Press Coverage of File-Sharing Debate
A recent discussion on sampling and file sharing took place at the New York City public library in Manhattan. Hosted by Wired magazine, the event featured noted Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig, a co-founder of Creative Commons and an opponent to the criminalization of file sharing, and Jeff Tweedy of the band Wilco. The NY Times covered the discussion, which Lessig talked about at his blog. The problem with the Times piece, he wrote, is that it didn’t capture the true balanced spirit of the discussion. Tweedy’s quotes were taken out of context and support what he calls the “uninformed stereotype” view that sees file-sharing as merely a for/against piracy debate. Nothing in the article is inaccurate about Lessig or the views he expressed, but from the article one does not get a full picture of the discussion. Lessig and Tweedy, he promises, are not simply supporters of theft and piracy.
“One reading the piece would think, there they go again, those supporters of theft, and haters of artists. I’m not sure why there needs to be a NY Times, if its role is simply to reinforce what people already think, especially with pieces like this. God forbid the Nation’s paper of record should reflect something more subtle or complex than the crudest view of an important debate.”
Look for an archive of the Wired forum to be hosted at some point in the future at this page at Wilco’s website.
Some Old Story: Nobody Likes Subscription Services
Only 5% of respondants in an Ipsos survey preferred a subscription-based model over paid downloads (19%). But it’s hard to compete with free — Ipsos made the argument that online services “might truly flourish if free peer-to-peer file-sharing was marginalized in the market.”
Bottom line, the number of people interested in subscription services will skyrocket the second Steve Jobs starts trumpeting the idea — if he ever trumpets the idea. Seriously, all it will take is one veiled, Alan Greenspan-styled endorsement and investment bankers around the country will be handing over money to every Tom, Dick and/or Harry with a subscription service. Unbridled enthusiasm, indeed.
Right now, is there anything wrong with a 5% pro-subscription service figure? It’s not so bad. A subscription goes for $180 per year, so one person interested in a subscription is worth far more money than a few iPod owners who spends far less many for paid downloads.
Starbucks: A Music Tastemaker?
Selling Ray Charles to caffeine-addicted Americans is one thing, and breaking street date with Beck’s new album leads to easy sales, but trying to push an unknown is going to test Starbuck’s status as a tastemaker in the music world. Jeff Leeds has the story in today’s NY Times. (Yeah, I’m about to O.D. on Starbucks-related music articles, too, but this is Jeff Leeds so you know it’s worth reading.)
The band is Antigone Rising is an all-female five-piece who recorded a live acoustic performance for Starbucks. From the Ground Up will be out May 11th. There are no plans to let other retailers sell the album.
The president of Lava Records, to which Antigone Rising is signed, said Starbucks will help the label target the older audience that is neglected by commercial radio and big retailers that are timid to stock more than a few titles. Well, that’s a bit curious in the era of the Internet, satellite radio and big retailers who will carry just about any title if there’s enough marketing money involved. What he’s saying is that Starbucks has the potential to sell a lot of music, and Lava wants in on the action.
Naturally, some independent retailers are going to be irate. They regularly chastise major labels for giving exclusives to mass merchants such as Best Buy, and sometimes refuse to carry the product when it’s made available to all retailers. Will customers take Starbucks’ word for it and get into Antigone Rising? Will indie retailers boycott the album if/when it takes off?
Glenn works in the music industry in New York City. He writes about the industry and music in general at his blog, Coolfer .