We live in an age where a favored (and, quite possibly, undeserving) few prosper to an obscene degree while others toil for the remaining crumbs, where data is twisted to fit narrow agendas, and leaders adhere to outdated ideologies in the pursuit of ultimately destructive goals.
I ask you, where else but in the music industry could you find such a Paleolithic mindset? Yet there it is.
According to the Register’s Andrew Orlowski, Kenneth Hertz, a partner at Goldring Hertz and Lichtenstein LLP, a law firm representing major recording industry artists, suggested that the music industry could simply cut Apple out of the digital music loop should it disagree with how music is priced at the iTunes Music Store.
This follows a comment from Warner’s CEO, Edgar Bronfman:
“We are selling our songs through iPod, but we don’t have a share of iPod’s revenue. We want to share in those revenue streams. We have to get out of the mindset that our content has promotional value only.”
Putting aside issues of price-fixing and collusion, I understand that the Industry is frustrated at not having greater control over its assets (though they did, after all, sign on Apple’s dotted line), but, good lord, is it possible for these folks to muster foresight a little keener than that found in the common flea?
Let’s suppose, for a moment, that each and every music label represented at the iTunes Music Store coincidentally decides to bow out the day its contract with Apple expires. Consumers are then given three choices: Buy a copy-protected CD, purchase a highly restricted digital version of the music (incompatible with the iPod, by the way) for a price that exceeds Apple’s $.99 per track, or sign up for a subscription service that allows you to “own” your music as long as you continue to pay a monthly fee.
Seems to me the likely consequences are that the portion of the public that was wooed away from peer-to-peer or first discovered music downloads through iTunes reexamines its options. The Industry follows up by suing a greater percentage of 12-year-olds. Musicians with some notion of integrity (or, at least, survival) cut direct deals with Apple and other, more independent, entities. And the Industry, ultimately, pounds sand.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: The genie’s out of the bottle. Consumers are accustomed to iTunes’ $.99-per-track model and any attempt by the Industry to force a change to that model is going to be met with resistance. The Industry can continue to try to squash those voices of resistance, fudge the figures to paint its War on Piracy in a positive light, and reward executives who continue down the same no-win path. But eventually, the public will wake up and see such tactics for what they are.
And when it does, there will be hell to pay.