Tuesday, May 07, 2002

Comments? e-mail


A friend writes:

So seriously for a minute, Wayne, what do YOU think is the new business
Microtransactions via the web, perhaps? Or a digital download with a
software "bomb" that lapses after a few days unless you pay? Or perhaps
most music becomes "freeware" legitimately, a-la-Napster for those groups
who really make their money on tour (like Phish) as your piece suggests?

Given the dozens of bootleg cassettes that used to clutter my son's room,
I'm guessing that's not a big shift for such groups...but how would Lennon
and McCartney have fared, poor boys, once they left the road and went off to
Pepperland? Your mother should know. Oops, better put in a footnote

While I don't make my living selling music, I do (you do) make it selling
intellectual property...so copyright protection is close to my capitalist
heart, with or without pinstripes. Clear the music industry must
reinvent, and video/movie should closely follow. Say you want a

[5/7/2002 8:58:36 PM | Wayne Robins]
Basically, people will still go to stores to buy the music they want, if there is enough music they want. It's not the medium, it's the message (hmmm, remind me to write that down...possible thesis title...). In 1982, album sales were dwindling, and the music industry blamed home taping ( cassettes). Then Michael Jackson's "Thriller" came out, and 30 million different people felt they needed to buy it: They didn't want copies, they wanted their own. Saturday, I went to Target to buy light bulbs and Wilco's "Yankee Foxtroot Hotel" CD on the Nonesuch label. Wilco is the veteran group (former Uncle Tupelo/former Son Volt members) that has a very strong fan base, has made continuing inroads at radio, etc., but Warner Brothers Records wouldn't release it: Deemed too uncommercial. A strange thought, considering that Capitol's fortunes now hinge on staying behind the similarly challenging and accomplsihed Radiohead. "Yankee Foxtrot Hotel" will probably be #1 on more than a few critics lists, and it will be a hit...But the big music conglomerates are strangling on their size: It's not cost effective for them to work on developing interesting, innovative artists that curious, intelligent young people will be drawn to. Sounds a lot like our media business in some ways, right? Really, what business needs is a lot of creative divorces: AOL from Time Warner, Vivendi from Universal, Knight from Ridder, Barry Diller from Diane Von Furstenberg (who are they kidding!). Rather than Microsoft, the antitrust feds should be after Clear Channel broadcasting: There was more choice in radio in 1950s Slovenia than there is in the US today.

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