Seem to be lots of news reports today saying that Pirate Bay (and sites like it) will soon be banned at the ISP level in the UK.
I hope the music & movie industries aren’t expecting a sudden windfall of new customers when this takes place. I can’t see that happening at all.
Here’s what I see happening: Children exchanging USB memory sticks full of copyrighted material outside the school gates. Spivs going around industrial estates selling DVDs full of pirated movies & music. Invitation-only private networks for sharing files. People using secure web-proxies (VPN) to tunnel legitimately to servers in countries not affected by the ban – like Chinese Facebook users do now. All that will happen is that the means of doing all these things will just become common knowledge. Right now, with Pirate Bay, the music/movie cartel can monitor who’s downloading what, they’ll soon lose that ability completely.
If I was running a music company and wanted to reconnect with my customers I’d be focused on giving the customer something they can’t get with a pirate copy – so with every CD sold I’d include a ticket that might win you something really cool, something money alone can’t buy: backstage passes for gigs, chance to watch album recordings, meet the band, etc. Maybe a special access code for an invite-only Facebook friend hookup with the band – something you could brag about to friends. And also a load of little prizes, like the next album for free.
I read a short while ago that album sales are doing well in Japan because they make such a big deal about the artwork & packaging (like we did in the 70/80s with albums in the UK). After all, no one appreciates being given a CD-R with an inky scribble on it for Christmas or their birthday. They can borrow that idea for a TV ad campaign if they like – much better than ‘Copying stuff funds organised crime’, who gives a shit what funds organised crime – because nobody wants to be thought of as a cheapskate bastard.
When I was in my teens the ZX Spectrum home PC was the must have gadget. Kids in my class would use the newly released Amstrad tape-to-tape deck to copy the latest games releases from one tape to another. Because those tapes were analogue, the copy would degrade a little bit each time. You don’t have that problem with digital media, you get a perfect clone every time. Even with that piracy going on, the games companies still made packets of money by innovating constantly. Music tapes were copied in the same way. Many kids would record the Top 40 off the radio on a Sunday evening onto a tape. If I want to listen to ANY of those songs right now I need only go to Youtube.com (some of them even have the original video too). Sure, the quality is better from a CD, but haven’t we all got used to inferior MP3 anyway?
My final point would be that a lot of what the music industry now releases is complete crap. Go find a lot more people like Adele, Rumer, Paolo Nutini and you’ll sell loads of CDs to people like me in their 40s. Finding stuff like this on Youtube actually made me go and buy the CD from Amazon – so please don’t make Youtube your next target!