Shutting Down Free

Do you expect punters to refrain from using Periscope when celebrities are paying 10k a ticket for the fight?

Welcome to the teens, where those with money and power are completely ignorant as to how the rank and file think.

We had to endure a month plus of hype for a brutal sporting event that ultimately disappointed. We heard how much money was being made. Looky-loos decided not to pay but to view the fight for free on the aforementioned Periscope and Meerkat and the threats to sue Twitter are hysterical. Everybody believes they’re entitled.

Just like the music business.

That was yesterday’s story, Apple’s effort to shut down free. Not only on Spotify, but YouTube too. Heralded by players everywhere, most don’t want to achieve their desire. They’re going to find out payments for streaming will still be low, because few want to listen to their music. All the spoils will go to the already rich and promoted, and the avenues of exposure everyone counts on, like YouTube, will be gone.

Assuming the government doesn’t step in and stop it.

But this is what happens when cronies work together. Old friends like Jimmy Iovine and Lucian Grainge. Grainge has been telegraphing this move for months, testifying everywhere his desire to get rid of free. And this might be good for the bottom line of his recording company Universal, but is it good for artists?

Knee-jerkers will say that people pay for visual content, for Netflix and Hulu and…

But the truth is visual media is facing a piracy onslaught heretofore unknown. With broadband prevalent and numerous sites for pirated downloads and streaming abundant, piracy is a cancer on the television and movie business, and they don’t know what to do but sue. They tried that in music, even suing the customers, how well did that work out?

Turns out the public is enticed by legal alternatives, that give them what they want conveniently for a low price. We’re way ahead of the game in music, but in a war of attrition, we’re about to screw it up once again. Exclusives are the culprit. You won’t be able to hear everything in one place for one low price. And the end result will be piracy, or even worse, a shrug of the shoulders and a lack of desire to check out wares completely.

That’s what we’re fighting in the twenty first century, obscurity, not piracy. That’s why YouTube and free streaming tiers are so good.

Not that people shouldn’t pay for music.

But it’s going to be a long evolutionary process, which no one time-stamped at a label has time for.

Ever try to use free Spotify on your handset? It’ll make you subscribe or give up. You can’t pick and choose songs and play what you want at will, not that this is discussed anywhere. We live in a mobile world, the desktop is dying, presently YouTube sucks on mobile, as does Google in general, which is why the company is challenged. But you’ve got the music industry finally waking up to the desktop, huh?

That’s right, as we enter a fully mobile society people will end up paying for music subscriptions because of the convenience. But you’ve got to price it right and give it time. Everybody’s not going to subscribe at these prices and not everybody even has an LTE-enabled phone.

But it’s coming.

But you always need a free way to check out music.

Back in the day, not everybody paid. Many listened to radio, which is presently execrable, furthermore, who has time for commercials?

And internet radio sucks too, especially Pandora, because it’s not on demand.

We need all access, instantly. That’s where you start online.

And if there’s a piracy path, you’re challenged.

It’s the people who are thieves, not the techies who build the pathways.

Then again, there’s a coterie of coders who put up these sites and do it for free.

What kind of world do we live in, where they don’t respect our hard work, where they don’t believe in capitalism?

One in which you just can’t get ahead and those on the bottom have contempt for those on top.

The games are just beginning in TV and movies.

But in music, we want to close the loop prematurely, coronate the present winners and forget the wannabes, just like we used to in the MTV era. Who cares if no one can hear your music if they can hear the Top Forty!

That’s right, if you’re struggling, you want a free tier.

And the business wants a free tier as an alternative to piracy.

But greed is having those in power move the ball too fast. It wasn’t until Taylor Swift pulled her music that most people even found out what Spotify was. Most people haven’t even signed up for the free service. But suddenly, if you pull all free streaming everybody’s gonna pay Apple ten bucks a month?

You’re just a pawn in their game, don’t you realize it?

Those watching the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight on Periscope did.


Howdy Mr. Lefsetz,

Huge fan, first time caller.

I’m a 47 year old roadie…been on lots of Rock and Roll busses, planes, trains…traveled with lots and lots of musicians.

It’s funny for me to hear a musician in the bus lounge rant on and on about how he/she is getting ripped off by Spotify…while he/she is busy downloading the current cinematic Box Office Blockbusters onto his laptop from

There’s at least one of those guys on every musician’s bus in America…they have every movie in existence on their hard drive…and every other musician on the bus seems extremely appreciative and completely accepting of the fact that we are watching “stolen art” when we face those long overnight rides.

Never have I heard a musician stand up and say, “Guys, this isn’t fair. The people who created and starred in these movies deserve to be compensated for their hard work. Let’s take up a collection and send it into Sony Pictures.”

I’ve also seen books and magazines passed around the tour like a bad case of crabs. Do you think that I have ever a musician say, “Is that book good?… Great, I’ll go buy one too. It’s not fair to the author if we both read the book… Buying a copy is the right thing to do.”

The Rockstars want it both ways… they want their youtube… their sports sites…movies, tv shows, etc. for free but they want every person who ever listens to their song to cough up a quarter.

Spotify is going to be the great equalizer. You’re a prophet and you’re going to be proven correct.

Michael “Ace” Baker

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