A story about content resellers
The other day I was in town to meet my ex, her iPod had broken and I had promised to come along to ensure she wasn’t conned into buying all manners of stuff they had no use for with her refund money. Regardless I arrived at the music store about 20 mins before her and I start browsing the CD shelves, aside the anemic selection it was heavily biased towards the predicted big sellers – not my type of music really, but I did find one album I wanted. So I went up to the counter, stood there for a while waiting for someone to service me. You’d think these people who after all complain loudly that their customers are deserting them would marvel at one willing to pay, full price, for a new album. About 3 or 4 mins passed without anyone noticing me so I started looking around for a salesman to take my money and I noticed something, the very same people who were complaining that people are not buying CDs anymore were all busy selling iPods.
Now coupled with the fact that there’s also a push to sell CDs with DRM to limit the, in my country, fair usage of importing my CD. Now where exactly do these people think we are getting all the music to fill up a 160GB iPod model if they are not willing to take our money when we willingly offer it and the further limit our possibility of taking said CDs and turning them into . Now I know about 60% of my 80GB iPod is filled with podcasts, but I’m probably a special case, I download a lot of free indie samplers, I have obscure music my friends made and I buy a lot of music on Magnatune, I’m no saint but I consider myself a fair content user and filesharing certainly has expanded both my horizons and my CD collection vastly.
After standing there wondering for a few more minutes, I decided to put the CD back on the shelf, I did what I came there for, went home and bought 3 albums on Magnatune for the same price I would have paid for the CD and then I shared each one with 3 friends and I’m encouraged to. Some people understand the way the content industry has to work, other people sell iPods from a fancy storefront, cut their CD collection day by day till it becomes nothing but a Top 40′ collection and pass blame along. You are competing with free, not cheap but free – we set the terms and if you don’t agree then you lose, the barrier you are competing with is the making it easier to pay than to search for a torrent. Magnatune does this expertly, fair terms, as few limitations as possible and I’m ensured the copy I pay for comes in the format I want and in assured high quality not to mention I get to set the price – personally I don’t mind sending a message of support for the model by upping the payment a bit, it’s still cheaper than buying a CD.
Radiohead’ latest album is estimated to have made them 10 million dollars and they gave it away for free, now I bought that, I paid them around 10$ but they did not give me the format I wanted and they made it much harder to get the album than clicking a torrent link (which it turns out many more people preferred to do) – if it wasn’t for the massive amount of press they got, I doubt they would have gotten as many sales, this should be a lesson, it will not be assured to repeat itself the next time as more and more bands do this. We send a message that we want this but we want easier to use and fairer terms. Now imagine the backlash if they use the email addresses people supplied to give them money to send out promotional material or otherwise bother paying cusotmers, that would spell disaster for the next foray into this new business, Radiohead needs to be careful.