The New York Times has three informative articles about the file-sharing mess today. The best of the bunch articlulates why sharing is here to stay: The Sharing Society: Whatever Will Be Will Be Free on the Internet (ironically, the article is free online for a week, then ya gotta pay).
In the article, artist David Bowie says, “I’m fully confident that copyright, for instance, will no longer exist in 10 years, and authorship and intellectual property is in for such a bashing.” He says the future of the music industry is that songs become advertisements for artists, who must rely more on touring to making a living.
It’s not surprising that Bowie, who’s had a productive and successful career by constantly reinventing himself, is in tune with a key mantra of business: innovate or die.
Obviously, the Internet is the best channel to share knowledge; when intellectual capital is shared with multiple online networks, it can spread quickly to others who naturally gravitate toward it. (We call this “Napsterizing your knowledge.”) Sharing knowledge is not the end-game; it’s the marketing. The next level is finding value that enthusiasts will pay for. Like Bowie says, performing will become exponentially more important for musicians. We would add that maintaining strong relationships with fans — their customers — has never been more important for artists than it is today.
The big media conglomerates continue to fight this unilateral battle to a bitter end. Why? It’s not for the artists. It’s for themselves. Record-company executives stand to lose the most, not the artists, by losing control of their well-protected and overpriced distribution monopoly. The record industry has already declared war on customers with hundreds of lawsuits with a promise of thousands more to come.
Downloading music from KaZaa isn’t the biggest threat to the music industry. What will marginalize the Tommy Motolas of the world are performers, such as Pearl Jam, who employ a Dell model to sell directly to customers. As the direct sales model grows, thanks to the Internet’s massively efficent distribution system, we may finally witness the rise of the artist and the fall of the record company.