One might argue that God Himself might have trouble releasing the stranglehold RIAA member companies have on their artists. Certainly "artists rights" is a hill upon which many have died. Companies have tried and tried to make something happen, and one after another, they've shut down or been marginalized. In the end, it all comes down to this: Like it or not, many of the best artists migrate to the major labels in order to get their music heard. Most consumers look to the major labels to screen out most of the worst artists, and can trust that the labels provide the music they want. And so the cycle goes.
There are options for musicians and consumers that don't want to play that game, and there are plenty of us, but those options aren't exactly making the artists rich either, because a bigger percentage of a much smaller pie is still less pie.
That hasn't stopped some, however, from turning the issue into a holy war. Downhill Battle, for example, has a fantastic parody of Apple's iTunes Music Store. It's funny, and it's true, and it doesn't matter in the least.
Here's one way to get fans cheaper music and musicians more money:
- Bands sign-up with Apple, but put mp3s on their own website.
- iTunes displays songs and albums just like it does now.
- Songs cost 50 cents, albums cost 3 dollars, previews are free.
- Songs download directly from the bands' website.
- Like ebay, Apple takes a 3% commission for connecting the buyer and seller.
- Musicians keep the rest: 3 times what they now get from iTunes or a CD.
- The listener pays half, the band’s take triples.
Perhaps the Downhill Battle folks haven't heard of MP3.com? Or eMusic.com? I'm actually a big fan of eMusic.com, but it lacks something most people are looking for: most major artists. Consider the flack Apple is getting for not having Madonna or the Rolling Stones online, and multiply that by, well, just about everybody for eMusic. MP3.com tried to launch a revolution, and crashed on the rocky coast. The problems? Many, but included among them were the fact that 95% of the songs available on MP3.com were crap. Pure and simple, people don't want crap.