expensive, slow, but the potential was there to record the CD digitally onto computer. Drives evolved fast, 2x speed, 4x then writers. Like tapes before them, CD-R would destroy Mr Greedy's world, or so he said. People and courts were not so believing this time, except for the few sad countries which levied taxes which went straight into Mr Greedy's pocket for any CD-R sold, regardless if used for audio or not...Mr Greedy is indeed very powerful.
Beavering away in their German institute, Fraunhoferinvented technology which made audio files manageable on computers. 10:1 compression with passable quality, now computers could store and playback audio. Audio files of around 1 to 2 MB were just able to uploaded and downloaded by the slow modems of the time. The stage was set for a revolution.
Portable mp3 players, Rio was one of the first manufacturers (MPMan were the first) and felt the full force of the Greedy's anger, were taken to court for contributory copyright infringement, despite the fact the Rio 300 at the time was a one way street, it could not share audio. The courts ruled in Rios favour (another loss for Greedy), but the case damaged Rio financially. For years portable players were limited to being read only.
Were was hip Sony? surely a company of their innovative past would embrace this digital revolution?, no their mp3 players were not even mp3 players, rather they played ATRAC their own proprietary format. The software for uploading to said players was lambasted by users (would force users to re-rip CDs after a period of time, to make sure the original CD had not been sold, I kid you not!). This treating their customers as potential thieves would raise its head again later...Why the change at Sony? Sony had grown and encompassed Sony Music Entertainment, one Sony division created that, a division in the company and made sure Sony would not create a Walkman equivalent mp3 player.
The Internetconnected people, promoted the free flow of ideas and information. Mr Greedy does not like the words free, connected & flow, in-fact he does not like the internet at all. Born of the internet came Napster, appearing from no-where, Napster was an over-night hit, first with students then the world, trading in these new mp3 files. Despite not selling anything, or making any money, Napster was valued in the 100's of Millions, such was the innovation. Napster set music free in many senses of the word, free as in freely available without cost, free from its media (CD).
Mr Greedy went home, he was angry, very, very angry, would he still be able to make huge piles of money?, Mr Greedy decided he needed something to put an end to Mr Computers party, he got together with his greedy buddies, the idea was to employ a Mr Copy-Protection to put special marking codes on the music CDs, Mr Copy-Protection had the potential to seriously hamper, and possibly put an end to Mr Computers party. Alas, this was not to be, for Mr Greedy and his buddies would not stop quarrelling amongst themselves, they simply could not agree on exactly how Mr Copy-Protection would be employed.
It has not all been bad news for Mr Greedy, no sir, for Mr Greedy has had a hand in the creation of Stand-Alone-CD-Recorders. These devices plug into your Hi-Fi and enable CD's to be created without the need of Mr Computers help, however all is not as it first seems. Stand-Alone-CD-R's will not record onto normal CD-R disks, they only record onto special Consumer-Audio-CD-R's, and Mr Greedy has placed a special Greedy tax onto these discs, which goes straight into his pocket. What is this greedy tax called? it is 'refund to Mr Greedy of the expected loss from illegal copying', this tax is truly obsurd when you discover that Stand-Alone-CD-R's will not copy commercial audio CD's. Mr Greedy truly is a very naughty person.
Much has changed..., the village has been over run with taxi firms, all has changed too for Mr Napster. Once the king of the road Mr Napster has been under constant attack from the greedies, as such he only has a few really old cabs that no one wants to use because they now have to work under tight rules, but other firms are doing booming business. Some of these taxi firms operate on a house to house basis, from no central base, Mr Greedy is unable to find them, let alone stop them!
Mr Greedy and his greedy friends have been hard at work, and after much head scratching they have created something fiendish - a CD that will play on normal HiFi's, but when CD calls at Mr Computers house it is unable to play! Fantastic, at last Mr Greedy can sleep safe and sound at night, safe in the knowledge all music falls under his tight control, well not exactly...what Mr Greedy fails to realize is that he is actually making it much worse for himself, for the people who want to take CD around to Mr Computers house are the nice people who have actually given Mr Greedy bags of money for said CD, they might want to transfer CD onto Mr Rio. When they find they cannot, they will I am sure, find Mr Internet and one of the many taxi firms to get a copy of the music they already own. The next time they are in one of Mr Greedies shops they might just stop to think and decide it is better to not bother giving Mr Greedy a bag of money for something that is far worse they can get from Mr Internet. Mr Greedy should be congratulated, for this is such a stupid plan.
Talking about Mr Rio he has lots and lots for Rio-esq friends now, some of these friends are relatives of Mr Greedy, ironic as Mr Greedy tried so hard to stop what his own family now embraces. If there is money to be made, you can count on Mr Greedy to be sniffing around the action.
So what of the future? Mr Greedy want to keep his music under lock and key, even if you were to give Mr Greedy a bag of cash, he want to control exactly how-where-and-when you can listen to his music, this is the complete opposite to what the people of the village want, the majority are fine upstanding citizens who are quite happy to give my greedy cash for his stuff, but they do not want to be told how-where-and-when they can listen to it, imagine buying a car and being told you can only drive it from here to there and nowhere else. Unfortunately it would seem the sheriff of the village is on Mr Greedies side, why you ask? because Mr Greedy is all powerful with his Greedy friends, in this village money = power.
To be continued......
sueing old ladies...
ipod generation, drm free
internet radio, hike in fees