I’ve been an eMusic subscriber for years. It has been one of the few pretty decent legal music download services available to us South Africans. This morning I browsed to the page to see if some music that interests me is available there and this little page loaded:
This licensing restrictions issue is why iTunes and Amazon MP3 are not available (legally, at least) to us South Africans. This is the music industry working overtime to preserve a business model that is rapidly becoming irrelevant except where the industry artificially constricts and shapes demand for its content.
Like many people who buy a fair amount of music, I don’t use physical media anymore. I have an iPhone, iPod Touch, my MacBook and all my CDs from back in the day are packed up in boxes somewhere. I listen to all my music digitally and while the audio quality isn’t as good as some might like, its perfect for me. The music industry would have me carry my CDs around with me and listen only to those CDs. That is utter bullshit and more appropriate for the 20th century.
When faced with digital alternatives to its current business models, the music industry points to piracy and how the artists are being raped by all these terrible consumers pirating their music. The artists are the music industry’s last priority, its all about making as much money as they possibly can and maintaining as much control as they can as the copyright owners. The artists tend to be screwed over by the labels who offer to sign them as if they would be anointed by some divine authority. In fact, very few artists actually benefit meaningfully from being signed. They would probably be better off developing their own distribution channels and marketing their music on more flexible terms.
When it comes to music piracy, the people who have no interest in paying for music never will. Those of us who really want to support the artists (in theory) or who don’t want to torrent music are prepared to pay but not for a stupid piece of plastic that is irrelevant to how we listen to our music every day. We want legal music download services with good quality music, at a reasonable price and for our devices of choice. The music industry isn’t interested in providing that [Update: change is happening]. So that leaves otherwise honest consumers frustrated and disinterested in supporting an industry that seems intent on fucking them. BitTorrent is just a few searches away and the labels lose more money.