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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Et tu, U2?

U2 manager Paul McGuiness thinks the technology industry is to blame for the record industry's woes. He things they should do more to filter and spy on users. He thinks Dell and Apple should be be paying money to the music companies for (alleged) lost revenue*.

I could go on for days about the number of faulty pretenses this bozo is basing his screed on, but why bother? If you're reading this, chances are, you could do. What I will say is this: people like U2 and Paul McGuiness could eliminate a large chunk of illegal tomorrow if they really wanted to. But it would involve rich rock stars (and the parasites feeding on them) finally saying "we're rich enough."

U2 made news with the first digital download "boxset", The Complete U2. Though they opened the vaults and collected some tracks, there wasn't anything really that new there. They threw together a digital booklet. No physical product was made. Expenses to put this thing together were pretty low, I'm guessing.

The set cost $150, for which you got 398 unique DRM encrusted 128kbp AAC files. Some might look at that as a great deal, at about 38 cents a track, but I'm saying, if you really want to kill illegal downloading, you can do better.

$150? How about $30? I can go out and buy The Complete Spiderman, all the issues from '63-2006 for less than $50. And those weren't in a digital format to begin with. I'm going to guess it was a lot more complicated to transfer hundreds of comics to the digital domain than essentially ripping stuff already digital to AAC.

Don't like $30 for the whole shooting match? Well, how about this: let's drop the album prices. $10 for a download of The Joshua Tree? How about $5? $3? $2? Make it so ridiculously low that one would be stupid not to purchase it legally.

And let's take an album like The Joshua Tree. At this point in it's life, it's pure profit, if we're getting in the download world. The recording expenses have long since been recouped, there's no physical product and the cost of delivery is very small.

Anyone want to tell me why back catalog albums from megastars have to sell for close to the cost of a physical CD? OK, I know, I know. It's because they are pretty much pure profit at this point. I can't say I blame a person for wanting to get fat checks rolling in for doing nothing.

But the system isn't working like that anymore. Rather than finding creative new ways to work within it, these dinosaurs are making fools of themselves whining about technology and suing their fans.

It's funny. I am a musician and a huge music fan, but everyday someone opens their mouth and makes me a little less sympathetic to the plight of the folks at the top.

*Sidenote: anyone else choke on the irony that this guy comes out railing against Apple when Bono was (and still is, to an extent) the poster boy for the friggin' iPod? Come on, there was a U2 signature model iPod fer gawdsakes!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

While I'm not going to fault U2 for wanting royalties on "The Joshua Tree," the manager's comments are incredibly short-sighted and seem to be grasping for a long-gone handhold.

The music industry seems to have a knack for picking the exactly wrong spokesman for every occasion. Especially when you point out that they've already had their hand in the till over on the hardware side. Maybe every artist should get their own iPod model? :)