Saturday, February 28, 2009

Don't Look To The Music Industry

...for solutions to the newspaper industry's problems. A nifty discussion between Wells & Coyne re the troubles faced by CanWest and others. About half-way in, Coyne suggests that they look to the music business for a way out: invent some kind of nifty new way to read the news (like an IPOD), and move towards micro-payments (like the various on-line music services).

Well, lots of things to argue with here. For one thing, $1 a download is hardly "micro-payment" given the fact that you're buying a product with degraded sound (MP3 and other similar file types sound OK over headphones; you lose the bass when played over a real sound system).

But the larger point is that these new technologies helped stabilize an industry that was in decline on the upside of a business cycle. Now that times are tough, expect a bloodbath. The RIAA is hemorrhaging staff as struggling record companies withdraw support for a business strategy that involves suing your customers.

You can't learn to swim by watching a drowning man, in other words.

Incidentally, its interesting to point out that the P2P movement was in part at least an explicit attempt to, in the words of FreeNet creator Ian Clarke, implement "online socialism". Like many socialist endeavours, FreeNet didn't work very well and Clarke had to renounce these sentiments when he got older and found a real job, but the various Gnutella knockoffs inspired by Julien Frankel's original have done more to change the business landscape of the planet than Karl Marx ever did.

PS. Doesn't Coyne look better in casual wear? He should ditch the suits that make him look like an undertaker.


Red Tory said...

Interesting discussion, if not really advancing too many worthwhile ideas.

That some kind of new business model is needed if the media is going to work its way out of the present "secular crisis" of declining revenues and changing viewership is simply stating the obvious. This is something that papers and even online news magazines have been wrestling with for almost a decade now. No answers yet!

Oh, one minor quibble... regarding the "micro-payment" notion floated by Coyne, I think he said a nickel not $1.

Anonymous said...

"Like many socialist endeavours, FreeNet didn't work very well"

Now there's an understatement. Even for you & yours.

More alike ALL socialist activities.

bigcitylib said...


I'm talking about a music pay service though. I think those av about $1 a file, don't they?

Ti-Guy said...

More alike ALL socialist activities.

Yeah, like banking.