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ARSCLIST  June 2007

ARSCLIST June 2007

Subject:

Re: Fw: WAMU 88.5 to Join Webcasters in "Day of Silence" June 26

From:

Dismuke <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 22 Jun 2007 01:08:07 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (117 lines)

--- Bob Olhsson <[log in to unmask]> wrote:


> 
> File "sharing" has already destroyed financial
> investment in non-mainstream
> artists. 


File sharing has nothing to do with the issue of
Internet royalty rates.  Internet stations STREAM
music just as AM/FM and satellite stations PLAY music.
 And unlike AM/FM stations, webcasters do pay sound
recording royalties.

But since you brought the subject of file sharing up,
let's talk about it for a moment.

I, for one, do not condone file sharing and regard it
as theft.

That having been said, it is very difficult for me to
feel much sympathy for the RIAA labels when it comes
to file sharing.

Imagine some young lady who decides to dress up and
paint herself up to look like a slut and then walks
into the seediest part of town and flirts with and
makes suggestive gestures at scummy looking men of ill
character who are much larger and stronger than she
is.  When such a woman ends up getting raped - well,
yes, she is the victim of a crime.  The man who raped
her is a criminal and needs to be prosecuted for it. 
But one CANNOT say that such a woman was entirely
innocent.  Yes, she is a victim.  But she is far from
being an innocent victim.

I have the same attitude with the RIAA with regard to
file sharing.  The wonderful implications of mp3
technology were immediately recognized by the public
at large and the demand for music in this new format
was huge.  The companies who dominated the music
industry, however, recognized the potential treat in
that, someday, because of such technology, artists
might end up no longer needing record labels and might
end up getting a better deal staying independent and
keeping all of the revenues from their music for
themselves.   So the RIAA labels refused to provide
the public with the products it wanted in the format
it wanted.  They simply hoped that the new technology
would somehow go away and things would continue on as
they always had.

The RIAA labels certainly had a right to take such an
approach. But that doesn't change the fact that it was
a very stupid thing to do.  Any person in business
with half a brain ought to know that anytime one
prevents a popular product from coming to market by
artificial means, the result is that a black market
will eventually emerge for that product.   That is
exactly what happened with Napster - it was a black
market for a product that the public wanted and the
RIAA labels refused to provide.  That does NOT justify
stealing music - but it does explain why it happened
on such a large scale.

My guess is that if the RIAA labels jumped on the mp3
bandwagon a decade ago and started to offer downloads
at prices which took cognizance of the enormous cost
savings made possible by the new technology (something
they still have yet to do - 99 cents per download is
about what it costs per track for a CD which is MUCH
more expensive to make), my guess is that the vast
majority of people would have continued to buy music
legally.   The major record labels were doomed from
the get-go even without file sharing.  But had they
jumped on and taken advantage of mp3 technology
earlier on, they might not be as far along on their
downward death spiral as they currently are.

The RIAA is like the American Federation of Musicians
back in the 1930s and 1940s.  The AFM could never get
over the fact that talking pictures eliminated the
need for theaters to hire musicians.  They never could
get over the fact that transcriptions made it
unnecessary for small radio stations to have staff
bands.  They never could get over the fact that the
new juke boxes did away with the need of
post-Prohibition bars to hire live music as was the
case before Prohibition.   As with today's RIAA, the
AFM made outrageous demands such as requiring theaters
and radio stations to hire musicians that they did not
have a need for.  As most people here are aware, I am
sure, in the end they went on strike against the radio
networks and the record companies.  The result was the
radio stations and record labels began to heavily
promote vocal acts such as Sinatra and the Andrews
Sisters.  This, among other things, was a major
contributing factor in the demise of the big bands -
one of the remaining sources of employment for AFM
musicians.   The AFM's attempt to put the
technological genie back in the bottle was futile and
doomed to failure from the get go.  Same with the
RIAA's current predicament.  The major record labels
are nothing but middlemen between artists and their
audiences who are increasingly irrelevant because of
the changing nature of technology and of media
outlets.   And just as the AFM's strike against the
record labels only hastened its inevitable demise (at
least in terms of the sort of absolute power it once
held over the music industry) so I suspect is the case
with the RIAA's all out war on technological change
and innovation.   There is no divine right to
stagnation - which is exactly what the AFM was calling
for 65 years ago and what the RIAA has been calling
for during the past decade.

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