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I'm sure just about everyone internet-savvy knows all about the RIAA and its continuous campaign of lies and fear against internet filesharing. They continue to claim that mp3 trading is destroying their sales, while ignoring the fact that they've been steadily raising prices to ridiculous levels, selling a smaller and smaller selection of music, and refusing to acknowledge that the slump in their industry might just be linked to the current slump in the entire economy. They keep throwing lawsuit after lawsuit at the problem, attempting to shut down small startup companies and use scare tactics to make people stop trading files online. They constantly line the pockets of the lawmakers in D.C. who are willing to change the way our government works just to keep the giant music cartel happy. It's sickening, it's frightening, and it's ridiculous.

Our country's courts and laws aren't meant to be buttresses to shore up giant, lumbering, old companies who are too huge to be able to change with the times. They fact that they are being used that way frightens me.

Here are my ideas:
Increase the value of physical CDs

Tori Amos' latest album, Scarlet's Walk, was distributed for a limited time in a sort of collector's edition: It came in a small cardboard box that included the audio CD, a DVD with a photo gallery and three music videos, a small metal charm-bracelet trinket, a sheet of stickers drawn by Tori, a map of the U.S. with the road trip that Tori took drawn in, indicating where she traveled while she wrote each song, all the song lyrics, and a bunch of Polaroids of Tori in various places on the trip. That is a CD package worth paying $20 for. I would gladly buy more CDs if I knew that each one I bought would come with a load of extras like this.

Embrace nontraditional distribution methods

If I ever managed to make enough music that I would consider putting out an album, here's how I'd do it. I'd set up a website, which would have four options for people. First, they could download the whole album (or any individual songs) as 192kbit mp3s or oggs, completely free. They would be encouraged to spread the word about the website as well as ditributing the files. It's free promotion, and it makes people happy. Second, for a small fee, they could download the raw WAV files of all the songs, as well as PDFs of the CD booklet and label so they can assemble the CD themselves if they have the time and hardware to do so. Third, they can order the simple version of the CD, inexpensively, which would be just the printed CD with a booklet and a jewel case. Fourth, they can order the value-added version, which would have extra goodies included in the package. And maybe some bubblegum too.

Sign/promote more artists

Maybe if people knew about your small unknown artists (*cough* Sarah Slean *cough*), they'd sell more CDs. Just a thought.

Hilary Rosen is leaving her post as CEO of the RIAA. If I had that post, I'd try to make some of these changes. Where do I apply?


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Apr. 14th, 2003 08:16 am (UTC)
BRAVO. I agree. I download music so that I can see if a group or artist is worth paying the $20 that is charged for CDs. Most aren't. The RIAA takes a huge chunk out of that CD cost anyway, so the artists don't see much of it.
If anyone reads www.userfriendly.org it has several interesting comments on the RIAA

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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