Michael Robertson, original founder of mp3.com, has come up with an interesting new toy: the world’s first real-time radio search engine. It takes the RSS feed from thousands of Internet radio stations and can find a favourite band playing on one for you — including the bands whose stuff isn’t on the other streaming services. The question now is how the majors attempt to sue this one out of existence.
Archive for the ‘mp3’ Category
The huge FBI raid on
massive bootlegging entirely legitimate file upload site MegaUpload in January sure struck a blow for ethics, morality and of course the artists, who are the RIAA’s eternal and only concern. Except that the raid was actually timed to take out colourful racing identity Kim Dotcom’s plans to go into competition selling recordings, which is why the RIAA was gunning for it already.
Not only is the raid itself turning out more and more legally dubious, but Dotcom’s plans are back in full swing: MegaBox, a site where artists can put their stuff at a 10% commission on sales. A bit like BandCamp, but with backing and fame, which may well make all the difference.
The recording industry is not just fucked because of
home taping downloading — it’s fucked because it isn’t the gatekeeper for the means of production any more, and never will be again. Does anyone actually remember just how insanely fucking hard it was even to record thirty years ago, let alone release the recording?
In the Internet era, copyright laws are just getting tougher. But people really, really don’t give a shit. 61% of 15-25-year-olds in Sweden fileshare personally, and heavy sharers have gone up. (Translated Swedish news report.)
Industry education about copyright provokes “fight the power” — it turns out people think record companies are lying fountains of shit and if they said the sky was blue people would first assume it was green. And politicians who do what Hollywood wants cause a healthy general disrespect for the law. Oh, and these kids are voting now.
What you need to do is work out how you’re going to make a living when, not if, copyright is cut to a straight fourteen-year term. At least your competitors will be in the same boat.
The network died years ago, but Napster’s vegetative corpse was finally taken off life support Wednesday. They can’t even make money from the name any more?
It’s a good thing the legal assaults on Napster thoroughly eliminated the Internet and computer science in general. ‘Cos otherwise the attempts to bugger DNS to block all Hollywood-disapproved Internet sites might have inspired MAFIAAfire, a P2P alternate-DNS plugin for your web browser (Firefox: Tools->Add-Ons->MAFIAAfire).
There is the minor detail of trusting a bunch of leeches with a sense of entitlement with your computer, and that the existing shadow DNS proof of concept was invented to redirect your money to the Russian mafia. However, the proof of the pudding will be in the network effects — people already install all manner of dubious rubbish for the promise of telly at their convenience, all this network needs is users.
And the fundamental point remains that the Internet is a giant copying machine, and that every gadget imaginable plus computers — televisions, phones, record players, cameras, drawing boards, recording studios — equals computers. Everything that can be conceived of as information can be done on computers. There’s a reason it’s called “universal computation.” Call it as evil as you like, but while computers and networks exist, you just can’t assume copying is rare, difficult or expensive any more.
Music services that aren’t iTunes need to be better to compete. Google is politely negotiating streaming. Amazon, on the other hand, has decided to just enable streaming — since people are only supposed to upload music they already bought, in which case they bought it — and have asked the RIAA’s lawyers if they’re feeling lucky. This would be the first locker service from a company big enough to shoot back.
My house has teenagers in it. They are actively interested in music, read Kerrang! (which is now a land of sensitive boys with floppy fringes ripping off bad Metallica solos) and are in every way the desperately desired target demographic of the music industry in general. They own a few precious favourite CDs, but mostly they get music off YouTube. They use it as their jukebox. Quite a bit from official label channels.
The execs have finally noticed and, as usual, are channelling their inner Gollum. Streaming services (YouTube, Spotify, Pandora, last.fm) are now considered a bigger problem than piracy, because they’re not the cash cow CDs were. Note that this is the legal and paid-for channels they’re complaining about.
The kids don’t listen to radio, or any similar rigidly controlled stream fed to them on a provider-consumer model. The execs’ dilemma now is how to advertise the music without people being able to hear it. Or something. Analyst Russ Crupnick suggests creating some form of “artificial scarcity.” Let me know how that works out for you.
“We never really made the digital transformation,” says Crupnick. No shit.
Android phones are hugely popular, and now the most popular smartphone in the world. Google would love a music store for Android to compete with iTunes, only it has to be even better than iTunes. They have the record labels themselves mostly on-side. What do customers want? To be able to re-download stuff they’ve bought and paid for. Who doesn’t want that to happen? The publishers. And Sony.
Thomas Hesse from Sony says: “We are very uncomfortable with a model where you can just throw anything into the cloud and stream it, if what you threw into the cloud was not legitimately purchased.” Never mind we already have that — it’s called RapidShare. YOU’RE ALREADY COMPETING WITH FREE. PEOPLE WANT TO GIVE YOU MONEY ANYWAY. YOU’RE REFUSING IT. AAAAAAAA
Here we see punk rocker John Robb declare it necessary to reshape the Internet to save the music industry as it was in the 1980s.
This is someone who should know better. I’d thought the point was always the spread of music and culture without the gatekeepers of the labels, press and radio impeding its communication. Wish accomplished.
Note the quote “The Internet could easily stop this situation but there are darker forces at work and the value of music hits rock bottom.” The “darker forces” are the unforgiving hand of microeconomics — basic business — as marginal cost goes to zero.
I am not rightly able to apprehend the confusion of ideas that leads people to propose a Chinese-style firewall on the whole Internet just to preserve the old record industry. I want some musician holding this view to explain, in a manner that doesn’t treat computers as incomprehensible malevolent magic, how precisely “the Internet” could easily stop this situation. In detail, showing their working. What is the origin of such notions, apart from magical thinking? Give me something to work with here.
This question as approached by authors may be of interest. There’s been a teapot of kerfuffle lately about just how privileged a first-world problem it is to be able to complain that “oh no, people are copying my art!” Link collection; why the entire intellectual property regime is best understood as a mechanism of empire, and why its utter destruction is a moral imperative; author whines, is slapped upside the head with her own privileged cluelessness as to the world not actually revolving around her books. Physical books being obsolete as far as the actual readers go.
Meanwhile, the world continues to be as it is and not as it used to be.
We Internet types are so busy haggling over video games with DRM that we’re not grasping the scale of this. We’re like a dog who’s been cooped up behind a fence his whole life, and now a storm has knocked down the gate. The dog looks out and thinks, “Wow, out there is the front yard!”
No, Fluffy. Out there is the whole world.
The evidence for that statement is not merely his legal extortion scam as ACS:Law, where he sends spurious legal threats just large enough to be upsetting but too small to spend money on a lawyer for — but also the leak of a complete backup of ACS:Law’s email, which they made available for a short time on their website (thus demonstrating that they are not merely reprehensible, but incompetent). The 350 megabyte archive is, of course, on the Pirate Bay. FUCKING LOL.
In the digital world, you can make anything anywhere and anyone can have copies without you losing yours. I would so download a car, and so would anyone. But traditional business models rely on scarcity.
The answer? Digital Personal Property! Which is certainly not Digital Rights Management or Digital Consumer Enhancement, no no. It’s an entirely different wrapper for physically and mathematically impossible snake oil.
As Penny Arcade put it about similar schemes elsewhere: “Chief among these bizarre maneuvers is the idea that, when manufacturing their flimsy dystopia, they actually ported the pernicious notion of scarcity from our world into their digital one. This is like having the ability to shape being from non-being at the subatomic level, and the first thing you decide to make is AIDS.”
Eric Harvey at Pitchfork posts a social history of the MP3. “It’s possible the past 10 years could become the first decade of pop music to be remembered by history for its musical technology rather than the actual music itself.” And I remember the early ’80s, when the cassette was going to change everything …
“Oh dear God, kill me now. My options are underwater, my resumé’s a car crash, I wish I could be laid off, Google won’t call me back. My life is an exercise in futility. I’m the walking dead, man. The walking dead.”
Customers loathe and despise DRM. What’s a marketer to do? Advertise products as “DRM-free” when they’re nothing of the sort! After Sony and Nokia comes MySpace. Their “DRM-free” service involves music that can only be played over the Internet while you’re sitting at the computer on their web page having your eyes gouged out by the tasteful graphic design they’re famous for. I look forward to their explanations to Trading Standards if they try selling this one in the UK. I also look forward to the MySpace equivalent of these.
DAS BUNKER, British Phonographic Industry, Wednesday (NNGadget) — Sony-Ericsson has announced PlayNow Plus, a new plan for unlimited “DRM-free” music downloads on phones.
“Pay, er, PlayNow Plus is completely unlimited, covers all major labels, no DRM, get all you want any time you like,” said spokesdroid Mobile Salestwat. “This is the biggest deal in mobile music ever! Of course, it’ll only play on your phone, for the duration of the contract, all songs then disappearing. Well, just a little DRM. Honest.”
(more at the other site)
“That’s how things are done these days,” says drummer Lars Ulrich. “Also, there’s the novelty of anyone wanting to listen to a Metallica album.”
Of course, the real alternative to the iPod is a cheap Chinese MP3 player labeled “MP4” (a blatant lie you wish the MPEG LA would bother wielding their considerable trademark dicks concerning). They’re cheap, they play music, they’re cheap and they’re cheap. Dreadful interface firmware — I got mine free from a friend who wanted to smash it to bits with a toffee hammer — but you can change that. There’s no gadget someone won’t hack.
As slushpiles go, the stuff on Jamendo is surprisingly not an excretory avalanche of hopelessly stunted clueless ambition devoid of talent. In the bleepy shit, I was quite pleased by Warforge, EndZeit-Effekt and particularly Philos Deploys. The gimmick is that it’s all under one of the Creative Commons licences and artists get some cash from ads and donations. Somehow it hasn’t decayed into the last refuge of the musical bedroom masturbator. I urge you to check it out before it sucks.
(Before the Internet, only music industry professionals got their faces shoved in just how many bad records are released. Why do you think so many come to hate music? The worst musical slushpiles are songwriter competitions — worse than band demos because they don’t require the lifewaster to get anyone else to agree. “All unsolicited demo recordings to be submitted on SDHC or CompactFlash card of 8GB or over. Extreme III or better, please.”)
There’s cultural preservation, and then there’s the K-Tel blog. “A place for those K-Tel style classics.”
After bringing suit in late May, the RIAA and NMPA have just obtained their dream settlement against Audiogalaxy: a strict opt-in system, where only approved tracks can be shared, and of course a huge wad of cash.
The suit against Streamcast over Morpheus is still pending.
Meanwhile, users looking for a spyware-free client for one of the remaining peer-to-peer networks might find what they’re looking for at Clean Clients, which offers de-loused versions of Grokster, KaZaA, Bearshare, Morpheus, Limewire and SongSpy. (And Audiogalaxy, for now-historical interest.)
Update: We hear tell the RIAA are apparently planning to sue someone over Gnutella … if they can find who to sue. Of course, suing the current developers (who are not the original developers) won’t do a thing to stop a fully open protocol with an open-source reference implementation available.
(Kuro5hin has some good stuff. Read it.)
The KaZaA network is alive and well, but the original KaZaA BV in Holland has collapsed under the financial pressure of the lawsuits being brought by seven Hollywood studios and five major record labels. “It cannot afford to respond to the multitude of motions, pleadings, discovery requests and letters that plaintiffs drop on its doorstep on a daily basis,” the firm said.
Streamcast Networks Inc., operators of Morpheus and another defendant in the case, may be conceding as well, also citing the legal bills: “It would be an unfortunate procedural triumph of a band of enormously powerful and wealthy companies, arising purely from their power and entirely unrelated to the substantive issues in the case.”
The present KaZaA network, owned by Sharman Networks and run from Australia, operates as normal.
The recording industry is yet again offering a downloadable music service consumers can’t use – no MP3s, songs not transferable to portable music players and downloads that are no longer playable if the user’s subscription lapses.
Analysts consider the products of Musicnet (BMG/EMI/Warner) and Pressplay (Sony/Universal) unmarketable – the companies having failed to meet consumer expectations due to excessive paranoia and prices.
The point of this exercise in futility, from Velvet Rope poster ‘Thousandaire’:
“I worked for one of the majors, and it was a supposedly “tech savvy” label (that’s all I will say publicly about where I worked). Nobody in their new media division believed that the download programs would work, they viewed it as “we want to show that there is a dollar value on a download to establish damages.” The attempts to build systems can be viewed as a way to prove damages when suing other download services. (i.e. “you have 50,000,000 members, and that is cheating us out of $500,000,000 a month that they would otherwise be paying if you weren’t around). Heck, the labels made a business model out of suing the likes of MP3.com out of existence.”
That sounds alarmingly plausible. “These MP3s had a street value of one million billion zillion dollars …”