Does playing someone’s music on the radio hurt them or help them? And is it a “form of piracy”?
I’m a lifelong radio listener. Not like I once was, of course, but I still listen, especially during my morning commute. A couple of weeks ago I happened to hear “The Step and The Walk” by The Duke Spirit on Indie 103.1, and fell instantly in love with it. So, is that a good thing or bad thing for The Duke Spirit?
A logical person would say that it’s a good thing for the artist. Right? I’d never heard of them, and now I have.
Of course, as we’ve seen many times before, the Recording Industry is not made up of logical persons. As a matter of fact, not only do they see no benefit in their artists being played on the radio, they want compensation.
Otherwise, “it’s a form of piracy,” and any argument that playing music is a form of promotion is a “red herring.”
Those aren’t my words, but rather the words of a spokesperson for a recording industry umbrella group with the hilarious name of musicFIRST.
A while back, Kirk wrote an article called “Prepare for the Worst: 4 Simple Digital Media Backup Solutions.” One of the options was the digital Music Locker at MP3tunes, where you could upload your music and store it, secure and password-protected.
This is not file-sharing. File-sharing is, of course, the digital equivalent of what music fans have been doing since the dawn of time: turning other people on to music they love. This is really the exact opposite: it is more akin to locking your music in a safe deposit vault, where only you have the key.
Apparently, EMI didn’t think so, and sued MP3tunes, essentially trying to shut down online storage of music for any purpose whatsoever.
Whether or not you think that Radiohead’s download-only release of In Rainbows was a success or a failure; a bargain or a rip-off — and there are valid arguments that it was actually all four — you kind of knew that they weren’t the only artist of their stature who were going to try to bypass the traditional Major-Label release strategy.
And, sure enough, after what can only be described as a collective pause while everybody held their breath, in the past couple of weeks, we’ve had at least four artists with established fanbases follow in their footsteps. While each artist is doing something different, they’re all taking a piece from Radiohead’s playbook.
When they write the history of how the recording industry botched its transition to digital content distribution, they’ll probably devote a whole chapter to the Diamond Rio.
Ugly as it was, the Rio was the first widely available portable MP3 player. While the appearance of the device indicated a clear demand from consumers for portable digital music, the recording industry saw it as a threat. Instead of embracing digital music and working to develop a viable business model for digital content distribution, the RIAA took the manufacturer of the Rio to court and tried to have the product taken off the market. The RIAA was at war with the MP3 format, and claimed that any device capable of playing MP3 files would clearly contribute to piracy.
The RIAA ultimately lost its lawsuit, and the rest is history. While the Rio may seem like a footnote now, it was an important milestone. The court ruling on the Rio case cleared the way for Apple’s iPod, and eventually the iTunes music store.
The canine crime fighting duo Flo and Lucky were in the news again this week. The dogs, allegedly trained to sniff out counterfeit DVDs, have just completed an assignment in Malaysia where they are said to have helped uncover over $6 million in bootlegged discs. The pair was so successful that counterfeiters put a bounty on their heads, and the government awarded them medals for “Oustanding Service”.
Perhaps the most amazing aspect of Flo and Lucky’s story is that media outlets have been quick to regurgitate the MPAA’s claims without actually questioning the dogs’ abilities or the program they’re participating in. Take a closer look at the facts and the two start to look more like publicity hounds than police dogs.
As I noted last year when the dogs made their first appearance in the UK, the pair obviously aren’t trained to smell intellectual property violations. An official press release explained that the dogs “were amazingly successful at identifying packages containing DVDs, which were opened and checked by HM Customs’ representatives.” The press release went on to state, “While all were legitimate shipments on the day, our message to anyone thinking about shipping counterfeit DVDs through the FedEx network is simple: you’re going to get caught.”
The message to people shipping legitimate DVDs is also clear. You can expect that your package may be opened and searched for no good reason.