Part II in his series of articles - MP3s Are Not the Devil - Part 2: How to Teach Your Customers to Hate You (log entry on part 1)
The real gripe for the record companies is not these fictional “lost sales.” What’s keeping them up at night is the realization that musicians don’t need record companies any more.
Musicians can go into a studio, record their own music exactly as they want it, and not as some executive says they have to record it because “that’s what the kids want.”
Then they can sell CDs at their live performances and set up online, with a bunch of MP3s that people can share around. They also can sell CDs, and without a lot of expensive record company overhead.
Of course, fulfilment and website management can be an expensive pain, so what will emerge is a new kind of recording company — full-service online stores that make only as many copies of a CD as are ordered, so there’s no inventory to maintain. They’ll take a much smaller share of the money than the existing companies do, so the CDs can sell for much less — while the artist still makes more money per sale than the big record companies ever allowed.
[...] Instead of turning the file-sharers into martyred heroes, the way the short-sighted executives want to do, just educate people that it’s OK to let people hear a sample, but don’t give away whole albums of work you didn’t create. This is not a hard concept; people would get it.
Scorn works far better than lawsuits and punitive damages at changing society. I already react that way when somebody says, “Let me copy the CD for you.” I affix them with a steely glare and say, “Do you own the copyright for that?” They usually say something face-saving, and I let them, because I’m not a puritan about it. But they not only never offer to copy songs for me, most of them also get more nervous to offer it to other people.
[...] Americans are generally good people. If you explain to them why a rule is necessary, they’ll generally go along with it.
But you have to get rid of the hypocrisy first. File-sharing is not the end of the world, and the existence of music and movies are not being threatened, any more than they were with the advent of radio, television, and VCRs.
And let’s just laugh at the self-righteousness of the “injured” studios and record companies. We can’t take them seriously until they’ve tried the obvious market responses:
The Slashdot (slashback, actually) discussion, Slashback: Card, Fortran, Legibility, doesn’t speak too much to the topic, but one comment exposes the fact that Mr. Card is not quite as knowlegeable a fan of Eva Cassidy as he suggests:
More of Orson Scott Card on Net music sharing (Score:5, Funny)
by zenpiglet (708412) on Thursday September 25, @08:39PM (#7059813)
When friends can say, “Have you heard Eva Cassidy’s music? Here, I’ll send you a couple of songs, you won’t believe how good she is,” that’s called “word of mouth,” and what you’ll get is more and more people who attend her live performances and buy her CDs.
Wow! File sharing can raise the dead … how can anyone be against this great technology?