Sunday, July 08, 2007

Shake You Down

Hey! Recording industry. Chill out.

I just bought two (2) CDs this weekend. You guys should be okay for a few days, now. Right? I bought a Robert Johnson compilation, and The Best of Taj Mahal.

Then I ripped 'em into the playlists, and cranked 'em up. These tunes will end up on iPods, shared wirelessly on wifey-poo and the kid's computers, as well as playing through the AirPort Express down in the living room on the big stereo.

Interestingly, I could have bought both albums on the iTunes Store for more money. I paid $10.99 apiece for them at the local record store. On iTunes the Robert Johnson album was $9.99, and the Taj Mahal album was $13.99. I would have paid $24 on iTunes, and buying the discs only cost $22.

I'll bet you think I'm going to come to some kind of point with all this, right? That's what I thought, too. The fact that there isn't really a point, is the point.

The recording industry is missing an important opportunity. Steve Jobs is out being everybody's friend; offering to end DRM; putting a nice face on music downloads; keeping the price of most downloads at $0.99 a song. The record companies are playing Snidely Whiplash to Apple's Dudley Do-Right. Prosecuting the planet for failing to pay them their tithe.

The recording industry looks more and more like organized crime every day with their ASCAP/BMI protection racket shaking down every Jiffy Lube with a local radio station playing in the oil bay.

The fact that I just bought two albums without even noticing the label or trying to buy them on iTunes is significant in that, even knowing all this, I just don't care. I'm not that different from the average music buyer. When the average music buyer does start to care, and if the average music buyer thinks the RIAA is a bunch of money-grubbing scuzzballs, the recording industry is going to get creamed.

The people who don't give a rat's ass about paying for what they get are already ripping their music off at will. Hackers will continue to make it easier to get good stuff for free. As long as the recording industry is the villain or the victim, they're going to continue to lose – as more and more people pile on, and more and more bands use the internet for distribution.

The only way for the RIAA to win or even stop the bleeding is for them to become "the good guys." Not Snidely; not Nell tied to the railroad tracks; Dudley Do-Right of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Good luck, kids.