cyberspacial musings
bits about the real and virtual worlds

30 Oct

South Park and Music Sharing

I don’t know how many of you caught it, but last night’s episode of South Park was a hoot. Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny are attempting to form a band (“Moop”), when Cartman breaks off to form a Christian rock band because the market is easier. Cartman and Kyle bet $10 on who will have the first Platinum record.

Stan, Kyle and Kenny decide that the best way to establish a style is to listen to many other bands, but when Kyle’s request for $300 to purchase several CDs is denied, they discover that they can download music off the Internet for free. However, after downloading three songs, the FBI arrives and promptly arrests them. The kids say that they didn’t think they were hurting anyone, so an FBI agent brings them through a hilarious tour of musicians that are unable to purchase gold-encrusted shark tanks, must fly in Gulfstream-3 jets (instead of Gulfstream-4 jets), and can’t purchase islands for their children’s birthdays. The kids decide to go on a music strike because of this, and soon Metallica, Britney Spears, and others have joined them.

After a while they realize that they shouldn’t be striking because musicians are artists and they should be doing what they do for art’s sake, not just for money. Of course, Metallica, Britney and the others say that they are in it for the money. Kyle decides that if they produce good music, that people will pay for it, whether as CD purchases or concert tickets.

So, this is clearly the “it’s-time-to-change-the-business-model” argument for the music industry, where my head is currently at. I believe that this attempt to legalize music on the Internet (iTunes, etc) is a wrong headed attempt to force consumers to pay virtually the same amount for bits that they were paying for atoms. Until the prices significant drop (to about 25 cents per song), I think the music industry is going to continue to flounder. The business models must change, and Kazaa, Morpheus, Limewire, and other P2P apps continue to push this along. I think that the record contracts should start to change so that the industry gets more involved in the promotion of concert tours for these artists — that’s where their next dollars will be coming from. While it’s great to believe that someone can record something once and continue to get paid for it many times, the music industry has finally hit a wall where the goods are so desired that everyone is willing to break the law to get them. That’s when things just have to change.

Anyway, if you can catch the replay of this episode, it’s worth it. You’ll get a good laugh at the RIAA’s expense.

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