I want to be completely upfront before you continue reading. This is my first post, and i do want to share a new technology that we launched today of which i am a co-founder. I do promise one thing, if you continue reading you will form your own opinion (whether you agree with me or disagree). However, i believe i have a radical alternative to piracy which we have been developing for the last 2 years. I believe being transparent comes first & foremost, that’s why right now, or forever hold your peace, i offer anyone not interested in reading about our new website, Webceleb.com- the opportunity to stop reading. If you’ve decided to continue reading, great. Let’s begin… I want to make it very clear, this blog post does not touch on everything, otherwise it would be a thesis. This is a quick deconstruction and reconstruction of how the RIAA brought down the self-inflicting hammer upon itself!
First, let’s deconstruct Music Piracy.
Napster, Limewire and many similar file sharing applications came to fruition in the late 90’s early 2000’s. Like addicts to their drug of choice, we were all instantly intoxicated. I bet Shawn Fanning, a college student at Northwestern, had no idea that the mega-monster he was building would be a quintessential cornerstone in the fabric that has become the history of music piracy. Or perhaps he was well aware? Metallica sure were well aware, remember that f@#$ing farce? Well, unless we’ve all forgotten, or been living under a rock, Napster met it’s unfortunate demise at the hands of the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America)- through you guessed it, negative reinforcement in July 2001 when it shut down to comply with the injunction. After the RIAA filed a series of infringement law suits against the dorm-room mega mogul the seed was planted and the infection grew. The publicity sent millions of rampant college students into a manic-Napster frenzy. Napster had to pay a lot of money to execs already driving 6 figure cars and blah blah blah- along came this subscription model. (subscription models are yet another perfectly competitive debate… for another time)
Napster was brilliantly ahead of it’s time for a few simple, convenient reasons. Spending hours in a CD store trying to recall your favorite artists was a cumbersome task and a dying breed. That’s the nature of business. Competition brings about innovation. Well, that’s not exactly the case within the music industry. They would much rather keep the enterprise a closed nut. The obvious was out in the open, the damage was done, Napster was the easier way to browse, share, discover and at the end of the day acquire- music. Even if the music was being stolen, the technology and process was far superior and therefore genius. By essentially turning Napster into a martyr, the music industry ensured its inevitable fate- declining product sales. The cat was already out of the bag, people knew what they wanted. Spending hours, day-dreaming about discovering that new hit album by that unknown group in retail location cesspools of thousands of options was an unpleasant smorgasbord soon to be chewed up, spit out, and left to spoil. We could debate many other plausible solutions, outcomes or alternatives at this point in the story, but this is history. Moving on…
The introduction of brilliant game changing technologies- Amazon marketplace & Apple’s iTunes
Jezz Bezos founded Amazon.com, Inc in 1994 and launched it online in 1995. It started as an online bookstore, but quickly and intelligently recognized its market was much, much larger. By diversifying their product lines to VHS, DVDs, CDs and MP3s (as well as a shit load of other gadgets and thing-a-majigs) Amazon rapidly became the online oligopoly we all know and love to hate, today. (of course, many deadpooled competitors have risen and fallen trying to tackle this giant- another story or debate). Point being, Amazon is a gigantic fish in a pond where people are very well versed in its brand. Amazon became, akin to Napster, a more convenient and user friendly way to acquire music online. Further distancing people from retail locations where the big 4 labels could push their products and maximize their margins.
In steps the beloved, or abominable (depending which team you’re batting for) Steveie Jobs and the iTunes music tsunami. Now, iTunes doesn’t need much elaboration. They own what, 70% market share to couple with their 10 gazillinth download on Feb 24th 2010 (numbers not to scale ;)… Something insane like that anyways. The point is, the music industry was now taking a back seat in their distribution which was being dictated by the monster brewing in Cuppertino- Apple, inc.
Let’s reconstruct what we know…
Napster opened pandora’s box in 1999 - 2001. People everywhere were addicted like junkies. The music industry did nothing to offer a real alternative but start throwing around money and suing the beejesus out of anyone they could. The people were screaming for innovation and in stepped the competition or kind of allies, Amazon and Apple. (I know i left out Myspace, and everyone else… so sue me) But as the years go by, torrents are becoming a pain in the ass and the convenience of pirating music is not as luxurious as it used to be. Obvious exceptions aside (limewire, xtorrent, etc etc)…
But, ok, so what has really changed to provide an alternative to piracy?
I would argue, nothing. Subscription models are great, stream all the music you want. But that’s the thing, you stream. Ad-supported, well shoot, don’t even get me started. Traditional download models, well those are great Apple and Amazon rule the roost. So what’s next? Well, in steps the little guy. We’re Webceleb.com and here’s the radical case i’m trying to make… What if we dropped punishment all together? Screw it, come on already, it clearly isn’t working 95% of the people online still steal music. Am i the only person who realizes this? I know i’m not that smart… Sometimes i even question my level of intelligence, so that being said, let’s make a change in the right direction. It’s Pysch 101, Fanning would probably have known all about this had he not been skipping class to build such a beautiful piece of technological innovation. Negative reinforcement only perpetuates a problem, positive reinforcement, now that’s something entirely different…
The music industry is about to change. (or, “hurry up and get to the point, already, dammit”)
Webceleb is the next generation of social music stores. We let everyone make money when music is downloaded. Hear me out… By allowing fans and musicians to make money together, we believe we can create a positive global impact through a community that embraces legal downloading. Instead of punishing, or threatening to punish people, Webceleb financially rewards those who purchase music. Fans and musicians can now join forces, form partnerships if you will, and make money together. Here’s how it works, when you buy a song for $1, you also receive 1 Slice from that artist. Fifty percent goes to the musician; 40 percent goes back to the fans that own Slices from purchasing music; and 10 percent goes to Webceleb. Within 7 purchases the first person makes their full $1 back. We believe musicians will be able to build legitimate, vested marking teams of fans. I mean after all, as a fan you are spreading the word for free. Now at Webceleb, you join the artist’s journey and are further incentivized to help market the musicians you discover… Or don’t if you don’t want to. You can still make money.
The music industry is about to change, only at Webceleb.com. Are you up for trying something new?