August 28, 2006

Black and White (is the new Gray)

The paranoia is over. It's fact. The myth that music downloads can happily sit next to traditional sales has been expunged (yes, in NZ). Our world is changing in the way we obtain information, multimedia and consequently: entertainment. It's worth a lot of money, it's worth a lot of careers and recently worth a fair amount of jailtime here in NZ.

"The noose is tightening" as I quote, is how the NZ music police see their progress toward pirated material:

The music piracy watchdog is tightening the noose around the thousands of people who illegally upload and download music - and the worst offenders may face criminal charges as early as the end of the year.

First in line would be those who offer thousands of songs for uploading, says Mark McCall, director of anti-piracy for the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand.

"We are primarily aiming at those who are uploading and, as a consequence, we might find those downloading.

"Uploading" is sending songs to an internet host; "downloading" is taking them from a host.

"If we serve cease and desist orders and they do so, then we could end our action there," Mr McCall said.

That is all good (yes, I'm taking this as a cue, and will not be posting any more full ogg files on this blog), yet my web stats constantly tell me that you are one in a small bunch of regulars, and few of you have ever downloaded the music I've put up here. I will instead only provide a hook, or the interesting part of a copyrighted song I'm referring to. I would seriously doubt I'm a part of this threat and is the exact reason why I don't have a myspace page and never will. I'm much more interested in talking about the music, how something makes me feel, it's production value or subject matter, rather than the politics surrounding it. I got off the "I hate microsoft" thing a while back, and while I still disagree with DRM, I understand it.

I like to promote music. I'm in the radio industry for goodness sake. It's what I do everyday, anyway. As an example, I sample full CDs beginning to end while in the car (proof I hate iPods), then recommend it to some people, and criticise it to others - this often happens here on my blog. Music is an emotional thing, and when used as a promotional tool for artists, it helps deliver the topic and also make light of the artist, prompting purchases of the music through the net (if possible), or at your favourite music store. Does anyone have a 'favourite' music store anymore?

I can see why many other music based blogs are tracking massive hits every day. Promotional releases really should be directed to these bloggers who are credibile and have a passion for their genre, and utilised for this purpose! Word of mouth is very effective. My last CD purchase was the new Tom Petty album "Highway Companion". Why? The net is flooded with bloggers talking about it, I sampled a few tracks and liked it. It's now in my car CD shuttle. I'm using this system too, and it feels really good.

Promotion is a huge industry in itself, and traditionally, the costs are massive to promote anything. Say, to have a billboard promoting an A-List artist/band on a busy stretch of road - those are worth thousands every month. NZ On Air shell out $5000 music video grants every month, which airs on music TV, some CD singles include the video as a compressed mpeg, official websites have the clip to stream - all to promote ONE song, without any real guaranteed return. It's clear that a short lived music file on the net can do the same thing, especially if the site has thousands of "credit card ready" surfers willing to buy it after sampling. I went to the store and bought mine, but the "sale" is not what I'm interested in. I'm only interested in talking about the music, not selling it. The massive difference between sales and promotion.

One thing at a time say the music police. "One thing at a time." If I receive a cease and desist letter, I'd be equally chuffed as I would be obliging. Lets see how things shape out.

However, free press and opinion will remain (as long as Blogger provides it). Hmmmm. The internet is refining itself and perhaps may be shrinking?

That said, its also great to see that the Britney Spears billboard thing [story] pulled itself out of its own arse.

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