All in all, it's been a depressing summer for the delusional record industry. We're seeing a total disconnect between labels' unrealistic, old-school revenue expectations and what the market can bear. On the streaming-music front in particular, the sad reality is that advertising revenue isn't, and may never be, there to fully support the music industry's wishful-thinking profit margins.
Reading that reminds me of the fact that paranoia has a kind of trickle-down effect. (Looking at you, gas-horders of Middle Tennessee.) I still haven't listened to Jenny Lewis' new album, Acid Tongue, in part because the copy I received, with my name printed on it, came in a toxic orange sleeve with the words "RESTRICTED RELEASE ! WATERMARKED DISC!" on it, along with about 100 words of fine print, including the advice that "by opening this seal you are [WARNING!] agreeing to the terms below." And for all I know, it's one of those CDs that won't even play in my computer, in order to protect the copyright holder from little old me, who subsequently threw it on the "maybe someday" pile.
So, The Industry succeeded in preventing me from leaking the album, which I'm pretty sure I could have just gone out and downloaded a leak of anyway, but in so doing prevented me from actually listening to the album. Which of course gets me thinking about the whole piracy issue in general. And damn, if I'm not a few days late on this one—Friday was National Talk Like a Pirate Day, after all. In case you're like me and missed it the first go-around, this very issue has been covered nicely, direclty, in many locations, by the Internet. Game developer Cliff Harris recently wrote an open letter to gamers asking why they steal his shit. Here's Kevin Kelly, who, though he's talking about computer games, could just as easily be talking about my Jenny Lewis CD with the chastity belt on it:
...[A]nything that made purchasing and starting to play difficult -- like copy protection, DRM, two-step online purchasing routines -- anything at all standing between the impulse to play and playing in the game itself was seen as a legitimate signal to take the free route.
Maybe that will shiver somebody's timbers.