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NYT Opinion Piece on DRM And P2P 367

bsartist writes "The NYT is running an opinion piece written by a working musician who has a pretty healthy dislike of copy protection and DRM. From the article: 'As for musicians, we are left to wonder how many more people could be listening to our music if it weren't such a hassle, and how many more iPods might have our albums on them if our labels hadn't sabotaged our releases with cumbersome software.'"
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NYT Opinion Piece on DRM And P2P

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  • This musician should do what many others have done and start his or her own website. Make the music available there, free of charge or for a small fee.

    If they were stupid enough to sign a restrictive contract with some media label, the just wait until the agreement expires. Then be sure to never deal with them again, due to the points mentioned in this article.

    • by TheRealMindChild ( 743925 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @08:57AM (#14192911) Homepage Journal
      Sure... hindsight is always 20/20, but you have to figure, most signed artists had no idea what they were getting into. They are hapless garage bands that some bastard feels they can exploit to make a bit of coin.

      Sure, they SHOULD have known. But when someone is waving your dream in your face, it is hard to think logically.
      • by DoorFrame ( 22108 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @09:00AM (#14192927) Homepage
        I think the even bigger problem is that you haven't heard of 99.999999% of non-label bands. You at least have a shot when someone's paying you to put out an album. When you're on your own, you're out of luck.
        • There are many independent bands who do just fine for themselves financially. They're not pulling in millions, but they're living decently. And they usually have a very loyal fanbase willing to support them out to some extent.

          And then there's this very issue of freedom. Would you trade your freedom and integrity as an artists for money? A true artists, one who puts his or her work above all, most likely would not.

          • Is your contention that it's not possible to both have integrity and work in the professional music industry?
            • Is your contention that it's not possible to both have integrity and work in the professional music industry?

              Yes. Unless it's gangsta integrity we're talking about. Then when u rappin' in da hood like dat mutha Fiddy Cent u gotz da big momma integrityz yo! Wurrrrrrrrrrdddd homie.

          • by shawb ( 16347 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @09:30AM (#14193101)
            But a true artist might be willing to trade freedom and a percentage of album sales to get more people to listen to their music. The recording industry can be a very efficient marketing force, getting music played on the radio, getting CDs placed in stores, getting tours booked and so on and so on.

            I really don't see integrity coming into play. Most musicians really don't care about DRM one way or another, or at the very least are ambivalent. For most people "integrity" means having a code of ethics that matches theirs.
          • There are many independent bands who do just fine for themselves financially. They're not pulling in millions, but they're living decently ... And then there's this very issue of freedom. Would you trade your freedom and integrity as an artists for money? A true artists, one who puts his or her work above all, most likely would not.

            With all due respect, you just don't get it. IT nerds and performers think very differently about their careers, and it is probably useful to understand this difference if you want to understand the choices that each make.

            It is a generally accepted principle in our capitalist world that there is a correlation between risks and rewards. The riskier a venture you undertake, the higher the rewards need to be, or else no one would undertake these risks. So far, so good.

            Sysadmins, programmers and other nerd types typically follow a medium-risk, medium-return path. You won't make as much as the CEO, but in most cases you won't starve, either. You do a job that is fairly well respected in society and there is (generally, again) a reasonable expectation that you will be able to get a decent job.

            Performers - actors, musicians, etc. - follow a high-risk, high-return path. Only a small percentage of people that want to make a living as performers are ever able to do so (imagine if 80% of CompSci graduates could never find a job programming but had to do it on the side while they worked at Starbuck's). They spend years waiting tables or playing in crappy local bars hoping to get their big break. So, when that chance does come, they grab onto it and they feel (rightly, I believe) that they deserve their success. Actors don't work crap jobs for years so they can turn down a $1 million paycheck in a big movie and say, "I don't want to work for a MPAA-affiliated studio!"

            The same - by and large - goes for musicians as well. They are performers that (probably) busted their asses to get where they are, and they aren't going to give up a shot at the big time because of what DRM technology is put on their CDs (which generally isn't up to them anyway). It's like this for pro athletes as well, and many other professions where only a tiny percentage of those pursuing it will ever achieve success. (Interestingly, the only place where IT nerds typically do intersect with this world is those who start up their own companies - another high-risk, high-reward path. But these types are arguably a breed apart from most IT folk.)

            So you, Mr. Programmer Guy, can talk all you want about how these people are sellouts and should be perfectly happy to just get by with a living wage, etc. However, if you are actually interested in understanding this phenomenon, then you need to understand that performers generally come from a mindset that is 180 degrees away from yours. Even if you don't empathize with this, you should make an effort to understand it.

      • Some very basic research, even just a few Google searches, would have made them aware of the risks of dealing with these labels. It's no secret that they royally fuck over a lot of artists.

        I don't feel bad for people who sign an agreement with somebody without researching the other party's background and history. A quick Internet search would have revealed 20/20 hindsight as recorded by others who have been screwed over by the major labels.

        • Okay - so what's the choice?

          You sign a restrictive agreement with a cartel that has absolute control over all marketting channels, or you wallow in obscurity forever. Are you surprised that some people go for the restrictive contract? It's the best they can get.
          • It doesn't surprise me that some artists go for restrictive contracts. But then again, perhaps they're not really true artists.

            "Obscurity" is quite relative. OpenBSD is fairly obscure in the big picture, but that doesn't mean it's irrelevant. It has its niche, and it works there very well. It has many supporters. And the project gets by just fine. The same would go for many artists. If they produce quality music, then word will spread and they will gain fans. Many of the fans will offer financial support. T
            • They may not be a household name, but they'll still get by financially.

              And while they are "getting by" some other artist will have become a national name thanks to the RIAA marketing droids and ClearChannel. His music may not be (probably isn't?) as good as your guy -- but he's the one with the North American tour that pulls in a cool million or so at each stop.

              Is it really that hard to understand why RIAA has the power they do? If you could sell a small number of CDs/mp3s on a website and collect all

          • You sign a restrictive agreement with a cartel that has absolute control over all marketting channels, or you wallow in obscurity forever.

            I think you really hit on it there. The cartel has control over all marketing channels, except one -- the Internet. But they're desperately trying to gain control over that one.

            Think how much better a situation we'd be in if we just had compulsory licensing for Internet trading. In effect you'd pay a small tax on your broadband connection, and share files without limits. A rights collection organisation would be responsible for periodically analysing the sharing traffic and working out how to apportion the revenues of the tax to the artists, in proportion to how many people are listening or sharing their music.

            Bands would actually compete to make better music and try to get as many people to share and listen to it as freely as possible.

            Rich.

            • Think how much better a situation we'd be in if we just had compulsory licensing for Internet trading. In effect you'd pay a small tax on your broadband connection, and share files without limits. A rights collection organisation would be responsible for periodically analysing the sharing traffic and working out how to apportion the revenues of the tax to the artists, in proportion to how many people are listening or sharing their music.

              So why should I pay the tax then, when I'm not sharing any music? I

    • by Steve525 ( 236741 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @09:26AM (#14193069)
      This musician should do what many others have done and start his or her own website. Make the music available there, free of charge or for a small fee.

      How many musicians have succeeded in making a living this way? Without the exposure the record labels can give you (through their lock on radio) you aren't going to sell many songs. There may be one or two exceptions, (Ani DeFranco come to mind) but it's pretty rare.

      If they were stupid enough to sign a restrictive contract with some media label, the just wait until the agreement expires.

      Perhaps, but some contracts don't ever expire. I believe the contracts are usually based on # of albums, not a set amount of time. And guess what, the record company gets to decide when to release the album. So they can sit on it as long as they want, and you're f**ked.

      And if you did get out of the contract, what are you going to do, get a better deal from a different record company? Unless you are already successful, it's not going to happen.
  • I can answer (Score:2, Insightful)

    by flyinwhitey ( 928430 )
    "how many more people could be listening to our music if it weren't such a hassle, and how many more iPods might have our albums on them if our labels hadn't sabotaged our releases with cumbersome software."

    A few more maybe, but my experience is if someone wants the music, DRM won't stop them from buying.

    I'm sure there are a few people who get fired up about it, but I suspect most people don't care all that much.

     
    • I wonder how many people don't know about DRM, but discover that iTunes won't rip their CD and just return it and then pirate the tracks instead, or (more likely) download the tracks instead of ripping them, and then just download the next album instead of buying it.
      • You won't be able to return a CD because iTunes won't rip it. In general, it is very difficult to return opened CDs, unless there is a physical defect that prevents you from playing the CD. You could claim that since the CD does not follow standard redbook format it is not technically a CD and so was falsely advertised. All that will get you is strange looks from the cashiers and managers; not your money back.
    • I personaly will not buy any album that does not have the CD logo on it. At this point that prety much means I'm not buying any music from the major labels.
    • Re:I can answer (Score:4, Interesting)

      by sgant ( 178166 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @09:17AM (#14193008) Homepage Journal
      I'm sure there are a few people who get fired up about it, but I suspect most people don't care all that much.

      I suppose you didn't hear about the Sony DRM debacle did you? Ok, was being sarcastic there as you'd have to be living under a rock not to have heard about it. Then would you mind revising your statement above as obviously MANY people cared a bunch about that and it put DRM right into the limelight...which the RIAA doesn't want it shown. It doesn't want press about DRM or anything like this. They want the people not to "care all that much". But obviously this isn't going to happen as many people got fired up about the rootkit AND the DRM crap.

      And as you see, now there's even editorials in the frickin New York Times!
      • I suppose you didn't hear about the Sony DRM debacle did you? Ok, was being sarcastic there as you'd have to be living under a rock not to have heard about it.

        While the Sony rootkit debacle has taken the tech-world by storm, it has penetrated very little into the general news. Its been mentioned on TV, but there hasn't been any real outrage among the general public. Up until yesterday my family didn't know about the rootkit, because I figured they would pick it up through the general media. However, I

    • I think you're missing the point a bit. He's not worried about people that have heard of their band, go to get their CD, then stop because they see the DRM markings. He's worried, and rightly so, IMHO, about the people who never get to hear about the band in the first place because of the word of mouth killing effect of DRM.

      Really, Artists don't make all that much money on albums to begin with, as compaired to live shows and merchendise, and what I really see in the future is albums and recordings as adve
  • by Trip Ericson ( 864747 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @08:54AM (#14192894) Homepage
    I found that piece to be quite interesting.

    What was said at the end, in particular, about the record labels feeling that because it targetted college students with the best access to P2P was the reason to put the DRM on it.

    But the labels obviously don't see that that would only drive college students to download. If one person buys the CD in the college setting and it won't get on his iPod, he'll inform his friends and they won't buy it, no matter how great the CD is, and will instead go onto a P2P service and download it from a Linux/Mac/Shift-key user who ripped it in 10 minutes anyway.

    I begin to wonder if the labels understand cause and effect. And that quite a number of college students are tech-savvy enough to use Linux/Mac/etc. anyway, more so than in the home setting.
    • They will never understand, the same why GM won't really understand why laying off 30,000 people still won't help them.

      Amazing how these executives get paid millions yet do not remove themselves(HA) or better yet, remove top/middle managers. That's where the bottleneck is.

      The Record Companies, like GM, have dinosaurs at the helm. They have not fully understand current market conditions. In the case with GM, they failed to realize the benefit and demand for hybrid vehicles. How they missed this, and many ot
      • In the case with GM, they failed to realize the benefit and demand for hybrid vehicles. How they missed this, and many other oportunities, is beyond me

        Uh, no. GM was actually among the very first to jump on the alternative energy bandwagon with the EV-1, which came years before any Prius or Insight rolled off an assembly line.

        GM is in trouble because of a crippling pension liability. In the past, GM offered very generous pension and benefit programs to attract top talent. It worked, but now those folks h
        • Ford and Chrysler are saddled with similar pension liabilities, and both of them are doing better than GM (esp. Chrysler). The reason for this is that both Ford and Chrysler have killed off nonperforming brands, and put serious design talent into enhancing the brands that are doing well. Simply put, GM is having so much trouble meeting its pension obligations because no one will buy their cars without a deep discount. If they switched to a more flat-rate pricing model, and made cars that appeal to the ma

          • by Kombat ( 93720 )
            The reason for this is that both Ford and Chrysler have killed off nonperforming brands

            So has GM though. Chrysler killed off Plymouth, GM killed off Oldsmobile, and as far as I know, Ford hasn't killed off anything yet, have they? The pundits are saying Mercury is on life-support, but to the best of my knowledge, Ford hasn't officially announced the final nail yet.

            Simply put, GM is having so much trouble meeting its pension obligations because no one will buy their cars without a deep discount.

            The Chevy C
      • wait what? They failed to dump huge resources into a novelty item? You're telling me their current problems are completely unrelated to their vast amount of accumulated liabilities in the form of pensions and benefits?

        Imports succeeded because due to process improvements, relatively young (read: unencombered) industry, and favorable exchange rates despite the various exise taxes, which allowed them to sell quality cars for much less than the US companies. For a brief period, their reliability may even have
    • I think you misunderstand.

      The Label did not select it because they thought the CD will not be bought enough and they will not be able to test the reaction of the public very widely. That is why his CD escaped from being targetted for the software.
  • Cory on DRM (Score:4, Informative)

    by CaptainZapp ( 182233 ) * on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @08:55AM (#14192901) Homepage
    No DRM discussion is whole without a link to Cory Doctorows excellent speech [craphound.com] on that issue.

    I wish some of the entertainment industry execs would click that link and get a fucking clue.

    • The DVD is your property and so is the DVD player, but if you break the region-coding on your disc, you're going to run afoul of anticircumvention.

      That's what happened to Jon Johansen, a Norweigan teenager who wanted to watch French DVDs on his Norweigan DVD player. He and some pals wrote some code to break the CSS so that he could do so.
      Did he? I thought it was to watch them on Linux. Norway and France are in the same DVD region.
  • skip the hassle (Score:5, Informative)

    by digitaldc ( 879047 ) * on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @08:55AM (#14192902)
    "As for musicians, we are left to wonder how many more people could be listening to our music if it weren't such a hassle"

    Ok, go here: http://www.okgo.net/music_music.asp [okgo.net]

    Best of luck to the band!
  • Lairs and Cheats. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AlohaWolf ( 826597 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @09:02AM (#14192934)
    If you always treat people as if they are out to lie to you and steal from you, they WILL lie to you and steal from you.
    • I tend to agree. However, I've been lied to, stolen from, and taken advantage by plenty of people who I did not assume to be stealing or lying. I've since learned that in order to survive, one must trust others a little bit less and protect one self just a bit more.

      Fool me once, shame on you - fool me twice, shame on me.

  • I can almost hear the speeches about "...when the musicians control the means of production"...
  • by aussie_a ( 778472 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @09:06AM (#14192959) Journal
    I can't help but wonder, how many more people would have RTFA had it not been encumbered by an account system.
  • Flawed Logic (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AC5398 ( 651967 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @09:07AM (#14192963)
    **Record company executives reasoned that because we appeal to college students who have the high-bandwidth connections necessary for getting access to peer-to-peer networks, we're the kind of band that gets traded instead of bought.**

    This is a stupid argument. EMI's "protective software" overwrote my sound drivers when I tried to rip a purchased Leahy CD to mp3 so I could then listen to the music on my portable mp3 player. The lesson I learnt? Don't purchase EMI and/or Leahy CDs -- I didn't really need the CD or the hassle in the first place.

    If I absolutely have to have the music, I now know it's far safer to download EMI mp3s from the flavour of the week p2p program than it is to purchase the CD.

    EMI's "protective software" encourages piracy, not discourages it.

    And at least Sony's "protective software" gave you some sort of a heads-up that there was 'extras' on their CDs; EMI didn't tell me a damn thing. I had to figure out what in hell happened to the sound card on my own.
  • one solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Red Flayer ( 890720 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @09:09AM (#14192969) Journal
    "Luckily, my band's recently released album, "Oh No," escaped copy control, but only narrowly. When our album came out, our label's parent company, EMI, was testing protective software and thought we were a good candidate for it."

    Problem: Major record labels (or their parent companies) want to force copy protection onto the albums of their talent.

    Solution: Don't sign with one of those labels, or make sure your contract includes stipulations that your albums will not have copy protection.

    This opinion article is indicative of increasing artist awareness of how copy protection will hurt them -- the difficulty is that the labels still have more bargaining power for upcoming talent.

    This is a great opportunity for a well-funded indie label to step up and fill the void, to attract talent by guaranteeing no copy protection.

    If someone demonstrates to the major labels that it's beneficial to not require copy protection, they may follow suit -- though I'd speculate that copy protection is all about making sure the record-buying public still sees free copying & downloading as 'wrong.' What they'd really hate to see is most musinc 'consumers' feeling that it is normal and 100% acceptable to get all their music from filesharing.
    • It seems as though more and more talent is signing up with iTunes directly instead of through a label. A band that doesn't want to totally burden their customers with copy restrictions but want to make money from their stuff could give away a few of their tracks and either a)sell the rest of the tracks directly(secure credit card transfers are pretty easy and cheap to do, although you will pay a decent chunk to the CC company bastards) or b)sell the rest on iTunes(easier for the band since they don't have
      • A lot of bands are doing that, but there's still good reason to sign to a label -- marketing and promo. This is what labels really do for an artist, and if it's a good label, you'll get value for your money. Plus, you get the benefit (sometimes a benefit, anyway) of being associated with an imprint's other artists.
    • Solution: Don't sign with one of those labels, or make sure your contract includes stipulations that your albums will not have copy protection.


      Nice sentiment, but all your cards are max'd, your owe your mum thousands, you're eating fast food because that's all you can afford. Someone is offering to pay you to do what you'd do anyway and give you the chance to do it better. It would be hard to say no for most reasons. DRM will be decided by what the consumer shows they'll put up with.

      I am yet to he
      • "Nice sentiment, but all your cards are max'd, your owe your mum thousands, you're eating fast food because that's all you can afford. Someone is offering to pay you to do what you'd do anyway and give you the chance to do it better. It would be hard to say no for most reasons. DRM will be decided by what the consumer shows they'll put up with."

        Which I addressed by saying that the labels have the upper hand when dealing with new talent, and saying there is a market for someone to come in with the promise
  • Backfire! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @09:13AM (#14192984)
    From the article:

    Luckily, my band's recently released album, "Oh No," escaped copy control, but only narrowly. When our album came out, our label's parent company, EMI, was testing protective software and thought we were a good candidate for it. Record company executives reasoned that because we appeal to college students who have the high-bandwidth connections necessary for getting access to peer-to-peer networks, we're the kind of band that gets traded instead of bought.

    You know what? It was hearing "A Million Ways" on NPR, then a P-2-P download of the song, that CAUSED me to purchase the entire album! If I had not been able to dig the whole song a couple of times, I would have never have purchased it. "Oh No" was the first CD I've bought in 2 years. (I just haven't found a lot of music lately that appeals to me.)

    So the very avenue that the record companies fear, generated a sale. How many others has it generated?
  • The real cause of music piracy is because a CD with 12 tracks isn't worth the money the labels are asking. Why anyone buys a CD which costs almost as much as a DVD is beyond me.

    The labels needs to get a clue and realize they need to provide a value service to their 'customers' (not consumers). Not alienate them by crippling their machines with DRM'd malware which can be defeated and ripped by someone with a marker pen, sticky tape or shift key.

    Download a movie off the net you just get to watch the movie. Bu
    • You mean like these guys [magnatune.com]?

      I purchased a CD, and have unlimited access to WAV files, FLAC, Ogg, vbr and 128k and 256k mp3s, and aac (drm-less). Unfortunately, if you order a physical CD from them, it comes with the label's cover etc, rather than album art.
    • The other thing about movies, is that most people don't want to watch them on computer, and most people don't have the hardware or the know-how to output the computer to the TV. Most people know how to download music, and burn it to a CD, or load it on their MP3 player. What would really kill movies is making an affordable DVD/CD player that can play all those formats downloaded off the internet. Maybe even something where you can pop in a CD, and have it load on code for interpreting new formats. Ah We
  • "As for musicians, we are left to wonder how many more people could be listening to our music if it weren't such a hassle, and how many more iPods might have our albums on them if our labels hadn't sabotaged our releases with cumbersome software."

    Actually, my iPod had music I stole off the Internet not just because of rootkits from Sony. It's because:

    - Prices for CD's were really high here in Canada (until recently when the labels drop their pricing to make CD's more "affordable").

    - I want to buy music onli
  • by t0qer ( 230538 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @09:21AM (#14193033) Homepage Journal
    I was pitching the idea of an online karaoke store to a karaoke label. Conversation went something like this;

    me: "DRM will always be cracked, folks will find a way around, why bother?"
    him: "It makes the labels comfortable"
    Me: "Yah but the cats out of the bag, its open season on the net for filesharers"
    him: "I like to quote my locksmith friend, locks aren't supposed to keep criminals out, they're supposed to keep honest people in"

    I should have come back with "Oh so you think everyones dishonest do you?", but nah, I liked this guy.

    Not that it will ever happen in our lifetime for audio files, but there will be some advancement in audio that will only be avaliable on DRM, it's only a matter of time. Maybe it will be some newfangled 42 channel lossless surround sound that we haven't even concieved of yet.

    At some point, all these files floating around for free on the net are going to start sounding pretty crappy, and the DRM files will be the only ones that will be the MUST HAVE rage.

    I sort of picture christmas with the family. I'm sitting there showing off some non DRM linux based audio juke that I can ssh into, compile my kernel on and browse the newsgroups, and my grease mechanic uncle will pull out the "Microwhore pocket media" device that straps to your chin and transmits 52 channel DRM audio through your jawbone. No matter how cool it is to other geeks I can run seti@home on my linux based juke, it won't matter to the other family members all pressing the micropoop to their chins and salivating from a near orgasmic audio experience.

    This has been brought up a lot of times about OSS, GNU, linux stuff in general. We're going to be assed out when it happens, back here on slashdot complaining about the lack of linux driver support for playing back these drm audio.

    DVD Jon will fly in wearing a blue leotard, red boots, red cape, and a tux logo in a diamond on his chest. He'll break the DRM again, we'll be happy for a while, but the rest of the consumer market will go on.

    Smart people, tech savvy people are in the minority. I hate to say this, but it's true. Most of the world buys what the TV tells them to.
    • >>>him: "I like to quote my locksmith friend, locks aren't supposed to keep criminals out, they're supposed to keep honest people in"

      >>Smart people, tech savvy people are in the minority. I hate to say this, but it's true. Most of the world buys what the TV tells them to.

      Essentially, you came to the same conclusion that he did. DRM isnt meant to keep everyone out, its ment as a deterent and incentive for the majority. Can you break it, yes, but its like using an iriver with itunes instead of
      • DRM might have worked twenty years ago, but peer to peer file sharing changed that. Now, it doesn't matter if 99% of the population can't crack the DRM. It doesn't matter if 99.99% can't. As long as one person can, does, and shares the files then it's as if there is no DRM - anyone can download the music. Meanwhile, anyone who tries to copy the CD to their iPod (or whatever) and can't has a problem. At some point it becomes much easier to pirate music for your iPod than buy CDs, and at this point DRM h
    • "Not that it will ever happen in our lifetime for audio files, but there will be some advancement in audio that will only be avaliable on DRM, it's only a matter of time."

      It already happened; the copy protection on neither SA-CD nor DVD-A have been broken to my knowledge. Certainly I've never seen illegal download versions of them. However, the majority of people have decided that the music they can already play (whether that be purchased CDs or mp3 downloads) is "good enough", and the formats have been pre
    • Well, he's got a point, or he might have if the "DRM industry" wasn't undermining it... all you need if you're trying to keep mostly-honest people honest is a token lock. The iTunes nudge-nudge-wink-wink DRM has been tremendously successful even though Apple tells you one way to remove it by burning an audio CD, and recommends that you do this to have a backup.

      You don't need "secure audio path" and hardware DRM and kernel DRM modules for that.

      And if you DO want strong DRM, putting it in the middle of a gene
    • by scheming daemons ( 101928 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @10:49AM (#14193690)
      At some point, all these files floating around for free on the net are going to start sounding pretty crappy

      Why? The human ear is not going to improve in its ability to discern nuances in sound in the near future.

      We've pretty much maxed out on providing lossless sound already (as far as the human ear can tell) with current non-DRM formats.

      When you're already at the 99.9% level of hearing the sound on playback as it sounded live, there really isn't anything that can improve on it.

      Sure.. some suckers will buy a "new" format that claims to be more lossless, and they will insist to everyone that they can really "hear" the difference. But the truth is, unless they have some canine in their ancestry, they won't be able to hear the difference.

      We've damn near maxed out on improving sound quality in file formats, as far as any human ear can tell.

      DRM is dead. If you can hear it coming through your speakers.. you can record it. At 0.001% loss.

    • Not that it will ever happen in our lifetime for audio files, but there will be some advancement in audio that will only be avaliable on DRM, it's only a matter of time. Maybe it will be some newfangled 42 channel lossless surround sound that we haven't even concieved of yet.

      Wrong. The new format is the portable music player, iPod et al. And it's worse quality. People bought it because it did things that big, high quality stereos didn't do at all, like fit in your packet and play any song in your collection
    • At some point, all these files floating around for free on the net are going to start sounding pretty crappy, and the DRM files will be the only ones that will be the MUST HAVE rage.

      I think you place too much importance on the general public's desire for Quality.

      Yes, DVDs can provide a higher-quality audiovisual experience than VHS tapes. This doesn't mean much when people are still hooking up their players to their Plain Old TVs with a composite cable, and listening to the sound through the TV's 4-inch mo
  • by gr8_phk ( 621180 )
    A great musician can make a living doing live performances. People who need 6 takes of each line in a studio followed by some DSP cleanup and effects are the ones who want DRM to maximize profits through heavily advertised music sales. Several pop stars come to mind. When the music IS the product, you want DRM. When you sell yourself as a musician, you don't.
  • Accountants? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    ...our accountants can tell you that we're not real rock stars yet.

    WTF? Accountants are judges of rock stars? What happened to the music?

  • bands make music because they love music, they want hot chicks..., AND some money would be nice

    but you don't need 50 cent's money to live large (heh), heck, a couple hundred thou a year from touring gigs is fine

    so successful bands will ALWAYS make money from concert gigs: someone controls access to the theatre, selling tickets: no amount of cyberspace bandwidth gets you anywhere in that meatspace

    plus there are product endorsements, advertising: that's a lot of money

    tiger woods lives larger than 50 cent, and
    • by Red Flayer ( 890720 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @10:02AM (#14193337) Journal
      "but you don't need 50 cent's money to live large (heh), heck, a couple hundred thou a year from touring gigs is fine

      And how many artists are successful enough to make six figures touring? Not many.

      "so the future will be the same even with 100% music piracy: bands will just make cash from touring gigs and advertising"

      And what about everyone elso who is involved with producing the music? All the people who work in the studio, all the people who work on distro, all the people who make an album happen? Do you think that only musicians who self-finance should be able to succeed? How about all the money it takes to get a band to the point where touring becomes profitable? Because the jump from playing small bars to big venues is a huge one, and requires some serious capital.

      "it's not morality, repeat IT IS NOT A QUESTION OF MORALITY TO PIRATE MUSIC"

      Well, that depends on your morals, now doesn't it? If your morality doesn't account for all the people who worked to make the product you want to listen to (sound engineers, etc), then sure, it's not a question of morality. If your morality doesn't account for the validity of the marketplace, then sure, it's not a question of morality.

      Me, I don't like concerts. I can't frickin stand the crowds or the volume. The only way I can support an artist I like is to either send them money directly, or purchase their album (yeah, I know they make crap off album sales).
      • And how many artists are successful enough to make six figures touring? Not many.

        yes... and? is it written somewhere everyone who picks up a guitar deserves six figures? there are a million starving artists in the world, with or without music piracy. red herring

        And what about everyone elso who is involved with producing the music?

        what about them? they won't get paid? it costs a certain amount of money to produce music. the producer deserves consideration for their input. how much do they deserve? again, cro
  • by Bob9113 ( 14996 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @09:37AM (#14193158) Homepage
    It's OK labels. Don't cry now. There there. Yes, stop sniffling. It's OK. I know your customers and your vendors hate you, but it's OK. The politicians, lobbyists, and, well, you still love you.
  • by CFD339 ( 795926 ) <andrewp@then o r t h . c om> on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @10:09AM (#14193386) Homepage Journal
    DRM is "workable" so far only because it really impacts a minority. A growing minority, but a minority anyway. For most people, iTunes is seen as a "reasonable compromise" and they assume some unknown group they call "hackers" probably still "pirates" music.

    Joe six pack couldn't care less.

    Soon, however, you'll need a special monitor or a special TV to watch high quality video. That crosses the line. The industry as a whole is going to find out that you DO NOT MESS WITH THE TV. That, in the US, is sacred. Mess with the TV and you're a "damn govm't commie".

    I predict that the requirement for special viewing hardware to "Close the analog hole" will go over about the same way Microsoft's attempt to tell I.T. directors they had to upgrade within 6 months or pay full retail. Anyone else remember that mistake?

    All its going to do is wake up people who presently don't care to how over-reaching the policy is. The backlash will be fun to watch.
  • /. OPED piece (Score:3, Interesting)

    by foniksonik ( 573572 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @10:19AM (#14193457) Homepage Journal
    Not being a working musician or even a musician at all, here's what I'd do if I were. Even if I was just starting out...

    It's very simple. I'd find a non-label corporate sponsor. I'd take my tracks around to Ad agencies and PR firms... talk to the people there about providing some low-cost background tracks or something... find out who their big clients are and approach someone at those companies using my Agency contact as a name drop to get in the door, then try to negotiate a direct deal with them to provide music for whatever they need.

    I'd become their 'musical consultant' and 'musician of record' much like an attorney or specialist in IT or any other field would do.

    I'd negotiate a 2 year contract to provide my services at a living wage with a little bonus for my special skills. For this, they would get all the loops, soundbytes, jingles, elevator music, whatever they want. In return, I'd get to practice my skills, receive a decent paycheck, spend all my free time in a studio and release my personal creations with any license i want and any distributor who I think will do a good job.

    Few corporations would have any incentive to want to keep me for much more than that but if they did, so much the better when I shopped around for a new sponsor with a better contract. The better I got at providing them with a musical brand, the more valued I'd become. After a few corporate gigs, I'd hopefully have enough saved to release something that would do well on the charts and could decide to go independent.

    In the meanwhile, I could supplement my income with agency work directly... seeing as how I'm good at providing corporate musical brandind now... agencies know I can perform and get the job done.

    Maybe I'd never be a media superstar, but I'd probably make a lot more money in the end and have creative control of both my music and my reputation.

  • As for musicians, we are left to wonder how many more people could be listening to our music if it weren't such a hassle
    NO SHIT GENIOUS!!! Take our approach (see sig). People listen to your music, and don't have to deal with hassles. It works.
    • Using a flash player and obfuscated links is a hassle. I'm sorry I can't discover your music for this reason. Please provide direct clean links (OGG, MP3) if you want to enlarge your audience.
  • by dlc3007 ( 570880 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @10:31AM (#14193524)
    My recent strategy has been to purchase CDs directly from the artists at their shows. Not only are they making some cash from me at the shows, but frequently they have their older albums on sale as well as cases of their current work. Does this mean the label is totally out of the picture? Maybe not, but sometimes. I have purchased "pirated" CDs from the artists themselves because the f'ing label didn't think it worth their time to make more. Sure this won't work for the FOTM pop bands, but I don't listen to that junk anyway. Big bands like the Rolling Stones? Local used CD stores and discount racks, baby. I plan on doing all I can to give as little as possible to big labels.
  • Return the CDs (Score:4, Informative)

    by Rob Riggs ( 6418 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @10:40AM (#14193605) Homepage Journal
    I returned the latest Santana CD to Borders Bookstore, where I bought it, after discovering it installed crap without my permission on my company-issued laptop. I was direct with the manager about the problem and they accepted the return with very little hassle.
  • by Ath ( 643782 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @10:49AM (#14193694)
    So I bought a DVD the other day, popped it in my DVD player, and sat down with my wife to watch it. However, I was first subjected to a 3 minute commercial telling me that I should not pirate movies. And to add a layer of frustration to the silliness, the "commercial" was operation restricted so that I could not skip it and must watch it every time.

    Now, where was the common sense of someone during the production process saying that it makes no sense to make an actual paying customer suffer through this insanity? I mean, if the copy actually was pirated then it would no longer have any restricted operations and the whole damn portion about piracy would have been removed. So the only people that are forced to endure such garbage are the very people who the commercial is not intended to address.

    And that is why media companies are losing it. Copy protection and usage restrictions are nothing more than hassles for actual paying customers. And every time the content providers, whether it is music, movies, or videogames try to introduce another technological solution to their market problem, they only alienate paying customers. The actual people who are unwilling, uninterested, or unable to pay for the content just go out and get versions without the protection.

    Great model.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @10:56AM (#14193756)
    New York Times


    December 6, 2005
    Op-Ed Contributor
    Buy, Play, Trade, Repeat
    By DAMIAN KULASH Jr.


    Los Angeles


    THE record company Sony BMG recently got in trouble after attempting to stem piracy by encoding its CD's with software meant to limit how many copies can be made of the discs. It turned out that the copy-protection software exposed consumers' computers to Internet viruses, forcing Sony BMG to recall the CD's.

    This technological disaster aside, though, Sony BMG and the other major labels need to face reality: copy-protection software is bad for everyone, consumers, musicians and labels alike. It's much better to have copies of albums on lots of iPods, even if only half of them have been paid for, than to have a few CD's sitting on a shelf and not being played.

    The Sony BMG debacle revealed the privacy issues and security risks tied to the spyware that many copy-protection programs install on users' computers. But even if these problems are solved, copy protection is guaranteed to fail because it's a house of cards. No matter how sophisticated the software, it takes only one person to break it, once, and the music is free to roam and multiply on the peer-to-peer file-trading networks.

    Meanwhile, music lovers get pushed away. Tech-savvy fans won't go to the trouble of buying a strings-attached record when they can get a better version free. Less Net-knowledgeable fans (those who don't know the simple tricks to get around the copy-protection software or don't use peer-to-peer networks) are punished by discs that often won't load onto their MP3 players (the copy-protection programs are incompatible with Apple's iPods, for example) and sometimes won't even play in their computers.

    Conscientious fans, who buy music legally because it's the right thing to do, just get insulted. They've made the choice not to steal their music, and the labels thank them by giving them an inferior product hampered by software that's at best a nuisance, and at worst a security threat.

    As for musicians, we are left to wonder how many more people could be listening to our music if it weren't such a hassle, and how many more iPods might have our albums on them if our labels hadn't sabotaged our releases with cumbersome software.

    The truth is that the more a record gets listened to, the more successful it is. This is not just our megalomania, it's Marketing 101: the more times a song gets played, the more of a chance it has to catch the ear of someone new. It doesn't do us much good if people buy our records and promptly shelve them; we need them to fall in love with our songs and listen to them over and over. A record that you can't transfer to your iPod is a record you're less likely to listen to, less likely to get obsessed with and less likely to tell your friends about.

    Luckily, my band's recently released album, "Oh No," escaped copy control, but only narrowly. When our album came out, our label's parent company, EMI, was testing protective software and thought we were a good candidate for it. Record company executives reasoned that because we appeal to college students who have the high-bandwidth connections necessary for getting access to peer-to-peer networks, we're the kind of band that gets traded instead of bought.

    That may be true, but we are also the sort of band that hasn't yet gotten the full attention of MTV and major commercial radio stations, so those college students are our only window onto the world. They are our best chance for success, and we desperately need them to be listening to us, talking about us, coming to our shows and yes, trading us.

    To be clear, I certainly don't encourage people to pirate our music. I have poured my life into my band, and after two major label records, our accountants can tell you that we're not real rock stars yet. But before a million people can buy our record, a million people have to hear our music and like it enough to go looking for it. That won'
  • by slashdoris ( 794959 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @11:39AM (#14194135)
    Damian had a harsher version of this article on music industry blog coolfer.com. Read it here. [coolfer.com] Looks like he was forced to tone it down for the ny times...
  • by BrianWCarver ( 569070 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @12:22PM (#14194523) Homepage
    Everyone on Slashdot, regardless of whether you like this band, should buy their album to signal to musicians and record labels that we agree with this editorial. (You can find the album on Amazon, but where possible, support your local independent music stores!)

    Even if you don't like the band, it's the holiday season, so buy it for someone who might like it and if you do like the band, buy two copies, one for yourself and one for a friend.

    If this album suddenly sold 50,000 copies this week, it would send quite a message.

"No, no, I don't mind being called the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one." -- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, WATCHMEN

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