Convenience Wins, Hubris Loses and Content vs. Context, a Presentation for Some Music Industry Friends

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Yesterday was a crazy day.

In the morning I found myself car-less and skateboarding to Santa Monica High School in a suitcoat and wool Vans with my computer in a leather satchel over my shoulder (a byproduct of sharing my car with my seventeen year-old daughter — or more accurately her sharing the car with me). In the afternoon I sat on a panel at Digital Media Forum West with the Usual Suspects (TM), and for dinner I had the pleasure of hearing David Pakman‘s “drum story” (which was amazing, btw) and sushi at Ike on Hollyweird Blvd.

But in the middle I gave a brief, twenty minute presentation to some friends in the music industry about why it’s time we pay closer attention to consumer needs when it comes to digital music. I thought I’d share my presentation in case others were interested.

Enjoy,
ian


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Hello. My name is Ian Rogers. I’ve been building digital media applications since 1992, dropped out of a Computer Science PhD program to tour with Beastie Boys in 1995, and have been purchased by both AOL and Yahoo! in the ten years since then, with a stint running the new media department for a record label in the middle. Currently I work at Yahoo! Entertainment on Yahoo! Music.

First, a question: How many of you have tried Amazon’s MP3 download service?

Back in 1999 I ran Winamp.com for Rob and Justin. Napster came on the scene and we thought, “Wow! There’s a market for MP3s!” We had millions of people using Winamp, visiting Winamp.com for skins and plugins — it was by far the largest community of MP3-lovers. We naively and enthusiastically suggested to labels that we’d be a great place to sell MP3s. The response from the labels at the time was universally, “What’s MP3?” or “Um, no.”

Instead they commenced suing Napster. We were naive to be sure, but we were genuinely surprised by the approach. Suing Napster without offering an alternative just seemed like a denial of fact. Napster didn’t invent the ability to do P2P, it was inherent in TCP/IP. It was like throwing Newton in jail for popularizing the concept of gravity.

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Nullsoft subsequently built and prematurely released a program called Gnutella which became the basis for true P2P of the coming years. When Tom Pepper told Time Magazine that Gnutella was for “sharing recipes” he really said it all: This is so much bigger than just sharing music. This is physics. It’s trivial for one person to transfer bits from one person to another. Trivial. Unstoppable. PUT YOUR ENERGY ELSEWHERE, we thought out loud.

I caught a lot of heat from my music industry friends for Nullsoft’s Gnutella leak. In a long and impassioned email in 1999 I wrote to everyone I knew in a band, at a label, or music journalism (whatup, Jay!) and urged them to sell their content to their users in the format they were asking for: MP3. Make it easy, I wrote, and convenience will beat free.

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Well, we (you included) did lots of other things instead. While running “New Media” at Grand Royal I released the first day/date digital/physical release with At The Drive-In’s “Relationship of Command”. Thanks to EMI requirements (hi Ted! hi Melissa!) it was DRM’d WMA and we sold about 12 copies in the first month, probably all to journalists. Years later I helped Yahoo! build Yahoo! Music Unlimited, a Windows Media Janus DRM-based subscription service. Record labels for their part participated in no end of control experiments: SDMI, Liquid Audio, Pressplay, Coral, etc, and they continue to this day.

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But now, eight years later, Amazon’s finally done what was clearly the right solution in 1999. Music in the format that people actually want it in, with a Web-based experience that’s simple and works with any device. I bought tracks from Amazon (Kevin Drew and No Age), downloaded them, sync’d them to my new iPod Nano, and had them playing in my home audio system (Control 4) in less than five minutes. PRAISE JESUS. It only took 8 years.

8 years. How much opportunity have we lost in those 8 years? How much naivety and hubris did we have when we said, “if we build it they will come”? What did we spend? And what did we gain? We certainly didn’t gain mass user adoption or trust, two prerequisites to success on the Internet.

Inconvenient experiences don’t have Web-scale potential, and platforms which monetize the gigantic scale of the Web is the only way to compete with the control you’ve lost, the only way to reclaim value in the music industry. If your consultants are telling you anything else, they are wrong.

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Yahoo! Music demonstrates this scale discrepancy perfectly. Yahoo! is the world’s #1 Internet destination. Hundreds of millions of people visit Yahoo! each month. Yahoo! Music is the #1 Music site on the Web, with tens of millions of monthly visitors. Between 10 and 20 million people watch music videos on Yahoo! Music every month. Between 5 and 10 million people listen to radio on Yahoo! Music every month. But the ENTIRE subscription music market (including Rhapsody, Napster, and Yahoo!) is in the low millions (sorry, we don’t release subscriber numbers, but the aggregate number proves the point), even after years of marketing by all three companies. When you compare the experiences on Yahoo! Music, the order of magnitude difference in opportunity shouldn’t be a surprise: Want radio? No problem. Click play, get radio. Want video? Awesome. Click play, get video. Want a track on-demand? Oh have we got a deal for you! If you’re on Windows XP or Vista, and you’re in North America, just download this 20MB application, go through these seven install screens, reboot your computer, go through these five setup screens, these six credit card screens, give us $160 dollars and POW! Now you can hear that song you wanted to hear…if you’re still with us. Yahoo! didn’t want to go through all these steps. The licensing dictated it. It’s a slippery slope from “a little control” to consumer unfriendliness and non-Web-scale products and services.

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But this isn’t news, nor is it particular to the digital age. History tells us: convenience wins, hubris loses. “Who is going to want a shitty quality LP when these 78s sound so good? Who wants a hissy cassette when they have an awesome quadrophonic system? Who wants digitized music on discs now that we have Dolby on our cassettes? Who wants to listen to compressed audio on their computers?” ANSWER: EVERYONE. Convenience wins, hubris loses. [check Fredric Dannen's comments here]

I’m here to tell you today that I for one am no longer going to fall into this trap. If the licensing labels offer their content to Yahoo! put more barriers in front of the users, I’m not interested. Do what you feel you need to do for your business, I’ll be polite, say thank you, and decline to sign. I won’t let Yahoo! invest any more money in consumer inconvenience. I will tell Yahoo! to give the money they were going to give me to build awesome media applications to Yahoo! Mail or Answers or some other deserving endeavor. I personally don’t have any more time to give and can’t bear to see any more money spent on pathetic attempts for control instead of building consumer value. Life’s too short. I want to delight consumers, not bum them out.

If, on the other hand, you’ve seen the light too, there’s a very fun road ahead for us all. Lets get beyond talking about how you get the music and into building context: reasons and ways to experience the music. The opportunity is in the chasm between the way we experience the content and the incredible user-created context of the Web.

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By way of illustration (and via exaggeration), in a manner of speaking iTunes is a spreadsheet that plays music. It’s context-free. You just paid $10 for that album — who plays drums? I dunno, WHY DON’T YOU GO TO THE WEB TO FIND OUT, BECAUSE THAT’S WHERE THE CONTEXT IS.

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But the content experience on the Web is crap. Go to Aquarium Drunkard, click an MP3. If you don’t get a 404, you’ll get a Save As… dialog or the SAME GOD DAMN QUICKTIME BAR FROM 1995. OMFG. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? THIS IS ALL WE’VE ACCOMPLISHED IN 15 YEARS ON THE WEB? It makes me insane.

So we have media consumption experiences with no context (desktop media players) and an incredible, endless, emergent contextual experience where media consumption is a pain in the ass, illegal, or non-existent (the Web). FIX IT. Your fans are pouring their music-loving hearts into blogs, Wikipedia, etc and what tools have you given them to work with? Not much, unfortunately.

This is what I’m vowing to devote my energy, and Yahoo!’s energy to.

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Lets envision the end state and drive there as quickly as possible. Lets not waste another eight years on what is obvious today. Lets build the tools of a healthy media Web and reward music-lovers for being a part of it.

In the end you get what you pay for. I won’t spend another dime paying engineers to build false control, making listening to music harder for music-lovers. I will put all of my energy into making it easier and making the experience better. I suggest you do the same.

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Thanks for listening.


Jimmie Dale Gilmore

EPILOGUE:

I wrote this on Thursday but didn’t have time to pull the images together and post. Last night (Friday) I took my mom to the Getty to see Jimmie Dale Gilmore. Mom and I saw Jimmie about fifteen years ago in Bloomington, Indiana. Lots changed for both mom and me in those fifteen years in-between, but Jimmie has only gotten better. His voice is hauntingly beautiful and he nailed every song, even a couple which he said he hadn’t done in a while but would “try”. Mom was cute, she’s in love with Jimmie and was so excited when he walked out on stage she leaned forward in her second-row seat a little and said, “Oh my God!” like she couldn’t believe he was really standing there in front of her. She would turn to me throughout the show to call out a Townes Van Zandt song from the opening riff or ask if it was ok if she sang along with “Dallas”. Anyone who wonders where I get my music nerd-ness from need look no further.

By his own admission, Jimmie’s never met a digression he didn’t like. He tells stories on stage which are things you might expect him to say in the mirror. “What I’ve learned is that when I’m on stage I find out what it is I’m thinking,” he half-joked. But in his very first monologue as he was talking about playing the Getty Museum he said, “I’ve been thinking a lot about content and context lately. As it turns out, there is only context.” Given that I had just made my mom read a draft of the above post before we left, it was a little eerie.

Afterward Jimmie was in the lobby signing autographs. I didn’t want an autograph but I did want to know why the hell he’s been thinking so much about content vs. context. I waited until the autographing was mostly over, introduced mom and myself, and asked. “Don’t get him started,” said his manager. But start he did, and he told us it was the Buddhist concept he’d been considering, and that the notion that anything was without context wasn’t really plausible. I told him I’d been thinking a lot about content vs. context, too, but from a different perspective (in a different context, I suppose you could say).

But they’re related. Music is never without context. Digital music context isn’t nearly as good as it could be. Context is where the opportunity is and therefore where the innovation will be. The next five years is gonna be fun. I think we’re finally going to see some innovation in digital media.

ian

Comments

  1. Phillip Kerman wrote:

    Nice. I hope this attitude is growing. Alas, I fear that the whole DRM thing is getting better so the result is it’s also more accepted. It’s not as inconvenient as before so it’s “better”.

    I think your point is right on. I do think, in the context of the current state of our “digital lifestyle” that–in fact–computers are simply a big pain. I’ve been using computers for a while so I can deal with the constant struggles and, actually, they don’t seem bad at all. But imagine if you were growing up right now. You’d think this stuff works about 60% of the time. For example, I have music pumped to the stereo on the other side of the house over wi-fi. It cuts out… it has to be reset etc. Totally par for the course. So I guess my point is that in the context that the stuff barely works as it is, your point is even MORE true.

  2. Glen E. wrote:

    Good things come to those who wait. but trying to control music will always be a losing battle. Music was not made to make money, real music was and is made to help people express themselves, in a context that others can relate to.

    Record companies don’t sell records when the records suck, making sigle hit songs will not sell albums, you need to make great albums to sell albums.

    when will the fucking packagers of music figure this out again? (who cares if they do) They need to quit complaining about kids who love music so much that they figure out how to download it for free, they need to remeber how to make good recordings and package them in a way that makes them interesting, fun, informative and make the listener feel like they’re a part of something special and not just being taken advantage of by the corporation or a greedy “artist” who only wants to get rich and famous or die trying.

  3. Jory Felice wrote:

    Thanks for this. I believe you have it right and the Amazonmp3 store should provide a nice, ‘I told you so’ moment. I am glad to know you are working to move Yahoo!s music business in a user friendly direction. They are lucky to have you.

    I have to add that describing iTunes as music + spreadsheet is a bit much. I do get your ‘exagerated’ point, but when ‘Coverflow’ was added to that interface last year, it became a great example to support this argument. My digital library became browseable again and a pinch of what had been lost – was being restored.

  4. Noel wrote:

    There have been so many missed oppertunities since Napster and while most of it is the fault of the record companies a fair amount of blame falls on us as well. When the record companies forced Napster out we didn’t completely boycott the music industry instead we turned to Yahoo! Music, itunes, xm and podcasts to get our “fix”. We have never shunned a service because it doesnt allow us to blog or IM our music choices to our friends. Instead we sit quietly hoping some music exec somewhere will decide that there was a reason Napster was so popular and find a way to adapt to the changing climate of music sales.

  5. Tracy wrote:

    Great presentation, keep fighting the good fight. By the way, congrats on getting listed as Powergeek #6:
    http://www.blender.com/guide/articles.aspx?ID=2750

  6. Jeanene Van Zandt wrote:

    Glen E. wrote:

    “greedy “artist” who only wants to get rich and famous or die trying.”

    That was a painful statement to read.
    I know a lot of artists and not one of them is “greedy”.
    In fact I was married to one for 15 years.
    He gave his life to his music.
    He trudged around this earth for 30 years
    sharing his music with the world, but it was “his” music. From him and him alone.
    And when he laid down and died, his music became our music. It was his life’s work.
    It was owned by him and now us.
    Any man has the right and obligation to leave his family something, and a songwriter is no different.

    When my husband, the singer/songwriter died our children were 4 & 13.
    My husband wasn’t “greedy”. My children are not “greedy”. We are just a family trying to make ends meet while our income has been slashed in half by people stealing my husband’s music.

    Music is not FREE, I’ve watch someone die for it.

    That someone was Townes Van Zandt.

  7. Rob Lord wrote:

    I think Ian’s trying to say, “MP3 is the new MP3.”

    Go figure.

    Go Ian.

    Rob

  8. Mo Kakwan wrote:

    I was in 9th grade when I started downloading mp3s. It was great because I was a broke high schooler and paying 12 dollars for a CD which had only one song I wanted didn’t make sense.

    Now I’m older and I have an income, but most of the time I don’t want to go out and buy an entire CD. I want that one song right now, in 1 minute, so I can listen to it on my ipod while I go running. Then when I come back home I want to be able to burn a mix CD so I can listen to it in my car (because my ipod transmitter doesn’t sound as good). I’ll pay for that convenience.

    Ian, you’ve said exactly what I’ve been feeling for years.

    @6 – I don’t know if I can speak for the majority of the population, but my friends and I love the artists and want to support them. I think the new Radiohead album will really turn heads to how this industry can be set up.

  9. Lp wrote:

    Glen E. wrote:
    “Record companies don’t sell records when the records suck, making sigle hit songs will not sell albums, you need to make great albums to sell albums.”

    Wrong. Record companies DO sell records when the records suck. Why do you think they have such a stronghold on the music biz? Why do you think they are kicking so hard against the movement to digitized music? Because their business model for so many years, which is “gimme one hit song, I only need one hit to sell this record,” will fall apart.

    Record companies are savvy enough to know that you can spend a quarter mil on one music video, because that is an investment in marketing. They will spend money through some legal form of payola to get one song heard on the radio. They’ll spend an extra several thousand dollars on the mix of one song, sending it to a top notch producer to put an extra layer or two of polish on. And more.

    All of this to say that record companies continue to make big bank on one-hit records and one-hit wonders. The digital realm poses a threat to that business model and to those artists.

    The digital realm ultimately will free the consumers of tired, wasted “filler” tracks. Let’s face it, some albums could have been and should have been just a few songs long. You can toss the rest. But the way the record industry currently works is that you need 40 minutes and ten titles to have an “LP” product. Labels want LP’s because it is easier for their bean counters to do the math. But LP’s are meant for artists who have 40 minutes (at least) of decent material to publish.

    To be sure, lots and lots of artists pump out entire albums that simply rock. Not a bad track in the bunch type records. These artists will shine in the digital realm. They will have long-standing careers and make many fans happy. The other artists will either raise their game or head back to the locker room. IMO, everyone benefits in the end.

    Sorry for the lengthy comment. I could go on and on. Bottom line is that the digital age of music is going to be great for everyone whose lives do not depend on the old recording industry model. People want to buy the artist, not a product.

  10. J Herskowitz wrote:

    Amen.

    http://globallistic.blogspot.com/2007/08/king-has-no-clothes-and-is-dead-long.html

  11. Bill T wrote:

    Thanks, Ian. I’ve been thinking about form over function, context v. content for 20 years as far as songwriting, presentation and art applies to music. You’re completely right on with your article, but sadly, I fear you’re pitching to deaf ears in speaking to the traditional music industry. But then I’m getting old, beaten down and cynical.

  12. Glen E. wrote:

    Jeanene, i wish it was a bit more obvious i did not mean every recording or music performing artist was greedy, of course not.

  13. Nancy B wrote:

    Thank you for sharing this.

    I like your point toward the end about giving fans the tools to build context. You’re quite right that fans are all over the problem in terms of providing the content, but not the infrastructure on a large (i.e. cross-band) scale. My question is what kinds of tools you think bands, labels and sites like Yahoo should “give fans to work with” that sites like Wikipedia and fan sites aren’t already providing?

  14. Jon O wrote:

    A principled stand from a guy the players might listen to. We’re all behind you.

    Jon O

  15. alex_mayorga wrote:

    Great post and I look forward to un-DRM worldwide available mp3s from Y! soon.

    As of now, the coveted Amazon MP3 store still says: “We are sorry…

    We could not process your order because of geographical restrictions on the product which you were attempting to purchase. Please refer to the terms of use for this product to determine the geographical restrictions.

    We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you.”

    I’ve “had friends” that used BBS, IRC, FTP, Napster, Scour, Kazaa, WinMX, Gnutella, eMule, BitTorrent, you name it. I jumped onto Launchcast even before it was Y!M, but as of today not Y! nor Amazon would take my money because I dare to live in Mexico.

    In the other hand, Radiohead was nice enough to let me have their music for 0 pounds on the day of the release. If they get to tour Monterrey I’ll do my best to show up on their concert, just for that.

    Please let your friends know that geographical barriers don’t do any good either.

    If you feel like, you can flight me over to Santa Monica again and I’d be glad to help you try to figure out the Mexican market where piracy is rampant or so they say.

  16. Marc Meyer wrote:

    Ian, I’ve been passionate about this for a long time and have wrriten a few business plans on the subject matter. I couldnt have agrred more with your take. It frustartes the hell out of me! I’d love if you could email me, so that I could share my latest iteration of where I think we need to go with this.

    Marc

  17. Daniel Raffel wrote:

    In the end, everyone is currently getting a bad deal. And, the worst part is that all of this stagnation is devastating a vital form of culture. It’s definitely time to push the majors to adopt/support what have been reasonable suggestions for 8+ years. Keep it up, Ian!

  18. Koz wrote:

    with ya.

  19. SteveR wrote:

    Good stuff Ian

    The golden rule (he who has the gold makes the rules) and the golden goose (lets kill him !!) collide. The probably 100 hours of my life I spent trying to tell SonyBMG that Musicmatch Jukebox wasn’t going to cooperate with putting DRM on CDs I will never get back, but at least for a short time I was a soldier on the right side of the fight. I even called Norton to see if I could get them to block the DRM for one of my PCOEM partners. DRM = virus. I really wish we could wind it back 5 years and do it over again. Cheers to not making the same mistakes any more.

  20. Bawb wrote:

    ’bout damn time someone INSIDE the music biz said this, and I don’t mean the artists that have been saying it, I mean someone wearing a, well, suit? On a skateboard? Yeah that’s Ian.
    BTW, my wife got completely slapped while trying to put a fvcking book on her mp3 player. FROM THE PUBLIC LIBRARY.

  21. Corey wrote:

    Great post.

    but more importantly.. sweet old school Gonz skateboard!

  22. DaleM wrote:

    Your message is right on. I used to love to download songs from WinMX for free, then I found out that I was not to be doing that.
    I don’t steal out in public, so why steal online. Just give us users something simple and inexpensive to download and just like this Radiohead experience fans will flock to it.
    i am still waiting, yes after eight years, I want my songs simple and inexpensive.
    I hate to admit it, but I still do not use a DRM enabled music service, but I do use Sharezza. Maybe it is all about me, maybe I am selfish like my wife tells me I am.
    God, I would hate to be sued for enjoying music the wrong way. I am thinking of going to Amazon to try this new DRM free service because I want to do the right thing, but want to be able to transfer to my music device, burn to a CD, and be DRM FREE.

  23. Sachin Rekhi wrote:

    Ian – thanks for taking a strong stance on this. I couldn’t agree with you more. I’m glad to see that you are willing to do what is right for the user.

    Its good to see progress in this space with the new Amazon MP3 store. I just hope this is a movement that is here to stay. Guys like us have to show the labels that this new model does work. I’m afraid if we can’t convince them of this, they will move back to their silly ways.

    I’m a firm believer that there is money to be made here – for labels and for service providers like ourselves. It’s just got to be a model that works for the consumers, not against them.

    Thanks for the great post!

    Sachin Rekhi
    http://www.anywhere.fm

  24. Jason wrote:

    Thanks Ian.

    This gives me hope in Yahoo!, in the industry, and in music. I’m tired of crap, and tired of it being difficult to even buy. I was a subscriber to Yahoo! Music Unlimited, because it allowed me to listen when I wanted when I wanted (and I was a beta member so I paid less at first). But when the price went up, and I moved to a Mac, I left it behind.

    In the end, I’d be willing to pay a fee for easy access to the music I wanted. That’s a no brainer, but not being able to use my iPod/iPhone, nor my Mac, nor having all the music I really wanted… It wasn’t a winning combination.

    Please keep on keeping on. You’re a supported and loved man.

    BTW, GO GRAND ROYAL!!! I miss those guys, and the magazine.

  25. beach wrote:

    and still the RIAA wins lawsuits… this time for 24 songs. 24. They were rewarded almost $10,000 in damages each. Pathetic! What do they really win?

    http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20071004-verdict-is-in.html

    http://www.fool.com/investing/value/2007/10/08/the-riaa-wins-but-what-does-it-lose.aspx

    Thanks for posting this Ian

    -beach

  26. Dave wrote:

    Ian, you’re my hero.

  27. Brandt Cannici wrote:

    I think you are right on Ian. DRM is a deterrent to purchase. However without DRM, why would consumers want to pay a fee to download something from Yahoo or iTunes when they could download it for free via P2P? As Micheal Arrington the price for music distribution will eventually drop to $0.
    I think we need new innovative models that offer some value-add that doesn’t exist now. I’m always considered radical, but I suggest that we have consumers pay when an artist creates something and then let the final product circulate for free. It costs nothing to distribute, so why charge for it? Charge for creation.
    The value-add is that consumers can get involved in the creation process. Seeing their favorite musicians’ works grow from idea until completion and giving feedback to affect the growth of the song.
    Here is a good example where the artist is slowly constructing his song.
    http://www.strayform.com/Proposal/default.html?id=21

    Not just music but anything could be made this way. If people put their money where their interests are then you would see a lot more specialized music, movies, and books being created. Here is an interesting one about the “Giants of Silicon Valley”.
    http://www.strayform.com/Proposal/default.html?id=48

  28. Dey Martin wrote:

    Hybrid Indie MP3 Store Offers DRM-Free Albums / Songs

    mTraks.com is a true “hybrid” music download store. It has DRM-free 192 kbps mp3s available a la carte or by subscription (hybrid). mTraks is an open site, so you are not forced to subscribe like on eMusic. Songs are 99 cents a la carte and if you subscribe as little as 27 cents. They have the entire IODA catalog available of 3,500 independent labels offering 800,000 songs. Even better, they offer 30 free songs if you sign up for a trial subscription.

  29. Ted wrote:

    I want to pay for music, but right now there is no compelling way to do so.

    I have an ipod which holds 10,000 songs, and I’m a huge music fan, I listen to music all the time and have spent thousands of dollars over the course of my life spending on albums, shirts, tickets, etc.

    But with current download prices, it would cost me $10k to fill my ipod, and that’s just with the music I’m interested in now, to say nothing of the next 10k songs I’ll want to check out or hear.

    If someone figured out a way to make music cheaper for bulk buyers like me, I will buy it. Until them my option is to either consume very little music, or trade with my friends…

  30. Jay wrote:

    music should be free, and people encouraged to share. Tell me if I am wrong, but you do not know if you like a song until you hear it… now think about communication technologies. Free and easily shared music has the potential to reach millions of ears…create millions of fans… and then so long as you also offer the context or connection for more… millions of fans subscribing to the artists offerings / feed. It is then that artists can take control back, where their music will stand on it’s own, and where they can make some money… not from the 1000 fans they have … but from the millions

  31. Barnon wrote:

    Labels must recognize that consumers, for the most part, are no longer interested in paying (with dollars) for music. Willingness-to-pay for music is zero cents for a majority of consumers. This is the stark reality. There are too many ways for people to access music for free, and these means also tend to be more convenient than legal means of consumption.

    In this age when control by major media distributors is ending, the labels must alter their fundamental approach and mentality. The labels must no longer think in terms of trying to extract direct payment from consumers in the form of monetary currency. The new currency to extract directly from consumers is their attention. Music consumers will invest a considerable amount of attention and time if the means of delivery is convenient. This consumer attention is valuable and can be monetized through advertising, behavioral targeting, and bundling the experience of music (ie. creating great context).

    Once the content owners (labels and music publishers) switch to this sort of mindframe, the focus can then shift to creating the best user experiences possible that broaden the users’ context around their music. I am certain that this approach would expand the overall pie and create new, revenue-driving opportunities for the major content owners, as well as for entrepreneurs throughout the value chain.

  32. Justin Davis wrote:

    Ian,

    Thanks for fighting “the good fight”. I miss the context. I miss the full album art, the liner notes, knowing who the drummer is, the people that inspired or helped the artist to create the album. All the musical connections. You’re right…we should have at least this by now.

  33. y3 wrote:

    Brandt Cannici wrote:

    … why would consumers want to pay a fee to download something from Yahoo or iTunes when they could download it for free via P2P?

    Because it would be legal, convenient, fast, fun, inexpensive and of assured quality.

  34. sam wrote:

    It’s certainly good marketing – I only hope it’s true.

  35. Brad wrote:

    great post. thanks for sharing it and for the time and energy it took. please keep fighting to make your vision a reality. I have no idea why so many have put up with so much less than there could be for so long.

  36. LadyMissKier from D wrote:

    thanks for sharing these thoughts. As an artist who fought to get out of a major label deal (and won) because they wanted me to be more “commercial”,wanted to own my website and dictate some of the content , owned my art directed layouts, owned my co-directed videos, and was the decider to enforce DRM software – I want to thank you for bringing up several issues on control – and ultimately their lack of control. The LION IS OUT OF THE BAG. so…..anyone reading this who wants to work with a truly independant artist that wants to maintain freedom of speech and artistic control- I need your help. I’m looking for a web configurer to help implement my website in a similar way as radiohead. contact me here: info@ladykier.com
    check me out: http://www.ladykier.com
    CONTENT IS KING ! let the cream rise to the top

  37. Mwisconsin wrote:

    I’ve been a Launchcast/Yahoo! Music listener since the service went live. These days, I’m a Yahoo! Unlimited subscriber, and I’ve got the streaming “My Station” channel running about 24/7. I can safely say that after trying out all the services, Yahoo! still gets my dollars.

    However, if you continue on the route of making it a better service, easier to install, easier to acquire tracks, and no hassles at all when I want to throw that on my mp3 player and walk out of the house — I’ll nominate you for the Nobel peace prize myself. Lord knows there have been moments in my life when I wanted to break my pacifistic tendencies over a slight delivered to me by DRM restrictions imposed on music for which I’d already paid money.

  38. Marty wrote:

    It is an exercise that the American consumer is nihilistic and narcissistic.

    Making music is not free.

    Yahoo and Google and Amazon will never get it together for a music service. The “big” internet companies will never play nice with the “big” entertainment companies. They are all greedy and are NEVER about the music. Sony-BMG, EMI, Universal, Yahoo, Amazon, etc. have no vision for music; they are only distributors. They are desperate to get rich fast–that’s the bottom line.

    These days, it means nothing to be a Decca recording artist or Ahmet signed you to Atlantic.

    Which explains why Matchbox 20 is still being crammed down our ears!

  39. Lee Benningfield wrote:

    Someone mentioned eMusic, and how it’s also a subscription service now. But they were selling MP3s, a la carte, in 1999. And now they are selling them as a subscription service for $0.25 each (at the $25 per month, for 100 downloads). That’s 1/4th the price of iTunes (not taking into account the usual discount for buying a full album). Obviously none of the major labels have shown much interest in eMusic, but most independent labels have their stuff on there. Most of the top indie bands are available through eMusic, not to mention their substantial selection of classical and jazz.

  40. Allen Berrebbi wrote:

    Make it cheap enough and most people will not steal. If DRM free songs were .25, I would never download a single illegal song EVER. Consider that 90% of all music on the internet is acquired for free and illegally. make the songs a quarter and I believe only the hard core 10% jerks would continue to get it illegally. For the rest, it would not be worth the hassle. And the people stealing it would look like the biggest jerks around.

    So lets use a sample size of 1,000,000 songs downloaded, legal and illegally. Right now, the music aholes are getting .99 a song for about, at the most 100,000 songs in that sample. They would make a little more money, about an extra 25,000 (about 12-13% more) on a million songs. Not much at a million size sample but think about how much the music would spread, and how much money and technology is wasted on DRM and between the savings on fighting the DRM fight, the good will for providing a low cost non-greedy alternative, and I believe the money will be there.
    Combine that with providing a cool experience at the site where you would purchase this stuff, and an easy way for any music site in the world to sell this stuff as well, and I believe the music biz would explode once more.

  41. minoru yokoo wrote:

    hey, i think we met like once, around 96 in silverlake. i was working with buffalo daughter when they signed to gr from around there to the point when they started working with robert b. good memories. i still see miwa and some of the bb’s when i’m in nyc.

    anyway, your blog post really resonates with me at the moment. i’m contemplating whether to forget all of this music business bs and be a rice farmer or something, but there is still a me that says it is all about the experience. thanks!

  42. Jimmy in Austin wrote:

    I have been a MusicMatch Jukebox subscriber since long before Yahoo took over. I’ve always been a believer in paying for my music because I felt like it was the right thing to do. Let’s give something back to the artist. Of course that’s absolute horse shit b/c the artist doesn’t get but a penny of it. I realized that way later than I’d care to admit. However, I continued to subscribe b/c I liked the idea of being able to take my music library with me, even if I couldn’t burn most of it. When I really wanted a copy of an album, I’d just go buy the CD so I could do what I wanted with it. Then Microsoft released “PlaysForSure” and Yahoo Jukebox suddenly stopped doing just that. The program would fail for no reason or the Roku box that I bought b/c it is “compatible” with YMJ would get hung up on trying to get a license. Suffice it to say, your service has suffered b/c of DRM for some time.

    Point being, you deserve a lot of credit here today. It’s a ballsy move and I hope it pays off for you and for Yahoo. YMJ really could be an amazing service if the DRM is removed. I will gladly continue to hand over $10 a month for the service if it’s fixed. Hell, I’d pay $30 if I could take the music wherever I wanted. There are a lot of people like me out there that want to do the right thing by the musicians and even the music companies, even though the latter continues to poop upon us in ever increasing volumes.

    Thanks for listening to my rant. You’ve done a really good thing. If you’re ever in Austin, I’d be pleased to buy you a beer.

  43. froggy wrote:

    dude, you totally rock. Now get Yahoo’s Launch on Satellite Radio so I can listen to may station in my car, and I’m totally coming back to you guys.

  44. Sumit Agarwal wrote:

    Wow, who knew Yahoo had such smart people working for them?

  45. A.T. wrote:

    Walk your talk, Ian – make music.yahoo.com working in Firefox and without crappy activex/flash “players”.

  46. JDJ wrote:

    So its obvious there is a growing uprising pushing the record labels to MP3 and abandoning DRM, but what about the subscription model? Is it cludgy and non-consumer friendly? Absolutely!!! But once you get comfortable with the quirks, the freedom is great! So what about the 5+ million of subscription service users out there? I havent bought a song from iTunes in the 3 years I have been using subscription music services nor have I downloaded “illegal” music. Is subscription music going away?

  47. James Kurtz wrote:

    Great post. Here’s to hoping that you helped convince some of the unconvincibles.

  48. Trevor Bramble wrote:

    Ian, well spoken and inspirational.

    I have been involved in internet radio (when Shoutcast first hit the scene and conversations with Tom Pepper weren’t hard to come by.) I’d been listening to digitally encoded music (ripped from my CD collection) for several years prior.

    Years later, the Yahoo! Music service was launched and I excitedly told friends blog audiences that SOMEONE FINALLY GETS IT! Yahoo! is doing it RIGHT!

    But that was only half-true, for exactly the reasons you outlined. My subscription did not last long and I soon stopped promoting the service to others.

    Though convenience DOES win, abstinence is also a natural response to a market of abusive inconvenience. I no longer pursue new music recordings, and my longtime habit of sometimes skipping live shows and sometimes not hasn’t changed either.

    In short, I dumped the music industry. They treated me very poorly and I respect myself more than that.

    By the way, that Buddhist philosophy you mentioned is called “dependent arising” and I won’t bore anyone here by presenting a clumsy explanation of it. Yours was a fine practical aplication of the concept.

    Keep fighting the good fight.

    Trevor

  49. NuttyD wrote:

    As a frustrated Musicmatch user, it’s great to finally see someone from Yahoo acknowledge the troubles, and their root cause, of the disastrous Musicmatch migration to YMJ. Thank you, Ian. And I’m sorry, but I’ll be sticking with my crippled Musicmatch player (upsell nagware message included) until YMJ becomes the elegant music management software that Musicmatch is and, even now as an unsupported legacy product, remains.

    All of the DRM-limited subscription services are in deep peril unless they start treating their customers as potential fans instead of thieves. Be honest… if you’re going to sell DRM-restricted tracks, tell people that they will be leasing them and not actually buying them (this is as simple as changing the “Buy” button to a “Lease” button). For God’s sakes… used car dealers can’t even get away with this! Stop deceiving us.

    I know I’m not the only customer you’ve lost because of the ridiculous requirements of the music industry. But I’ll be back in a heartbeat if you’re successful in swaying them as you’ve laid out here.

    Good luck.

  50. Marc wrote:

    Hey,

    Great speech — well written, right on the dot. I hope they listen to you.

    I’ve been enjoying emusic recently, but man do I wish they had more labels and content.

    We’ve all been doing “okay” without context, but I think it’s a case of not knowing what we’re missing. I really hope Yahoo (or somebody) builds a cool and hopefully OPEN system for merging content & context, and bringing it to the masses.

    PS There are some typos you might want to fix, e.g., “Lets” should have an apostrophe (it’s a contraction for “let us”)

  51. Susanna wrote:

    Your message is both eloquent and insolent. You never let me down.

  52. Chris Tucker wrote:

    Yahoo! Music is broken.

    Their LaunchCast “radio” service is not supported on Mac OS.

    iTunes has a very decent selection of “radio” streams.

    Comcast has a very decent selection of music streams via my cable box and television. No computer needed.

    Rogue Amoeba’s “RadioShift” application will hook you up to a ton of streaming stations via Mac OS

    Live365 likewise has a ton of free streams. Non-platform specific. Just a recent browser.

    Real and Windows Media Player can do the same thing, and video, too. As can VLC and Miro, all via Mac OS

    Check out the websites of your favorite stations. Odds are, there’s a Real or WMA or streaming MP3 or QuickTime link. Again, non-OS specific.

    But not Yahoo! Music. Oh, well…

    (AOL Voice Guy) “Goodbye!” (/AOL Voice Guy) to Yahoo! Music, as far as I’m concerned.

    So, Ian, why DON’T you want my money? I use Macintosh because I’m willing to pay a premium for solid hardware and a solid OS. If I was a cheap SOB, I’d use a POS generic X86 box and Linux.

    I have money to spend, and yet, you refuse to allow me to spend it at Yahoo! Music. All because I use Mac OS.

    WTF, Ian? WTF?

  53. Michael Harrison wrote:

    I can tell you flat out that if you do what you say, you’ll have at least two more customers, most likely many many more.
    I use iTunes at the moment for two reasons. 1) It’s got the largest catalog available. 2) I have tools that will strip off the DRM and let me put the songs I buy from iTunes on any player I want.
    Without #2, #1 didn’t matter to me at all and I didn’t bother with iTunes.
    As long as DRM is in place (and I can’t easily work around it), the seller won’t get *any* of my money.
    I’m more than willing to pay reasonable rates for music but you’d better get out from between me and my music or I won’t consider your service for even a moment.
    Note that this goes for *all* media. I would love to buy movies and TV shows from iTunes but since I can’t put it on my PalmTX they won’t get my money.

  54. Mac Beach wrote:

    I happened to read about the Amazon service on its first day and downloaded two songs right away. What surprised, no shocked me was that I was using Linux and have no proprietary music software installed whatsoever!

    My second computer is an Apple which I used to need from time to time for accessing iTunes, followed by the tedious process of converting purchased music to MP3 format so that I can play it both on my primary Linux machine and on my Roku media player.

    I doubt I’ll be going back to the iTunes music store from now on.

    As I recall, Yahoo sites don’t work very well with Linux for the most part, and like Microsoft (and Apple) they tend to get your stuff (like photos and e-mail) and not allow you to get at it except though proprietary interfaces (no POP access to e-mail, renaming of Flickr photos after 30 days, etc.).

    Right now, Google is the only company that has a company-wide policy of not engaging in this sort of lock-in behavior.

    It will be nice to have other companies following the lead of Google, and now Amazon (in this one area at least).

    The whole world is watching.

  55. Bawb wrote:

    Ian: back with a link about Amazon’s mp3 service. Turns out their license is teh evil.
    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2003932604_brier08.html

  56. Bubba wrote:

    Ian:

    I appreciate all your thoughts on building context and all, but your presentation fails to address the very issue that drives copyright owners to employ nasty schemes like DRM:

    How do you keep folks paying for the recorded music (and thereby ensuring further creativity and future recordings) if you’re giving it away – and allowing everyone else to give it way, too?

    As I’m certain your experience at Yahoo! has indicated to you, you can’t “make it up on volume.”

    Building context and trying to re-invigorate the consumers and the desire for and ability to enjoy music are admirable goals, but without assurance that those efforts will be rewarded with a real marketplace that will return on the investment, there’s really no incentive to spend the time, energy and money to enhance that experience. Who would try and build a better mousetrap if they know they have to just give it away?

  57. Luqman Mahmud wrote:

    Ian, This was an absolutely brilliant post. Its funny but what you said echoes what I told my wife when the RIAA first started their lawsuit against Napster and RCA (for the first MP3 Player). I told her, “they are starting an arms race they cannot win. There are hundreds of thousands of brilliant programmers out there and they can’t hire people smart enough to create a perfect system.” It has been a wasted 8 years. Had I been a record company exec, I’d have seen the writing on the wall. What they should have done was, commercialize Napster. It was the only real game in town and the perfect distribution medium. They should have written software to prevent the distribution of high bitrate songs but allowed free trading of low bitrate songs. Say 96kbps songs. 128kbps songs and up could be purchased from the napster servers. Like a song? Get the high quality version for 99cents. Apple would never have had the iTunes/iPod monopoly it has today. Idiots! All of them. Too busy hanging on the the past (VCRs & MPAA anyone?) to see the future (don’t Video & DVD rentals & sales outgross movies?). I hate morons. Kudos to you and Yahoo for saying No. The world will thank you and show you were right all along.

  58. Humberto Massa wrote:

    Two words for you:
    try Amarok.
    http://amarok.kde.org/

  59. metz wrote:

    My thoughts on Amazon’s DRM less MP3 store…that’s really what got Ian started on his manifesto.

    It’s not an altrustic attempt by the media labels to give the consumer what they want. It’s an attempt to wrest their business model back from Apple.

    Let’s look at the history of music and technology…

    From the down of time until year 2000, the record companies controlled their business model through the production of hard goods (vinyl, cassettes, CD’s). Throughout this path of time the companies attempted to thwart technology through law suits and control. Then along came digital music and ease of distribution of copyrighted goods. Napster became the biggest threat to their ensconced position, so once again they broke out the lawyers and won.

    However, some of the players decided that digital music was a potential path to more revenue. The initial toe in the water was streaming services (real, music match, etc). Along comes Apple with iTunes and the iPod and Fairplay DRM and close connections with “Hollywood” and selling of single songs and complete albums. Once a few companies signed on and started making $, pretty much all signed on. All was wonderful in the world of Oz until some companies decided that the one price for everything model enforced by Apple doesn’t meet their business needs. They attempt to strong arm Apple, who declines to change their business model for the big media companies.

    Uh, oh….Big media has let Apple create a beast with more power than they ever wanted. The power is no longer in the hands of the labels to set prices for their content. What’s a large media company to do? They must destroy the monster they’ve created in order to regain control of their business. The answer is to cut deals with new outlets to sell their content. How can these new “stores” compete with Apple, who owns the a huge chunk of the hardware and distribution chains?

    You don’t want to compete on price (lest the consumer figure out how low you can actually price this content). The only answer, you drop DRM and offer convenience of your medium. Why would anyone now buy from iTunes and their restrictions when they can buy from Amazon (and soon to be many other stores) and get the content in an unprotected form that can be played on any digital device?

    Once the record companies have established many stores and fractured the single distribution chain, they will be free to negotiate pricing with all the stores and reestablish control of their business. If a single store doesn’t agree on the pricing model, they won’t get the content. Big media will own the content, they “create” the artists through marketing and they’ll own the pricing model. We, the consumer, get DRM free songs, but will eventually pay more for it. Yahoo will get content from the labels and can build a great customer experience, but the labels have a different motive than Yahoo. Eventually the labels will turn back to DRM as soon as they dispatch with the Apple/iTMS gorilla.

    The path charted by Radiohead and NIN, isn’t viable for any upcoming artists because they can’t afford the marketing. My only hope is that established artists sell directly to the public and in turn invest in upcoming artists.

    One big thing you’ll notice is that this only pertains to Music…..there’s no mention of video moving away from DRM from Yahoo or anyone else…

  60. Clarence Jones wrote:

    Thank you Ian. The Recorded Music Industry takes we music fans, rips us off (& rips off the musicians that create the “product”), calls us criminals, sues us, extorts royalties from those of us who love the music so much we webcast it, creates this DRM-driven process to allow us to pay to listen to it…and then blames us because sales are down. Geez…
    Love & Peace, Clarence Jones
    OlioRadio.net

  61. eric wrote:

    I just saw Jimmie Dale at the grocery store in Austin. It was so random to come to this site via Gizmodo and see your story about his concert.

  62. Burst Labs wrote:

    Just wanted to add a big thumbs up!

    Your post is my new favorite write-up on the state of the music biz.

    GREAT job.

  63. mark hull wrote:

    Great post, Ian. What I love best about it is your passionate focus on doing what’s right for consumers and building a great experience. No easy tasks in the music industry. The only path to success requires leaders with your kind of zeal to take us there. Wish there were more folks like you out there. Good luck (and tell Zoe to get another show out pronto!)

  64. Beatrice M wrote:

    Thank you! I just recently moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina and while I did rip all my cds into my iTunes library before we left, there is still lots of music I would like to buy via downloading it! Just tonight I tried to find the Soundtrack to the awesome movie “Bagdad Cafe” so that I could share it with my husband as we’re going to concert later this week by one of the composers. I tried Amazon.com’s website, but couldn’t find the whole album, just some songs from it on other people’s albums. It’s also seems stupidly difficult to download a whole album from their catalog. I want the option of downloading a couple of mp3s AND being able to download the whole thing without doing each one individually. I was bemoaning the fact on twitter. It’s ridiculous that it’s almost 2008 and I can’t just download an album. I *want* to pay for it, really I do. I want to *support the artists*. I also don’t want to be told what to do with the music and have restrictions on what players I can use it with. I hope people listen to you. I really do.

  65. David wrote:

    Man! We need more people like this in the world. Way to be passionate about something, and push for it. Especially for an excellent cause.

  66. Ben wrote:

    Brilliant words. Finally businesses seems to be seeing the light. Let’s hope it all snowballs into action.

  67. Jim Bob Jones wrote:

    Ian,

    This is great stuff. The unfortunate thing is that there are only a finite number of people holding this whole thing back:

    David Ring
    Zach Horowitz
    Thomas Hesse
    Thomas Geweke
    Alex Zubillaga
    George White

    If these guys could be turned around, then your vision wins. But we both know it’s not going to happen. Eventually these people will get cycled out, and your vision will come to reality.

    Unfortunately, it will probably be another 8 years.

  68. Patrick wrote:

    Hey Ian,
    I’m sure you have heard this a million times already, but it was about time someone said it like it is… and to be completely honest, I knew it would have been you to say it. I’ve always had a load of respect for you, especially for what you have done in the past, and now my respect has doubled for putting your ass on the line and laying it all out. If only Yahoo! had more people like you looking after the business, we’d all be happy ;)

    Anyway, enough pissin’ in your pocket, keep well man!

    Patrick.

  69. david wrote:

    Nice. I did the those marketing screens for YMU (in trade) and barfed a little in my mouth… a lot.

  70. chris wrote:

    Awesome post.

  71. Steve wrote:

    hey ian – good post. as i told you at the dmw conference, i _agree_. we are building, we are communicating (trying to at least), and we hope for progress…

  72. ken wrote:

    So how about “pathetic attempts for control” like DVDs with CSS, region-coding, and un-fast-forwardable previews? Still going to be selling those?

  73. Marcel wrote:

    To the question if I have ever used amazon’s mp3 download service I have to say no. When I heard about DRM free mp3′s on amazon I immediately surfed to their site, just to find out that it is US only (I’m from Europe). I’m afraid that if it will come to Europe they will do a 1 to 1 price conversion from USD to EURO even thought the USD isn’ t worth anything anymore. I would have loved to buy in dollars ;-) But even if the to the dirty thing with the currencies…. I want to buy. But so far… I just bought CD’s because of the DRM thing.

  74. Emilio wrote:

    Only…Thanks!!

  75. James Wilson wrote:

    Also, the world is bigger than the USA. I’ve never understood geographical restrictions to these services.

    Because I’m living outside of the USA, my money’s no good? It’s the freakin’ Internet, noobs. Figure it out.

    Until you do, I’ll still be obtaining my music from “other sources”.

  76. Doug Winter wrote:

    You might be interested in http://www.sleevenotez.com :)

  77. SimonTek wrote:

    Doubt you will read this. But I can support that move. I am also in the LA area, near venice. I hope to see you skateboarding by, so I can applaud you.

  78. Freddie B. wrote:

    A truly terrific piece.

    I’ve been researching the music industry for a client this last month and this stands out for its keen understanding of music fans as much as new business models – something which way too few people seem capable of doing.

    One notable exception here is the report Peter Jenner wrote for Music Tank last year. He too understands the potential (and need) for context here.

    Certainly this is a trick Radiohead have missed this week – it’s great having the new album, but without any artwork or online experience it exists in pure limbo. While this is surely a great test for new music, it’s not the fan’s ideal experience.

    Here’s a link to the Jenner report – executive summary is free, full report costs cash http://www.musictank.co.uk/reports/beyond-the-soundbytes

  79. John Mc wrote:

    Careful before you carry Amazon away on your shoulders. The Seattle Times reports “Amazon’s unlocked music still might get you sued”

    http://tinyurl.com/3cfqsd

  80. Bob Kellum wrote:

    I’m right there with you. I’m a Yahoo Music subscriber, and the phrase “Various Artists” drives me nuts. This is another symptom of the “same ‘ole, same ‘ole”. Albums that have 2 gems, 2 oks and 5 stinkers, bundled to run the price up to $18, is not my idea of a good time. VA is a symptom of that thinking. A compilation tho, is a collection of pieces that all have their own identity. (Think Cardigan’s “Lovefool” vs the rest of their collection). I’m old enough to realize that any thought of control that I have is merely an illusion. You would think that the Music Business could have figured that out by now. Thanks for stating the obvious. It’s true. The emperor does not have any clothes on. Radiohead and NIN have figured that out. Tick..Tock……

  81. Bill J. wrote:

    I’m surprised that most online music retailers (with the exception of iTunes) are sticking to the MP3 format.

    AAC was developed by the MPEG group which includes Dolby, Fraunhofer, AT&T, Sony and Nokia— the same companies that have also been involved in the development of audio codecs such as MP3 and AC3 (ie Dolby Digital).

    AAC was designed as the successor to MP3 and it is far more efficient than MP3 at delivering much better audio at the same or slightly smaller file size.

    Why, oh why, does everyone still support the most lossy digital audio format after so many years??

  82. Jen wrote:

    Breathtaking. On a number of levels… that post encompassed so many topics, and so honestly, passionately, intelligently. Thank you. I haven’t liked any of the music download experiences, and still buy my music in the artist’s packaging. The new Radiohead release is tempting me… I still haven’t researched it sufficiently to see if I’ll risk being annoyed / frustrated / disappointed. And then you mention Jimmie Dale Gilmore, the man responsible for one of the greatest live shows I’ve ever seen. I saw him the same night I saw Bob Dylan for the first time. Bob was terrible that night, and I went to see JDG because he was playing at the venue that I worked, so I could go for free, and I was curious. He was… just amazing beyond words.

    Back to your point: Hopefully you and others here are aware of The Future of Music Coalition (http://www.futureofmusic.org/) and are involved. Great people doing great work.

  83. R Tyhurst wrote:

    DRM completely and unimaginably sucks.

    Microsoft is pushing DRM with VISTA.

    One big reason that VISTA sales are in the toilet is that VISTA breaks Windows Media Player.

    You are so on the right track I can’t tell you.

    If Yahoo is supporting you in this: “Yahoo!” for them.

    And for you.

    PS: A very popular Canadian band, “Barenaked Ladies” is selling their new album on CD’s but also on memory sticks.

    That’s the kind of “outside the box” thinking that’s needed to facilitate the change to “whatever comes next”.

    Music will always be… it’s just a matter of what model for distribution comes next.

    If Microsoft and DRM wins – we all lose.

  84. arrrr wrote:

    I love the concept of a subscription “to-go” service. I currently use Rhapsody. When it is working it is the greatest invention of all time, but it only works half the time. :(

    I can’t see paying a dollar for one mp3 that I may or may not be sick of after one listen. I would rather pay $20/month and have the option to listen to whatever I want. There has to be some middle ground here.

    I would really hate to see the demise of the subscription service while there is still no alternative other than migrating the overpriced record store model to the internet.

  85. Stuart Halliday wrote:

    I can only say, being based in Europe and not allowed access to American Music content for some odd reason, thank the stars we have had AllofMP3/MP3Sparks to keep us sane over the last 8 years.

  86. Adam wrote:

    Thanks for this. It is my experience that people will pay an honest amount for music, but they expect the right to do what they will with it. Seems some bands are coming around to this idea as well. And I think you nailed the main reason for it. The context of music basically sucks. That quicktime bar is ridiculous for the age we live in. You pull up an mp3, you should get an imdb type display of band members, studios, suggested listening, discography, album art, etc. Especially in the fluid world that the web has become.

    Thank you for you positive attitude and you willingness to not support a severely flawed and backwards system any more.

  87. Jason wrote:

    I’ve never read your blog before, and I had no idea who you are before hand.

    All I have to say is: you are a god. I wish I could have seen your presentation live instead of just reading it; your words so eloquently express the jumble of ideas I’ve had floating around my head the past several years but couldn’t figure out quite how to express, and your resolve to better for the public is amazing in this age of jaded corporatism run amok.

    I’ve never been a fan of Yahoo!, but if they have more people like you work there, then maybe there’s hope for them yet.

  88. Bubba wrote:

    Stuff like this just makes me sigh:

    Luqman Mahmud wrote:

    “I told my wife when the RIAA first started their lawsuit against Napster and RCA (for the first MP3 Player). I told her, “they are starting an arms race they cannot win. There are hundreds of thousands of brilliant programmers out there and they can’t hire people smart enough to create a perfect system.””

    Followed by:

    “What they should have done was, commercialize Napster. It was the only real game in town and the perfect distribution medium. They should have written software to prevent the distribution of high bitrate songs but allowed free trading of low bitrate songs. Say 96kbps songs. 128kbps songs and up could be purchased from the napster servers.”

    Um, pardon me but: if they “can’t hire people smart enough to create a perfect system” then how do you propose that they could have created that “perfect system” you recommend?

    And YOU think THEY are idiots and you hate morons?

    Here’s the truth:

    NO ONE could have commercialized Napster. In all the: “the record companies made the mistake of suing, instead of taking advantage” arguments – I’ve never heard anyone explain how that could have have been accomplished.

    Saying things like: “They should have [harnessed] [worked with] [commercialized] [amorphous term of your choice] Napster when they had the chance” is like saying: “I should just have a billion dollars, and then I won’t have any problems, either.” Nothing but wishful thinking, with no real, usable plans to implement and make it work.

    This is a situation that has stalled exactly because we need REAL, WORKABLE solutions, that benefit everyone, not just feel-good, soundbytes that are devoid of specifics, like: “commercialize file sharing.”

  89. anonymous wrote:

    Amen

  90. Tony wrote:

    Yahoo music unlimited is credible DRM encumbered solution for listening to music at home. $6/month for unlimited streaming (much less with the buy one year, get one year free deal running now) is IMHO a bargain.

    But please do invest a few more dollars to fix the bugs in your player. It crashes for me several times per day.

  91. Joseph wrote:

    to Mrs Van Zandt, I’d like to know how you feel about Jamie Thomas being charged 20 something thousand dollars for sharing information (single mother of two as well, mind u). did u get any of that money? i’m sure she’s trying to make ends meet too…

  92. Freddy wrote:

    “We are just a family trying to make ends meet while our income has been slashed in half by people stealing my husband’s music.”

    Jeanene

    I hope you are including record companies and execs in your list of thieves. The RIAA is suing thousands of people; most settle out of court. Have you seen any of this settlement money? I have not seen anywhere on the net or press that any of the money being collected by the RIAA is going to the artists. As the lawsuits list specific songs it should not be hard to give the right percentage of the settlement money to the artists whose music was infringed. Why is this not being done?

  93. Armando wrote:

    Ian,

    My first digital music purchase was from Y! Music. I had a Y! Music Unlimited subscription and decided I wanted to have an album instead of having to stream or listen on subscription. So I purchased it and downloaded it to my player, at the office. I was reluctant to do this because of DRM but decided I wanted it badly enough to go ahead and make the purchase anyway. When I couldn’t listen to the file at home, not even authorize my home computer like iTunes does (I don’t remember if it just had problems doing it, or if it wasn’t allowed), I was so frustrated and upset that I cancelled my Y! Music subscription, making sure to say WHY in the feedback. I don’t steal music, I’ve paid for every single one of my 300+ albums, and I don’t like being treated like a suspected criminal (I don’t give away music, either). While I understand the industry’s concerns with piracy and the ease of downloading music illegally, I DO NOT think DRM is the answer. Kudos to you! DRM free purchases and the unlimited subscription model would be a fantastic combination that would bring me back to Y! Music.

  94. Satisfied '75 wrote:

    Hi, this is Justin from Aquarium Drunkard. To download an MP3 from the blog you need to right click “save as.” I do not allow streaming on the site due to bandwidth reasons – that is why you get a 404 error.

  95. Masermn wrote:

    Working for a huge (Sony) company for 25 years, I was involved in the process of manufacturing CD-R / DVD-R disks. Sitting in a meeting with both Sony Music and Sony Digital Media was the most hilarious events of my life. Lawyers from both sides trying to figure out how to sue each other. “what do you think people are burning onto those millions of blank CD’s, their vacation pictures!” always broke the meeting up into a frenzy. Our profits were soring and it was not from the music business or Sony pictures it was blank media and the Playstation. Sad to say this big corporation was reduced to this reality, the “Conflicted Conglomerate” plods along, lost in a fog of old money and lost wages.

  96. Mike wrote:

    I used to be a Yahoo Music Unlimited subscriber. I quit because it was just too inconvienent to use the software; particularly after my portable music player, that worked with the service broke. I got an Ipod from my company as a reward, and then switched back to CDs for new music, so I could use it wherever I want. I don’t want to have to worry about getting a portable player that works with this service or that one.
    I’ll happily pay for content, but I am tired of all the hassles. As a engineer, it isn’t like I’m intimidated by file sharing or anything like that. It’s that as an engineer, I KNOW it doesn’t have to be difficult, so it’s all the more annoying that I HAVE to jump through hoops.

  97. BB wrote:

    Excellent and insightful commentary. The comments have added some important points, though:

    1. Territoriality disappears with the internet. To a great extent, its been disappearing with global trade in general. Why won’t the labels get with the rest of the world and stop their contrived territoriality?

    2. The internet has been fueled by customer convenience. To a great extent, global retail services have been fueled by customer convenience. Even in countries where Wal-mart failed, their flexible return policies changed the market. Again, labels need to catch up. I doubt that people at the labels probably would be willing to buy clothes that they weren’t allowed to try on; so why do they expect their customers to do it? I know that for some of us, the ability to download and hear albums first has actually increased our music spending significantly. We don’t expect the labels to work for free.

  98. B-money wrote:

    For those who keep bringing up the concern about musicians of smaller renown getting trounced by the the direct band-to-market model, fear not.

    Sure, your manager can no longer be uncle Steve, or that slacker friend from high school who went to all your shows. It will need to be someone who understands the web and e-commerce. Someone who understand net marketing and SEO.

    Even a recording label could do this. Listen to the “buzz” about up and coming bands and sign “contracts” to provide web services and fan-membership subscriptions and merchandizing options.

    The point is, there’s plenty of money to be made, but the artist could then dictate the percentage of the profits it gives to the manager/label that helps them. Unlike the current model in which the labels pay the artists a percentage for helping the labels profit.

  99. alex eckelberry wrote:

    Excellent post. My comments:

    http://sunbeltblog.blogspot.com/2007/10/new-hero-ian-rogers.html

  100. Ronin wrote:

    Great article. I think what is missing however is how can the music lovers of this world and the big artists help. It’s nice that some of the people in the treches/industry are willing to stand up and tell it like it is, but like all change if we are to make a difference we (and the big artists) need to stand together and tell the record labels “we are not going to buy your music” and more importantantly, the big artist names in helping us…U2, Rush, Rolling Stones, Nickelback, etc…etc… need to say we are leaving you. It’s time for the ones with the most pull to get off their duffs and distribute right to us vs using the greedy record labels.

  101. Johnny D. wrote:

    I stumbled on this entry and it struck several chords.

    Technological advances redefine businesses and business models. Adapt or die . . . eventually. Big businesses usually take a while. They need a full acre to turn the rig around (or over).

    Digital music and the P2P means of distribution challenged the music industry’s business model. They tried to protect their turf, not realizing it had already eroded from under them. In the end, this kind of litigation, applied broadly, does nothing but make your best customers your worst enemy–you attack the ones who actually want your product. You live on as the Empire, or AT & T, a necessary but hated evil.

    The net eliminates/becomes the middleman in informational transactions. For the cost of a download ($0.0001?), I can have the content of a $50 book or a $30 CD. The role of the traditional publisher shifts now to that of a value-added, convenience reseller, providing the context for that content conveniently: the dust jacketed, hand held book, delivered to your door, the decorated jewel case. Once the usurping technology’s in place, the monks become artists in their own right (a reference to Marshall McLuhan, the Bible and the advent of the Gutenberg press).

    If we redesigned the whole music industry from scratch, given today’s technology, artists would make deals with web consultants to design their websites (or do it themselves) so they could sell their songs directly, their fans would discover them through performances, Google and viral marketing, and publishing companies would primarily exist to court net-savvy artists with offers to add commercial value by professionally publishing their work and doing promotion in return for a percentage and broader exposure, including carrying the artist in their web-front retail outlets— like Amazon’s MP3 site.

    Another chord: hearing from Mrs. Van Zandt brings back memories of listening raptly to Townes Van Zandt in college coffee houses down here in Texas. I was and always have been a great fan of his monumental talent, but it was impossible in those days to find his songs or albums. Local stores didn’t carry him like they did the Beatles or Moody Blues. Too bad there wasn’t a http://www.townesvanzandt.com to go to back then. Life may have turned out differently all around.

    Fact is, I’d probably have downloaded bootleg copies of his songs I liked, being a starving college student at the time, but ultimately, I’d have bought my own. Today, my son has many gigabytes of “free” music, most of which he never listens to. I have only a couple of gigs of music I play often, and I’ve bought and paid for it all.

    It’s good to be king.

  102. Royce W. wrote:

    I’m one of the few who actually subscribe to Yahoo! Music Unlimited. In concept, I love it. It gives me virtually unlimited options for experimenting with new music and for going back on the long tail for albums I haven’t listen to in years. In practice, though, it’s often a pain in the ass. My player options are limited to marginal vendors with marginal support. I occasionally forget to sync my portable player within 30 days, leaving me music-less, except for DRM-free tracks I’ve ripped from CDs.

    My YMU subscription isn’t up for another 6 months, but with Amazon’s new download service, I have to think hard about bailing. I appreciate that you understand. Thanks.

  103. Rob wrote:

    Couldn’t agree more.

  104. skierpage wrote:

    The replacement for subscription services, and the only fair(ish) way to guarantee artists get money from downloaders is this:

    A compulsory license fee as part of your monthly ISP bill.

    People go online to access content, some of that content is copyrighted, so collect a fee as part of going online but in return drop the barriers to any and all file sharing. Distribute the license fee money to artists strictly by popularity.

    The benefits to artists and consumers are immense, and a host of amazing things happen. Rather than repeat them here, go read the EFF paper http://www.eff.org/share/collective_lic_wp.php IMO EFF errs in making it voluntary. Royalties on blank tape and CD-Rs aren’t voluntary.

  105. Billy M. wrote:

    As a technophile what do I want in music? I want an on demand experience whenever or wherever I am at. Fully controlled by ME, with filters and all sorts of bells and whistles to get me the customized experience I want. I like to listen to music, but I don’t like to work at it too much, there are so many other entertainment choices today.

    The process of getting to that point is going to be an interesting ride and I can’t imagine that we won’t eventually get there no matter how much the music industry drags their feet and doesn’t have the brains to find new profitable opportunities.

    I won’t be satisfied until I have something like this:

    24/7 high speed internet access through some sort of small portable or wearable device. That’s the ONLY device you will need. It will figure out how to transmit the music to any other device that you want to listen (or watch) the content on, whether it be a TV, stereo, iPod, car stereo, or just that device itself.

    The big difference with current models is that you would pay for EVERY time you listen to a song. You won’t own the song in any way (unless you made it), you won’t download it, and you won’t store or organize it on hard drives or devices. All that crap will be transparent and everything will just work and it will work every single time just the way you want it to.

    The pricing for renting this music will be where the real creativity begins. How much do you charge for each play? Do you use a subscription model? What sort of marketing can be done? There are so many possibilities that it’s hard to imagine. Unless a person is really into spending a lot of time finding new or interesting music, they will need some sort of service to help them find what they will like. Your old favorites will cost you something EVERY single time you play them. Will this deter you from playing them? I don’t think so, because the cost will be so low, it’s not going to be worth bothering with, same with trying to rip or store the music somewhere, it just won’t be worth the hassle. Spend the time doing something else or just listening to music instead or downloading, ripping, organizing etc. I would imagine this service will charge some sort of fee, certainly nothing wrong with that. Reward innovation! That “service” could be as simple as a music blogger that you respect or a full blown subscription service that learns your likes and dislikes and automatically creates a playlist to your life. Eventually the “service” will figure out your likes and dislikes and what changes to make based on your activity. When you’re at the gym, maybe your likes are different then driving in your car or at home, all of this will be learned by you computer (device). Instead of that service making most all the money as the record industry does now, the bulk of your music “renting” money will go to the artist and just a small fee to the “service”. Distribution and promotion are just so much cheaper in this digital age; let the artists reap the monetary benefits of this new model. If the artist wants to give away free rentals of the music to let people hear it and promote themselves, then they should have that ability. But they would also have the ability to make you pay on the second listen, or the third, 10th or whatever they decide. The cream would definitely rise to the top! Imagine something like this: An artist releases a new single for “rent” and it’s really awesome. That day 10,000 rent the song and pay 1¢ (just an arbitrary number and it could be free) for the rental fee. The consumer doesn’t own it or have a copy of it, they will just pay1¢ the next time they listen. So that song is really good and those 10,000 people listen to it again and they tell their friends about it, blog it etc. The next day 100,000 people are renting it, then a million, then maybe it starts to drop off, but the artists will be collecting this money for the rest of their lives. The monetary rewards could be staggering! As a consumer, do I care if I’m continually renting my music and one of my favorite songs will cost me quite a bit of money over my lifetime? No, not at all, because it will be convenient and I am not forced to choose that song, but if I enjoy it, why wouldn’t I? Besides, I have no way of knowing if I will ever completely tire of a song or not.

    Buying crappy albums and getting only one good song (if that) is not an excuse to download illegal music, but most of us have had some if not a lot of experiences like that. We are “forced” to buy that whole album with stuff we don’t want. With the new model, if you don’t like the music the most you might pay is a few cents to listen to all the songs on the album (if the album concept still exists). After that the artist gets nothing! The cream rises to the top (and makes oodles of money for being GOOD) and Britney will be working at McDonalds.

    For me, anything less is unacceptable. I can wait, music isn’t SO important that I need to keep jumping through hoops, I’ll let others do that.

    Are we there yet? Not even close. What a joke the idea of convergence with the computer, TV and stereo has been. All sorts of devices to make you jump through hoops to get the devices to “talk” to each other. Devices that are out of date in 6 months. Yeah if your technical enough you can get some of this to work now, but the “average” person is either lost or they go to the store and hand over a bunch of money for soon to be orphaned technology. I gave up on this crap until it really starts to work. I’ll let other people spend the big bucks to help these technologies move forward. Call me when it all works, until then I’ve got other interests.

    Why does music get such a holier than thou sort of attitude about itself? Why are musicians so much better than anyone else who creates something? I will probably never understand that, but I don’t have to. You do your thing and I’ll do mine. I want music to be part of that, but I’m not jumping through anymore hoops.

  106. Jim Harris wrote:

    I was very happy to see AmazonMP3 and consider it a great site for buying MP3 music. The trouble is I’ve already decided not to buy MP3 music.

    I’m starting to think MP3s are on the way out like CDs. I believe net music, or subscription music services like Rhapsody are the future. And I respond to your blog at my site ( http://jameswharris.wordpress.com/ ).

    The problem with MP3s are the same as CDs and LPs – you have to save and protect them and work to maintain your collection for the rest of your life. After 45 years of collecting music I’m tired of being a music librarian. Net music is such a better model – if it catches on.

    Jim Harris

  107. Len Bullard wrote:

    That’s a great blog.

    My response after so many years of recording has been this: I record songs, I put them on the web. People download them. They send me mail to say thanks. I don’t have to make money at it so I don’t. MP3.COM was a failure and I don’t want to spend anymore time trying to cross the generation chasm. I want to write, record, release, be well. It’s a nice noMind trip.

    Done. That is as easy as I can make free be.

    Context: this is a much more fun topic. Wrapping a context around a context is extreme art and what I spent the rest of those years in hypertext, then hypermedia then the web working for. What I was waiting for was not video, though. I wanted immersive experience, so for the last year I built a VRML97 virtual reality album. Is is user convenient? Not exactly. It is user challenging. From an artist perspective it is enormous fun to take a real-time 3D engine that can mix ambient sounds and music together in different ways combining the linear exposition with the serendipity of lots of little timers running off lots of little triggers.

    See http://home.hiwaay.net/~cbullard/rol/TheRiverofLife.wrl

    You’ll need the BitManagement BS Contact viewer. No apologies about that. It’s free even with the floating frotus.

    It isn’t enough to do a virtual reality concert. Hell, we were doing those a decade ago. It is quite enough to create different context wrappers. And great great fun.

    cheers,

    len

  108. Interested Reader wrote:

    Hallelujah!
    Wow, finally someone speaks out, what we’re experiencing every day.

    Well written, easy to understand (english isn’t my mother tongue) and clear in it’s conclusion(s).

    Thank you for publishing this great and interesting article, dude.

    Btw: The Quicktime-Bars suck, yeah

  109. Eric Thiessen wrote:

    The model for free music over the ‘net is driven by the decades old model of being able to tape music for free from broadcast radio and TV-and given the amount of information missing in a 192 kbs mp3 rip, its worth less than nothing if you are going to play it on a decent system where you’ll notice most of the highs and lows are missing from it. Sell me an entire album, collection of songs, etc in lossless format for under $10 and I’ll gladly pay for content worth paying for. Better yet, sell me a monthly subscription like Rapidshare does and let me download whatever I want up to say, a certain amount of data, and charge me more if I go over.

  110. nix wrote:

    It boils down to the golden rule:

    Those that have the gold make all the rules.

    Can the record labels see the light? The are putting up a good fight; to keep their heads in the sand.

    The funny thing about the golden rule; people are trying to change currency or how the currency gets distrubited.

    PS: Great post.

  111. Thomas Smith wrote:

    I live in Canada.
    I have bought CDs (and DVDs) from Amazon.ca, .com, .co.uk, .co.jp
    My one account works on all of them, very easy (shipping from Japan is killer though).

    Why is it that I can’t buy an MP3 from Amazon.com? I don’t want to hear about licensing crap, I just want to buy the music I want, they don’t call it the WORLD WIDE WEB for nothing!

    They need to stop building walls. When it’s easier to buy a CD from Japan then to download a track from iTunes Japan something is wrong.

  112. adam nathanson wrote:

    Ian, you get it! The labels are now trying to charge the radio broadcasters to pay a performance royalty which has been an exemption for radio broascastes through a bill Congressman Berman of California is trying to pass…also radio broadcasters are paying escalating fees to the Soundexchange to stream music on a per performance per user fee system which does not make sense…RIAA? the radio and the internet are terrific ways to hear and experience new music check out http://www.kpig.com…..Ian, i hope your words of wisdom will spark a much needed change as music content and context experiences are struggling to make ends meet due to restrictions imposed by the labels and their lobbying arm the RIAA

  113. dan wrote:

    Thanks for the great work Ian. It is nice to hear someone within the industry speaking sense. Whether it makes a difference, only time will tell.

    In the meantime, I think Y! should invest in creating the new music universe. Allow musicians to upload their music and listeners to sort the wheat from the chafe through ratings. There are several different levels of listening that ranges from first adopters who want to only listen to the most cutting edge music and evangelize for it, to folks who only listen to what’s popular. Use that big user base to help find good music by helping music percolate from the early adopters group on to others. Match Myspace by giving social networking profiles to musicians to promote themselves and fans to mingle with and support their favorite acts. Bring in Upcoming (so Acts have one place to post shows and events), Groups (for email distribution), and Stores (to sell tees, cds, posters, and other stuff). And better yet, create the marketplace that makes sense. Let musicians help make pricing decisions and allow for progressive price that adjusts for popularity.

    Either way, good luck in convincing the music industry to evolve.

  114. Andrew S wrote:

    I’m glad you help run Y! Music.

    I wish you ran the music industry.

  115. Arne Babenhauserheid wrote:

    The context you talk about already exists. Just have a look at Amarok:

    - Context: http://amarok.kde.org/d/en/index.php?q=gallery&g2_itemId=1375
    - Wikipedia: http://amarok.kde.org/d/en/index.php?q=gallery&g2_itemId=1381
    - Lyrics sites: http://amarok.kde.org/d/en/index.php?q=gallery&g2_itemId=1378
    - and an integrated store where you don’t have to buy to listen:

    And all that in a free software program, so noone dictates any rules upon you.

    I don’t know about you, but I definitely get excited by it!
    (also posted on http://draketo.de/english/comments/light/context-on-music-yahoo-is-too-late-amarok )

  116. John wrote:

    There are some really good points made. Here are some alternative ideas I’d like to mention:

    * Why not find a better way to get consumers uncompressed files so the music isn’t compromised? MP3 is not a good listener experience, so don’t discount the listening experience, just because it is convenient.
    * CD was not created purely for convenience. The music industry forced it on the consumer (and created a market to resell the same product in the meantime), not the other way around. The only reason I went to CD is b/c I had to pay import prices for vinyl. True convenience would be to give us options – let me buy the format I want.
    * Taking that further, true convenience is letting me hear a sample of a song with a MP3, and order it online for a cheaper price than I pay in a brick and mortar, b/c it’s just warehousing, not the same overhead a store has. Or, if I want an MP3 purchase, sell me that, but a little cheaper, b/c it has no packaging and is of lesser quality.
    * Keep the brick and mortar – there is something to be said for browsing and interacting with the people you see at shows. I gladly pay more for this experience. Sure, I can blog, but this is more personal. I didn’t order my wife on the internet – I know some people do. My point is that music can be a passion for some, and for those people, a real human connection is a vital part of their experience as a music fan and consumer.
    * Convenience… there was a time when you could buy an album or a tape, and many people bought blank cassettes and taped their albums – you couldn’t take vinyl in the car, but you could make a tape, make a mix tape, etc. Portable and personal.
    * Convenient can also mean “disposable”. So, I couldn’t store 10,000 albums on a cassette, but it was more targeted – I heard what I wanted. Too much convenience is not necessarily good. How much of the free stuff you get in gift bags at music conferences do you actually listen to?
    * Why is there a market of people who pay top dollar for vinyl?
    * Sure, the record companies are not great at their jobs, but don’t deny Napster and other file sharing people stole and steal. If it was some guy who spent the last year of his life developing a software program and suddenly found people using it for free, taking away his ability to go to market, would that be cool?

  117. Mark Evans wrote:

    What excellent insight into the digital music industry! It’s fascinating to how the business continues to evolve, experiment and stumble. The bottom line is people llve music, and the easier (and more convenient) it is, the more they will consume.

  118. Kim wrote:

    The sad part is that the movie industry is repeating the errors of the music industry.

    Let’s all hope that it doesn’t take 8 years for them to realize their mistake

  119. preston wrote:

    just a note to say that i support your cause, as someone who has used p2p for a long time and felt guity for doing it i am starting to buy digital music now that it has started to become available without drm.

    i understand that i am not really part of the solution at this point but the idea that there must be thousands of others like me who, in the past, refused to pay for locked media and now have more options to buy open digital downloads is surely encouraging.

  120. Robbie wrote:

    Don’t suppose this will get read. It’s off topic. I’m trying to get a hold of Ian – and it’s getting hard to get through to the Yahoo Music Team, but basically- things are clearly going down hill and your lack of communication with the community is causing more problems than you think it’s fixing.

    Please contact me, I have many concerns! I am hoping to share with you some ideas that may really help. Most companies can avoid bad press by being open with their customers. But honestly- have you even read your own forums at yahoo music recently? Everybody feels alienated- and everybody’s angry. It’s easy to fix, just contact us !!

    I personally have a useless Sansa Connect on my hands (per recommendation of the yahoo music blog) and yahoo’s support is anything but helpful – Sansa what? No, the To-go service is terminated! AHHH!!!

    Seriously, you guys need some help, and I want to help. Contact Me.

  121. Mac wrote:

    Worthless. US only. Someone can still beat them to the biggest punch of all.

  122. Crockett wrote:

    [clap clap clap clap!] @ “…the only way to compete with the control you’ve lost…”

    Only you might have added a big, “TOLD YOU SO!” right there.

    The big shame from my outsider-perspective is the industry’s denial of certain inevitabilities. I guess with enough power and control, the incentive to adapt and progress fades. When you’re on top and in control, why would you want to go anywhere else?

  123. Tom wrote:

    Thank you for a great article. The only thing I’d wish you do is incorporate all the great features of Musicmatch into Yahoo Music. Musicmatch was such a elegant piece of software I hope you continue to make Yahoo Music much more like it. Until then I will continue to use Musicmatch for listening and organizing all of my music…

  124. Arioch wrote:

    …and now i would say: pleasy, revive AllOfMP3 !
    Technologically, that is the greatest web platform i saw yet.

    MP3 is wide-spread, but they are ineffective, we know it, yes ?

    Vorbis is and MP4=AAC is, maybe MusePack – but seems no room for it. And WavePak fro most geeks.

    Most lousy players, that cannot neither MP4 nor OGG, they at least can WMA.

    AllOfMP3 can do it right off!
    Yes, it is not in sync with media libraries apps or things like Last.fm.
    Yes, it might be done better to integrate with paying services, delivering services, etc.
    However still it seems to be best technology platform to have. And one of most advertised, by its never-ending wars.

    Take it! Take Rockbox ! and make it easy to me!
    Make mi listening and excited with music just play a button on my player to mark “i want to thank this band with my money”, or press it twcie, or three times. Then just connect it to computer, and let it sync it all, Last.fm log, my excitesm etc.
    Just make it simple and catch me in those moments i am silly enough to share my wallet with anyone, who helped to create this track in me headphones.

  125. Arioch wrote:

    John> Why not find a better way to get consumers uncompressed files so the music isn’t compromised?

    This is where WavePak may jump in. It can split a track into two files, small-as-you-wan destructively-compressed file, to hear on the streats from player, and large ‘fixes’ file, holdign the rest of infromation. Together those two files make a track compressed with 100% quality.

    So when you need it small – take small files. When you need ultimate quality and have laaarge storage – take both files.

  126. GRamos wrote:

    Do not pay a music produced by a musician is like do not pay a work done by any worker. Imagine you working everyday in a setting line of any industry and on the end of the month, your boss does not pay you because he thinks, it could be free. He could say of this manner for you: “My son, thanks for your job, but I’ll not pay you. Thanks to build more a stuff to me, but look for a sponsor because I believe your job could be free to me.”
    I think the music should be pay to the musician because it comes from his job and required investments during all production. At home, he needs raise his family, wife, and kids, he has too his wishes, his dreams, and also his desires for anything else, as you wish too. A lunch is not free!
    What needs to occur is a manner to aggregate valor to the music of this artist. A project is being developed in Brazil, to give support, and in a few months it will be in the air. The Yahoo was wanted to give support to this project, but they were not interested, saying not interested to invest in music for while. Or else, they gave it back.
    “The world is of this manner, but the wheel is rolling, and everything could happen, everything could change, from an hour to other.”

  127. Christopher Levy wrote:

    DRM doesn’t work and it’s a deterrent but Apple used it to sell over 2 BILLION tracks via iTunes.

    Right.

  128. stephen wrote:

    sorry i meant to say http://www.songbirdnest.com/

  129. Arioch wrote:

    > Do not pay a music produced by a musician is like do not pay a work done by any worker

    The problem is who and when should pay.
    It is honest t pay if i am enjooying the music. It is honest not to pay if i am not enjoying it (hence listen to it fery infrequenty).

    Remember worker, who did something put it to theblack box, and them demands your money for that box.
    Will you pay him before you can examine the box and tel if you would need what he made ?
    What if he made something ugly or just something i do not never need ? Why should i ever pay for it ? Why should i ever pay for music, that i would listen to 3 times and then never again ? And before i opened the black box (read: listened for music a number of times to realize if i need it or not) i have no reason to pay at all. And must never be demanded to pay for just the hope that i maybe would like it.

  130. Kyle wrote:

    I wrote a response to several of the cogent points Ian mentions in this article – check http://www.echobloom.com/blog/ for the post!

  131. Pat Dolcetti wrote:

    1) So, back to context. “Build a better mouse trap…”.2) a lot of what you are descibing sounds like a great album cover on acid… if you had to pitch it to an older crowd… this is so simple and straight forward I can’t see anyway it doesn’t happen (that’s a pretty good double negative) Look forward to it!

  132. Pat Dolcetti wrote:

    Oh yes Jimmy Dale Gilmore is great And I agree with the comment on context . But would an atheist? Do you have to believe in God to believe that context is everything? Sorry, it’s late and I’ve got a fiver… um, fever.

  133. PD wrote:

    Using the DVD extras concept for digitized music and basically expanding it to include any number of digitaized work (visual arts, audio, video etc.). Add the artist commentary as another feature and one can see that this may have huge appeal and commercial potential.

  134. PD wrote:

    Someone has to play devil’s advocate. I don’t think people are facing the reality of creativity versus commerce. Most people wouldn’t be able to do both and often don’t want to. A wheel has many spokes. Most musicians usually make lousy business people and vice versa. If we we’re all good at everything the world be a pretty boring place. And remember, the main fault with communism was it failed to take into account human nature. I see parallels here.. let’s not make this a utopian mind-set.

  135. Duncan Lock wrote:

    If you want music+context on the web, you really ought to have a look at SongBird, if you haven’t already:

    http://www.songbirdnest.com/

    It’s a firefox-based music browser, social music application-thing.

  136. P D wrote:

    Thanks,Duncan. I was aware of it but have yet to check it out. Since I”m more of a big picture guy (translation: don’t know enough to be otherwise) there’s an interesting column by Michael Wolff in the Dec.2007 Vanity Fair. He poses a provocative question at the end… http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2007/12/wolff200712

  137. GRamos wrote:

    Arioch,

    For these reasons that you are mentioning it is that they exist the possibility to listen through streaming in the own store online where you will buy the music. You will there be able to listen how many times to want. that crop that I need to lower and to hear per months in my player or computer doesn’t proceed. It is thing of who is not similar of paying for anything. In fact, who is that will pay the artist’s lunch or author of that music?
    Excuses for my bad English, I am Brazilian and I don’t dominate the english language… sorry : -)

  138. GRamos wrote:

    I believe that the people’s difficulty accesses a store online the can be compared this same person in leaving of house, to go to the physical store anywhere to seek yuor favorite artist in that lot of available CD’s in possible hills of shelves, to hear each strip of that CD, to choose the purchase then, to go to the box of the store, to pay while my CD is wrapped, to catch the CD in the counter, to leave the store, to enter in my car, to remove the packing to insert the CD in the CD Player of the car, to give departure in the car and to return for it annuls. Arriving home, I remove the CD that I bought the CD Player, insert in your box, I leave the car, I enter home, I am going until the house sound, shot again the CD of the packing, I insert in the CD Player of my house sound, I sit down, then, to hear the music reading the insert.

    If you think well, the experience online is even more compensatory in terms of time and comfort. That is cultural, because it is treated of an acquired habit by years and years of use of this physical technology and that it is changing in your form for the coming of the internet and digital means.

  139. sam wrote:

    what’s internet?

  140. Mats wrote:

    Just stumbled on this and I love it. I disagree with some of the comments that music should be free. Artists need to make money just like the rest of us. Anyway I wrote something on this topic as well.

    http://mmwp.wordpress.com/2006/12/04/music-%e2%80%93-art-business-drm-and%e2%80%a6-convenience/

  141. Idetrorce wrote:

    very interesting, but I don’t agree with you
    Idetrorce

  142. Maxim wrote:

    This reminds me of the 200 lawsuit over the royalties set by the famous webcaster-killer RIAA. The lawsuit was designed to put smaller, independent webcasters out of business. RIAA view the world and the Internet as a broadcast medium.

  143. Jeanene Van Zandt wrote:

    Joseph wrote:

    to Mrs Van Zandt, I’d like to know how you feel about Jamie Thomas being charged 20 something thousand dollars for sharing information (single mother of two as well, mind u). did u get any of that money? i’m sure she’s trying to make ends meet too…

    Posted 10 Oct 2007 at 10:57 am ¶

    Freddy wrote:

    “We are just a family trying to make ends meet while our income has been slashed in half by people stealing my husband’s music.”

    Jeanene

    I hope you are including record companies and execs in your list of thieves. The RIAA is suing thousands of people; most settle out of court. Have you seen any of this settlement money? I have not seen anywhere on the net or press that any of the money being collected by the RIAA is going to the artists. As the lawsuits list specific songs it should not be hard to give the right percentage of the settlement money to the artists whose music was infringed. Why is this not being done?

    Posted 10 Oct 2007 at 11:22 am ¶

    Well of course I didn’t get any of that money. I’d place a bet that it all goes to the lawers, and yes I do include record companies in the thief catagory.
    I’ve spent the best of the past 4 year of my life and spent around $400,000.00 of my personal funds to go after them.
    I don’t get very riled-up about individuals downloading Townes’ music. I usually just ask that they provide a copy to the family as well. I just got a load of stuff this week since it’s the anniversary of Townes’ death. Jan. 1, 1997. If there is anything exceptional in there, we as a family might make it commercially available to the masses.

    If you are interested in seeing what they’ve done to us, go to http://www.townesvanzandt.com and scroll down to the Lawsuits block and read all about it.

    Lawsuits
    The Estate of Townes Van Zandt & Publishers sue for Legacy
    Click here (.pdf) to read the complaint filed in NY Federal Court.
    Click here (.doc) to read the First Amendend Complaint.
    Click here (.pdf) to read the Partial Summary Request.
    Click here (.pdf) for the case Estate of TVZ v. Harold Eggers Jr.
    Click here (.rtf) for the Second lawsuit against Harold F. Eggers, Jr.

  144. Peter Dulci wrote:

    First and foremost, Congratulations are in order for being rated PowerGeek #6.

    Secondly, I have a particular disdain for Itunes with its restriced use, DRM format that has been set in place to prevent “illegal-sharing” (which can easily be circumvented anyway). MP3 is and always should be the standard and M4P is just false hope for a lost cause.

  145. stevek wrote:

    Its a huge paradigm shift which is why conservative organisations are terrified.But they don’t matter.If you have a higher quality and more efficient delivery model you will prevail in the end. I am interested because what is happening in the music business is a rehersal for what will happen to all means of creation and distribution over the next couple of decades be that electronic or physical product.So we need to think about this very carefully,because what happens in the music business sets the direction for so much more for a long time to come.
    No pressure then. Good dialogue-leave the detail carping on product for the self obsessed and focus on the horizon.The future will be bright,bring shades!

  146. Edu Camargo wrote:

    Think about ‘Eagles’. I knew from the FLAC project’s website (http://flac.sourceforge.net) that their last album ‘Long Road Out of Eden’, was being sold, and FLAC was one of the choices. I got into their website and was able to buy the album in FLAC format, without any usage or geographical restrictions. It didn’t hurt, and the album is fantastic. Needless to say that they were selling the album in 256kbps MP3 format, too.

    As a musician and consumer, I saw the great diference. If the record labels were inteligent they could build a strong relationship with us. But I should agree with that one who said that part of all this mess is our responsibility, too. I still can’t understand why most people from the music scene left the concept of making great songs/albums in order to spread messages that are not related to people. See, I still listen to “The Dark Side of the Moon” and I still can see some of us painted in each second of that album. I’m not asking to sing about psycological things or stuff like that, but at least try to translate human’s feelings in a less fictional way. We know, of course, that still there are many musicians commited to keep this art living, but what we see on today’s repertoire, makes me think that the honeymoon between most of the artists and the people has gone for a long time, all for the money, not for who they are.

    I trust a lot in this digital experience, this fascinating way of purchasing music, but something has to happen sooner so the people feel fine to use all the eforts they can to keep this thing called ‘music’ running. As stated, things should be pretty well planned so things get into their right place.

  147. Cleo Da Ros wrote:

    Hi Ian
    A great post. So interesting to me that I have made a translation into French of your presentation stating the link back to your article.
    I have taken the liberty of using a photo of you on a skate board out of Flickr. I have asked you the authorisation in Flickr.
    If you disagree, please let me know.
    You can have a rapid look at http://cultureinternet.com/ian-rogers-mp3-opportunites-manquees-traduction
    Thank you
    Cleo

  148. apmusicservices wrote:

    great post! it make me sigh though..artist should be the one earning like the rest of us..

  149. Allan Piccolo Freder wrote:

    keep fighting ang i hope they will listen to you..great article.

  150. Jaeh wrote:

    I find it amusing and frustrating that the definition of ‘Greedy’ in most peoples mind is an artist who doesn’t want to talk a huge loss presenting their music to people as opposed to a ‘fan’ that feels they should never have to pay for anything so the artist can cover their cost.

    Used to be that the labels were fucking you…now your ‘fans’ are…

  151. Karen wrote:

    Cool, I think you're never too old to skateboarding. I reckon it keeps you young!

  152. rap wrote:

    im tired of the industry complainin about music that they shouldnt have claims on in the 1st place

  153. michele augis wrote:

    Context / content forevz. The front of the hand and the back of the hand, I heard it once described as. One doesn’t really exist without the other. And they each inform the other.

    Nice Easy Tiger pic!

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