Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Copy, Rip, Etc. You rightly mention the starry-eyed vision of the free music future, but how different is file-sharing, really, from the time you had a dual cassete deck, or a CD and cassette setup, and you duped "Ride the Lightening" for a friend? (You did this hypothetically, of course.) Is it the technology, the fact that you can now just swap the data quickly, that makes one worse than the other? And would either one stop you from buying music? I agree that free music isn't in the cards. But it might get a whole lot cheaper. Whenever technology is available but idle within an industry, you can usually point to someone protecting his or her pocketbook. Plus, any industry that can leave technology idle in this way has a captive audience -- one that will take release from captivity in any way it can.

In the end, the artists hate the record companies, the consumers hate the record companies, and the companies themselves are dinosaurs from another era. They'll be gone soon. Indie labels are already undercutting them, using digital file technology as a major part of their distribution. They'll find a way to make sure they get paid. Will the artists still make millions? Probably not, unless they have successful tours. (But, hey, ars gratia artis, right?) Will the indie companies make multi-millions? Probably not, unless they stumble on the next Madonna-type publicity juggernaut. But methinks they'll be happy to make a living. The world changes, and the most entrenched companies try to hold it back. But they all lose, in the end, because capitalism moves as surely as a glacier.

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