Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Another nail in the coffin of music DRM

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  • dan x,

    I haven't read the entire comments thread, so I apologise if anyone has covered this angle (which I'm sure they have).

    I'm not only in an up-and-coming band, so to speak, but have been doing my solo stuff for many years now. I started using the internet to distribute/promote my music in 2001, and never expected to make any money nor anyone to listen. Nearly seven years later my monetary expectations have been totally met, but I've received emails from all over the world from people who've listened to my stuff, which would never have happened without the net.

    Now, from a monetary perspective, the net is also a godsend. One of the guys in the band I'm in recently spent thousands getting CDs pressed, and after that experience, as a band we completely see the folly of it. Sure, putting money in the right place can work wonders, but the internet is the future, and more specifically, the model Radiohead offered. EVERY single anticipated album in the past few years, and in the future has/will leak before it comes on CD. Radiohead leaked it themselves, got some money, and are still selling CDs (I work in a record store, and it was our top selling CD last week). If you want it for free, you can get ANY album you want almost - it's something modern musicians have to work around, and Radiohead did it brilliantly.

    As for our band, we plan something similar, if only to avoid the ridiculous costs involved in pressing CDs (if doing it ourselves) or 'other' costs (if going through a third party). The money is in live performances, for a band of our type. For someone poppier, advertising/merch, for sure.

    It's all very well arguing against non-DRM, but it's like arguing the Titanic is unsinkable two hours after it's already hit the iceberg. Why bother with DRM when CDs don't have it?

    I've probably gone over every argument already presented, but hoped I brought something to the argument with an indie-musician's perspective...

    Cheers

    Auckland • Since Jan 2008 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew,

    I mean, Real Groovy has been gouging customers for some time, but does everyone actually realise by how much?

    RG offer a service over & above just buying a record. If you know the album you want, especially if its a big name one, you can walk into the Warehouse and buy it cheap. What RG (and similar outfits)provide is expertise and a wide range.
    Sure if you buy Britney or Now22 from Real Groovy, you'll pay more than the re shed, but if you want to buy some obscure indie, or local artist - the LEDs for example, you'll get a blank look at the Warehouse, but RG will likely know who you are talking about and will either have it, or try & source it for you.
    Admittedly the internet has charged into that niche - the whole long tail retail thing, and its lots cheaper to buy from a US niche outfit than buy an import from RG. But comparing the warehouse with RG on price alone is unfair.

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 848 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    you say that now the label isn't your day job, but casting your mind back to the early eighties there's a hungry record label owner who might answer differently

    dunno, its a fine line. My primary focus was always on the band. We lost money on just about every record we released (The Blams recouped the cost of their album..based on 100% of every dollar returned, not just their share...in 1992) and survived off live and part time jobs.

    I'd still have rather had my records in homes than not.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • robbery,

    I'd still have rather had my records in homes than not.

    sure, of course, but you're not saying you'd happily give away 'how bizarre'. Its not so much the point of making a living even, its getting enough money to cover the next album, although I'm sure you're in a different mind about his recent album, if you could give it away.

    new zealand • Since May 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    the LEDs for example, you'll get a blank look at the Warehouse, but RG will likely know who you are talking about

    funnily enough that was the band that got me the blank stares at RG last June.

    RG is still a store staffed by fans for fans but from recent experience it has got comparatively expensive, simply doesn't have the range it used to and the staff are not as obsessively knowledgeable as they used to be. Shrinking markets, the net or just a changed focus I don't know. but its still, in Auckland at least, a great place to get lost in for a few hours.

    Auckland does have some great little record stores which still have that passion..Conch in Ponsonby Rd for example is a goldmine. And that gem you are gonna find at the back of the sale box beats every MP3 I've ever had stored on any device, with or without DRM.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • robbery,

    Why bother with DRM when CDs don't have it?

    I think the idea is to have it in cds too. its in dvds.
    They've tried a couple of times in cds, badly, one versions was easily defeated with a felt tip pen. others rely on you installing some bogus software on your computer first.

    drm is for people who can't figure a work around and that's probably most of the people who are stealing britney singles.

    new zealand • Since May 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    sure, of course, but you're not saying you'd happily give away 'how bizarre'.

    Which, if I'm not speaking out of turn, wasn't released as a single in the US. You'd still have your publishing revenue, and I think you'd still be able to sell the album.

    But more to the point, 'How Bizarre' in the YouTube age would have been MASSIVE; it just screams "derivative use". And also probably a lot more interesting for Pauly than trekking through a thousand radio stations.

    Anyway, thanks sincerely Rob for being such a game contrarian. It's an interesting thread.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19116 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    sure, of course, but you're not saying you'd happily give away 'how bizarre'.

    Funnily enough I was thinking the other day that, despite that being far and away the most successful record I've ever released, and it being a record I was very closely involved with on every level, its the one, for a variety of reasons, I feel least passionate about.

    But in a way we did give it away, doing a couple of deals we should never have done.

    </quote>Its not so much the point of making a living even, its getting enough money to cover the next album, although I'm sure you're in a different mind about his recent album, if you could give it away.</quote>

    nothing directly to do with me that one....

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Which, if I'm not speaking out of turn, wasn't released as a single in the US. You'd still have your publishing revenue, and I think you'd still be able to sell the album.

    Indeed but it was the end of single era in the US, By about 1997 they were completely gone.

    The Canadians did well exporting CD singles across the border too, sales of which helped push HB to 1 in Canada for quite a period.

    But more to the point, 'How Bizarre' in the YouTube age would have been MASSIVE; it just screams "derivative use". And also probably a lot more interesting for Pauly than trekking through a thousand radio stations.

    or sending him off on a vastly expensive live tour that he simply wasn't up to or ready for.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • robbery,

    Anyway, thanks sincerely Rob for being such a game contrarian. It's an interesting thread.

    no problem, paul and finn came up with a couple of really interesting slants on the convo too.
    its not like there's anything we can do about it as individuals, us individually not downloading music on principle isn't going to change anything, but being able to look down the track a few years and past the initial blast of getting all the music you ever wanted for nothing cos the barn door is open, its a lot more complex than "evil majors deserve it"

    new zealand • Since May 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • robbery,

    its the one, for a variety of reasons, I feel least passionate about.

    but one that enabled you to do other things you did feel passionate about? maybe not but definitely a reward for your years of being your own nz on air funding body. and hopefully you got to pay off some of the people who also put their time in.

    new zealand • Since May 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • robbery,

    nothing directly to do with me that one....

    sorry, I was thinking 3 the hard way album 2

    new zealand • Since May 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    sorry, I was thinking 3 the hard way album 2

    Ironically the one I band on MTV Asia last week. Aside from OMC and Supergroove they seem to be the one that some programmer there likes and often plays late at night.

    As an aside, I heard Supergroove twice again on public PA systems in Denpasar in recent months. Those accents really stand out when you don't expect them.

    They actually were quite big here, unlike all the other ones who just pretended to be but weren't. If I want to impress someone, I say I know Supergroove and it works everytime, anywhere in SEA.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Ahhgh

    "Ironically the one NZ band I saw on MTV last week"

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • tussock,

    robbery, dude, enough with the "theft" story, it's called breach of copyright. As I said, there's plenty of other ways to ensure performers and writers get paid than trying to regulate the non-commercial creation of digital copies of art out of existence.

    ipods come with 40 GB drives, enough for about 700 albums, or 1400 if you get the bigger drive. More music than you'll listen through in a year. Thousands more in a couple years, a lifetime's listening on your hip. Everyone I know with an ipod has it full, all the time, delete stuff they haven't ever listened to to make room for more stuff they may well never listen to. I can assure you none of them paid thousands of dollars for that privilege, they just share the things they like with the people they like.

    That's the market. People want huge databases. They want the entire works of someone their friend said had this one song with a bit that went "doop-de-doo", especially their rare early stuff. They want every song they listened to as a kid, and everything they just heard on the radio, or at the pub. They want to share it all with their friends, especially the stuff they like.

    There's huge money to be made off that, because it's far more desirable than anything that's come before it. Just not at $2 a song.

    Since Nov 2006 • 488 posts Report Reply

  • InternationalObserver,

    I decided against buying the new Amy Winehouse album (or at least the re-release with bonus CD) at Real Groovy where they were charging $36.99 for it - or $39.99 for what looked to be an 'import' of the same thing...

    ...and a wise decision it was too. $26.99 at JB for the same thing.

    __SNAP!__ I did the same thing. (What a shame then that one disc is noticeably louder than the other.) Having just got back from Sydney I can confirm that JB are a mega-retailer and most likely have buying privileges that match those of The Warehouse.

    It's much easier to issue individual customers with unique, cryptographically-verified identities and then track their sharing/downloading behavior in a centralised file-sharing network

    Yes, let's just scan everyone's Iris' and put a digitised version on a national database (who am I kidding? It would have to be International). We could then make this database available for 'other purposes' in order to make it cheaper to run. Homeland Security will chip in, I'm sure.

    majors are just reclaiming the dosh for their investment, and any poor musician is going to resent that but its the same business practices that apply to all other forms of industry.

    Well that's nice innit? We'll release your record, but deduct sundry charges to cover what we don't recoup on less successful artists.
    Actually, you're right. If 25% of bank loans are dodgy and don't get paid it's the other 75% who pay to cover the banks losses.

    And I don't really give a damn. I'd rather 5000 people were listening to a pirated album than 25 bought it.

    And how would you have felt if 25 ppl paid to get into one of your raves and 5000 just snuck in?

    Since Jun 2007 • 909 posts Report Reply

  • InternationalObserver,

    BTW (apropos of nothing) ...

    I've just found out an old girlfriend has just sold her internet business for $50 million. That's **US** dollars, baby!

    I haven't seen her since the 80's when she moved to the US (and got married!) but I must look her up ....__

    I'd better lose some weight first... A lot of weight ...__

    Since Jun 2007 • 909 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    And how would you have felt if 25 ppl paid to get into one of your raves and 5000 just snuck in?

    a) I've never put on a "rave", and b) if I had there would be no long term benefit to either myself or my artist if they had, unlike the CD being in their home. Not really an appropriate comparison.

    And SonyBMG have just decided to either take the piss out of themselves or are in dire need to some good marketing advice with this just in:

    DRM free music from Sony BMG will be available from January 15 to those who purchase a plastic card called the “Platinum Music Pass” for the album they want from a retail store for $12.99. Buyers will then have to visit MusicPass.com and enter a code to download the DRM free album they selected in the store.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • tussock,

    Oh, and from the department of when I go to bed thinking about stuff, I wake up thinking about it too, ....

    1. Wanting the world to fit how you expect to make money.
    2. Expecting to make money off how the world wants to be.

    One of those concepts is sensible.


    Sony BMG above have well and truly jumped the shark, that's just all kinds of anachronistic.

    Since Nov 2006 • 488 posts Report Reply

  • robbery,

    They actually were quite big here, unlike all the other ones who just pretended to be but weren't. If I want to impress someone, I say I know Supergroove and it works everytime, anywhere in SEA.

    and in germany too. I was staying with some kraut friends and they played me a video of their band rocking out and they were playing a version of you gotta know. I explained they were a kiwi band and they were slightly shocked.

    new zealand • Since May 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • robbery,

    And how would you have felt if 25 ppl paid to get into one of your raves and 5000 just snuck in?

    a) I've never put on a "rave", and b) if I had there would be no long term benefit to either myself or my artist if they had, unlike the CD being in their home. Not really an appropriate comparison.

    you're hoping there is some long term benefit, that some decent person somewhere down the line is going to buy a copy, but realistically its like someone sneaking into your gig and letting everyone they know sneak in too, and all the people they know, its a mindset thing where cos people we know accept the theft then its somehow less of a crime and moreof an allowable thing to do.

    you want everyone to hear and enjoy the music that's important to you as an artist but where does the promotional benefit stop and taking the piss start.

    new zealand • Since May 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • robbery,

    robbery, dude, enough with the "theft" story, it's called breach of copyright.

    haha, sorry, if it helps any its theft when I do it too. The term Breach of copyright just takes the sting off it for us but by law its the same thing, actually its seen as something worse.
    that poor woman who shared 24 songs and got stung for US$140,000.

    if she'd nicked 24 cds from the local store she'd have got a small fine and community service. I don't see how $140000 relates to her offense.

    maybe its a cultural thing. some cultures are really honest or ethical when it comes to certain things,. our culture more an more influenced by what we see from america maybe accepts mass law transgression. ie its ok to invade someones country if there are a lot of people doing it.

    I remember being in europe and objecting to their pay public toilets, or the american system of tipping wait staff in restaurants. Maybe you think art consumption should be discretionary like wait staff, instead of mandatory like taking a dump in a european toilet.

    new zealand • Since May 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    ie its ok to invade someones country if there are a lot of people doing it.

    That is an utterly ridiculous comparison.

    I remember... objecting to... the american system of tipping wait staff in restaurants.

    I think it's a dumb system too, but I hope you tipped. They don't get a living wage otherwise.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3665 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    you're hoping there is some long term benefit, that some decent person somewhere down the line is going to buy a copy

    Yep, that's it in a nutshell.

    I would be willing to lay money that a band with no DRM that gets its music listened to by lotsa folks will earn way more than one with the strong DRM solution, so only folks who pay get to hear the music.

    This model is proven in the software world, what are you afraid of? It's not like you have to be a leader or anything.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1620 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    About twenty years ago I was talking about this very subject. Yes twenty years ago I was discussing the next big thing in record retailing and the next big thing was the memory stick (or whatever we called it back then) The system was that you purchased a storage device from the retailer and had tunes loaded onto it for a small fee, you could even buy single tracks off an album, you could keep the tracks if you wanted to or have them "copied over" for a discount on your next purchase. What we didn't take into account was the advent of the personal computer as a media device or the internet as a way of distribution. The feedback I got at the time from record execs was "people will always want the record covers, the added value of sleeve notes and even just the physical object to own." So, nothing got done and we have the situation we have now, they missed the boat.
    Had the idea been taken on I can see, in retrospect, that we could have a model whereby you could buy your sounds with your weekly grocery shopping at Foddertown and top up your music on the go at a gas station for a few cents a song, far more convenient than downloading at home and platform swapping for most people.
    In this scenario there would have been less incentive for the growth of Napster and its ilk and the Gas station would have more to offer than the brain chilling selection of CDs we have now.
    A retail outlet could buy a secure/licenced connection to on-line catalogues and everybody would have been happy.
    There you go Record companies, there's your model but I think it maybe too late.

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4947 posts Report Reply

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