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Music Media Editorial The Almighty Buck News

Why Starting a Legal Online Music Vendor Is Tough 214

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-about-the-benjamins dept.
Hodejo1 writes "Former MP3.com CEO Michael Robertson offers commentary at The Register saying any attempts to build a sanctioned digital music site today is doomed from the outset. 'The internet companies I talk to don't mind giving some direct benefit to music companies. What torpedoes that possibility is the big financial requests from labels for "past infringement," plus a hefty fee for future usage. Any company agreeing to these demands is signing their own financial death sentence. The root cause is not the labels — chances are if you were running a label you would make the same demands, since the law permits it."
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Why Starting a Legal Online Music Vendor Is Tough

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  • by StrategicIrony (1183007) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @04:14AM (#24944117)

    Just because I'm allowed by law to charge someone whatever I wish for the fruits of my business, this doesn't mean I would, or that I should. I would go out of business very rapidly.

    However, if I ran a cartel, controlling a monopoly share of a highly desirable resource... then I guess I understand where they're coming from.

    But... wait... aren't monopolies illegal for this very reason?

    • Except for the fact that these services aren't getting used so they demand ridiculous things but in the end if they can't get people to use it they only have their cartel to blame. Its an expendable resource at this point because its so easy to get it other places then the online stores each label sets up.
    • by plen246 (1195843) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @04:25AM (#24944173)
      Competition in the free market only really works when competing products are considered to be interchangeable. Unfortunately, the music-consuming public, and much of the on-line music industry, haven't yet caught on that there are alternative, independent sources of good music. Because the entire music delivery system has been built around the big labels for decades, it will require a significant push by on-line music retailers and pull by consumers to shift the industry away from the monolithic model toward a more broadly independent and distributed model. Indeed, the big labels increasingly resemble a cartel (e.g., the RIAA business and their negotiations with on-line retailers) when it should be moving the other way.
      • by bsDaemon (87307) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @06:40AM (#24944723)

        No, the problem is the problem with any other sort of art -- either people like it or not, and whatever arguments made, for or against, by music/art/literature majors aren't going to change (at least not in any significant way) the way that "regular" people view a piece.

        Then there is also the problem of perception associated with the source. I could pay to self-publish a volume of my poems, but it'll be ignored by critics, unavailable to most readers and, ultimately, be a waste of money on my part. If I can't get in a literary magazine or picked up by a traditional publishing house, then the perception is that I'm not any good.

        The same is only marginally less true for music, and the only reason that's the case is because of the whole punk/hardcore scene which morphed into "indie," and even then Sub Pop was just a stepping-stone to Geffen for Nirvana, and most "indie" labels have major-label distribution contracts, or try to sell their bands to the big boys so they can take their cut.

        So, is most of what's out there today on MTV crap? Yes. Are the new offerings on college radio stations "interchangeable?" Functionally, yes, aesthetically, no.

        But, if artists and the public realized that you don't need the distribution channel to be good, then it wouldn't be a problem -- the internet makes record labels and publishing houses anachronistic in the extreme.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Maybe record labels. But have you seen some of the crap that's out there? Publishing houses, while perhaps anachronistic in terms of their business method, still serve a valuable function of filtering out the utter crap that you'd otherwise have to sift through on the shelf.
        • by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @07:42AM (#24945113) Homepage

          Then there is also the problem of perception associated with the source. I could pay to self-publish a volume of my poems, but it'll be ignored by critics, unavailable to most readers and, ultimately, be a waste of money on my part.

          Huh? are you going to self publish and then hide the books in a closet? Because I have self published 2 photo books and even have them on the shelves at Barnes and Noble. It's not hard to self publish and get your stuff out to the public.

          If you self publish, then you have to self promote, self market, and self sell your books. I get maximum profits from that instead of making $0.75(max) a book sold by letting a publisher get all the money by doing all the work. If you want to sit there wishing, go ahead. It's what most writers and photographers do they make something and send it to some publishers and use the hope method.

          The successful ones don't hope, they do. They push themselves, and work to get their stuff out there and in people's faces. If you wrote a poetry book, how many public readings are you doing a month? did you travel to Chicago last month for a public poetry reading at the Library? how have you marketed yourself?

          0a 6f 6e 6c 79 20 74 68 65 20 6c 61 7a 79 20 66 61 69 6c

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          Then there is also the problem of perception associated with the source. I could pay to self-publish a volume of my poems, but it'll be ignored by critics, unavailable to most readers and, ultimately, be a waste of money on my part. If I can't get in a literary magazine or picked up by a traditional publishing house, then the perception is that I'm not any good.

          Well, this man [mrsellars.com], who has written a series of very successful novels, would most definitely disagree with you. (I can say that because I've met and talked with Merv at length about this very subject). His novels sell remarkably well in bookstores, on Amazon, and plenty of other places.

          Oh, did I mention that he is a self-publisher? Yeah, that's right, his publishing company, Willow Tree Press, is him. (He outsources the printing, of course.)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by CastrTroy (595695)
        Regardless of whether there's good music out there from other sources makes no difference. If you want "hot new album", the only way to get it is through paying the copyright holder, and you have to pay whatever price they demand. Sure you could go out and buy 5 * "cool new indie album" for the same price, but you still don't have "hot new album". It's like the argument with Windows and Linux. Sure Linux is free, and maybe even a better product than Windows, but it isn't windows. If you need Windows to
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by UncleRage (515550)

          Unfortunately, your argument breaks itself down.

          You may want "hot new album" but you may well need Windows for work, school, whatever. There's a difference.

          Market share penetration has forced many people to adopt a technology as necessary, but there is no force in the world that dictates that I must listen to the Fall Out Boys.

          If you absolutely must have that "hot new album", accept that you consume what your enemy is demanding that you eat... then like it when they dictate that it be served at room temper

          • by cashman73 (855518)
            You may want "hot new album" but you may well need Windows for work, school, whatever. There's a difference.

            Umm, I hate to point this out to you, but no one needs Windows, either. Ever hear of a Mac? Linux? Granted, in terms of the music industry, I guess you kind of need Windows for the DRM, but we don't like that crap here, either! For failing to mention and overglorify Linux in your post, your geek card should be revoked and your Slashdot account disabled immediately! =)

            • by UncleRage (515550)

              Actually, I'll respond to both of the above responses here...

              My point was not that the GP was wrong, just that using Windows as a supporting argument was not the best way of pushing the point across. It simply undermined his point.

              Now, as for my geek card...

              I hate to say it, but there are lots of niche markets out there where Windows is the only option. While the average desktop user truly needs little more than a browser, media player and a chat client; there's quite a lot in the way of third party softw

    • Theres nothing illegal about having a monopoly on your own product - and no, that is not what Microsoft had.
      • by StrategicIrony (1183007) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @04:56AM (#24944319)

        Any label is not a monopoly. The collective bargaining put together by the RIAA cartel may be, however.

        I would regard it akin to... All 4 of the airlines that service my city getting together and deciding collectively to triple the price of tickets out of my city.

        Yes, there are other, less desirable means of transport. The bus still runs.

        Yes, it is possible to start a new airline (or a new major record label), but the barrier to entry is astoundingly high (so much as to make it almost impossible).

        If all 4 carriers at my local airport were colluding to set prices artificially high, they would be slapped down HARD.

        Because the RIAA labels deal in slightly more nebulous items with slightly less cohesive boundaries, they're allowed to collude all they want and nobody bats and eye.

        • by Znork (31774) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @05:54AM (#24944545)

          Any label is not a monopoly.

          Any copyrighted work is a government protected monopoly on its own, which makes the distinction harder to make.

          While an airline (or two different airlines) and a bus may get you to your destination, the fact is, despite the significant attempts to make everything sound the same, different songs are not the same destination. And you can't (generally) buy the same song from different entities.

          they're allowed to collude all they want and nobody bats and eye.

          See, the trouble is they don't really need to collude. Monopoly pricing is set in relation to available disposable income; it's a function of what the consumers will spend. You maximize your revenue when you raise prices to the equilibrium point where higher prices mean lower income (as the higher per-unit revenue wont be outweighed by the lost sales), and not a cent below. (This point tends to be at a level where a significant number of customers cannot afford the product, and is also the main reason for things like region coding and parallel import prevention in other similar product areas)

          As the monopoly pricing is set as a function of the same thing, all the players will end up with very similar price points. After that, the main competition going on is exposure and channel control (well, apart from friendly copying).

          In essence, monopoly rights are irreconcilable with a free market economy. The business logic when you have a protected monopoly simply doesn't work the same way as competitive industries, so there's a permanent conflict of interest between the bigger players and everyone else. A conflict that is unlikely to be resolved until monopoly rights are restructured as non-exclusive revenue share rights, which simply is unlikely to happen any time soon.

          • Cover versions (Score:3, Interesting)

            by tepples (727027)

            And you can't (generally) buy the same song from different entities.

            Lennon/McCartney's licensees would beg to differ [wikipedia.org], as would anyone else who's ever recorded a cover version [wikipedia.org]. I seem to remember seeing at least a dozen different versions of "Macarena" on the old Napster. If there's no cover version of a given song, that's your cue to record one under whatever mechanical license scheme is in effect in your country.

            A conflict that is unlikely to be resolved until monopoly rights are restructured as non-exclusive revenue share rights, which simply is unlikely to happen any time soon.

            In the case of songs, it has already been so restructured: recording artists share their revenue with composers [wikipedia.org].

            • by perlchild (582235)

              I took the GP to mean "do away with the concept of revenues from exclusivity for songs" not "the smaller players must share revenues". The problems seem to stem from laws written in the outlook of low-technology means and hard to reach populations being attempted in this era of easily reached population through technology. The industry's rights-sharing is structured with huge record-producing costs, and the assumption that a huge retail store is the only way to reach the listener. Now it's to the record

              • the assumption that a huge retail store is the only way to reach the listener.

                It's not as true as it was, but it's not entirely untrue either. Not everybody has a computer and high-speed Internet access or can even get broadband without moving house, especially fans of country music.

            • by CastrTroy (595695)
              You could do a cover, but it's again, not the same product. It's the same song , probably with the same notes and same words, but done by different people. Sometimes, the way people say the words makes all the difference. Sometimes, the original isn't even the best version of the song, and the cover is better. But each cover version is in fact a different song, because it is performed by different people.
        • by Chrisje (471362)

          Yes, cartel-forming is illegal in most European nations and the US as far as I'm aware. I don't know about the US, but where I'm from those 4 airlines that got together and made pricing arrangements had better not leave any trace of the fact that they had done so, because that would lead to hefty fines and potentially jail time.

          The problem is not so much the nebulous items the RIAA deals in, it's more that the organizational and collaborative structure is such that it's nigh impossible to prove it's a carte

        • by gad_zuki! (70830)

          >If all 4 carriers at my local airport were colluding to set prices artificially high, they would be slapped down HARD.

          That's because air travel is important to people, thus its important to the government. In that very same airport all the food vendors collude to charge you the maximum for a sandwich. They're not facing anti-trust because people tolerate it.

          In the grand scheme of things the price and distribution of music doesnt matter to most people. Its just entertainment. Its like that 8 dollar san

    • Monopolies themselves are not illegal. Certain business practices may be illegal if you are considered to be a monopoly that would otherwise be perfectly acceptable. Typically anything which could be construed as leveraging your monopoly in one market to help you in another could come under scrutiny. But even then it's very much dependent on circumstances, which is why you can have a massive trial in which a company can be convicted of illegally abusing their monopoly... and then have nothing actually happe

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        However, the RIAA represents something like 90% of the music sales in the country.

        The RIAA members engage in collusion to set pricing that is detrimental to their consumers.

        Since music is not a necessity like fuel or food, this won't come to light in quite the same way, but imagine all of the gasoline companies with half-decent quality gasoline, all making a cartel through which they collude to set prices at their whim?

        Price collusion is one of those practices which IS highly illegal when the consumer is of

        • by Dan541 (1032000)

          but imagine all of the gasoline companies with half-decent quality gasoline, all making a cartel through which they collude to set prices at their whim? Price collusion is one of those practices which IS highly illegal when the consumer is offered little other choice.

          It's only illegal IF you can be punished for it.

          • by Sj0 (472011)

            The music industry is constantly being charged with and convicted of such violations. They're constantly being fined for it, and have been pretty much since the '50s.

        • by tepples (727027)

          What would be illegal is for 90% of the record companies to collude in making the mini-disc the only outlet for music

          Then why was it not illegal for 90 percent of the movie studios to collude in making DVD-Video the only outlet for copies of films sold to the home market?

          • Well, in part because they're actually trying to make Blu-Ray another outlet for films sold to the home market, and up until recently many of those companies were trying to make HD-DVD into another method to sell movies to the home market. Many movies are also available on PSP as well, last I checked. DVD is, in this case, the overwhelmingly popular choice with consumers, not with companies. This is due in part to the fact that the DRM on DVDs has been cracked. Movie distributors want very badly to wean

          • They hardly colluded; it was market forces that killed VHS, not manufacturers' efforts. I half suspect the only reason they ever tried DVD in the first place were the higher profit margins.
    • You're exactly right. The law allows me to charge $10000 per hour for my work, but no one in their right mind would pay me that much, and I am the one to blame for having no customers.

      People want to download music to their iPods, or whatever music player in whatever format they like, and have the ability to transfer it to other mediums without restrictions, all for a reasonable price. If the labels are unwilling to provide this, then the customers are unwilling to pay.

      The problem is that the labels ha
    • The RIAA wants the whole world constantly negotiating with their lawyers.

      Maintaining a huge cloud of FUD is the only way they can keep prices artificially high and the artists in their rightful places (artists need to believe that selling music to the public is difficult/expensive/risky).

      This is also why they settle P2P lawsuits out of court for less than what it cost them to bring the suit. They don't care about winning, they just want the press to be constantly printing stories about P2P users being sued

    • Monopolies aren't illegal for the very good reason that sometimes monopolies are unavoidable, or at least the best option. Imagine if the single corner store in every little town had to close down shop because they were the only game in town. It'd just be silly, right? Not to mention counter-productive.

      Similarly here, we have a situation where monopoly is far better to the alternative. Now we just have to make sure monopolies don't engage in anti-competitive practices.

    • by Eivind (15695)

      You're confused. I don't know where you got the idea that monopolies are illegal. They certainly are not and have to my knowledge never been.

      Certian -practices- are illegal IF you are a monopoly. But that's different.

      Indeed, selling copyrigthed material is a monopoly by definition; a single entity, the one owning the copyright, is the ONLY one who can legally make copies of and sell the material.

    • Monopolies are not illegal.

      Certain abuses of monopoly are illegal.

      And it's not as if the companies are the only source of legal music.

      Just because one label has the exclusive rights to Madonna's music doesn't prevent someone else from making their own music in the same style and selling it.

    • by mea37 (1201159)

      Well, no, monopolies are not illegal; but they are subject to regulations designed to keep them from taking advantage of the lack of competition at the consumer's expense.

      TFA is either skipping a lot of details in the author's reasoning, or is far less than insightful. First off, the quote you mention; "you'd probably charge the same, because it's legal". Well, not if it's not in my best interest. TFA claims the services are willing to benefit the industry, in which case it would not be in my interest to

  • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @04:19AM (#24944151) Homepage Journal

    ... but I didn't see the word "iTunes" anywhere in that article.

    It is possible to build a profitable, long-lasting, and legal online music business, Mr. Robertson. I'm genuinely sorry you failed to do it, but to pretend that the biggest player in the online music world simply doesn't exist is kind of childish.

    • by pla (258480) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @04:27AM (#24944181) Journal
      ... but I didn't see the word "iTunes" anywhere in that article.

      iTunes doesn't come close to what MP3.com wanted to do.

      I don't want to start a debate about how much they had available or how lax their DRM; Put simply, they do have DRM, and they don't offer everything, therefore fall woefully short of the ideal.

      That said, you make a good point... iTunes has done quite well, and I would call it a good start. Even so, keep in mind that every few months we hear rumblings about how the major labels want to "renegotiate" with Apple to charge more and use more restrictive DRM - They just don't "get" it, even when offered a viable model on a silver platter.
      • by perlchild (582235)

        Well speaking for myself, the only reason I buy from the ITMS is that I perceive right now that the Itunes store is happening despite the RIAA. If they started agreeing to it, I'd find that suspect, and look for someone else. They've totally alienated me as a consumer, yet they have a lock on artists I like, so I'm looking for an outlet which is refusing to be strongarmed(at least apparently).

        They do "get it", itunes is their extinction, they want to renegotiate while they're still around to talk about it

    • by PhilHibbs (4537)

      It is odd that he doesn't mention iTunes or try to explain why it was successful. That doesn't invalidate the point that he's making, though. Maybe it's possible to start up a digital music store if you are Apple. After all, creating the most popular digital music player in the world isn't exactly hard, is it?

    • The article doesn't mention a lot of sites, in fact none of the BIG company backed sites are mentioned. And this makes me wonder, how succesful is iTunes on its own as a business? It has long been rumoured that Apple makes its money from iPods not iTunes. If that is the case, and you accept the same from products launched by the likes of Amazon then there is a 5th category, sites that barely break even thanks to the insane costs, that help keep the online music sales at the level the music industry is comfo

      • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @07:13AM (#24944903) Journal
        Apple is now the biggest music retailer in any medium. If they are making any profit on sales (I vaguely remember reading that they make something like 10Â per track) then the iTunes store is raking in money. The iTunes store and Apple-branded accessories (they don't break them down on the balance sheet, there's just iPod and 'other music-related products and services) are bringing in around $800m per quarter in revenue, which probably equates to around $100m in profit.
    • It is possible to build a profitable, long-lasting, and legal online music business,

      It WAS possible to build a profitable,

      There, fixed it for you. The industry has tried to push Apple into a layered pricing service with higher prices for more popular stuff. By then Apple was big enough to push back and win.

      Small potatoes startup companies don't have that kind of clout. They also have no way to unseat Apple.

  • Horsepucky. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pla (258480) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @04:23AM (#24944165) Journal
    The root cause is not the labels -- chances are if you were running a label you would make the same demands, since the law permits it.

    Irrelevant, whether or not the law "allows" it.

    As various legacy-media industries (and I don't mean just the RIAA here) slowly waste away to nothing, they have two choices - Find a way to make their product available on terms we can all agree to (and do so knowing how easily we can choose to simply pirate their content)... Or cease to exist.

    The right to "past damages" doesn't matter if you have no future. These industries have a wide assortment of 3rd parties all but begging to solve their current problems for them with various forms of modern online distribution; Only stubbornness, and a near-suicidal insistance on maintaining some mythical "control" they lost over a decade ago, have kept such ventures from any chance of success.

    So before you absolve the labels of blame in this matter - Ask yourself, would you, starving in the gutter, turn down a lifetime supply of Big Macs because you think the world "owes" you a home-cooked steak dinner?
    • You are right. The root cause of the issue is fundamentally monopolistic - the very idea of long lasting copyright, which gives the inventor of music a much longer protected period than the inventor of a vaccine, which is of far more benefit to society. Once musicians and authors were given this special treatment, opportunistic leeches sprang up to milk it - publishers. These people have nothing to contribute but their monopolistic practices, as far as the vast majority of musicians and authors are concerne
      • You say at the end the examples from history about product X trying to stop product Y from replacing it and seem to think this applies to the music industry.

        You are wrong, for that to work in media it would have to be theather trying to stop movies, movies trying to stop TV. That indeed does not work.

        But what is really the case is that the music industry is not being replaced. There is nothing to take over, it still is the same model that existed since recordable music was invented, X performs for Y who r

    • Re:Horsepucky. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Teancum (67324) <.robert_horning. .at. .netzero.net.> on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @05:10AM (#24944389) Homepage Journal

      One of the problems here is that the author of the article seems to think the authority to change the situation lies with the court system, when in fact this is a legislative problem that is compounded by a massive mis-interpretation of what the general public thinks it ought to be about.

      While I understand that the Register is a UK publication, it reads like it was written by an American (perhaps a personal bias). From an American perspective, the record companies are fighting something even tougher: The U.S. Constitution. More to the point, if the copyright clause of the constitution were to be properly interpreted to understand that the protection was only for a limited time (life + 75 years isn't a "limited time" in spite of what the U.S. Supreme Court claims). Retroactive copyright term extensions make the situation even worse... but I'm barking up the wrong issue here anyway.

      The point here is that legislative bodies of the world like Congress, Parliament, and other similar bodies have been dealing with this issue as if the publishing bodies (including recording studios in the case of music) are the only individuals that need to be served when these laws are drafted. Individual consumers as well as the artists/authors/composers/performers need to be strongly considered as well, and the real point of legislation ought to be asking this question:

      What can changes in the current copyright legislation do to expand the number of creative works, and "promote the useful arts and sciences"?

      This is certainly not something that is being asked by legislators (MPs or Congressmen), and nearly all legislation in the past couple of decades on both sides of the pond works to kill off incentives by individuals to create these kind of artistic works. International agreements, while they do seek to "equalize copyright laws", tend to take the lowest common denominator approach and offer the best possible protection for the publisher as any of the countries in the treaty organization (aka the "Berne Convention"). This question about what can be done to promote the development of these artistic works certainly isn't being asked at these treaty conferences either, nor by the legislative bodies when the treaties are being ratified.

      • by Nursie (632944)

        Yes, it's american.

        Some of the comments point out that you can't actually use these sites from the UK. Which is another problem. Not only is it hard to get a successful business going, it seems almost impossible to set one up properly (in the spirit of the interwebs) and available to all, because we've woven an enormously complex web of international IP laws, and companies have tied themselves up in exclusive distribution deals where distribution itself is becoming obsolete.

    • by Maelwryth (982896)
      What worries me about this is not the root cause but the end result. How much of our culture will we lose because it was no longer worth looking after archives?
  • by unity100 (970058) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @04:26AM (#24944175) Homepage Journal
    in here : "The root cause is not the labels"

    if they are making the same demands if the law permits it, they are the root cause.
  • Limited scope (Score:5, Informative)

    by overzero (1358049) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @04:52AM (#24944293)

    FTFA: "The root cause is not the labels - chances are if you were running a label you would make the same demands, since the law permits it."

    Unless, of course, you didn't. The law also permits playing a guitar exclusively in a soundproof booth in the middle of nowhere so that no one will ever be able to hear your music, much less consider purchasing it, which seems like the business model the major labels are moving towards.

    You could, for instance, start your own label specifically to avoid this, avoid DRM, allow anyone to stream your catalog as much as they want, offer a variety of formats and purchase options, etc. I think the law permits that too.

    As for viability, it might have some issues, but Magnatune has been doing that for five years now and doesn't seem about to stop.

    http://www.magnatune.com/ [magnatune.com]

    • As for viability, it might have some issues, but Magnatune has been doing that for five years now and doesn't seem about to stop.

      Magnatune and other online-only labels appear to fail it in promotion to drivers and passengers in vehicles. I have never once heard a Magnatune artist's song on FM radio in Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA.

    • Just because the law allows something, doesn't mean it'll happen. There's no law against overcharging people either. You are 100% legal to open up a store, and price everything at 10 times what it is worth. The reason you wouldn't do that, of course, is that you'd get no business. But it isn't as though the police would come kicking in your door and arrest you. In fact, there ARE businesses that overcharge. AJ's would be one of them. The open grocers in well off neighborhoods. You discover that many regular

  • by SystematicPsycho (456042) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @04:56AM (#24944315)

    As most huxsters have worked out, even if they do something illegal or border line illegal for a while and make a killing then, having no moral conscience it pays off. Unfortunately that's what's wrong with the world today. Look at the sub-prime mortgage crisis for example, how many lenders knew they were handing out bad debt? Do they care now? Probably not, they got their commission, as for everyone else, hasta la vista.

  • by houghi (78078) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @05:04AM (#24944345)

    So if it is not strictly forbidden you MUST do it? That is a whole new twist and says more about him as a person then about the people who do it.

  • (just to put this in perspective)

    P.S. I love words which can mean virtually their own opposite, like sanction.

  • Excuse me? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tim C (15259) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @05:19AM (#24944427)

    I'm sorry, but just because I'm *permitted* to do something doesn't mean that I would or should.

    Hand someone a right (or rather, neglect to disallow them some power) and you most certainly can still blame them for exercising it.

  • Snatch up all the Apple itunes, Amazon MP3s, Rhapsody, et al before they go out of business. A shame too - Amazon was quite useful. Guess its back to Ebay.
  • by Joebert (946227)
    Why would anyone want to start a "legit" online radio ?

    All of the good stations started out as pirates.
  • by nimbius (983462) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @06:07AM (#24944589) Homepage
    gimme a break. the root cause is a conglomerate of labels who arguably add nothing of value anymore to music, as online distribution has supplanted them almost entirely.

    its not their fault. if you were about to be unceremoniously kicked off your pile of bloodmoney, you'd fight like hell too!
  • by xednieht (1117791) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @06:12AM (#24944607) Homepage
    The article clearly states that it is merely an 'Opinion' note the upper left hand corner tag.

    Other than that I would offer another view. There's still plenty of opportunity to grow online music.

    When the dust settles, many moons from now, the emerging model will be a hybrid between what Napster was and iTunes is. It will probably emerge outside of the US because the morons on Capitol Hill are too quick to appease the idiots at RIAA. But it will emerge. Think Janis Ian and many more like her.

    Of course if by some miraculous turn of events RIAA decides to invest in technology instead of lawyers it may start here, but don't hold your breath. Blinded by greed, crippled by stupidity.
  • "The root cause is not the labels -- chances are if you were running a label you would make the same demands, since the law permits it"

    The law doesnt and will never define morality, or ethics. Just because they are allowed to get away with it doesnt make it acceptable.

    CEO's dont get a fuckwit chip inserted into them when they accept the job, they are born that way.

    I really dont see any excuse for them, or why anyone else would think its not their fault, their industry is dying, they are trying to take as mu

  • The way to do it is start a site that enables music sharing , and turn a blind eye to anything illegal for as long a possible.

    * When the music industry come down on you make sure you milk the publicity for all its worth.

    * Announce you have put some security measures in place (but only implemented half heartedly)

    * Do this for as long as you possibly can whilst simultaneously increasing your user base to critical mass.

    * At that point your userbase is so big that your actually now a tempting proposition for aq

  • by jmichaelg (148257) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @08:06AM (#24945329) Journal

    Back before there were lawns, copyright ran for 14 years. In 1790, it was extended to 28 years. From there, it slowly got extended until 1998 when Congress saw plenty of donations and all of a sudden, it shot up to the author's life plus 70 years.

    Revert copyrights to the original 14 years and you'd see all kinds of music and art. Pandora.com (an outstanding music delivery idea) wouldn't be talking about pulling the plug and people would be exposed to so much outstanding music and video that we'd see a resurgence in creativity in this country.

  • I've bought digital music from all of these, and they don't seem to be fading away or going out of business.

    iTunes and Amazon have the resources of an existing large company behind them.

    eMusic ignores the big labels and does business with artists and publishers who are willing to play nice.

    Magnatune is an online label.

    Oh, and none of them started out with the handicap of previous bad court decisions that set them up for "past infringement" fees. What happened to MP3.com was appalling, particularly since the

  • Committed? (Score:3, Informative)

    by rgviza (1303161) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @12:17PM (#24949103)

    >The service just isn't attracting users at all, in spite of the marketing major label WMG has committed to do

    They may have "committed" but I've never heard of Lala and I'd be interested in using it. All I can say is that WMG is doing a terrible job marketing this. I have the feeling they *want* it to fail, as a propaganda stunt. It's the only explanation. WMG has bottomless pockets. If they wanted it to succeed they'd be killing everyone in the online music business with their catalog.

    In fact in a search for Online music download Lala's not on the first 5 pages. A comparatively small payment to Google would ensure page rank or at least advertising on the results. Not surprisingly an Apple ad (the destination of which shows has a link to iTunes on the landing page) is at the top. They are actually trying.

    Nada...
    Here's what does show up:
          1.
                Download music online
                Groundbreaking technology like the
                new Genius feature. iPod touch.
                www.apple.com/ipodtouch
          2.
                Zune Music Player
                Get your ears ready for
                the ultimate music experience.
                www.Zune.net
          3.
                Download/Play/Burn Music
                Legal Access to 5,000,000+ Songs.
                14 Days Free then only $12.99/mo!
                www.Rhapsody.com
          4.
                Napster® Official Site
                Listen To 6 Million + Songs
                With a Free Trial - Napster®!
                Napster.com
          5.
                Download Music Online
                As low as $.27 per song!
                25 Free MP3 - No risk 7 day Trial
                www.eMusic.com
          6.
                Top 3 Legal Music Sites
                Top 3 Music Download Sites Reviewed
                Download All your Favorite Music
                www.Real-Music-Reviews.com
          7.
                Download Online Music
                Unlimited Free Music on AOL® Radio
                Find Music You Enjoy on One Site!
                Radio.AOL.com
          8.
                Top 5 Music Sites
                Top 5 Music Download Sites Reviewed
                Download your Favorite Music Now
                www.HotMusicDownloader.com

    DRM free with lots of options and great music. The only thing killing Lala is WMG. They've got Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Rush, and the White Stripes for crying out loud! Their catalog is unmatched.

    I just joined ;) At $.89 per song too. I think the author has a warped sense of what "committed to marketing" means, or didn't bother checking for himself. If I was a WMG executive, I'd have the marketing VP in a meeting finding out what the hell he does 8 hours a day.

    -Viz

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