With the recent news of potential price hikes for online music, one can’t help but wonder if the days when we actually need the recording industry in it’s current form are drawing to a close.
Promotion is already a mainstay of the Internet, as is distribution, and online music doesn’t require CD stamping, cover printing and the other hardware associated with old style music sales. So the question needs to be asked, why is online music priced comparably with store bought media when the cost is so much less? For that matter what exactly do we need the RIAA for any more? If Mozilla Firefox can get 25 million people to download a web browser in only a couple of months, how hard could it be to supply something that people are actually actively looking for be?
The news of possible price rises makes me shake my head at the money grabbing nature of the old school recording industry, online they have a tiny percentage of the costs of real world production and distribution, and yet they are not even close to passing that saving onto you. If they can make you pay more, they will. Not only that, but if they price themselves up to a point where online piracy becomes a big issue, they will blame the technology for it instead of themselves for pricing their own offerings out of the competition. Believe it or not folks, but the majority of people don’t want to pirate anything. We’d rather pay and be able to legitimately own our favourite songs and movies. But if you make it so that most people can’t afford the songs or movies they want, then you will end up with more pirates, it’s simple maths.
The Internet could be of massive benefit to the recording industry, it removes many of their costs, it has the potential to put music in places it hasn’t been before, and people just love those hi tech toys. The problem is, the recording industry still think that the Internet is something they can or should crush, and that’s why they will fail and be replaced by people that know and promote the technology to it’s fullest. Right now with the recording industry trying to push DRM that means you must buy a song multiple times for each device you want to play it on, and pricing everything so that buying the CD (or downloading it illegally) and ripping it yourself is just cheaper, they can’t seem to help but shoot themselves in their collective feet.
The news is not all bad though, I’m not the first to see this growing problem, and I won’t be the last. Michael Robertson of Linspire fame has opened a non DRM online music store called MP3tunes, which will sell you the music without the Digital Rights Management rubbish that enforces the record companies rights and removes the consumers rights in the process. Of course the old school recording industry won’t go for this, so in the future you will probably see Michael and others creating their own record companies to offer artists and consumers everything the Internet has to offer.