Indie Label Head: “The Major Labels Screwed Up Napster, And They’re About to Screw Up Spotify…”

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…from Quartz:

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The backlash against free began last year, when arguably the biggest recording artist on the planet, Taylor Swift, pulled all of her music from Spotify.  In the past couple of weeks, Swift’s stance has gained backing from the world’s two biggest record companies, Universal and Sony, who together account for more than half of the recorded music market, and seem determined to clamp down on free listening.  Universal is using licensing negotiations (paywall) with Spotify to “push for changes to the company’s free service,” the Financial Times reported last week.

Some seasoned observers at SXSW said that this could be a colossal mistake. “Treating consumers like children and telling them that everything they’ve enjoyed about these streaming services is going to be taken away because the biggest record companies don’t like it, that’s another Napster moment,” Charles Caldas, the CEO of Merlin Network, the global licensing agency for independent music labels, tells Quartz.

“The major labels screwed Napster and screwed the market by killing what was potentially the biggest opportunity the industry could imagine in getting into the digital space early.  If they follow through with this, they are going to do it again”.

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60 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    Treating customers like children?

    Who writes this junk?

    The major demographic for most mainstream and especially Pop music, are children, plain and simple.

    The Majors only seem to want to diversify the tiers, not take it away. Keep the free tier, limit the content, provide incentives…

    Reply
    • WhoseHands In Whose Pockets...

      funny thing is, I wonder how charles is being compensated by spotify… these are the same people that have been saying the same things the whole time the city burns. shame… free doesn’t pay, is it really that hard to figure it out?

      Reply
  2. Sam

    If I lose every single whiny little child who thinks they’re entitled to every little thing in life for free, as a “fan” – good. Get lost. I’m not gonna miss you. I’m not gonna miss you sneaking in the back door to see my shows. I’m not gonna miss you stealing drinks and merch. I’m not gonna miss you putting your feet up on a barstool that a real fan could be sitting in. I’m not gonna miss you spreading the word to all your friends about how they too should be getting all my music free. Not gonna miss a single fucking thing about you. Go play video games and shut the fuck up.

    Reply
    • Sarah

      🙂

      Apparently it’s “treating consumers like children” to tell them they have to pay for what they consume?

      I’d argue you’re treating them like children when you just give them whatever they want to shut them up because you’re tired and it’s easier than actually dealing with the issue:

      “For crying out loud, just give ’em what they want, hon, I’m trying to relax here, damn it!”

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        I’d argue you’re treating them like children when you just give them whatever they want to shut them up because you’re tired and it’s easier than actually dealing with the issue:

        And studies have actually shown that that is in effect one of the best ways to discipline children and one that just provides the best most consistent results… Whether or not it has more long term affects once they get older and continue to feel entitled, im not sure…

        People always miss the bigger picture, music can be free so long as its compensated one way or another… Like ive always said, if some hot model or whoever wants to pay me up front to be a part of giving my music away for free, im good with that if the ideologies and values align, not like i have any writers or producers or anyone to share monies with anyways, so i can make it work…

        For those less marketable or totally anti corporate branding, or else those who have a ton of writers and producers and composers who need that back end royalty, of course its going to be a sticky point and something they will need to fight for ongoing to ensure it doesnt go the way of the milkman, but for others, free is fine so long as its paid for somewhere…

        It seems really only in the arts and music is the branding and corporate sponsor and endorsement thing so shunned and hated on, go to sports or anything else and its such a different atmosphere and its thought of so differently, in golf you are a hero to be wearing brands, the fans couldnt care less and the players and the sponsors have such positive relationships, but man go to music and suddenly anyone who isnt just free everything and stick it to the man and fire sale down with all corporations, well they just get boot stomped and pissed and crapped on and annihilated everywhere, to be a brand partner in music makes you the most hated biggest villain around, and it likely can cause more turbulent relations between the two…

        Reply
        • Sarah

          Right… I’m going to need sources for those studies, please, because that strategy literally is the opposite of discipline (in any sense) so I fail to see how it could be effective as a discipline strategy. 🙂

          Reply
          • Anonymous

            Right… I’m going to need sources for those studies, please, because that strategy literally is the opposite of discipline (in any sense) so I fail to see how it could be effective as a discipline strategy. 🙂

            Im sure you do, unfortunately im not your paid hand therefore i cant do the leg work and research and due diligence for you at no charge, but i assure you its the truth, i commit to that, i cant promise anything, but i will commit that what i say is the truth…

            The information is out there, ive seen the studies and experiments, and shockingly yes, monetary incentive or other rewards are shown and proven to be the most effective… We dont live in the belt buckle rap with the ruler type disciplinary days anymore, so weve had to find other ways, and overall, even with adults, its the best form, like lapping waggy tail puppies, give it some treats and it will heel at your feet obediently looking at its master with big droopy puppy dog eyes waiting for the next milkbone tossed down…

            I know what you are saying Sarah, but this isnt some debate about things that arent true or that done exist, i just brought it to your attention, think of me as the little birdie on your shoulder whistling a sweet tune, now its upon you to dig into it, if you so desire, if you dont, youll have to take it as fact, as its a statement of such based on very straight forward experiments, by professionals…

            Basically its like this, you are crying and whining and being a nuisance, i can smack you in the knuckles with a big ruler, but that helped make revolutionary hippies and such, or, i can dangle a piece of candy in front of you, just high enough so when you jump to get it you cant reach it, and then i blackmail you into shutting up for a certain amount of time, whereupon you will then get the piece of candy… Surprisingly, while i know it sounds like it leaves the person with the candy vulnerable to being coerced and manipulated, in the long run it actually works out well and usually becomes a very fair and equitable relationship…

            People like rewards, tangible ones, and not the sticker stars on reviews and not the ding ding ding of casino machines, most humans simply like tangible rewards and things like that…

          • Anonymous

            Hello Sarah, I’m the other Anonymous (the real one :)), and I’d just like to hear what you think of Vessel? (I’m not looking for a fight…)

            Again, I’m not looking for a subscription service per se, either, but I have to admit I’m a bit thrilled about Vessel’s ‘early access’ concept. Is that a concept you have considered?

            I once asked you how you were going to compete with YouTube and I don’t think I ever got an answer; at least not one I could understand. 🙂

            But early access… that’s something, isn’t it?

          • Sarah

            Yes, early access is something pretty big, I think. I’m a bit thrilled about it too 🙂

            We’ve considered it extensively and RepX has several different options for implementing the early access concept – meaning you, the artist, get to make the choice about what’s best for you, your music, and your audience. We also offer more flexibility (artists decide what content to offer early access on, the terms of the early access, etc, and there are no contracts or obligations to RepX).

            My take on Vessel: early access is a great strategy for maximizing revenue, but I’m not sold on the specific value proposition for consumers as implemented there.

            It falls short in a few ways, I think:

            1. It’s not exclusive enough – 3 days isn’t a huge deal, especially for the type of content they feature here, and you still have ads.

            2. It targets the wrong type of content. You say there’s a big draw about the “everything for free on one platform” and I agree with you to a degree…. but even though people like that all-in-one-place aspect, they still value the content differently. Vessel is essentially a Hulu copycat for YouTube content, but the draw to get random YouTube videos a few days early is simply not the same as the draw to get something you love (whether a new song from your favorite band or the next episode of the TV show you’re hooked on) sooner.

            3. It focuses on the platform, not the artists on it, in its marketing. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: people love artists, not platforms. That’s especially true of the content and artists that Vessel is targeting.

            4. It doesn’t create or enhance consumer experiences. It’s prettier than YouTube (though a bit dark for my preferences) but it is fundamentally the same experience for the consumer. So there are some design improvements – people may appreciate them but they, for the most part, won’t change their behaviors or start paying for a different color scheme or layout or larger thumbnails. Contrast to, say, Patreon, which is all about the artist-fan connection and experiences – significant factors that drive consumers to change behaviors.

            But that’s just my hunch; if I were an artist, I’d give Vessel a chance and pay attention to how it plays out. If they can get the higher payouts they claim, that’d be awesome. No way to know for certain until someone gives it a real shot, right?

            p.s. Why would we fight? 😛 I love talking to you – you make great points and some have them helped inspire significant improvements in our system and design, specifically around paying more attention to free and ad-supported content. We disagree on how to get there but I’m pretty sure we’re after the same goal.

          • Anonymous

            No, 3 days isn’t much, that was my first thought, too. It’s like they had this brilliant idea but didn’t really realize it. Only drawback is that early access might invite a good deal of piracy if you really turn it into a major feature and selling point.

            Yeah, I’m a huge fan of YouTube’s free smörgasbord — from the consumer’s pov, that is — but it shouldn’t be confusing. And Vessel is definitely confusing. And slow. (Also dark, yes.)

            But what did surprise me is that they managed to strike deals not only with Machinima, but also UMG and Warner. I mean, how the f did they do that (given their Music Key contracts)?

            Then again — if they can do it, you can do it…

          • Sarah

            Another thing that concerns me is that you need to sign up even to see what content they have. How do I know if I want to create an account if I don’t know what I actually get for it? Incentivizing consumers with something they want is a big part of getting them to take any sort of action.

            Hard to say on the deals with Warner and UMG re MusicKey. Definitely raises some questions. (Possibility that the majors got different terms on MusicKey?)

          • Anonymous

            “Another thing that concerns me is that you need to sign up even to see what content they have”

            I’m so glad to hear you say that, people hate all these hoops.

            (Possibility that the majors got different terms on MusicKey?)

            Can’t think of any other reason. So that’s pretty good news.

          • superduper

            And that’s why I hate Spotify so much but see potential in YouTube. YouTube has such an easily accessible and user-friendly platform. I would hate to sign up, but just to clarify the (x) about of sampling listens should probably be free to the consumer and supported with advertisement.

          • Sarah

            The discovery and consumption characteristics of music are rather unique. I agree that some aspect of free or ad-supported (or even artist/label-supported – after all, this “sampling” is effectively a marketing cost; every other type of business pays for its own marketing, why shouldn’t music?) is warranted, probably in the vast majority of cases.

            But if you don’t give artists meaningful control over how they do it, and the tools to do it strategically instead of simply by default, it isn’t likely to achieve good results overall.

  3. Anonymous

    I’m in college, and the fucks given by the average student is aprx 0. That was pretty much the same in high school a couple years ago as well.

    Buying music is for tweens, geriatrics, and hipsters who think vinyl is cool but don’t even have a player.

    Reply
    • Willis

      So, paying for things is uncool? Then you won’t mind it when you get a job and your boss may or may not pay you from week to week. What a lousy, entitled attitude.

      Reply
    • Versus

      Then you need a better education, and/or better parents.
      You’ve obviously learned nothing about ethics or morality, if you find it acceptable to steal the livelihood of others. May that karma come back to you.

      Reply
    • wallow-T

      From Politico “Study: Fewer than half of millennials pay for news”

      “Despite the number who do pay for news service, the study found that many millennials don’t feel they should have to pay for news:

      ““I don’t think you should pay for news,” said Eric, age 22 in Chicago. “That’s something everybody should be informed in. Like, you’re going to charge me for information that’s going on around the world?””

      Comparisons between the news business and music business are left as an exercise for the reader.

      Reply
      • Sarah

        Oh, well if Eric, age 22 in Chicago, feels that way, I guess that’s it, huh? 🙂

        Reply
  4. wallow-T

    After 16 years, the meme of “free music” is so embedded in the culture that I’m skeptical it can be removed. 4 generations of high-school kids, 4 generations of college students.

    Reply
      • Anonymous

        Haha, agree!

        (I’m all for a free, better-paying YouTube alternative, but piracy is just lame and should be destroyed.)

        Reply
    • Versus

      Four generations? Isn’t a generation around 30 years?
      That means this is less than 1 generation.

      Everything learned can be unlearned.
      Proper moral education, backed by consistent enforcement for those lacking a conscience.

      Reply
  5. Paul Resnikoff
    Paul Resnikoff

    I hear a lot of this sentiment coming out of the indie sector, and indeed, Caldas arguably speaks for a big chunk of the indie label community. I had drinks with him a few years back, and he was staunchly pro-Spotify back then too.

    But why? It just doesn’t seem like indies are benefitting overall, while Spotify is poised to benefit from a massive, mega-billion upside. Overall, indies are a struggling bunch, I hate to say. I don’t know the answer here, but I wonder why indies seem to interested in cheerleading something that is clearly not a fair deal. There doesn’t seem to be the proper balance.

    Maybe it’s all the exposure and focusing on non-recording revenue streams. Or, perhaps indies are getting a nice percentage cut and piece of equity?

    Reply
    • JTVDigital

      Or simply because Indies make more money with Spotify than with anything else.

      Reply
      • steveh

        No they do not make more money with Spotify.

        CDs, iTunes, Beatport (for dance music) and some times Amazon mp3 all ahead of Spotify.

        In some cases vinyl ahead of Spotify.

        Reply
        • JTVDigital

          We were discussing digital (I guess), not CDs, vinyls…Etc.
          And mainstream services (not Beatport).
          Believe it or not, Spotify often comes 1st in terms of revenue for indies (“indies” meaning here “not famous” ).

          Reply
    • Musicservices4less

      I am one of those indies that think Spotify/streaming has possibilities as a distribution method but the free part of Spotify, at least they way Spotify is doing it now, is just plain stupid and extremely detrimental to the financial well being of all indies, whether they realize it or not. There are certain basic principals to modern entrepreneur capitalism (or call it whatever you want). These principals basically apply to most industries no matter what you are selling. And massive, uncontrolled, free giveaway of your inventory will not allow you to stay in business.

      Reply
  6. superduper

    I think that if the labels screwed up Spotify it would be great for the music industry. I think that if every streaming site goes down with it it would be great for music. After Napster, Limewire and most of the other P2P sites went down, a more equitable solution was found for digital music, which was iTunes and the paid digital download. I think that the next step in solving the streaming puzzle is how to capture it, monetize it, and most importantly limiting it while providing good alternatives to streaming itself. Right now, streaming is a way to market live music and replace digital downloads and physical media like CDs. I think instead it should be used as a direct marketing tool to sell BOTH CDs/digital downloads AND live concerts.

    Reply
    • Versus

      Agreed. And iTunes should bring back DRM.
      It works for movies and TV shows, and it will work for music, as long as the free option (i.e. piracy) is eradicated.

      Reply
      • Sarah

        “as long as the free option (i.e. piracy) is eradicated.”

        That’s asking for something that is incredibly unlikely. Why hinge the future of the music industry on achieving such an (arguably) unrealistic goal? There are other ways to strengthen the industry that are at least as attainable as “eradicating piracy” – why would you dismiss those out of hand and limit yourself to possibly the hardest solution there is?

        Reply
        • superduper

          The point is not to “eradicate” piracy per se, but rather to (1) limit it to an extreme; (2) make it unattractive even for consumers; (3) correct the pricing metrics and allow buying music legally to be both affordable and attractive (higher quality discs and downloads) to the average user (i.e. everybody).
          Unfortunately piracy is extremely difficult to eradicate but you can always make it way more difficult and unfeasible.

          Reply
          • Sarah

            Hey, superduper, we’re on the same page – especially about your third point, making legal purchases a more attractive option for the typical consumer.

            Right now, streaming leaves a fortune on the table by only letting the relatively extreme users pay – if I can listen to the music no matter what (which I can, even just on Spotify), your goal should be to get as much money out of me as possible; forcing the dichotomy of “$0 or $10 subscription” means you bring in WAY less money than you could.

            You should come talk to us at RepX, we’re working on exactly these things and currently inviting professional artists and labels to check out our platform.
            🙂
            Copyright enforcement and piracy reduction are important, but they’re just a few pieces of the puzzle.
            PAYG streaming that focuses on amazing consumer experiences and the artist-fan connection is the future of the music industry.

          • superduper

            The one problem with Pay-as-you-go streaming (paying for each song I suppose?) is that it overvalues streaming. Just remember what streaming competes with: it does not compete with a CD; really it competes with buying individual iTunes songs. In that sense, streaming does not compete with iTunes downloads, as iTunes downloads can be played an unlimited amount of times. With streaming, every play is instantly devalued from the next. For instance, one song played once is worth more than the same one song being played 20 times. This is the most extreme problem with unlimited streaming as it allows the music to become devalued over time, and that is why containing it within a reasonable threshold and then forcing the listener to buy the song once you reach the limit makes more sense.

          • Sarah

            The one problem with Pay-as-you-go streaming (paying for each song I suppose?) is that it overvalues streaming.
            and
            that is why containing it within a reasonable threshold and then forcing the listener to buy the song once you reach the limit makes more sense.

            It really depends on how one implements PAYG, doesn’t it? Pricing and “packaging,” so to speak, make a world of difference. Why does everything need to be so simple as “this is the single way this is done”? Markets aren’t that easy – you can get some revenue with that approach, but you cannot capture the most revenue with it. You need flexibility to experiment and find the right mix of processes and products to maximize revenue (and profits). That’s what RepX provides.

            As for paying for each song… yes, but again, implementation makes all the difference.

          • superduper

            You’re right it’s just a start, but let me explain further: in my opinion it really does make the most sense. If streaming rates are too low, then the artists lose money because the labels aren’t paying them enough. If the streaming rates are too high, then the labels lose money because artists are getting paid too much. Even if artists are paid 1 cent that’s still not enough. And even though everybody likes to think about how 10 cents per stream is so great, it is unsustainable. If an artist is paid 10 cents per stream than with 10 listens, it would be worth an average $1 track download on iTunes. That sounds great except that if you listen to a song 20 times it would be overvalued by a multiple of 2. This simply cannot work on an unlimited large scale basis. What could work is 10 cents per song for 10 plays ONLY, and then buy the song. Now, who pays? I’m thinking advertisements could work; OR the players themselves could pay, but why would I pay even a dime for a song that I have no idea if I would even like? That’s why I think free music to a certain extent that’s fronted by promoted and paid advertisements could work tremendously. It would certainly be an ideal jukebox for sampling music. Again though, just a starting thought but I think it’s pretty solid.

          • Sarah

            I agree that your concepts are indeed solid. But, again, not that simple. Here’s another wrench in the system: not every song is worth the same to the market. There are songs you’d pay nothing to hear, songs you’d pay half a cent to hear, songs you’d pay a few pennies to hear — and probably songs that you’d need to be paid to listen to 🙂

            As soon as you try to set up a system that pays the exact same amount for every song regardless of its value to the market (or even the individual listener), you’re setting it up to seriously overpay some artists and underpay others. That’s not a good or fair system.

            I don’t think anything should be an all-you-can-eat buffet by default: it’s simple economics, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

            What I think is that the music industry has used, to date, relatively simple models for monetizing music. I think there are a few reasons for this: for one, music as a product has several unique characteristics around discovery and consumption that make monetization more challenging. For another, I think its easy to stick with the “traditional album sales” or “monthly subscriptions” model. For much of the industry’s history, those simple models resulted in sufficient income for the major players, so there wasn’t any urgency to focus on fully maximizing industry revenue.

            Now, for a variety of reasons, there is. To get there, we need to give artists and labels the freedom, control, and tools to experiment – after all, we’re talking about their incomes, so they’re plenty incentivized to find the “best” profit-maximizing approach to monetization.

          • superduper

            Right. For instance, a Jazz suite could have a limit of three, whereas the smash new Katy Perry song could have ten, and (perhaps part of a) classical suite could have one or two. Hell, maybe a down-to-earth folk artist could have no streaming whatsoever! But I’m not trying to make generalizations, and you are right it is variable, but it is not necessarily supposed to be outsider knowledge. Every artist has the right to exploit their material to each their own. So, yes, I do agree that it is variable and that there are a number of different factors involved.

            I also realized that you still have to consider: (1) songs in the public domain; (2) brand new artists that are not even on a label yet or are JUST starting; (3) really obscure music that’s used the background in video games, TV shows, and even some b-rate movies; (4) royalty free music. The great thing about YouTube I have found is that it includes all of the above and more. It’s why I kind of like YouTube.

          • Sarah

            Yes, YouTube is appropriate for some music. I think there’s probably a lot of music that is suited to YouTube – for instance, public domain content, and perhaps those brand new artists that are just starting and haven’t developed a market for their work yet. “Free” can be good marketing.

            I like the “all-included” aspect of YouTube too, as a consumer. And if it paid well enough that most professional artists were satisfied with their incomes from it, we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation.

          • superduper

            Then again, YouTube is:
            (1) The biggest streaming platform in the world (technically speaking) by a LONG SHOT
            (2) Yet they still are not making money.
            (3) While even still they are paying artists far less than Spotify per stream.
            And so to that I would say that if the streaming model actually worked in general we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

          • Sarah

            Actually, YouTube has implemented a very specific business model for streaming – I don’t think it’s appropriate to dub “streaming in general” a failure based on that particular implementation. I’d love to discuss exactly why YouTube isn’t proof that the “streaming model” simply doesn’t work, but that’s a long conversation; if you want to have it, please do get in touch @ repx.net 🙂

            In any case, what’s your suggestion for strengthening the industry if streaming, as you say, simply doesn’t work?

          • superduper

            Simply put, I think physical media is actually the future of music. It was, it still is, and I think it always will be, despite what everybody says.

            To be a little more specific, as much as I like CDs, I think that they are actually outdated and have effectively been replaced not by vinyl but rather the SACD hybrid (or something better than that). The SACD hybrid is basically like a high-res version of a CD. Think of a CD as a DVD and think of an SACD as a blu-ray. The CD like a DVD is still good, but an SACD is far superior to a CD in terms of sound quality, just like a Blu-ray is far superior to a DVD in terms of video quality. Although, think of a DVD AND a Blu-ray ON THE SAME DISC and that is effectively what an SACD is. SACD has a more full dynamic range, DSD technology, and usually has 5.1 surround sound.

            I honestly believe that SACDs or an even better version of an SACD is the future of music. Vinyl has too many limitations and a digital download gives you far less than what you would get with a physical disc, and an SACD simply sounds better than a CD. Blu-ray audio actually sounds better but is limited in terms of functionality. This is why I think that an even more enhanced SACD would benefit the future. If I were to make an enhanced version of it I would actually call it a PACD, or a pure-audio CD and I think that would be even better.

            The weird thing is that SACDs do exist and they have existed since 1999 (and SACD hybrids have existed since 2002) but they are unfortunately too much of a niche product for audiophiles to be on the mainstream as of yet though I think this can change as every emerging technology comes down in price with increasing supply and demand. To be completely honest I think we’re not even TRYING.

            In terms of price, I am thinking around $8-12 for an SACD or a PACD. I know this could take a while to get it down to this price but I think that it can definitely happen. Blu-rays are already low enough and it has taken 8 years. I think with SACD/(potential) PACD it could take even less.

          • Sarah

            Simply put, I think physical media is actually the future of music. It was, it still is, and I think it always will be, despite what everybody says. To be a little more specific, as much as I like CDs, I think that they are actually outdated and have effectively been replaced not by vinyl but rather the SACD hybrid (or something better than that).

            Interesting. I’m not sure I agree, but I don’t see any need to rule out possibilities – and I certainly believe selling physical media should be an option entirely within the artist’s discretion. I think that the future holds a combination of many different options, truthfully.

            But I’m not sure why you think that, after gravitating away from physical media, consumers (in general) would now want to return to it. Your comments about the quality of SACD suggest that you think CDs were of insufficient quality for consumer’s tastes – but streaming was (and mostly still is) lower quality than CDs, and the consumer market largely switched from higher quality CDs to lower quality streaming. Also, you state that SACD products have existed for more than a decade but not gained any popularity.

            So:
            1. Why do you think consumers (in general) will choose to switch back to any form of physical media after they switched away from it in favor of digital?
            2. Do you think price is the only obstacle preventing SACDs from becoming mainstream?

          • superduper

            And you’re also right in that it’s super complicated and its not one size fits all, but you gotta admit it can’t be an all-you-can-eat buffet for the rest of eternity. Even endless salad bars can run out of lettuce.

          • Sarah

            I addressed this above, but I want to say that I like your salad bar comparison 🙂

  7. Anonymous

    Everyone is getting hot & bothered here and ignoring the obvious. Free is not about Spotify! Free is about YouTube! YouTube is the problem!

    Yes, Spotify has a free tier but it’s tremendously limited compared to the YouTube product. The only place where true, on-demand free streaming can occur with Spotify is on the desktop/laptop version. For instance, on mobile (the #1 point of access) Spotify free is nothing more than a shuffle/radio-like service.

    YouTube is unlimited, free on-demand all the time and thanks to the DMCA nothing can change that no matter what the majors are saying to the press now (interestingly – and self-servingly – as they are entering the renegotiation phase of their relationships with Spotify and others). And whatever the DMCA didn’t accomplish the major label lead licenses for the YouTube service gave free, on-demand access to YouTube on mobile devices. Game, set, match!

    Free is here to stay and the majors ushered it in. Shit, they own Vevo and Vevo is a free service. Can’t you all see you’re being used by the majors to whip up a fervor that is a dead end topic and that only serves to provide the major labels – the very culprits you can point to for fertilizing free, on-demand – greater leverage in their negotiations.

    If you’ve paid any attention at all you’ve seen how hard Caldas and Merlin have fought services like YouTube who seek to undervalue music. His job is made unbelievably difficult when he has to try to extract value for his members after the majors have been bought off. I think he deserves the benefit of the doubt here a good deal more than Lucien Grange and Doug Morris do.

    Reply
    • Versus

      Good points. YouTube is also a serious problem, but Spotify and other streaming services need to be dealt with as well.

      Reply
      • Jon Hockley

        Lets not forget piracy’s effect on music.
        Youtube is shifting towards a subscription model it still has a long way to go but it’s a step in the right direction.
        ISPs have stronger powers to deal with piracy but they still have a long way to go and the pirates are still winning.

        Reply
        • Anonymous

          Lets not forget piracy’s effect on music.
          Youtube is shifting towards a subscription model it still has a long way to go but it’s a step in the right direction.
          ISPs have stronger powers to deal with piracy but they still have a long way to go and the pirates are still winning.

          And yet the biggest surveillance state in the world at the height of their surveillance, the usa, and they have zero mandates upon its ISP’s to engage in any data retention?? zero obligation on their part to do anything, and thats with the patriot act and all that…

          Does that not just raise just a wee bit of minor suspicion???

          Corps up here have to keep their books for 7 ought years, but ISP’s only have to keep their data for 6 months????

          Nothing more needs to be said, that says it all, best time to be alive, unless you were born poor or into a low social class, or missed the boat on server businesses or coding/programming, cause else you are at the mercy of everyone from legitimate businesses to hackers to whoever, and all the evidence of everyone’s trespassing and theft and property crimes, just gets burnt and tossed away, what more needs to be said??

          Im not allowed to go out and engage in all the crimes they all are, and further more, thanks to all their trespassing and property theft and crimes against the person, im also seemingly not allowed to make a living doing anything…

          Sit back put the feet up and watch it all play out i guess, theres little else to do but watch the bogus show play out, i learned the hard way that hard work and results in this day and age dont result in anything positive or any opportunities or anything… rip people off, steal all their data and information, or else provide the means for others to do it, or else engage in the surveillance and profiling etc. etc., but certainly dont try and run a legitimate business or make product, commerce or art, essentially dont do anything yourself or else get bullied and extorted etc. etc.

          The pirates are winning?

          Who are the pirates?

          Cause ive been hurt far more by supposed legitimate businesses and their supposed legitimate employees, some famous some rich, some normal working people, as well ive been screwed by the profiling and tracking, overall pirates are about the least of my problems…

          Its made me out to be some super evil villain criminal, meanwhile im a hard working law abiding citizen just trying to put food on the table any legitimate honest legal way i can, all the while my leader the esteemed PM is publicly shaking hands with known felons and criminals, with a big greasy smile on his face, and im getting the raw deal here, its pathetic…

          I really couldnt care less about it or what he and his people are doing, its just frustrating that im getting this screw job all the while criminals are being rewarded and celebrated and all that, super frustrating, cause i cant take a piss without someone looking over my shoulder with a fine book in hand or just waiting for me to slip up so they can say i told you so, or whatever or whoever …

          Anyways, i think pirates are a small problem, a diversion, a red herring, its the conglomerates overseeing the piracy and other things, such as competition, the collusion, the gang style and club style environment everywhere, the constant fighting and bullying, all that causes me way more problems then some individual pirate somewhere downloading a single file for listening pleasure…

          Reply
  8. steveh

    “And They’re About to Screw Up Spotify…”

    Great!!

    Let the screwing up commence!

    Reply
  9. superduper

    1. Awareness of media itself: many have never even heard of an SACD.
    2. Cost: anybody who knows about SACDs would know that they are more expensive than CD, and are around the same price as vinyl.
    3. Lack of available titles currently on SACD
    4.
    a. Lack of media players: there are far less SACD players on the market than there are CD players, because of SACD’s low popularity
    b. and lack of awareness of already-existing players: even players that play SACDs (like Blu-ray players and gaming consoles) are not necessarily aware of SACDs playing capabilities.
    5. Lack of a logistical plan to profitably replace CD with SACD
    6. Competition with vinyl
    7. Consumer apathy, especially towards the younger generation
    All these points can be resolved however.
    The first way is the first way to do it is to figure out a way to make SACDs at a lower price (resolving issue #2). One of the major setbacks to SACDs is the fact that multiple mechanical royalties are owed to the artist with the sale of every multi-layer disc like an SACD hybrid. To explain, SACDs are more expensive in part because the artist is getting paid for all three layers, including CD, SACD and multi-channel 5.1. Once SACD hybrids can be made at the same price as a CD, both single-layer CDs and single-layer SACDs will both become redundant and obsolete. Even if special SACD players aren’t on the market for a while, that will not matter, as an SACD hybrid is a CD and an SACD at the same time. That will solve the issue of the lack of available titles currently on SACD (resolving issue #3). The next step is reducing the price even further. The best price to sell a CD or a SACD is between $7-8 [CITE]. Anybody who says that they would need to be sold at 90s level prices (between $17-25) to save the music industry should not be taken seriously. In fact the high price point was one of the main reasons why people started to pirate music when Napster was invented: to counter-act the artificially high prices of CDs. In summary, SACD prices need to be fair, and low enough to make people want to buy them.
    Before record companies even start making SACD hybrids exclusively, people have to know about it first (resolving issue #1). This is perhaps the largest setback to SACDs and it is the one that should have the MOST emphasis of all. However, once people know about the SACD hybrids, I am sure people will be open into at least knowing its benefits over CD, vinyl, digital download and certainly streaming. The most obvious benefit is higher sound quality, so that would certainly need to be the main focal point, so it must be aggressively marketed as an enhanced form of audio equipment.
    Awareness is key into making people care about this promising technology, but there are still issues with making people care about the SACD (resolving issue #7). To resolve this, there must be excellent masters available on SACD and the difference between CD and SACD has to be at least somewhat easily noticeable. What is intended is to bridge the gap between being an audiophile and an average music listener. It can be argued that being an audiophile can be quite a pretentious and exclusionary undertaking. In my view, everybody can be an audiophile if they have at least decent enough equipment, and that being an audiophile be dissolve with easier and more affordable access to improved technology.
    Another aspect that is important is to have SACD compete with the now-booming vinyl record sector in the physical media market (resoliving issue #6). Two of the main reasons why vinyl is booming is (1) because it provides ‘warmer, richer’ and generally better sound quality and (2) because it is something that is physical and has higher value because of this. The problem is, not everybody wants vinyl, as there are several drawbacks to vinyl. SACD’s high-resolution sound and the general fact that it is a physical format will give a competitive edge to vinyl in satisfying both of these reasons. It is also competitive in terms of price, as it is generally the same in terms of price point as of now. In truth, because vinyl has so many drawbacks, it should not be vinyl that is booming but rather SACD. In any case, SACD can and should compete with vinyl.
    This leads me to the issue relating to equipment price and availability (resolving issue #4). Fortunately, the SACD hybrid is a flexible medium so anybody who has a CD player can play SACD hybrids on a CD player. However, I think everybody can agree that CD players must eventually be replaced with SACD players in the future. Like any technology that is new to the mass-market, it will be expensive at first. However, as prospective demand grows, SACD players, like CD players, DVD players, or even Blu-ray players, will decrease in price over time.
    All in all, even though they are relatively unknown as of now, SACD hybrids are truly the way of the future. People need to know about them now and big steps need to be taken in order to secure their place on shelves worldwide. Some may say that the music industry cannot be saved, but an $8 SACD could actually save it. All one needs to do is just go for it.

    Reply
    • superduper

      This is meant to be a comment about SACDs and why they can overcome their setbacks and become the next major physical media.

      Reply
      • superduper

        I’m sorry I also didn’t mean for it to be this long. I actually accidentally pressed send before I could edit it down.

        Reply
        • Sarah

          LOL, no worries, I’ve been there – and I’m delighted you shared so much! I’m calling it a night but I’ll respond in the morning. Have a good night! 🙂

          Reply
    • Sarah

      Hmm. You make a good case for SACD becoming the next major physical media (though I have to admit, I love the charm of vinyl). It’s got a number of hurdles to clear, as you point out, but they aren’t insurmountable.

      But what about digital media? Do you think a majority of consumers will switch from digital back to physical? That’s the tough part – monetizing all off the people who want digital media instead of physical media, regardless of format.

      Reply
    • wallow-T

      “However, I think everybody can agree that CD players must eventually be replaced with SACD players in the future.”

      Even granting all of the benefits in your argument, your proposal for SACD is sailing against the tide of history. It’s like the laser turntable to play records with no wear: it’s a great product but it showed up about 8-10 years too late.

      The “stereo”, as we knew it in the 1960s-1990s, is no longer something most people wish to own. CD players are a niche market. (Been shopping for a replacement CD player lately? I have. Selection is way, way down. For quality portable CD players, the market is almost all used gear on Ebay.) Many young people may not even own devices which play CDs any more, since CD players have been designed out of more and more laptops. Style leader Apple has been eliminating disc drives from its laptops for seven years.

      Even dedicated MP3 players are becoming scarce. (As are dedicated cameras, and other single-purpose devices.) For the mass audience, the replacement for the CD player is the “phone”, like it or not.

      Reply
      • superduper

        It’s not necessarily going against the tide of history. If it is how in the world can you even begin to explain the vinyl revival? It gets back to the simple point of the value of physical media. The fact of the matter is that hings do come back and in my opinion theres no reason why it won’t to be completely honest. My point is this the only time in the history of modern music where a successor in the physical media market is absent and as there will always be a demand for physical media I think this is the next logical step in that equation

        Reply

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