09 August 2008

You can't tell me what to do

A couple of days ago I wrote about my toedip into BitTorrent. There was one part of it that seemed minor or incidental to me until I thought about it more.

And then I wanted one single track from an album that is not available for download, from an album that is sold at a premium above the usual prices, from an artist I don't want except for that one track anyway. I was working against a deadline and I was irritated and a clicked up a "Take That Bwahaha" torrent download. ... (The greedy asshat who wanted to force me to pay double for his crappy album is still stiffed, though. Bwahaha.)

I think this might be very important. We used to have to swallow whatever we were fed by the music industry. Now we don't. We have more power and we like it. It's such a short and simple thing to say, and yet I think it has a big big impact on the way music distribution is changing. "You can't tell me what to do! You are not the boss of me! Bwahahaha!"

In practice, of course, it's not so clearcut. The functions of the music business machinery don't go away. They just get done in other ways. The freedom that we get with our Bwahaha is the freedom to choose who recommends or finds our music for us, because most people are just not going to sit for hours a day surveying what's out there and deciding what to buy based on that. We can buy and play music a track at a time, but someone has to decide what each track goes well with and how to program it when you play it.

The key is that given the chance to DIY or at least have your friends do it, people take it. They would rather go to the trouble to manage their music purchases themselves than to pay to have someone tell them what to listen to. At least for a while, until the balance starts shifting toward having someone else package music again because DIY is so much work. The puzzle is what form that will take.

This is going to bear some more thought.

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