Posted May 07 2003 - 12:27 PM
| $10 may still be too much. We'll have to see what the market will bear. Maybe the license fee needs to be separated from media purchase: "get the recording by any means, then go to the artists website and buy the license for $8" |
I think it quite likely that current prices for prerecorded music are too high, by at least one order of magnitude. This is based not on the value of the music
(i.e., total amount of royalties the public is willing to spend on a given work), but on the value of copies
The record company model of the world is roughly that all copies of music are expensive, prepaid singles or single-album CDs. A sale of a copy is taken as the measure of interest in an artist. Before there were such things as high-density discs (DVDs, high-capacity HDs) and compression, that model had at least a little bit of approximation to the real world. It's a lot less valid now.
Think of a (theoretical) music free market as a perfectly flat, fixed metal sheet, and the copyright-based market as being a movable rubber sheet stretched over it. To extract extra profit, the copyright holder pulls the rubber sheet away from the metal one. However, doing so creates tension (inefficiencies in the economy; openings for outfits such as Napster that, however illegally, provide a better approximation to the shape a real free market would take).
Now - picture the record labels as Wile E. Coyote, the rubber sheet as a set of those Acme Rubber Bands, and the metal sheet as the anchor rock into which the rubber bands will send Wile E. when he "takes off" under the misguided assumption that he's going to have Speedius Speedius
Due to DVD and HD and compression and networking technology, the anchor rock has moved -- on its own -- AWAY from Wile E. This being a slightly unreal world (Wile E. lives in a cartoon; record labels, in a monopoly market), the move left Wile E. in the same place. The rubber bands are stretched a lot more. They're ready to propel him into the rock even harder. Wile E.'s reaction? Instead of carefully lowering the tension, he's backing away from the rock in denial, in fear, and in the illusion that he can control the rock. You know what happens next.
Now lots of people are still buying CDs, and lots of people bought expensive tracks at the Apple Store. So maybe things aren't quite at the breaking point yet.
Instead of pushing things to the breaking point, wouldn't it make more sense to take advantage of technology to deliver, e.g., 10x the number of legal copies of music to buyers, in return for, say, a 50% increase in the profits of the record labels and in the total amount of royalties to artists?