Mark Steyn: Capitalism is the real 'agent of change'
This past week's issue of the Economist has a heart-rending vignette from one of the most ruthlessly capitalist industries on the planet:
"In 2006 EMI, the world's fourth-biggest recorded-music company, invited some teenagers into its headquarters in London to talk to its top managers about their listening habits. At the end of the session the EMI bosses thanked them for their comments and told them to help themselves to a big pile of CDs sitting on a table. But none of the teens took any of the CDs, even though they were free."
"That was the moment we realized the game was completely up," an EMI exec told the magazine. In the United States, album sales in 2007 were down 19 percent from 2006. Don't blame me. I still buy plenty of CDs. But that's because I like Doris Day, and every time I try to insert one of these newfangled MP3s into my fax machine it doesn't seem to play. But if you're not Mister Squaresville, and you dig whatever caterwauling beat combo those London hep cats are digging on their iPods, chances are you find the local record store about as groovy as the Elks Lodge.
Now there are generally two reactions to the above story. If you're like me, you're reminded yet again why you love capitalism. It's dynamic. And the more capitalist your economy, the more dynamic it is. Every great success story is vulnerable to the next great success story – which is why teenagers aren't picking their CDs from the Sears-Roebuck catalog. There's a word for this. Now let me see. What was it again?
Oh, yeah: "change." Innovation drives change, the market drives change. Government "change" just drives things away: You could ask many of the New Hampshire primary voters who formerly resided in Massachusetts.
Think what you will about the opinions Steyn has in the rest of the article. My point here is that the abowe paragraphes are pointing out a very sustantial flaw in the market when it's the market (record music companys) and not the market powers (you and me) that's setting the agenda. Infallably, when there are new ways of getting anything that you want- cheaper, faster and better- the consumers will turn to this option. And that is what the record industry have failed to understand.
I'm not defending piracy file sharing morally, but the record industry have failed to understand what the consumers want's and now are making use of unethical methods to stop something that is unstoppable. They have made their own bed. And as you sew you may reap!
Besides the fact that the music I want is virtually impossible to get my hands on, at least not with out a lot of effort, and the fact that a CD costs $ 25- 50 here, there is also the factor of the record companies taking in the big bucks- not the artists themselves.
A lot of artists have come to the conclusion that it is easier to make money by letting people download their music over the internet, bypassing the vulturic record companies, many times for free (like Stuck Mojo) and has not only got a lot of attention, but also have got them the opportunity to tour and make concerts which in my mind should be the primary way of an artist to make money.
DRM, platform specific music files e t c will drag the industry in to the sewers. The costumers has seen this coming a mile away. Where is the brains in the record industry? The wheel is turning, but the hamster's not there!
(As a side note I can tell you that I myself once was an owner of a very small record company- that was before internet exploded...)