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Flexibility and Convenience

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Here is an example of how deeply file sharing has penetrated into society, and a pretty good indication that it isn’t just about money. Consider the words of Canadian quarterback Jesse Palmer, interviewed by the Toronto Star:

    Q If you want to chill out, what music are you going to put on?

    A I like Seal, believe it or not. I like U2 and I like Seal. I just kind of burned myself a CD of Seal stuff. I love it. I’ve been listening to it the last little while.

    Q Burned yourself a CD? What NFL salaries won’t cover that?

    A (laughs) It’s more convenient to come home and check it out on the Internet. Now that I’ve said that, I’m sure I’ll get checked. (laughs) I’ll probably get arrested.

Why does he do it? Convenience and flexibility: he said “Seal stuff,” not a Seal album. Listen and take heed: people want access to all music without copying restrictions from the convenience of their computers. Make it easy, convenient, flexible and fun, and they will pay.

Please remember: in aggregate, people are going to do what they want to do, and you can either go with the flow and make money from it, or you can fight it and be lost in the tsunami.

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About Eric Olsen

  • BIll Wallo

    Good points, and I agree with the conclusion. That doesn’t make file sharing legal (or defensible) at this point in time, but it should make people see that this is the way of the future – i.e., that people are interesed in individual songs, not an entire album.

    Actually, it reminds me of an article I read a while back that pointed out that historically, people wanted singles anyway. The “album” was popularized more recently as a way to sell more “stuff.” The technology shift has made the “single” mentality far more logical (who, for example, really wants to buy a CD with just one song on it?). Hopefully, we’ll see a marketing shift to correspond to what people want.

  • Tom Johnson

    With Itunes and other systems like it popping up, couldn’t he now pay for these tracks? And he certainly could head over to or any number of other online retailers and pay for the CDs he stole these tracks from, couldn’t he? He’d even get them delivered right to his mailbox.

    No, this isn’t just about “flexibility and convenience,” it’s about not caring, period. His attitude wasn’t “I’m tired, I’m busy, I can’t go to Best Buy to get these CDs so I’ll just download them.” His attitude is “music isn’t worth paying for because it doesn’t have a value and I have a right to listen to it and ‘own’ it without paying for it.” Unfortunately, he is representative of a lot of other people.

    I still don’t get why people will gladly fork over $15-20 for a DVD they will watch a couple of times under limited circumstances but won’t do the same for CDs they can listen to practically anywhere. A movie requires time to be set aside, usually 2 hours or so, where music can be put on in your car on the way to work, in your computer’s CDRom drive, in headphones on a Discman for working out, or in the background at home while you eat, clean, read, whatever. If anything, I can understand downloading movies more than music – I watch most movies one time and then never again. I can’t fathom needing to own more than a few of my very favorite movies. But CDs . . . I can and do listen to them all the time, and I more than get my money’s worth out of them. I can’t say that for more than a few movies right now.

  • Eric Olsen

    Tom, a few things: the time and attention factors are EXACTLY the psychological reasons why people do look at movies differently, but what you see as added value for CDs, the public sees the flexibility and “background” aspect of music as a justification for not paying for music.

    I am not justifying or alibiing this guy’s or anyone else’s behavior, I am simply pointing to it as an insight into a very common mentality, a mentality that may even be prevalent in teens and young adults.

    My point was that you have to give people what they have come to expect, AND make money that way, not try to dictate the terms because it just won’t work – right, wrong, or indifferent.

  • Tom Johnson

    I got ya, Eric. I just find it really disturbing.

    In a way, it’s thinking like this that turns music into the very commodity that everyone complains that it is. They desire beautiful, meaningful, spiritual music, but they won’t pay for that, or – worse – only respond to the most shallow, label-serving versions of that desire, then complain that there’s nothing worth buying out there because whatever meaningless pile o’ crap they DID spend their money on didn’t provide “depth” they were looking for.

    But hey, I’m willing to look at the bright side: maybe eventually these greedy, shallow, money-grubbin’ acts will fade away, and music will be populated only by people who truly care about making music for music’s sake. I’ll start holding my breath now.

  • Eric Olsen

    You are a true music lover, your heart’s in the right place, no one doubts any of that. We need more like you.