[JPL] Pandora radio on deathbed?
Jazz Promo Services
jazzpromo at earthlink.net
Mon Aug 18 08:40:55 EDT 2008
Here¹s an interesting artice written way back in the dark ages¹ of the
Recording Industry Hits a Wrong Note
By Titus Levi and Christopher Weare
February 22, 1999 in print edition B-5
At the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, Luddites smashed power looms in a
desperate effort to protect jobs. At the dawn of the digital revolution, the
Recording Industry Assn. of America appears intent in following the
Luddites¹ misguided example. With the development of MP3, a new standard for
the digital transmission of music over the Internet, the music industry is
feverishly working to protect its profitable and well-worn business model.
Instead of embracing the opportunities created by MP3, the RIAA wants to
smash into every hard drive in America to root out illegally obtained copies
of copyrighted music. In these attempts to thwart new digital technologies,
the industry places at risk its profits and the composers, musicians, and
music it purports to protect.
History demonstrates that music companies would be better advised to embrace
MP3 and digitally distributed music as a business opportunity. Technologies
that lower the costs of disseminating information have repeatedly been
attacked by owners of established technologies.
Newspaper and telegraph companies fretted over the introduction of radio;
film companies resisted TV; both film studios and TV broadcasters fought
against home videotape machines. Music companies themselves fought against
the proliferation of the recordable cassette tapes. The American Society of
Composers, Authors and Publishers entered into protracted court battles to
stifle attempts by radio stations to play records on the air, believing that
free distribution of recorded music via the airwaves would diminish demand
for recordings as well as reducing the value of live performances.
In each case, the establishment overreacted. The new technologies did not
replace the old. Rather, after agreement to protect the intellectual
copyright of artists was reached, the entrants added richness and breadth to
consumer choices while lowering the costs of accessing information. The
older technologies adapted and found new niches in changing marketplaces.
Moreover, despite new and easier ways to copy books, films and music, sales
of original content have continued strong. Last year, as MP3 supposedly
allowed for the plunder of record companies¹ current releases, compact disc
sales increased 9%.
The RIAA¹s antagonism toward MP3 is misguided on other grounds. By their own
admission, record companies have become less interested in releasing
singles. The release of singles free over the Internet could quickly and
effectively build interest in an artist or an album. This could prove to be
a valuable complement to radio distribution of free singles, especially in
genres, such as jazz and world music, that lack a strong radio presence.
Internet-based trading of digital music could actually increase record
company sales by increasing visibility for artists. If fans use MP3 to send
their friends several songs from a CD, the friends probably will not buy
that CD. If they like it, however, they are more likely to buy other CDs by
the same artist. If they buy one, the record company is no worse off. If
they buy several, illegal copying is actually netting companies additional
profit. In short, the RIAA is wrong to assume that every MP3 file traded
over the Internet leads to a lost sale.
Finally, and most important, whittling away at the superstar system, which
benefits a handful of recording artists and record company executives, will
not reduce the supply of good music. The RIAA emphasizes the parallels
between computer software and digital music, claiming that strong incentives
are needed to promote innovation and progress. Musical creativity, however,
is different from business investments. Good music has been produced for a
long time without the ³help² of record companies or CD sales. The next rock
stars practicing in their garage will not give up their dream for fear that
fans will trade digital copies of their CDs.
In many ways, music belongs to all of us. While we are not pleased that
African-American blues artists never received their due credit or royalties
for their contribution to our common culture, it is important to note that
making blues music cheaply and widely available laid the foundation for a
variety of American musical traditions. If blues artists had had the means
or the money to jealously protect their work, musical innovation might have
been substantially suppressed. Encouraging the RIAA to cease its rigid
rejection of all digital copying will promote innovation in much the same
The digital revolution is changing the rules of business. Netscape, recently
acquired by AOL in a $6.2-billion merger, grew its business by giving away
its main product, Internet Navigator. Music companies need to learn from
these examples and direct their efforts to building new value propositions
in the digital marketplace. Bluntly applying the antiquated tools of
copyright enforcement against the tidal wave of new technology will surely
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