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December 04, 2006

Just Sticking My Head Up

I've had a few people asking me if I was ever going to blog again (ok, it was just one person), so I figured I would take advantage of being home tending a sick child (she's resting right now, as is the baby) to post something to remind the blogosphere I'm still here.

There's a quote from Universal Music Group's chairman that's been making the rounds lately, and I wanted to rant about it for a while now. Since my wife really doesn't care about DRM and tends to ignore me when I go on those kinds of rants, I figured I'd post it here -- isn't that what a blog is for, after all?

Dear old chairman Doug Morris said that ""These devices [portable MP3 players] are just repositories for stolen music, and they all know it. So it's time to get paid for it." Probably the stupidest thing I've read in a very long time.

Currently on my MP3 player I have 50 random music MP3s, plus another 19 that I intentionally added. That's 69 songs. 4 sermons that I intentionally added (two I've listened to and need to remove so I can get to the next part of the series, actually). 70 podcast episodes that I need to listen to (wow -- I'm a bit behind!). 71 pictures of my kids. And about a half a gig of free space.

So, according to Mr. Morris, those 69 songs must all be stolen, right? Well, let's see. 6 are songs I bought from iTunes. 8 were offered by Jamie Rowe" on his website for free. 17 are from CDs that I bought years ago. The rest (38 songs) are songs I downloaded from the artist's websites to play on my podcast -- songs I've been given permission to distribute on the podcast and am in possession of totally legally. And from talking to other portable MP3 player owners, I'm not unusual. Most people are walking around with totally legal music on their players.

Of course, you don't have to go far to find out what Morris' true motives are. He managed to get UMG $1 from the sale of every Zune Microsoft sells, and now he's optimistic that 2007 will be UMG's biggest year ever. Wonder why. Maybe it has something to do with getting paid for something that you haven't delivered to the vast majority of your "customers."

I'm not stupid enough to think that nobody with an iPod has illegal music on it. I taught high school -- I know how much piracy goes on. I also know that there's a lot less piracy than the RIAA and the labels want you to believe. They don't want to accept that there is quality music out there that people are buying that they don't have control over, and aren't getting any money for. They don't want to admit that people aren't fond of the garbage that they're putting out.

That's why the RIAA doesn't like podcasts. Nobody is podcasting their music -- most of us don't really want to. There's better music out there, and it's fun to find a band that's getting little attention and see them succeed because of the exposure they're given on podcasts. It's fun to "discover" a band that the big label A&R people have missed. And that's what people are doing, thanks to the Internet and podcasts. Bands can record their own music, put it out where people can hear it, produce and sell their own CDs. They can promote their own concerts. They can make a living playing music, and they don't need RIAA's help.

And I'm not going to say that all labels are bad, or wrong. I've had some contact with some labels, and some A&R people who have been really supportive of podcasting. I've actually been treated like a valuable partner, which is pretty cool. Better than the "Aw, look at the kid playing radio station. Isn't that cute?" think I've gotten from a few labels. But there are many labels who look at podcasting and digital music as competition. They don't see that their sales will increase when their artists' music is played and heard by larger groups of people. All they can see is that they aren't selling as many units -- cases of CDs are no longer flying off the shelves. Musicians will survive the "digital music revolution," but I'm not sure the music industry will. Or that it even deserves to, in it's present form.

{edit}And in a related story, I know that this from BBspot is a parody, but the scary thing is how realistic it sounds. I know people who have thought it was true

Posted by Warren Kelly at December 4, 2006 01:15 PM | TrackBack
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