Reuters reports: “The Recording Industry Association of America (news – web sites) began filing lawsuits against individual users this fall, and so far has reached at least 220 out-of-court settlements, usually for $5,000 or less.”
Let’s do the math on this. 220 times $5K is $1.1 million dollars. Now subtract the estimated cost of each such suit to the RIAA. I’d say the cost of instigating any sort of lawsuit is at least a thousand bucks. Maybe twice that. Conceivably much more than that. So they are netting, and this is being nice, less than a million bucks a year suing their fans and their customers. The RIAA is a group of companies representing artists. How much do you think Mettalica’s share of that few thousand dollars is worth? How much does Madonna benefit from that? It’s a complete joke that the RIAA has gone to war with their fans.
They argue: it’s not the money it’s changing people’s attitudes about copyright infringement. I guess they want to put the fear of god in file traders. Again, what is the net benefit to Madonna? For the most part, pissed off people. The common case of file trading is a common trait of fan behavior and fan behavior is what creates revenues for record companies. Even for smaller names, the economics are the same — the best way to make money is to have a lot of people that love your music. Don’t sue those people.
I don’t think people should steal music. In this new networked world, record companies need to figure out how to create a valuable relationship with their customers because that’s what their customers want. Your average music buying listener loves to buy music. The mp3 phenomena is ultimately a good thing for record labels once they figure out how to capitalize on their real strength, which is that fact that customers like the artists they listen to. The market for any artist is as big as the number of people that like them. mp3’s introduce artists to future customers. The record companies have been slow to react to this fact. They still haven’t.
Here’s an example:
“Bless My MP3” — Fill out this form for an mp3 from our label. You answer these questions and join our list and we’ll give you a personal license for that song for free. It’s legal now. All you have to do is join our list.
Now market to your fans. Offer them (for a price) early release downloads, artwork, t-shirts and crap, show tickets, movie tickets, cool mp3 players. Use the songs they register to profile the person (a la Amazon) and market their favorite bands to them. Suggest other new bands.
This is one little tiny idea of how record companies could use the mp3 phenomena to their advantage.
A new articile is here. Even more music enthusiasts being sued for spreading the word about the artists they love. Another few grand will go into the record companies’ pockets and a few billion in bad blood will be created. The RIAA is killing music. Let’s kill them. Any label in the RIAA should be boycotted.