Van Morrison once said that “Music is spiritual. The music business is not”. How true that comment is.
Spotify recently announced the acquisition of “The Echo Nest” , a music intelligence company that will give Spotify and its users a better music discovery platform. As is the norm these days, it is technologists leading the way for the music business and in general the entertainment business at large.
When Spotify offered free mobile access, they had more sign ups in one month than the whole year prior. Spotify knows it’s all about domination. The history of the internet has shown us that. Pandora is unrivalled in the radio streaming stakes. Apples iTunes Radio is non-existent.
Labels are rolling it in from streaming services and they are not passing those extras on to the artists. That is not Spotify or Pandora’s fault. That is the labels fault. Again, if Spotify is that bad for the artist, then artists like Metallica and Motley Crue that actually own their own copyrights wouldn’t participate. But they did.
While Spotify innovates, the entertainment industries legislate, still focused on censorship and take downs.
Over at Italy, their communications watchdog has given itself a “Judge Dredd” like power. They are basically censoring websites based on a copyright infringement claim from a copyright holder and without any real judicial due process for the website involved.
Just recently, the Public Prosecutor from Italy has decided to go all “Wild West Sheriff Style” on the Internet by ordering Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) to censor dozens of websites, because he said that the websites are places that contain infringing materials. In this case, no copyright holder made any claim against these websites. Yep, it sure sounds like innovation to me.
This is how bad copyright has gotten. People believe that COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT OF MUSIC is the same thing as PROPERTY, an actual physical tangible product. And because of this viewpoint, sites that infringe on people’s copyrights are treated the same as sites that deal in stolen merchandise. When a copy is made of a song and shared, it is not theft. It is copyright infringement and it needs to be treated as such.
In recent years, studies have shown over and over again that people who share movies and music illegally are the ones that end up spending more on legal entertainment. The research is now even recognized by the “Industry Trust For IP Awareness” which is a body that includes all of the major Hollywood Studios as its members, along with the major labels in music.
The latest anti-piracy message from the IP Awareness Industry Trust is a positive one. Instead of labelling all of their customers as pirates and criminals, they are now saying that they understand people like movies and that they appreciate that people are sharing and spending money on movies. This time around they are pushing a slogan of “Moments Worth Paying For” instead of the Big Brother “You Can Click But Can’t Hide”.
Neil Gaiman is one of those people who actually is open-minded when it comes to piracy. There is a video doing the rounds from a while back (on Reddit) where Gaiman talks about piracy;
“You’re not losing sales by getting stuff out there. When I do a big talk now on these kinds of subjects and people ask “What about the sales you are losing by having stuff floating out there?” I started asking the audience to raise their hands for one question — Do you have a favourite author? And they say yes and I say good. What I want is for everybody who discovered their favourite author by being lent a book put up your hand. Then anybody who discovered their favourite author by walking into a book story and buying a book. And it’s probably about 5-10%, if that, of the people who discovered their favourite author who is the person they buy everything of and they buy the hardbacks. And they treasure the fact they’ve got this author. Very few of them bought the book. They were lent it. They were given it. They did not pay for it. That’s how they found their favourite author. And that’s really all this is; it’s people lending books.”
Let’s rephrase those questions in terms of music. Even musicians out there should ask themselves the same question.
Do they have a favourite artist?
How did they discover their favourite artist? Was it by buying their music or was it by someone sharing the music with them or was it by someone lending them a CD, a mix tape, an LP or an iPod full of mp3’s or by someone talking up the artist.
How many people discovered their favourite artist by walking into a record shop and buying a CD without even hearing it? Or in today’s world, how many people discovered their favourite artist by going onto Spotify and listening to music of someone they haven’t heard about.
Gaiman gets it. He is a realist. Hey, look over in Japan. They actually have a rental policy in place for fans of music. People hire/lend the CD, take it home, rip it and then return it for another. Personally, Spotify is a better alternative, however rights holders don’t allow it to exist at this point in time.
Finally, the great land down under, Australia is in the news again. Of course as a country founded by convicts, we have a proud history of seeing higher copyright infringement rates thanks to the lack of legitimate and affordable options.
So we don’t have Netflix and because of that we have resorted to using VPNs to mask our location and subscribe to Netflix anyway.
Of course, the free to air TV stations, the pay TV station Foxtel (who is owned by News Corp) and Quickflix along with the News Corp owned “The Australian” news outlet are labelling these paying users of Netflix as “PIRATES”. Yep that’s right. We are paying for a service that is affordable (something that Quickflix doesn’t know anything about) by masking our IP address so that we can access it and we are still labelled as pirates.
So there you have it, another wonderful week has come and gone, that shows that the Entertainment Industries still don’t get it and technologist and open-minded creators do get it.