Friday, April 27, 2007

Cooperation

(heh) We can get Billy to take his medicine if we all work together. You hold his arms. You hold his legs. You sit on his chest. You pinch his nose shut and I'll drop the pills in when he gasps for air.

Q: Who's Billy? A: You.

Having lived a number of years, the "if we all work together" is one of those phrases that sets alarms off in the back of my head. The hidden meanings usually include: you're expected follow the speaker's "vision", the willing are expected to force the unwilling, and you're also expected to sacrifice something yourself. Keep in mind that the sister phrase to "if we all work together" is "if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem".

The speaker's effort is one that goes counter to market forces. What he's asking is to force a single version of DRM upon a market that doesn't want it. Ignoring the fact that there is in-fighting over whose DRM should be used (driven by $$), this attempt is doomed to failure as you can only annoy your customers so much before they find new ways of entertaining themselves.

The entertainment industry is in a spot where they should be beating up pirates and "playing nice" with their legitimate customers, rather than beating up everyone. That spot? How about: that piece of entertainment in your hand is considered a license to view/listen an intellectual work (i.e., it's virtual) only until you attempt to view/listen to it via an "alternate" format (e.g., CD vs. MP3). Then, it's considered a physical product in that you have to buy the entertainment again if you expect to access it via that different format. It's becomes confusing in that, should the plastic become scratched, the industry won't replace it (i.e., the virtual license is subject to physical damage).

Is it any surprise that both sets of the music industry's customers (those that make the music and those that buy it) are experimenting with alternate methods to connect with each other. The incentive for doing so is that the music makers can get paid more for their work and the listeners get more work for what they pay?

Markets are slippery things. You can only squeeze one so hard before it squirts sideways and takes on a different form. Personally, the only commercial music I've heard in years (other than the occasional live BNL concert) was either part of a television commercial (I don't watch much) or came out of my car radio on the way to work (when there weren't enough podcasts to get through the week).

With apologies for the rambling...