If Ludites Owned the Machinery Patents…

-Hannah Mead, MCPP intern, 2008

…we’d still be riding in horse-drawn carriages and wearing homespun, hand-stitched clothing.

Ever since I was a young child I’ve had little respect for the music industry. The RIAA is one of the most backwards organizations I’ve ever encountered. For years they tried to eliminate online music sharing, getting all indignant that young people should violate the law when the incentives were clear: pay $20 for one song, or right-click-save-target-as. Clearly, no amount of cracking down was going to stop the mp3 revolution, but the RIAA stuck to its guns and sought to shut down online music distribution.

Finally Steve Jobs showed them that they could actually embrace and hugely benefit from easier music transfers. The whole thing was like watching someone lead a horse to a pond and hold its big ol’ long face in the water until it finally drank.

Now, the music industry is once again technophobing away, utterly failing to recognize a huge boon when they see it. It’s really hard to tell what’s going on what with the whole thing very bureaucratized, but Pandora, an internet radio service that lets you customize “stations,” may face extinction due to a royalty hike. Maybe Pandora is whining and just seeking what the rate-hike-proponents call a subsidy, I don’t know enough about how this all works to know.

But I do know that Pandora and other customizable internet radio stations going out of business will not help the music industry. As Coyote notes, most of us who listen to Pandora end up buying way more songs we’d never have even heard if internet radio hadn’t introduced us to them. I know I’ve got a good list of about 20 songs I need to buy next time my lappy is in wireless range.


3 thoughts on “If Ludites Owned the Machinery Patents…

  1. Pandora already makes it very easy to (legitimately) purchase music right from their flash interface. To me, that seems like the sort of goodwill gesture that the RIAA should be encouraging.

    Right now, I use Pandora to find old jazz, ragtime, and early 20th century girl groups. Artists like the Boswell Sisters were already losing popularity during FDR’s second term, so it’s not like they’re massive cash cows for whoever currently holds the rights to their songs. If anything, quirky niche markets like that have probably expanded with the easy proliferation of digital music.

  2. Pingback: Pandora saved? « Trying Liberty

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