Sunday, 20 April 2008

Music crisis (blog assigment 2)

Music piracy is not a new problem. Long time before the internet age, people copied music tapes (CD's later) from friends when they didn't want to buy an album. Music industry didn't care too much about that, because they kept selling records. CD's could be copied, but they were bought anyway. Indeed, someone had to have bought one album first to allow someone else to copy it. With the digitalization of music and the apparition of file sharing on internet the situation changed: people copied albums from strangers and the purchase of one single album could provide copies to millions. Then, music companies were really worried.

I don't have to explain much more about this situation, since almost everyone knows about it: music sales are dropping fast, music shops are closing, studies are closing,...

What can be done about it? Firstly, nothing at all. We can keep going until music, as we know it, disappears. If people wants to keep having so many bands to choose, music can't be for free, as some claim it should be (since they consider it now a long chain of bytes instead of an art). It's impossible for a music band to survive only with what they earn in concerts, especially if they are not a really (REALLY) well-known band. It would be impossible to attend to other concerts than of local musicians, since nobody could afford a tour.

If we want to do something, we have different approaches: on the one hand, consumers can be blamed, since it is them who are acquiring music illegally. On the other hand, music industry can be blamed. I'll be, consciousness, too simple, since this is a huge problem to "solve" with a few blog lines.

The first strategy is the most obvious, easiest and, therefore, the one that has usually being carried out. Anti-copy systems appeared on CD's or mp3 files, internet pages were closed, digital canons were stablished (punishing everyone, regardless of their innocence), and so on. However, this strategy has failed over and over again: with each new blocking system, a new way to break it appeared and music crisis kept growing.

The other approach, blaming the own music industry, is not so common, assuming that blaming yourself is never easy. Nevertheless, music industry should do it if it doesn't want to disappear. Instead of trying to persecute the people that is not buying music, they should try to focus on the people that is actually buying.

There are some people that love music. People that, despite the fact that they could get the music for free, are still buying it because they feel that musicians deserve recognition for their work. People that are still buying CD's because they know it's not the same to listen to a song in a good Hi-fi equipment, reading the lyrics and watching the artwork that comes with the album; than to listen to a low quality mp3 file in some low-quality computer speakers.

However, if those music lovers are not rewarded for their support of music, they will start, more and more, "changing side". It's difficult to keep paying for things if you can have the same for free.

And that's the point of my humble solution proposal: you should get more when you buy music. Consumers should have extras, when they buy music, that they can't get copying it. Some albums already offer some extras (e.g., better artwork, extra DVD's, tattoo's...). Though this could be interesting to attract buyers, it wasn't always so much in practice, since people realized that they had been paying the same prize before for the CD only, when they could have been getting all those extras.

Music industry should start asking what people want instead of what they want. The first question is, why aren't they offering some extras in the on-line stores (such as iTunes, for example)?. People want to have cheap music and to be able to listen to it everywhere: in their mp3 players/iPods and in their computers and in their HI-FI systems... So why not offer the extras there? When you enter into an on-line store, you can only get songs (it's even more uncomfortable to buy whole albums). Why not offer the album, the lyrics, some sort of artwork, videoclips,...? That would make a bit more attractive to buy digital music knowing that it could be acquired for free.

Even though it seems that the future is internet and the digital formats, physical formats shouldn't be unattended. Everyone knows now that making (not recording) a CD is really cheap. Therefore, prices should go down. It's the consumers who are being stolen when they have to pay 25€ for a CD. Nonetheless, the high prices of some CD's are not a excuse not to buy any at all, since everybody can save 6-8€ a year to buy at least one (trust me, you can find original CD's at that price if you know how to search).

Some people argue that artists get a tiny amount of what they pay for a CD and, therefore, it's not worth to buy them to support their favourite artists. Even though it's a bit strange to say that, since the artist won't get enough money, you won't give him anything at all, this situation should, indeed, change. Artists should get more money from the music that they make.

Maybe the artists could start selling the music themselves by internet. This way, they would earn everything from the sales, they could offer the extras that they want... However, this would be a difficult task for some bands. How can they offer some extras if they don't have the money to create them first?

So, for their own benefit, music companies should start changing their policies, trying to reward instead of to punish. People that love music want to save it and the effort should be done on them. Those who don't love it are already lost, they wouldn't care too much not having it.

PS: On the picture, Potatrucci.


Anonymous said...

I think if some people download is in particular because of the price of CDs,I agree completly with you but I think the price should be drop otherwise people won't stop. I respect the artists and their work.

Adams Osseni said...

It's important to resolve this problem, maybe the artists should organize a big strike like in US with the screenwriter of famous shows ????

Mister Potato said...

Yes, it's a really interesting idea what you comment. Of course the price is high, especially on the online CDs is still more than should be.

It's the artist who are suffering, and it could be a nice idea to make a strike to force the companies to work together with them to solve the problem.

Thanks for your comment!