I just got a call from a paper in Glasgow, wanting to interview me about the future of the music industry.  The writer proffered the term "access".  The new buzzword spoken by Paul McGuinness.  Isn’t that what people wanted?


I find it hard to believe, nine years into this online music revolution, that industryites are still trying to put the consumer in a box.  The way you make money isn’t telling the consumer what he SHOULD want, but giving him what he DOES want!

At some point in the future will music be a service, with delivery on demand, with most people owning nothing?  YUP!  But the question is, WHEN IS THAT FUTURE?

It’s not tomorrow.  I’d say it’s at least five to ten years off.  So can Rick Rubin and the other poobahs stop prognosticating and come back to Earth?

Have you been following the squabble with the iTunes movie rental service?  People are complaining, because they’re frustrated they can’t watch movies on THEIR iPods.  If they read the fine print, they’ll find out you’ve got to have a Classic or a new Nano (or an iPhone or iPod Touch).  What’s the percentage of the iPod population that fits this requirement?  DE MINIMIS!  You had to have purchased your iPod essentially in the last year.  So, if you were even a LATE early adopter, you’re shit out of luck, unless you buy a new device.  So, even if Steve Jobs announces a wireless rental service, as Paul McGuinness believes, it CAN’T be instantly successful, because most people don’t have the hardware, and aren’t about to pop for it.  Look at it this way, how many years has HD TV been available?  Does everybody have it?  Has everybody gone out and purchased a new set?  And, you can get the HD signal FOR FREE, over the airwaves (you can choose to pay for dish or cable, but that’s your prerogative).  Everybody’s going to rush out and buy a new iPod and start spending ten bucks a month?  Not gonna happen.  Steve’s got to proffer the new option, and then it will take years for it to gain traction.  As for the other players, have you used the Rhapsody-compliant Sansa?  The greatest advertisement for the iPod ever!  And Rhapsody’s software is not extremely intuitive.  And you wonder why subscription hasn’t taken off.

Let’s not call it subscription, let’s call it rental.

Do you think all the boomers, still buying CDs, are about to rent music?

And, don’t forget that the movie studios prospered when Warren Lieberfarb turned the DVD market into one of sale, as opposed to the VHS rental model.  Turns out the public wanted to buy and the studios made more money.

We live in an ownership society.  Forever?  I don’t think so.  But for now.

As for future models, I believe bundling access/ownership with ISP fee is a good idea.  But I don’t believe McGuinness is going to get his way by demonizing the ISP, by telling them they’re liable.  Sure, this jawboning might work, but history is not on his side.  It’s about the BUSINESS PROPOSITION!  It’s about the industry coming together and THEN going to the ISP and saying…for an extra fee of $1-$10 a month, people can download whatever they want P2P LEGALLY!  You don’t get a date by insulting a girl’s looks and telling her she’s a whore, you sidle up to her, YOU’RE NICE!

And do you think you’re going to get what you want by calling technologists west coast hippys?  This insult technique may work in horse-trading at the radio station, even backstage, but the revenues of these tech companies dwarf those of the music industry.  The key is to come to the table as an educated businessman, not as a bully!

Let’s stop pointing fingers.  Let’s stop saying who’s liable.  Let’s stop talking about thievery.  Let’s make both distributors and customers AN OFFER!

Not once has a P2P thief had the option to pay.  NOT ONCE!  The labels won’t authorize such a deal, allowing people to pay for what they desire.  Because Mr. McGuinness and the labels don’t want them to acquire the music that way, with that business model.  Music must cost a dollar a track, there’s history here, publishing fees…  FUCK HISTORY!  The customer doesn’t care about history.  The customer does care about music though, and liability.  I’d pay ten bucks a month to avoid the long arm of the law, for a trading license.  So many others would too…  If only they were given the chance!

We want to own our music.  When I hear a good song on satellite radio, my turn-on medium of choice, I don’t fire up Rhapsody to listen, I go to P2P to steal, to own.  Sometimes the track sounds as good at home, sometimes it doesn’t.  Don’t tell me to pay a buck for it, because then I can’t experience enough.  The new model is the availability of EVERYTHING!

Oh, that’s right.  You don’t approve of that model.  You want us to stay in 1977…  Well, do you think Led Zeppelin would be able to sell out every gig when they finally hit the road if it weren’t for file-trading?  I’m not saying these transactions should be free, but that there are benefits to the free flow of information.

But Mr. McGuinness and his cohorts want to deny all this.  They either want to look to the past, or the distant future.  When it’s necessary to play in the present.  The Yankees don’t wait for ten years for their 12 year old phenom prospect to grow up, they sign the best available talent NOW!

Authorize what the public is doing now.

Criminalizing, demonizing ANYBODY is not the path to the future.

And it doesn’t work anyway.  Can the ISP stop me from IM’ing a track?  Can it stop me from trading USB sticks?  STOP WITH THE STOP!  Say YES instead of NO!  It’s a lot less complicated if you just set your mind free, let go of the old precepts and accept REALITY!

The reality is many more people are going to own much more music, and this is GOOD FOR THE BUSINESS!  They’ll pay less for each track, which for the foreseeable future, the next half decade at least, they’ll want to own.  MONETIZE THIS BEHAVIOR!

McGuinness’ speech in case you haven’t read it: Online Bonanza?

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