Those guys at IMPALA are crybabies.  Unfortunately, they’re living in the same past as the major labels.  One wherein all music is sold at physical retail and discounts and chart shenanigans rule.  It’s like we’ve never left the twentieth century.  Instead of celebrating, IMAPALA’s members should be firing those who pursued this lame-brained course of action.

Ah, the legal system.  So arcane the average person can’t understand it.  The court did not say that the merger constituted a monopoly and should be blocked, just that the process of approval was not thorough enough.  If you think this means the Sony/BMG merger will ultimately be nullified, you’re living in a dream world wherein Microsoft splits itself in two, ending up with an applications division and an operating system division.

Now Microsoft has got trouble overseas.  But it’s not the same.  Like the weasel he truly is, Bill Gates is refusing to comply with a court order.  THAT’S the American cowboy behavior that the rest of the world hates.  As in THE RULES DON’T APPLY TO ME!

But Microsoft is different.  Microsoft is the UNDERPINNING to the computer experience.  As problematic as that is, Microsoft wants to extend their dominance into other fields by leveraging this fact.

The major labels?  Run by street-smart rule-benders who see their coffers depleting and desperately want to find a way to maintain their salaries.

These companies merged because they were in TROUBLE, not because their owners saw a way of dominating the sphere.  Bertelsmann wanted out of the record business, and Sir Howard wanted to pull a rabbit out of his hat, wanted to perform a magic trick wherein he converted a sullied asset into a brand new car overnight.  Not concerned with the long term, Stringer brought in a neophyte who oversaw this disastrous combination of companies that was done with so little aforethought, the problems are STILL resonating.

Then there’s Mario Monti.  This dude was the anti-monopoly civil servant of choice.  You couldn’t count on Americans to block consolidation, but this Italian, a SINGLE INDIVIDUAL, stood up to all the hard-driving business pricks in the world.  Until he was slapped down.  Told that policy had changed.  He was being too restrictive.  And the new standards meant that mergers like Sony BMG should be approved.  So he did this.

VOILA!  A zillion people lose their jobs (they’re the ones I’m concerned about, not the IMPALAS) and you end up with a company LESS than the sum of its parts.  But those independent labels.  They can only look backward, not forward.  They’ve been fucked so many times in the ass by the big boys that they want to challenge EVERY change that might work to their detriment.

Yes, work to their detriment in the OLD DAYS!

Kind of like TicketMaster…  Ah, they’ve been railing against TicketMaster for decades.  About the company’s monopoly.  But if you don’t think Live Nation is going to do its own ticketing and put TicketMaster on the ropes…you’re just not paying attention.

In other words, business conditions change.

But in this case, the change didn’t come from a realignment of existing companies, but from an outside force, the INTERNET!

It’s like arguing how much farm land you’ve got in Pennsylvania when they’re GIVING IT AWAY throughout the wild west.

It’s a free-for-all.  Instead of worrying about a dying, archaic system, the independent labels should worry how they’re going to dominate, at least what land they’re going to own, in the NEW SPHERE!

But it’s even wilder than that.  There’s UNLIMITED LAND!  You’ve heard that old saw that they’re making no more beachfront property?  Well, they’re making new selling territory on the Web ALL THE TIME!  The landscape is INFINITE!

The majors are moving SO cautiously into this new sphere, cyberspace, that it’s wide open for an innovator to come and take over.  But, do the IMPALA members do this?  No, they complain about past injustices, think the rules of the game will stay the same forever, like some bizarre real life board game.

But that’s not the way it is.  Online, the rules haven’t even been formed.

All we know is that the barrier for entry for new players is almost nonexistent and that the majors are clueless as to how to dominate this sphere and are trying to hold it back rather than embracing the inevitable.

Maybe this whole event argues for courts’ lack of ability to deal with the new world, i.e. the Internet.  Maybe legislative answers are the wrong solution, never mind judicial ones.  Maybe it’s about market conditions, hammering out paradigms that work for the public as opposed to restraining players.

The problem isn’t that Sony and BMG, two of the old players run by old men playing by the old rules, have merged, but that people now want their music as files, not discs, and this will be the case in ever-increasing numbers in the future, and presently, these individuals are acquiring most of their wares WITHOUT PAYING FOR THEM!

Chase the consumer, not the clueless old farts in suits.

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