Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Music: Are you ready for that? Driving your car down a desert highway listening to the seventies and eighties rise like zombies from the rippling sand? I hope so.

Listening to music a privilege, not a right

Jerry Stratton, September 23, 2005

Digital restriction management has nothing to do with piracy and everything to do with forcing music listeners to pay multiple times for the music they buy. Industry executives rarely say this publicly, of course, but sometimes they get caught. Ken Fisher writes on Ars Technica that:

...technologies like “Digital Rights Management” are less about preventing piracy, and more about finding new ways to nickel-and-dime customers. Of course, the industry is trying to accomplish its objective by publicly lamenting piracy. For this reason, most industry talking heads keep their comments in check when talking about DRM schemes, but from time to time we’ve seen people truly speak their mind.

In this case, Tommi Kyyrä of IFPI Finland said that playing music on computers is an extra privilege, not a right of ownership. People who own computers should just get a CD player.

Not only does this ignore the trend of CD players to become computers, it also ignores that most computer CD players are CD players. They fully meet the standard of being a CD player. The music restriction schemes that he is talking about do not work because computer CD players have fewer features than standalone CD players, but because computers have more features. The digital restriction schemes can take advantage of the extra features on the computer to run extra software that limits how the CD plays.

Industry executives talk about piracy, but their restrictions never affect illegal distribution. They only affect our “privilege” of listening to the music we buy in the manner and time that we want to listen to it. None of the digital restriction techniques in use today do or could possibly affect illegal distribution; they only affect how easy it is to play our music on our computers, on our portable music players, on our automobile CD players, and on our combination DVD/CD players.

September 26, 2005: 1,000 songs is enough for anybody

Music industry executives aren’t the only executives who don’t understand music fans. Ed Zander of Motorola, whose ROKR phone holds a maximum of 99 songs, has this to say about Apple’s nano:

Screw the nano. What the hell does the nano do? Who listens to 1,000 songs?

Bill Gates apparently never said that 640k is enough for anybody, but Ed Zander may well be remembered for saying that 1,000 songs is enough for any music fan. Still, that’s ten times as many songs as the ROKR holds.

September 24, 2005: Does iPod exist for music, or does music exist for the iPod?

I’ve said for a long time that it doesn’t seem that music industry executives actually listen to music and that they want to charge consumers for every device that they use to listen to their music. Warner Music Group CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr. is now saying that music should cost different prices depending on what is being used to play the music.

Mr. Bronfman said the music industry should not have to use its content to promote the sale of digital music devices for Apple or anyone else, and not truly share in the profits.

“We are selling our songs through iPod, but we don’t have a share of iPod’s revenue,” he said. “We want to share in those revenue streams. We have to get out of the mindset that our content has promotional value only.”

So, for “the music industry”, music is merely a promotional item that sells cassette players, CD players, iPods, and other music devices. And so they want to “share in the profits” generated by those devices. Imagine:

“We are selling our songs through Pioneer CD Players, but we don’t have a share of Pioneer’s revenue. We want to share in those revenue streams. We have to get out of the mindset that our content has promotional value only.”

They have no idea that people who actually listen to music buy more music when it is easy for them to listen to it. That’s the whole secret to the success of the iTunes Music Store, in which the music industry does share profits. Music isn’t merely a promotional item for selling an iPod; an iPod--or any other music device--is a way of listening to enjoyable music. But someone who doesn’t listen to music wouldn’t understand that.

  1. <- Alice Cooper 2005
  2. FireWire Audiophile ->