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Comments (14)

Nils Montan wrote on 8 Jun 2010 9:55 AM

Great post.  What, in your opinion, is the best way for artists to get their music out now that the King is dead?

E. Logan Lo wrote on 8 Jun 2010 10:15 AM

@Nil - excellent question; the answer (as you would expect from a lawyer) is "it depends." What type of artist are we talking about here? Music or literature. If music, consider picking up the book FREE, by Chris Anderson, which indicates exactly how bands can make money by giving away their music.

Moreover, look into reading up on the band Dispatch ( which essentially did just that.


Donald Rohan wrote on 8 Jun 2010 10:18 AM

Thanks for the post.  It may be too late for the RIAA, but what lessons are there for other content providers, like newspapers, seeking to monetize their online material?  

Do you establish a small fee to share/receive pay content through the most popular conduits (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)?  

I think content providers have learned that you're never going to stop all unauthorized sharing, and it's foolish to try.  Still, there's a great deal of revenue to be made among those who want to obtain their content easily and legally.  

Many of the people who buy music from iTunes know that they can get it for free with a little extra effort.  Whether it's laziness or conscience, they agree to play by Apple's rules.  

E. Logan Lo wrote on 8 Jun 2010 10:28 AM

@Donald - The answer looks like it's going to lie with Rupert Murdoch who's closing off his materials (from such notables as the WSJ and NY Post) from being searched by Google and Steve Jobs recently announced iAd platform.

They're using technology, rather than litigation, to solve these issues and this is where I think the answer will ultimately lie.

I appreciate the comment!

Mike Mintz wrote on 8 Jun 2010 10:46 AM

Logan: thanks for the great article.  The RIAA could have worked with Napster to create a platform that rivaled iTunes.  Again the question becomes how do you monetize?  Napster tried to go legit under a subscription model - how did that ever pan out?  With sites like http://kickasstorrents and what incentive do users have to play by the rules?  Get your self a UTorrent client and you are in business - all you can consume content for free.  

What stops users from indulging?  Should organizations and artists go after the torrent users who are downloading and uploading bits of the copyrighted file?  How can they monetize torrents?  

Nils Montan wrote on 8 Jun 2010 10:57 AM

Cool. I actually have Chris' book "Free" on my Kindle, but it got buried in the list of more recent purchases.  I hope that piracy doesn't kill the ebook business too, even though I am a reader and not an author.

E. Logan Lo wrote on 8 Jun 2010 11:12 AM

@Mike - to me, that's an easy question. Look at iTunes. The cost of distribution has been pushed to a nominal amount (here $0.99) and in exchange for that $0.99 you get an easily searchable, tagged, sound balanced, DRM-free, music track. Not a bad deal.

Young people have time, older people have money. This means the former can afford to spend four hours looking for a clean copy of Coldplay's The Scientist; for 37 year-old like myself, it's usually easier to click <i>"Buy."</i>

E. Logan Lo wrote on 8 Jun 2010 11:13 AM

@Nils - you should absolutely read FREE as it hits on all these points. Here's a review I wrote for it:

Mike Mintz wrote on 8 Jun 2010 12:33 PM

Logan, it's an interesting argument you make for iTunes.  The convenience of things being easy to buy, high quality, and presented with lots of information definitely is an incentive to pay for your downloads (along with morality, IP law, etc.).  So this is completely understandable for a $0.99 song, but what about a $200+ piece of software?  Many torrent sites allow downloading of premium softwares, games, and other content that is expensive.  

Does your convenience of purchase theory hold up when the price outweighs competing interests of time and effort spent searching for and obtaining the sought after download?

E. Logan Lo wrote on 8 Jun 2010 12:52 PM

@Mike - IMHO morality is a terrible way to do business. Businesses that have happy customers and a happy workforce equal RIDICULOUS profits. Pick up Tony Hsieh's new book about his runaway success with Zappos or any book on Google.

Morality does not belong in business. Because my morality is not your morality.

Having said that, that too is an easy answer - Filemaker. Since 1985, it's been on the forefront of databases and is currently the one of the best cross-platform databases around. And it's shareware.

You like, you pay for it and full functionality. You don't, no harm, no foul. Of course hackers have broken the protection and made it available for everyone. But this is the world we live in now.

Filemaker simply continues to pump out quality software, at a good price, and allows you to test it and try it.

Fredric Roth V wrote on 8 Jun 2010 3:40 PM

Some of the commentors, in responding to the iTunes idea, have brought up the question of software. I would point them to the wildly successful digital game distribution service Steam.

Games are often pirated because they are expensive and have terribly restrictive digital rights management that hamstrings even a legitimate user's enjoyment of the game. One need only search google for the key words DRM and Ubisoft or Bioshock to see a prime example.

Steam has created an application that solves both problems, while securing the game maker a greater profit by cutting out the publisher. On Steam, gamers can buy a game, download it directly to their computer, and that game is then linked to their account. They can install the game on any number of computers, and can play it anywhere, so long as they are logged into their account when they do. In addition, Steam runs deep discounts on games on a weekly basis.

This is the kind of anti-piracy the RIAA/MPAA needs to look at when they design their final play. Something that ENABLES the user/owner, and increases the value of the end product, while still securing the rights of the property owner. It can be a win-win situation, it just requires the industry to do the research, do the work, and apply it.

E. Logan Lo wrote on 8 Jun 2010 4:05 PM

@Fredric - excellent point! Steam was just free recently with registration and I didn't snag it when I could have. Well, just as well, not good to have a client walk in on me trying build a city in Civ IV...

Mike Mintz wrote on 8 Jun 2010 4:40 PM

@Fredric - great example with Steam.

@Logan - they charge for use of Steam?  Thought it was free ...

E. Logan Lo wrote on 8 Jun 2010 6:25 PM

@Mike - Apologies, I was referring to the recent "Portal" announcement for Steam (

I can't have any games on my Mac because I have Zero self-control. It was AoE/RoN that did me in. I have to pay a mortgage now...