Thursday, July 22, 2004

LOOK, SHOULDN'T THE RECORD COMPANIES CONSIDER GETTING SOMEONE WITH HALF A CLUE TO EXPLAIN THE DIGITAL WORLD TO THEM?: Baffingly, Korda Marshall, head of Atlantic Records in the UK, has mooted selling two sorts of CD - one, a cheap edition, with copy protection, another, without, which would cost more but would be certain to play on all CD players. Leaving aside the astonishing chutzpah of suggesting that people should pay even more for the already over-priced CD just to be certain it'll play on every device, isn't the whole point of copy protection to stop people file-sharing their music? So what on earth would be the point of using DRM on just half of the CDs sold? Can someone work up a Powerpoint presentation for Mr. Marshall with the words "You only need one recording without DRM for it to get duplicated sixty billion times", please? It's up to you if you want to illustrate this with a picture of a donkey or not. If the music industry wasn't so poorly run, we'd stroke our chin and ponder if the whole DRM debacle hadn't been cooked up to try and persuade people to pay more for a functioning CD.

This came on last night's Great Music Debate on Radio 2, in which Marshall also demonstrated his poor grasp of a brief by insisting simultaneously that "internet piracy has done great damage" and that the "industry is in a very, very healthy state." Which is it, Korda?


10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Korda Marshall also commented: "We use it mainly for the media now because [of] the reality of sending records to journalists and to radio stations and to media, so all our promotional CDs are copy protected,"

I'm a music journalist and also host a local radio show. Atlantic's -and their fledglings’- promo cd's are now instantly binned as they won't play on either my Mac or my dilapidated home stereo. If I can't check them out, they don't get aired, reviewed or even discussed down the pub. In short, they receive absolutely no pre-promotion whatsoever, thus uprooting their entire rationale. People need to be aware of the music if they’re to buy it; whether that be from radio play, reviews, downloads, or word of mouth. It seems clear to me that the demise of the global dominating record industry will be from eating itself from the inside out. I just wonder when the idiots in charge will realise this.

Best, Tom, Bristol
-Fantastic blog by the way, keep up the good work.

simon h b said...

Yes, there was something about "dishonest music critics", wasn't there? Nothing like slagging off the people who'll be reviewing all your artists in future, is there?

Anonymous said...

korda is a great man and has achieved so much for himself and the labels and artists he has worked with. its easy to ATTEMPT to bring down those who are at the top, but they are at the top for a reason.... that being they are the best in their field. Lets not judge him by his methods, lets judge him on his end product. Im willing to stake my house on the fact that his methods are well calculated and will produce the desired result. Cause and effect....simple...people always fear what they dont understand....but u will understand soon enough im sure.

simon h b said...

To be fair, most of the people at the top of the music industry are there not because they're any sort of artistic visionary, but normally for exactly the opposite reasons.

Maybe he has done some great calculations, but I suspect his desired result will be "greater profits for his shareholders" rather than "people having exactly the same rights in music they've paid for as before."

Which is fair enough - he's a businessman, in a profit-maximising business, in a Capitalist society. But let's not try and pretend that introducing a two tier system of broken CDs and CDs that actually work is in any way the kindly act of a benevolent figure.

william said...

with regards to his artistic vision....... maybe u should ask the members of take that and all their fans how his artistic vision fares with others in the field....and that was when he was just an A&R...this guy has done it all in virtually every side of the business except the creative side. I understand your reasons for suggesting that most in his position are in there for 'the opposite resons', but i think you'll find that with Korda, his resume suggests otherwise.

To be honest something had to be done to counteract the internet and cd copying craze that has plundered cd sales over the past decade. He was the only man in power brave enough to take on such a decision, whilst all of the other label execs have just sat on the fence. It was a gamble yes... and we will have to see if it pays off.... but if it does it will be a momentous achievement that will start a trend every label will have to follow to ensure maximum profits. You suggest its only the shareholders interest he has in mind.....but without secure sales....the artist cant survive!.... so therefore naturally he is fighting on behalf of the artist and therefore the consumers who support the artists and wish for them to sell and do well therefore encouraging future releases!...
its all a domino effect.

william said...

with regards to his artistic vision....... maybe u should ask the members of take that and all their fans how his artistic vision fares with others in the field....and that was when he was just an A&R...this guy has done it all in virtually every side of the business except the creative side. I understand your reasons for suggesting that most in his position are in there for 'the opposite resons', but i think you'll find that with Korda, his resume suggests otherwise.

To be honest something had to be done to counteract the internet and cd copying craze that has plundered cd sales over the past decade. He was the only man in power brave enough to take on such a decision, whilst all of the other label execs have just sat on the fence. It was a gamble yes... and we will have to see if it pays off.... but if it does it will be a momentous achievement that will start a trend every label will have to follow to ensure maximum profits. You suggest its only the shareholders interest he has in mind.....but without secure sales....the artist cant survive!.... so therefore naturally he is fighting on behalf of the artist and therefore the consumers who support the artists and wish for them to sell and do well therefore encouraging future releases!...
its all a domino effect.

william said...

sorry bout the duplicated message

Anonymous said...

William, let's just set aside for a moment the broader point about if all this file-protection is neccesary or not; I suspect that our take on this issue is going to be too wide to reach an agreement there. Let's, instead, just look at the question:

How will Korda's suggestion stop piracy/fielsharing?

The simple answer is, it can't, it won't: If there's a version with no copyright control on it, the filesharer and the pirate will buy that, and use that as their seed for the filesharing and the piracy. Having a version of the album available with copy protection, and one without, is utterly meaningless - it's like locking all your doors and windows except the ones round the back; it's like a prison with a really strong front door, but an emergency exit on the side. Now, since Korda is clearly a smart guy, he must know that copy-protecting half a batch is the same as not copy-protecting any of it, which raises the question: what's the thinking behind having two versions of the same album on sale. And the only reason I can see for that is: to screw more money out the consumer. There's no artistic reason; there's no security reason. It's all about getting a few extra quid through the tills. The irony is, of course, that it's the law abiding sort who actually go out of their way to buy the official release who are most likely to lose out here, as they're more likely to shell out for the full version. Most people, told "it's x pounds, or x pounds plus a fiver if you want it to work in your car" will keep the x pounds and head off to Limewire or eDonkey.

simon h b said...

... and, although that appeared as an anonymous comment, it was actually me...

william said...

when looked at in that way i can see a cause for your concern. Although i cant say that i know the in's and outs behind Korda's strategy, i am sure he is aware of this obvious situation. My take on it all is a simple one. I guess that he must simply have decided that it was too much too soon to switch from the unprotected cd's that work everywhere, to sell the protected ones when noone was really prepared for them. He must have decided to gradually get us to adjust to this new form of media, price wise and media player wise. If he had gone and just sold the copy protected ones only, there would have been alot of dissapointed Darkness fans out there who could not play the music on their system. Im sure he's aware that people will still be able to copy from the unprotected media so i doubt that copy protection was the primary objective here. I feel it must have been the first stage in a process, this being gettin the consumer to adapt to this new medium, and not only adapt but create awareness about it also. The eventuall outcome of this process being only copy protected media to be sold. This can be the only logical conclusion.

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