Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Businesses Media Music Technology

New EMI Boss Says 'Downloads May Be Good' 173

warrior_s writes "Douglas Merrill was just installed as CIO of EMI (one of the big four that forms the RIAA). The ex-Googler recently stated it is a 'poor business model to sue your customers. I don't think that's a sustainable strategy.' Quoted by the Guardian, he was referring to Warner Music, EMI, Vivendi Universal and Sony BMG's current practice of trying to use legal systems around the world to force their customers into buying products rather than using the free P2P networks and independent music sites and services. 'Previously, the music industry has rubbished studies that claim file sharing can have a positive effect on music sales. "I think people will pay," Merrill said. "There is evidence that people we think are not buying music are buying music. They're just not buying it in formats we can measure."'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

New EMI Boss Says 'Downloads May Be Good'

Comments Filter:
  • Tag (Score:5, Funny)

    by esocid ( 946821 ) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @02:55PM (#22954734) Journal
    Suddenoutbreakofcommonsense?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by zappepcs ( 820751 )
      I doubt it. More likely he was the first to walk through the poison ivy, it's just a rash. Wait till all the others start stomping through the poison ivy that is P2P... then call it an outbreak.

      Not sure how good an analogy that is, but seems good. If they make enough PR stink about this, it might just get them some business. Plan A was not working. Rest assured that plan B will be as friendly as the DMCA, on steroids.

      I hope that the real truth of it is that they looked at NIN and Radiohead and did some math
    • by JordanL ( 886154 )
      I think it's fitting that Captain Obvious replied to a post quoting Captain Obvious.
    • Re:Tag (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Technician ( 215283 ) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @03:44PM (#22955406)
      Suddenoutbreakofcommonsense?

      Maybe.. I think that they noticed that the #1 seller of music is now by download. Apple has passed Wal * Mart as the number 1 music retailer. That only happened after Apple started offering DRM free tracks and still sold music.

      They still hate high quality P-P distribution and they believe everyone should buy their own copy. Trying to sell it crippled at high prices is their problem that they haven't figured out yet.

      The market is ripe for bulk (wholesale) prices. There are loads of 30 and 60 Gig devices. They are trying to trickle the product at a buck a drop. Nobody is saying fill-er-up. They go elsewhere for that. If they wanted to sell stuff, how about the entire Beatles catalog as a zip for $80. Aerosmith, Led Zepplin, Pink Floyd, Styx, Abba, Slipknot, Atreyu, Prince, or just about anyone with a fan base could clean up with the right price of the package deal for the back catalog. They are stuck in the 8 track or LP mentality of providing only 20 minutes per side at a buck a track even for back catalog stuff.

      This is readily apparent when you pick up some of the buck a DVD old TV shows. Someone had to go to the expense of creating a new theme song to put on these DVD's because the labels wouldn't release the rights to the original sound track. Is that stupid or what? They had an oppertunity to sell the music, but instead didn't because they were too stupid to negotiate a deal. They got $0 for 0 copies sold. How is that a deal for them. It was much cheaper for the TV content folks to simply create a new theme song.

      Pick up a copy of any of the Andy Griffith, Beverly Hillbillies, Pettycoat Junction, or other oldie buck a DVD TV show for examples of this in action. Hit a torrent and find the original theme songs. They are not even close. I think the music folks wanted to charge more than the retail price of the DVD just for the rights to the songs. If anybody knows the details on this, let me know.
      • I've noticed this (about the replacement music), I noticed on Bonanza and Dragnet.

        Anyway- my guess is it made royalties directly to the authoer of the music that much cheaper. you're right though- it's not like they were collecting a ton of money on those themes anyway - I'd assume.
      • Re:Tag (Score:4, Interesting)

        by kesuki ( 321456 ) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @09:25PM (#22959022) Journal
        Dollar discs are generally put out for content that has lapsed into 'public domain' http://www.topiclink.com/info/article?page=5 [topiclink.com]
        according to that site, 16 episodes of Andy Griffith have fallen into public domain 55 episodes of Beverly hillbillies have gone PD

        so they pay a bad music composer to make a cheap theme song, someone who's hard up for cash, and probably isn't in any guilds... it's highly unlikely they even approached the rights holders of the theme songs.
    • What was formerly common sense would say that bending over backwards for people who aren't actually your customers (they're more like your leeches) and encouraging your actual customers to join them is not a sustainable business strategy. I've always been highly suspicious of the "go ahead and share all you want, you don't have to buy a thing" business model, because it relies on the record companies giving away a lot for free, and simply hoping against hope that those people who were reluctant to give you
  • by MrNaz ( 730548 ) * on Thursday April 03, 2008 @02:55PM (#22954744) Homepage
    Here I was thinking that not even big business could afford the salary of Captain Obvious. Either I was wrong or he's doing pro bono work these days.
    • As a Chief Information Officer, how much impact will he have on membership in ruthless, asinine combines? It's not really in his job description to be influencing EMI's membership in RIAA.

      We can hope for an influence, but there is no real mechanism there.
      • by eean ( 177028 )
        I'm guessing being a CIO of a media company is kind of a big deal...

        It would be his job to implement new technologies to sell their product etc.
        • It is a big deal, but the CEO would be the one to make EXECUTIVE decisions about whether to pull out of the RIAA (or urge different tactics), not the CIO. Just as you would not expect the CFO (Chief Financial Officer) to build a new vision of DRM for their products - it's just not his/her turf.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Cctoide ( 923843 )
      Almost: he's doing pro-Bono work.
  • Duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by explosivejared ( 1186049 ) <hagan.jared@noSPAm.gmail.com> on Thursday April 03, 2008 @02:58PM (#22954776)
    poor business model to sue your customers

    It's sad that has taken this long for "insight" like that to surface in the industry. You would think that would be an important topic in business 101, but I guess not.
    • Re:Duh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Em Adespoton ( 792954 ) <slashdotonly.1.adespoton@spamgourmet.com> on Thursday April 03, 2008 @03:04PM (#22954852) Homepage Journal
      What it took was investors, via the board, hiring a CIO from outside the industry who had a clue. Now the trick is: will he actually be able to change things? He's only the CIO, not the CEO or CFO. It's good PR for EMI, but his views don't necessarily translate into company policy change. PR must love him though -- he can help offset all the negative publicity Legal is sending their way (at least in the short term).
      • It's more than that, as the CIO he's going to be on the hook for figuring out how to measure those sales (generated by P2P traffic) that they just can't currently measure well. So he might just have some decent pull on the future direction of the label... ...i hope

        l4h
      • He's only the CIO, not the CEO or CFO

        It depends on the company, but the CIO can have quite a lot of power. Particularly if you assume that distribution is generally moving towards going over the internet, and therefore a large portion of the "record company" business will then consist of providing the IT services for online distribution. Sure, the distribution portion of the business has been taking a back-seat to marking/branding, but the CIO might still have quite a lot of sway within the company.

      • EMI is the only one of the big four that has had any of my money in the last year. I have impulse-purchased a few things from them via iTunes Plus. I have looked on iTunes a few times for other things, seen that they are only available with DRM and decided to buy the CD later then forgotten about it. Since EMI are the only label that gives me what I want (DRM-free music at a reasonable bitrate in a sensible format) at the time I want it, they are making money from me while the other three are not. Event
      • The CIO isn't the only thing new about this company. Back in September Terra Firma, a private equity firm, bought out EMI. These new owners are very cost conscious and have been making drastic changes across the board. These include a new CEO, a new CIO, cutting 1-2 thousand staff (out of 5.5 thousand total), being the first of the major labels to sell DRM-free music on a wide scale, cutting the amount of funding RIAA and IFPI get to prosecute file sharers and threatening to end it all together.

        In general t
    • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn@@@gmail...com> on Thursday April 03, 2008 @03:12PM (#22954968) Journal

      It's sad that has taken this long for "insight" like that to surface in the industry.
      Sometimes I wonder how another industry would react if a magical technology dropped in their lap that made duplicating their product instantaneous and nearly free (people already pay their ISPs) to nearly instantly deliver it to customers. What would an automaker think of something like that? They would probably rejoice and drop their pricing to pennies on the dollar.

      Unfortunately, this was not how the music industry reacted to this same method of magical delivery. I realize the analogy has flaws but one would think that this would be a gift to marketing and profits. Instead, they've reacted in possibly the poorest way possible. Ignore its existence and sue the hell out of anyone doing it.
      • by jimicus ( 737525 ) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @03:28PM (#22955176)

        Sometimes I wonder how another industry would react if a magical technology dropped in their lap that made duplicating their product instantaneous and nearly free (people already pay their ISPs) to nearly instantly deliver it to customers. What would an automaker think of something like that? They would probably rejoice and drop their pricing to pennies on the dollar.
         
        I've already suggested something a bit like this as a thought experiment some time ago - essentially, a 3-dimensional photocopier which costs very little to run. Original in one end, as many identical copies as you like out the other.

        I suspect it's more likely the inventor would be quietly encouraged to commit suicide and his invention destroyed. Every single Western country's economy depends on such a machine not existing, if only for the fact that you could use it to reproduce your own currency. While it's nice to imagine a utopia in which society changed overnight to accommodate the idea that suddenly, material goods need no longer be scarce, society doesn't tend to change that quickly.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          I doubt it that it would work the same way. For one, material cost is non-zero. For two, most objects are made of several non-plastic components. I certainly will not be able to print a mouse with that technology. Not even a stapler or scissors would work (and that's just from looking around my desk).

          What would work, however, is printing out objects with basic shapes that can be made from plastics: garden chairs, book shelves, plastic containers (I'd buy a 3-d printer just for those), etc. Yes, these indu

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by compro01 ( 777531 )
            i don't think he's referring to current 3-D printers and prototype fabricators and such.

            we're talking objects-like-files, star-trek-style replication. right-click, copy, paste, and you've duplicated a car from random atoms, at near-zero cost. post-scarcity.

            while this is not feasible now (and it may never be), as he said, it's an interesting path to wonder what would happen if we suddenly did have that capability.
            • by jimicus ( 737525 )

              i don't think he's referring to current 3-D printers and prototype fabricators and such.

              we're talking objects-like-files, star-trek-style replication. right-click, copy, paste, and you've duplicated a car from random atoms, at near-zero cost. post-scarcity.
              Thanks for the clarification - that's exactly what I meant.
      • What would an automaker think of something like that? They would probably rejoice and drop their pricing to pennies on the dollar.
        you're joking right? If automakers could make a car for less than 20$ do you really think they would be selling them at anywhere near that price? more likely the industry would move toward a business model like what Microsoft uses. They're not "selling" anything, they're "licensing" the Ford name and design for example.
        • by Machtyn ( 759119 )
          The problem is not that the automakers could make the car for less than $20, but after the automakers spend millions on research and development and production of a new car, they won't be able to recoup those costs when everyone starts "copying" the model from the first purchaser. (And why not, the first purchaser of the model could also reproduce the car for the same cost as the manufacturer, but didn't spend the money on creation.)

          Still, the consumers of the music industry are demanding lower prices b
        • by Idiomatick ( 976696 ) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @04:51PM (#22956350)
          Oh god... open source cars. Car analogy definitely not working this time. While there would still be drivers and crashes i don't like the idea of having a car designed by people comfortable with a command prompt.
      • by HarvardAce ( 771954 ) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @03:47PM (#22955450) Homepage

        Sometimes I wonder how another industry would react if a magical technology dropped in their lap that made duplicating their product instantaneous and nearly free (people already pay their ISPs) to nearly instantly deliver it to customers. What would an automaker think of something like that? They would probably rejoice and drop their pricing to pennies on the dollar.
        Yes, because you can now buy software for $10 or movies for $2.

        The problem with your analogy is that there has never been a high cost of duplicating product in any of these industries. In economic terms, the marginal cost of producing an additional unit is low. However, the fixed costs (paying the artists, recording studio, etc.) here are proportionally much larger. It may cost $1 million to develop a piece of software, and then $5 per unit to put it all in a box and ship it out. Let's say the software costs $50. Now, you create a better way of distribution and the marginal cost is now $0. This doesn't mean suddenly the company is going to be giving them away for free...in this simple scenario, in order to get the equivalent amount of profit per unit (ignoring changes in supply or demand), they would be able to sell the product for $45.

        Now let's take a look at the auto industry. Here, marginal costs make up a much higher percentage of the total cost. To make things simple, let's say each car costs the company $10,000 to produce (in materials and labor costs), and they sell the car for $12,500. If you suddenly can lower the costs (due to your magical technology) for each car to $100, then to get the same profit per unit (again ignoring changes in supply or demand) they would only charge $2,600. In one case we only reduced the price by 10%, in the other we reduced it by almost 80%.

        The problem is that people in general expect to pay near the marginal cost for an item, but in general do not take into account the fixed costs with producing a particular product. For this reason, it's easier for a person to justify spending $100 on an object they know costs about $95 in materials to produce, while they hesitate to spend $15 on a CD they know costs only pennies to create.

        For more information on marginal cost and how it applies, I highly recommend taking a look at the Wikipedia article on Marginal Cost [wikipedia.org].
        • by olman ( 127310 )

          To make things simple, let's say each car costs the company $10,000 to produce (in materials and labor costs), and they sell the car for $12,500. If you suddenly can lower the costs (due to your magical technology) for each car to $100, then to get the same profit per unit (again ignoring changes in supply or demand) they would only charge $2,600. In one case we only reduced the price by 10%, in the other we reduced it by almost 80%.

          Ah, taking lessons from badanalogguy?

          First of all, it takes way way big pile of money to design a new car, especially if it's in fact new-new design with chassis and everything and not just minor revamp of last years model.

          Especially with the newfangled automatic stabilization and the like.

          So if anything, making a car has higher development costs than software. And, well, hell of a lot of embedded software goes into ABS and the like. And it has to work right every time or they will sue your butt off.

          For this reason, it's easier for a person to justify spending $100 on an object they know costs about $95 in materials to produce, while they hesitate to spend $15 on a CD they know costs only pennies to create.

          I bit

      • Photo industry? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Comboman ( 895500 ) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @03:55PM (#22955528)
        Sometimes I wonder how another industry would react if a magical technology dropped in their lap that made duplicating their product instantaneous and nearly free (people already pay their ISPs) to nearly instantly deliver it to customers.

        Film companies like Kodak and Fuji faced exactly that challenge. Imagine a world where no one has to buy film to put in their camera and no one has to pay for film processing to print their photos. Less than 15 years ago, Kodak made most of its money from camera film and photo processing supplies, chemicals and equipment. That market has all but disappeared and yes, Kodak has had to lay off staff and close plants, but overall the company is still doing well. How? Rather than fearing the new digital technology or trying to sue or legislate it away, they have embraced it. The music industry could learn from that.

      • .....there's two ways to get a broccoli, you can buy one at the store, or get a packet of seeds and make a lot of copies for cheap. Go ahead, share some with friends! I'm in ag, that's where my money comes from,yet I encourage everyone to grow as much of their own food as possible. Because that is just a good idea, cheap good food for everyone is the goal. That's the best this side of another industry that's been around a long time can offer, bioreplicator technology. Go buy your meats directly from the far
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Wheely ( 2500 )

        Sometimes I wonder how another industry would react if a magical technology dropped in their lap that made duplicating their product instantaneous and nearly free

        You mean like the industry that used to deliver ice to peoples doors or maybe you were thinking of traveling minstrels. Perhaps you mean scribes or the mummification industry. Maybe you speak of the people who used to walk in front of cars with a big flag.

        Things move on, industries lose their relevance others move abroad and the people left behind have to adapt.

        In my view it is important to remember there was music before the recording industry and there will be music after it. These businesses are not

    • poor business model to sue your customers?

      Must not be a Harvard Boy.
      *sniff*
  • Where's the money? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Thelasko ( 1196535 ) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @03:01PM (#22954808) Journal

    There is evidence that people we think are not buying music are buying music. They're just not buying it in formats we can measure.
    If they're buying, where's the money going? Is he referring to advertising? I'm confused.
    • I think what he's trying to get at is the assumption that illegal downloaders don't buy music. He's saying that they *are* buying music, but just not in a way that we can track along with the download. In other words, "pirates" are also legitimate customers, but the record companies can't measure how much of their sales are going to "pirates".

      At least that's my guess as to what he means, because otherwise I can't figure it out.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        Actually, I would put it another way:

        I have 2 main sources to listen to the same music:

        I can download it.
        I can listen on the radio.

        Both of these have the same result: brand recognition and advertising for the band.

        When that band comes on a concert tour I will gladly shell out £100-200 for a decent pair of tickets and a night out.

      • by Captain Spam ( 66120 ) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @04:00PM (#22955584) Homepage
        I think you've got it, but to try to make it a bit clearer:

        If someone buys a song/album, they industry counts it as an $X gain in their records. That's the normal part.

        If someone pirates a song/album, the industry counts it as an $X loss in their records. This is where they get their annual "zomg teh big scary internets are costing us eleventy hojillion dollars a YEER!!!! i <3 my private jet" statements from.

        But, if someone pirates a song/album and then turns around and buys it because he or she likes it, the industry counts it as BOTH a $X loss due to piracy AND a $X gain due to the sale. That's what he's talking about. They have no way of knowing if the $X gain was due to the $X "loss" from actually listening to the song(s) first, so it goes down in both records, even if the $X gain should replace (not just neutralize) the $X "loss".

        That, if I am not mistaken, is where the big scary loss figures come from. They assume that it keeps inflating the "loss" column, instead of what it should be doing, erasing from the losses. This is how they can cry over the so-called massive losses sustained from piracy while raking in ever-growing profits year after year. It's either a culture of stupidity that makes them unaware/unwilling to realize this, or a culture of greed that makes them think they can somehow translate their imaginary "loss" into profits by litigation.

        Just my interpretation of it. It's probably the same as what you were thinking.
    • Right, the industry already tracks all sold formats. What they're not tracking is (the gullible) people paying monthly p2p "subscriptions" or people paying usenet subscriptions. Those people are not buying music, they're buying access.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      If they're buying, where's the money going? Is he referring to advertising? I'm confused.
      I can think of a couple of ways:

      1) Somebody downloads one album. Likes it so much, they're first in line for the next album that comes along.

      2) Somebody downloads a bunch of different individual songs. Likes them. Buys an album or two from which one of those songs came.

      It's all based on the idea that if somebody is excited about music, they'll spend money on it.
    • by CSMatt ( 1175471 )
      Flea markets? eBay? There are plenty of people who claim to buy media secondhand because they don't want to support the lawsuits.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      I think its a vareity of alternative revenue streams that are often overlooked.

      1. Advertising (in two forms - being exposed to revenue generating targeted advertising as well as the free promotion/advertising a band can achieve through internet music sharing)
      2. Concert tickets
      3. Merchandise (like t-shirts, posters)
      4. List probably continues, please add your thoughts here

      I have been exposed to many bands through word of mouth from friends, streaming radio, sites like pandora or last.fm, etc. I also
    • by dlim ( 928138 )
      Used CDs?
  • Business model (Score:5, Informative)

    by esocid ( 946821 ) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @03:04PM (#22954854) Journal

    "We should do a bunch of experiments to find out what the business model is."
    Um, I believe people have been screaming it at you for the past 5 years.
    1. Flat fee all you can download buffets.
    2. No DRM.
    3. Multiple quality formats.
    4. Wide variety of artists.
    5. Profit!
    Sorry had to throw that last one in there.

    As a side note I don't think my ordered list worked. Bug?
    • by CSMatt ( 1175471 )
      That's already being implemented [slashdot.org].
      • by esocid ( 946821 )
        No, that is an ISP tax. That is different because people who don't even utilize it will have to shell out for it, which is like forcing everyone to pay for car insurance regardless of whether or not you own a car (man these car analogies just keep flowing). There should be an online service, like allofmp3.com used to be but with all of the aforementioned stipulations, and maybe more that customers would want.
    • Well it's a bit more complicated than that. What people have clearly wanted is
      • FREE all you can download buffets
      • No DRM
      • Any format or encoding bitrate they choose
      • Every piece of music ever recorded

      But clearly that's not a viable business model by itself. Even a low flat fee without DRM, as you suggest, might result in everyone joining for 1 month, downloading the entire library (causing huge bandwidth expense for the business), and then cancel. That's certainly not unthinkable, considering how cheap s

      • by cp.tar ( 871488 )

        A relatively low flat fee would more than offset the hassle of downloading everything you could possibly want just to save a bit of money. The time it takes is much more expensive.
        I say that as a person who copied his girlfriend's entire music library, some 40 gigabytes, then deleted most of it, and still hasn't found the time to relabel and sort it.
        If I could pay a nominal fee to download when I think of something, I'd probably download a few albums or several songs each month after the first (I'd downlo

        • A relatively low flat fee would more than offset the hassle of downloading everything you could possibly want just to save a bit of money.

          The question there, though, is whether there is a fee low enough that you'd pay it to save yourself the hassle, but high enough that record companies will feel is profitable enough to make their business worthwhile. It's not a viable business model until you determine a fee that hits that sweet-spot for both parties.

          Personally, when the internet first hit, I imagined

  • Mistake (Score:5, Funny)

    by Necreia ( 954727 ) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @03:04PM (#22954858)
    April Fools was Monday
  • by Gat0r30y ( 957941 ) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @03:05PM (#22954876) Homepage Journal
    Wow, the music industry decides fighting the inevitable isn't a viable business strategy, and only a decade too late!
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by pxuongl ( 758399 )
      actually, and sadly, i think that these changes in attitude have more to do with: 1) people starting to successfully counter RIAA litigation 2) the success of music stores like itunes and amazon thank it has to do with them deciding anything or reading any of the writing on the proverbial walls.
      • by cdrguru ( 88047 )
        Success of iTunes? What are they 20% of the music SALES and 0.001% of the music downloads? I'd hardly call that a success. The iTunes music store is a add-on that is designed to help the clueless iPod owner stay legal. The fact that they too are irrelevent to music downloads in general and only relevent to the few music sales that are still occuring is interesting but not useful.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by pxuongl ( 758399 )
          your statement is contradictory or very encouraging depending on how you see it....

          If you're 20% of all music sales and only .001% of all music downloads total, that means that you can potentially, just by capturing 1% of all downloads, increase your sales by 10,000%!

          that's one way of interpreting the numbers. another way of interpreting it is that you have no idea what you're talking about.

          in what world do you live in where having 20% of music SALES constitute a failure? Walmart, the #1 music retai
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ajs ( 35943 )

      Wow, the music industry decides fighting the inevitable isn't a viable business strategy, and only a decade too late!

      No... the music industry hired someone who already knew that. This does not mean that the music industry has learned their lesson. They just knew that hiring someone with Google on their resume was a PR win.

      The good news is that this guy was hired to be their CIO. The only time you hire a CIO and send him on a press tour is if you plan to introduce new tech to solve your problems. We'll see what they come up with, and perhaps it won't suck.

      Then again, I doubt he's going to be allowed to turn EMI into YouTu

  • Holy Crap (Score:5, Funny)

    by whisper_jeff ( 680366 ) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @03:09PM (#22954932)
    Holy crap! Someone in a position of power in the Big Four actually gets it.

    I forget - is that one of the signs of the end of the world?
    • Holy crap! Someone in a position of power in the Big Four actually gets it.

      I forget - is that one of the signs of the end of the world?
      No, that's the four horsemen.
  • by merc ( 115854 ) <slashdot@upt.org> on Thursday April 03, 2008 @03:13PM (#22954974) Homepage
    The ex-Googler recently stated it is a 'poor business model to sue your customers.

    Darl McBride was not immediately available for comments.
  • by Whuffo ( 1043790 ) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @03:14PM (#22954992) Homepage Journal
    It's nice to see one of the recording industry "partners" acknowledge that downloading music may have some value. Now all they need to figure out is that music downloads are a fact of life.

    Something that even this executive hasn't received a clue about: Where do you and your corporation fit into a distribution system that you do not own, can't control, and add no value to?

    Maybe I'm giving this bozo too much credit - since iTunes is currently the number one music retailer, then even this clown could figure out that music downloads "may have some value". I suspect the concept that their target market will obtain their music from the vendor that offers the most convenient product at the lowest price will completely elude him. They'll continue to turn out a substandard product, cripple it with intrusive DRM, and try to sell the digital version at the same price as a physical CD (or even higher).

    The record companies need to take a look at the past to see their future. Much as the producers of buggy whips, button hooks, electron tubes (and many more) have had to either find another product to produce or go out of business, the record industry is rapidly sliding into irrelevance. "Record company" - their fate is in their name. Who produces, sells, or buys records these days?

    • by cdrguru ( 88047 )
      The lowest price is zero, and they can't live with that. Today, it is free as long as you don't mind not being "legal". Tomorrow, it will still be free and it might even be legal.

      Until they come to terms with the idea that society (as defined by the people under 30) have determined that it should all be free, trying to get paid for music is hopeless. Maybe then they can figure out how to get paid for something - just not music.

      Worried about crappy music? Well, if nobody is paying then there is no "gatek
    • The thing these guys don't seem to get is that cost of entry into the music distribution business has fundamentally changed in a way that increasingly leaves guys in suits out of the loop. The cost associated with producing a record has gone from very large (time in a studio, printing LP's, marketing, distribution) to not so large at all anymore (for instance the Black Eyed Peas record, edit and produce their records with just a mac, and some mic's). Increasingly marketing can be done through other channe
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      iTMS was the #1 retailer for a week because of holiday gift cards. WalMart still averages more sales month to month. Also iTMS is the worst kind of download, DRMed. iTMS is as unfair to the artists as any CD deal ever was and you have less control of "your" music. Apple is just really good at pretending not to be evil.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by TheRaven64 ( 641858 )

        Also iTMS is the worst kind of download, DRMed.
        Not all of iTunes downloads are DRM'd, and the ones that aren't are most relevant to this article since most of them are from EMI. I've bought a few albums from them in the last six months, 256Kb/s AAC (the same quality I rip my own CDs), no DRM.
      • by edwdig ( 47888 )
        iTunes is only unfair to the artist if the artist is signed to a major label. If the artist puts the songs on iTunes directly, they get 70 cents of the 99. That's rather good, as most stores don't have the volume to negotiate credit card processing fees low enough to offer anywhere near that rate.
  • "They're just not buying it in formats we can measure."

    You're not writing, composing, or playing the music. There aren't any execs in the recording studios helping to put it on disc. Your only job is to take a cut of the money that someone who isn't you is trying to give to someone else who isn't you... and you can't even be bothered to keep track of how much money you're taking?! Is there anything scheduled in your day planner besides interviews, hookers, and blow?
  • by zenderbender ( 663373 ) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @03:20PM (#22955066) Homepage
    Douglas Merrill CIO of EMI was just fired from his job!
  • Wrong position title (Score:5, Informative)

    by Honest Man ( 539717 ) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @03:24PM (#22955128)
    It should be noted he's not the CIO of EMI, he's the President of Digital Business. http://www.paidcontent.org/entry/419-interview-douglas-merrill-president-emi-digital-business/ [paidcontent.org] http://www.emigroup.com/Press/2008/press40.htm [emigroup.com]
  • by amccaf1 ( 813772 ) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @03:25PM (#22955136)
    "Too many people had the suss,
    Too many people support us,
    An unlimited amount,
    Too many outlets in and out,
    Who?
    E.M.I.! E.M.I.! E.M.I.!"

            -- "E.M.I.", The Sex Pistols, 1977.
    • "Too many people had the suss,
      Too many people support us,
      An unlimited amount,
      Too many outlets in and out,
      Who?
      E.M.I.! E.M.I.! E.M.I.!"

      -- "E.M.I.", The Sex Pistols, 1977.

      Slickers steal my money since I was seventeen,
      if it ain't no pencil pusher then it got to be a honky tonk queen.
      But I signed my contract, baby, and I want you people to know
      that every penny I make, I gotta see where my money goes.

      -- "Working For MCA" Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1974

  • Let me know when he (or anyone else with a clue) makes CEO or some other policy-setting position. I might start buying music from his company again.
    • by esocid ( 946821 )
      That's why I always check [riaaradar.com] to see if I'm buying from someone affiliated with the MAFIAA first. I won't be padding their litigious pockets.
  • The poor man...

    He's gone from Google -- not evil (as far as we know, pretty much)...

    ...to EMI - yes, marginally less evil than Sony BMG, but still as evil as an evil thing on a black day in a bad mood -- one of the Four Horsemen of Evil in fact.

    What's his name, this CIO? Faust?
  • The ex-Googler recently stated it is a 'poor business model to sue your customers. I don't think that's a sustainable strategy.'

    Well, with an attitude like that I don't think he'd have gotten very far applying for a job with SCO.
  • From the article:

    Merrill plans to experiment with ad-supported music download services, pointing to Google's success with targeted advertising, and subscription models.
    Lucky for him these services already [sprialfrog.com] exist [ruckus.com].
  • "There is evidence that people we think are not buying music are buying music. They're just not buying it in formats we can measure."'
    I like this guys optimism. Although I thought they measured *sales*.
  • "I'm... I'm blind!!"
  • by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @04:42PM (#22956212) Homepage Journal
    just using new methods that prehistoric derelict of ceos are condemning in those music companies.

  • I have to say ever since EMI's take over they do seem to have woken up a bit, they were first to sign up with DRM free online music stores, they've spoken openly about not bothering to pay their subscription or whatever to the RIAA anymore and now this.

    It really does seem like at least one of the old music companies is waking up to reality and has been for a few months now.

    It's just a shame the remaining 3 of the big 4 still have their heads too far up their own arses.

    I'm not going to say I like EMI or anyt
  • music downloads launched the career of Vampire Weekend. They're a pretty cool band who might not have made such a good deal with a label otherwise.

It is the quality rather than the quantity that matters. - Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 B.C. - A.D. 65)

Working...