I read today Kazaa has become a legal music download service. A rep of the music industry, John Kennedy, chairman and CEO of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industries (IFPI) said, "We have won another battle in an ongoing war. We move forward with a spring in our step."
Mr. Kennedy is myopic. They are briskly marching towards a future of billions more spent on lawsuits against what I believe will be an increasingly difficult to find "enemy."
To me, all legal file sharing is taping on steroids. Growing up I had numerous friends tape music they had purchased, or gotten from someone else on tape, and give it to me for free (except the cost of the tape). It was a great way to introduce me to music the record companies hadn't (successfully that is).
The volume of the ta-p3's (mp3's that are now like tapes) shared is indeed staggering. I do it all the time.
The thing is no matter how many kazaa's they stop, there's always someone else behind them. And, in fact, they are usually slicker and faster. I remember perusing various bittorrent sites. I saw a message on a board of a particularly awesome one: "Remember, rule number one about b-t is you never talk about b-t."
Artists have benefited tremendously from file sharing (small and big… although comparatively the smaller ones have benefited more in my mind). Wireless carriers have benefited tremendously from derivations of artist's work with ring tones. Record companies, however, are getting slaughtered.
Primarily because they are getting exposed for what they really are. Bags of money that stuff sometimes average music down our throats so obsessively, we eventually become lobotomized drones debating whether n-sync is better than the Backstreet Boys (I always ran with the BB crew by the way). All the while we are sticking it to artists who, unless they go multi-platinum, multi-times, end up on some tenth rate reality show when they aren't touring the county fair circuit alongside Eddie Money hoping to make a comeback.
Seriously, though, it's clear the library of music is the thing that keeps these companies in business. Which of course is a clear indication they couldn't care less about the artist, particularly after they aren't good any longer. (In fact, it's great when they get to that point because they don't need to waste any more marketing money on them.)
I think as people learn an internet is nothing more than a mechanism to connect computers, file sharing will become even more prevalent and way more difficult to track and stop. Companies like grouper, in its original form anyway, (which allow you to set up private networks to share files amongst friends) are ahead of their time.
When the greater public starts to realize this and understand how to harness it, I bet huge communities of personal internets will start to crop up and utilize all of the commodity technology available to share files amongst each other privately, surfacing like those moles in the whack a mole game once in a while to bring new files into their community.
That's the point at which I believe the music industry will either undergo or be in the middle of a Darwinian shift. It will shift to a model where companies teach artists how to build their brand and set it up so they all collectively benefit from it (IODA is sort of like that right now).
And, while that's happening, some bobble headed leader of a long since useless industry organization will be having some type of celebration to announce the 100 lawsuit won against file sharing on some cruise ship with a bunch of coked-up music industry knuckleheads in front of a sign saying: "Mission Accomplished."
As for Kazaa, they played their part. They were handed the baton from Napster (remember them… ever use them?). The baton ensures about three weeks from now, more people will think it refers to the Shaquille O'Neal movie (Kazaam) instead of a file sharing service.Powered by Sidelines