Greed, DRM and Steve’s "Thoughts On Music"

Greed, DRM and Steve’s "Thoughts On Music"

I do hate agreeing with what Steve Jobs has to say but I do…

Why would the big four music companies agree to let Apple and others distribute their music without using DRM systems to protect it? The simplest answer is because DRMs haven't worked, and may never work, to halt music piracy. Though the big four music companies require that all their music sold online be protected with DRMs, these same music companies continue to sell billions of CDs a year which contain completely unprotected music.

I wonder if he writes his own stuff or has retired White House staffers to handle his language? I love this passage from the same rant:

Since Apple does not own or control any music itself, it must license the rights to distribute music from others, primarily the "big four" music companies: Universal, Sony BMG, Warner and EMI. These four companies control the distribution of over 70% of the world's music.

Without saying it explicitly, he is suggesting that the ‘big four’ are a bit like an organised crime syndicate. Just change a word or two:

These four families control the distribution of over 70% of the world's [gambling | prostitution | waste handling | internet poker | music distribution].

Fantastic:-)

And seeing as I’ve come this far, I’ll repeat an earlier post because it never ceases to amaze me that the music distribution industry thinks that unlike any other, it doesn’t have to change in response to cultural or technological or simply free market evolution.

In 1895, the steam engine manufacturing industry could put any price it liked on its goods. The players in the industry all lived in Hollywood mansions and drove Ferraris (you know what I mean).

By 1985 they had seriously reduced in number and those that remained had lost a lot of weight and focused manufacturing efforts on very specific markets. They specialised in recycled steam technology for engines built in China. The owners of the few remaining companies were still doing well, but no longer lived the movie star lifestyle. In essence they had become more ‘normal’, more ‘average’.

Back in 1895 there was no online content distribution, and music copying was expensive, involving scribes and printing presses. The Victor Talking Machine Company was founded by Eldridge Johnson in 1901 and thereafter, the Victrola would gradually spread disks of recorded music around the world. Those leading the industry did well, and over most of the Twentieth century developed a lifestyle that culminated with TV sets being thrown out of hotel windows, bathtubs full of cocaine and the odd Bentley parked in a swimming pool.

Well, it’s 2007 and the reality is that the technology is now in the hands of the people. Copying is cheap and easy and the citizens want a new deal from the industry. We want to pay for our music, but we want most of the money to go to the artists. We want fair use and we want a fair price.

It’s time for the business end of the industry to give up the coke and move to China, just like everybody else. OK?