Category Archives: music

Everything’s gonna be all right…

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History repeats itself: pirates go to prison. And it won’t change a thing.

Four people from Pirate Bay have been convicted in a Swedish court of contributory copyright infringement, and sentenced to one year of jail.

Aside from the irony of sending digital pirates to prison while at the same time being unable to fight real pirates in the Indian Sea, this historical conviction is likely to change nothing. Just like shutting down Napster did.

Despite numerous attempts throughout the centuries, noone has managed to successfully outlaw revolutions, and technology is inevitably evolving quicker than regulation can, especially in democratic societies.

 

Final Burp: “We have long been a leading IT nation but with these kind of actions we will be left behind and become dependent on other nations’ arbitrary views”. Christian Engström, Pirate Party.  In other words, approach towards digital can be a source of competitive advantage among nations, just like loose financial regulations used to be.

The status of digital music

A few days ago I was looking for a pair of jeans at Banana Republic. I tried on a few, luckily found a pair that I liked and fitted me, and went on to pay.

The gentle girl behind the counter took my credit card, registered the transaction, folded the jeans, put them in a bag. And only after that, she said, “there are also two vouchers to download free music” and carelessly dropped them in the bag.

When I went back home I took out the jeans, and didn’t give those vouchers a second look.

What was supposed to me a sales promotion around music didn’t play any role whatsover in the sale:  the shop assistant knew that it would be completely irrelevant, I knew I wasn’t going to care a bit about it.

To me, this tells more about the status of digital music than any sophisticated strategy or elaborated point of view.

 

Final Burp: a music download is the ultimate commodity, priced at zero. Null. Nada.

 

Who is going to pay for Last.Fm?

No, really. It’s not an hypothesis: Last.Fm has just announced that it will charge  users (outside of US, UK and Germany) 3€/month to listen to its radio.

It’s easy to relate this news to the article by the Economist that announced the end of the free model online*, but ultimately this may just prove how wrong that article was.

The first reaction we can have is that Last.Fm made a stupid mistake, for three reasons:

  1. It’s not something you do now that Spotify is getting mainstream and seems likely to make it big
  2. It’s not something you do in those countries where Last.Fm is less penetrated, and use of the internet is less evolved. If you had a choice, you would probably charge american and english consumers,  because they best understand the value of Last.Fm, and if they’ve been using it for a while there may be an inherent cost in opting out and switching to another service (ie. getting familiar with the new service, reinstating your preferences…). Hopefully that cost would be psychologically higher than 3€/month.
  3. It’s not something you do, period. Digital music is free. Not because it’s a viable business model. Simply because it can be. And people would rather have it for free, than pay for it.

These considerations are so obvious that we must assume Last.Fm simply had no other choice. Let’s see what more will come out of this…

 

Final Burp: Back when Napster was shut down, I was wondering why Shawn Fanning didn’t just move the servers to another country where he wouldn’t face serious legal threats. Still wondering…

 

* If you read the article, here’s my comment:

“There’s a fundamental mistake in the article.

Freeconomics did not happen as a business strategy aimed at making money. It happened because: a) technology enables users to “get stuff” for free; b) a certain number of people globally are willing to create and distribute such technology for free.

Whether this is a sustainable business model or not is irrilevant, because Napster, BitTorrent, Linux, Wikipedia, Facebook and many others were not born to be businesses. If their attempts to make money gets in the way of user experience, somebody in the world will come up with a free alternative, and that’s where users will flow to.

The trick is, one person in the world is enough to create a free alternative available to a global audience.”