Perhaps it’s a bit early for music rightsholders to call this new information a “turning point” in the battle against file-sharing, but it’s interesting. To me, the Guardian story, noting drops in usage of P2P by certain age groups, underscores what we pointed out in several recent documents — How Online Consumers in Italy Find Music on the Internet, What P2P Means to Online Consumers in the U.S., the U.K. and Italy, How U.K. Online Consumers Find Music on the Internet – understanding how people are finding content is the key to future success, not trying to find the perfect lock to control how they consume or share content.

People will always try to get something for free but in this day and age, rightsholders, especially the music labels, have realized that providing a sandbox of sampling, where consumers can check out songs, or preview music videos, in a controlled setting, with no expectation of portability (being able to capture it and stash it on a hard drive) is how you start building a future business.

So news like this is encouraging and appears to confirm the old chestnut we’ve been talking about for years: you fight “free” with choice, convenience and reliability.  Make it easier for consumers to access online and they’ll show you what they’ll pay. Or if they’ll pay.

At some point, the foundations for a 21st century music and media economy will be in place. What will those online service provide that P2P will be hard-pressed to counter (aside from “free” content): online offerings consistently provide breadth and depth of choice for content, simple and effective means of sampling content for consumers, direct links to services or online stores where a consumer can easily buy the content, and/or targeted advertising delivers the targets for advertisers and delivers the relevance consumers will demand (while protecting their privacy). 

We’ve still got a ways to go…

  1. 26 August 2009 at 4:55 pm
    James Strohecker says:

    I’d say there’s also a new wave of disintermediation being conducted by the bands and their promoters underway. The economy has effected how listeners attend concerts and expect immediate gratification/access to music following the show.

    Witness the recent audio offers by major bands at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, Calif.:

    * Cold Play, the hot, hip rock band packed the house (22,000+) and then gave away their latest CD to all attendees. It’s a full CD – and it’s not like the cost was built into the ticket price.
    * Bands now offer a complete show on CD immediately following the concert if you want to wait, or the CD will be mailed to you.
    * The Bridge Concert (benefit for the Bridge School, led by Neil and Peggy Young) provides full concert downloads at a minimal donation cost.

    People don’t want to wait for music. And they don’t want to pay much. And their attention spans are short.

    The bands and promoters who’re smart are putting the music into concert attendees’ hands immediately after a show – which makes a listener more inclined to play the concert, recall the experience, and perhaps promote the band to friends or purchase additional band merchandise. These bands/promoters have adjusted their music delivery methodology and speed in a tight economy where production efficiency (on-demand production) and immediacy is critical.

  2. 26 August 2009 at 6:23 pm
    Mike McGuire says:

    completely agree. I would argue that the physical artifact won’t even be required anymore. . .ticket-stub and e-receipt codes could be enough. In OTWs, I might not even need/want to hang around the venue and, frankly, not every show is a “keeper,” as you well know. I think being able access/acquire at some later time will work just as well…

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