Cory pointed me towards this article in the New York Times, headlined Record Labels Contemplate Unrestricted Digital Music. [An aside: The retarded hippie in me just cannot comprehend the use of the word “contemplate” in a context where “navel” and “lint” are absent…]
Where was I? Oh yes, the New York Times article. Here are a few snippets from there:
Publicly, music company executives say their systems for limiting copies are a way to fairly compensate artists and other copyright holders who contribute to the creation of music.
But privately, there are signs of a new appreciation in the industry for unrestricted copies, which could be sold as singles or through subscription services or made freely available on Internet sites that support advertising.
The EMI Group said last week that it would offer free streaming music on Baidu.com, the leading Web site and search engine in China, where 90 percent of music is pirated. EMI and Baidu also agreed to explore developing advertising-supported music download services. This summer EMI licensed its recording to Qtrax, an ad-supported music distribution service.
I think there are two things here worth observing:
One, ad-based selling of singles is not as outrageous as it sounds. Ad-based selling of anything doesn’t sound that outrageous. Just look at Google. There is something Because-Of-Rather-Than-With about it that makes the model attractive. I can get something for free or at a reduced price, if I rent my eyeballs out. [In fact that is what I expected the iPhone to do; like any other handset, I can get it free or subsidised from a lock-in provider, or I can pay the unsubsidised price. But what do I know?]
Two, look at what happened when Sabeer Bhatia launched Hotmail, or when Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis let Skype loose. The revenue lock inherent in a particular business model just went and exited stage left, followed by a bear. But the new business model made money. In a strange kind of way, maybe that’s what Because-of-Rather-Than-With is about. Making money differently.
Someone will do this. I’m not sure “content owners”, or for that matter Wall Street, really understand the power behind today’s groundswell of opinion against bad DRM and bad IPR. Those walls will crumble. I love my Macs, I love my iPods, but I will not love them forever. iTunes will have to change. I will keep buying iPods because I want to, but from now on only if I don’t have to.
A related issue. I’m sad to miss the VRM meeting I had hoped to attend: doctor’s orders… I wish the participants every success. I think that what Doc and gang are working on is absolutely crucial, and in the current context it made me wonder about something:
If marketing as we knew it doesn’t exist any more, and if trusted recommendations are the new marketing…… Every one of us has so much “advertising consumption capacity”, and it all gets converted into iBalls or something like that. We start our lives with so much iBalls each. I spend my iBalls as I feel like: buy music, watch movies, read articles,Â whatever. Sometimes I run out, I can buy spare iBalls from my next door neighbour. Or sell them.
It’s just capacity trading. But as human beings in markets, having Cluetrain conversations. Today’s been a Cluetrain day for me, for a variety of reasons.
Just a thought.