The industry most mentioned throughout the Fair Use/Copyrights debate is the music industry. This is not a black and white issue and we lose something of value if we go to extremes in either direction. However, I do believe that the world is changing and we have to choose to fall behind or find new pathways.
Below are excerpts from those whom I believe have correctly identified that direction. What is provided here are only web-bites and for a deeper understanding the original posts should be read. The challenge and advice to those musicians wishing to avoid the 'starving' appellation is raised by Brand Autopsy.
via Brand Autopsy by johnmoore (from Brand Autopsy) on 1/19/08
Mega-selling recording artist Natalie Merchant doesn't have a recording contract with a major label these days. The digital download era has rendered many top-selling artists, like Ms. Merchant, unattractive and irrelevant as it relates major labels releasing newly recorded CDs.
Writing in the New York Times, John Pareles tells us, "Ms. Merchant is back to the age-old economic model of the troubadour. People who want to hear her latest songs will have to see her perform them."
David Byrne's Survival Strategies for Emerging Artists — and MegastarsThe best advice though on helping modern musicians survive in the post-modern world of new marketing comes from -
What is called the music business today, however, is not the business of producing music. At some point it became the business of selling CDs in plastic cases, and that business will soon be over. But that's not bad news for music, and it's certainly not bad news for musicians. Indeed, with all the ways to reach an audience, there have never been more opportunities for artists.
Things you can learn from the music business (as it falls apart)The first rule is so important, it’s rule 0
- 0. The new thing is never as good as the old thing, at least right now.
- 1. Past performance is no guarantee of future success
The music business had a spectacular run alongside the baby boomers. As a result, the music business built huge systems. It was a well-greased system, but the key question: why did it deserve to last forever? It didn’t. Yours doesn’t either.
2. Copy protection in a digital age is a pipe dream
There’s a paradox in the music business that is mirrored in many industries: you want ubiquity, not obscurity, yet digital distribution devalues your core product.
3. Interactivity can’t be copied
Music is social. Music is current and everchanging. And most of all, music requires musicians. The winners in the music business of tomorrow are individuals and organizations that create communities, connect people, spread ideas and act as the hub of the wheel... indispensable and well-compensated.
4. Permission is the asset of the future
Today, of course, permission is an asset to be earned. The ability (not the right, but the privilege) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who want to get them.
5. A frightened consumer is not a happy consumer.
I shouldn’t have to say this, but here goes: suing people is like going to war.
6. This is a big one: The best time to change your business model is while you still have momentum.
The sooner you do it, the more assets and momentum you have to put to work.
7. Remember the Bob Dylan rule: it’s not just a record, it’s a movement.
He understands at some level that music is often the soundtrack for something else.
8. Don’t panic when the new business model isn’t as ‘clean’ as the old one.
If there’s a business here, first few in will find it, the rest lose everything.
9. Read the writing on the wall.
Industries don’t die by surprise. It’s not like you didn’t know it was coming. It's not like you didn't know who to call (or hire).
10. Don’t abandon the Long Tail
Instead, in an age when it’s cheaper than ever to design something, to make something, to bring something to market, the smart strategy is to have a dumb strategy. Keep your costs low and go with your instincts, even when everyone says you’re wrong. Do a great job, not a perfect one. Bring things to market, the right market, and let them find their audience.
11. Understand the power of digital
You may believe that your business doesn’t lend itself to digital transactions. Many do. If you’ve got a business that doesn’t thrive on digital, it might not grow as fast as you like... Maybe you need to find a business that does thrive on digital.
12. Celebrity is underrated
The music business has always created celebrities. And each celebrity has profited for decades from that fame. Frank Sinatra is dead and he's still profiting. Elvis is still alive and he's certainly still profiting.
13. Value is created when you go from many to few, and vice versa
The music business has thousands of labels and tens of thousands of copyright holders. It's a mess. And there's just one iTunes music store. Consolidation pays.
14. Whenever possible, sell subscriptions
The biggest opportunity for the music business is to combine permission with subscription. The possibilities are endless. And I know it's hard to believe, but the good old days are yet to happen.
- 1. Past performance is no guarantee of future success
The above are again only web-bites (web-bytes?) of Seth's post that I found particularly insightful, even more insight at the original post.
As far as my understanding of the issues issues of fair use, copyrights and artistic content go:
- If it is your material, then it is an economic issue.
- If it is somebody else's material, then it is also a legal issue
- If it is the RIAA's claimed material, then it is also a moral issue.