Thank you, RIAA

Over at ZDNet, I’ve posted the first results from the digital media ethics poll I ran last week. One question involved an issue over which there is almost literally no disagreement. Out of 8,917 votes cast, 98% agreed that when you buy a music CD, you’re buying the rights to play back that performance any way you want, on any media, at any bit rate, as long as it’s for your personal use. According to the RIAA, you don’t have a right to do any of that stuff. In my post, I argue that that is an extremist point of view, and the entertainment industry and its customers are about as far as it’s possible to get on the basic issue of how they want to do business.

The super-consolidated corporate entertainment industry leaves me mostly cold. I’ve been a music fan for as long as I can remember, but in the last few years my tastes and my experiences (and my purchases) have evolved away from the big corporate labels. Most of the new music I listen to these days is from independent artists, purchased from eMusic or from independent sites or on CDs from small labels. I’ve picked up a few albums at Amazon’s new music service and generally enjoyed the experience. I buy relatively few CDs from RIAA labels anymore, compared to the indies. There are more than 17,000 tracks in my music collection, and there’s not a single DRM-protected music track in the bunch.

Every month it seems to get a little easier to find good music in places where the RIAA isn’t involved. I’ve found a lot of artists whose work I love, and I’ve followed links from those artists to discover others that share a style or genre or even a few band members. I probably wouldn’t have done that if the RIAA had offered me better options.

Plus, most of those artists tour regularly, and they tend to play in small venues rather than in giant arenas. In my experience, the indie music scene has gotten far more interesting lately, and my life is richer for that.

So thanks, RIAA, for helping me discover a world that’s much more interesting and enjoyable than the one you’re trying to sell me.

8 thoughts on “Thank you, RIAA

  1. I heard on the radio yesterday that Sony is releasing a standalone DVD recorder that will record from VHS tapes.

    So while one side of Sony installed rootkits and places DRM on CDs and DVDs, the other side of Sony is allowing people to copy VHS tapes. Leave it to Sony to play both sides.

  2. I’m with you ed, the independent music scene is so much better today thanks in large part to the self-promoting tools of the internet and also thanks to the boneheads at the RIAA.

    Where I absolutely lost it the other day is when I found out that the RIAA is trying to crack down on guitar tab sites. How crazy is that…most of the band that I like don’t publish their own sheet music.

    Again, the RIAA is doing their best to kill their own industry, and I say good riddance.

  3. I couldn’t agree with you more Ed. I stopped purchasing big label music many years ago when I was turned on to the jam band scene. Most of these bands are part of small private labels or no label at all. They offer much of their music for download, free or for a reasonable fee. Many also offer their music for download in both lossless and MP3.

    That is the way to do business with your fans.


  4. eMusic! Between them and buying used CDs, there’s essentially no need for me to shell out full price for anything — and the few acts I would need to shell out full price for are already picking up on which way the wind is blowing.

    Five years ago I told a friend that if the entire RIAA family of companies folded tomorrow, there would be no end of people to step in and continue to offer things that were just as good, if not better. He didn’t believe me then. He’s since changed his mind.

  5. Just another person agreeing completely. Between eMusic and Amazon’s new MP3 Unbox I’ve been pretty well set. Of my 80GB of music everything has come from physically ripping CDs or DRM-free music stores.

    I’ve also started buying CDs at concerts since it feels like I’m supporting the band directly and they are often times cheaper. I’ve picked up some great new music this way, such as last time I was in San Francisco and heard “Diego’s Umbrella” play or discovering Keena when he opened for someone else.

    Really the only thing that’s hard to get anymore as legal DRM-free digital downloads are Top 40 songs yet those are the ones big box stores discount so you can pick up the physical CD for usually cheaper than it costs at iTunes.

  6. I want to destroy the RIAA, and my tiny contribution to this noble goal is to promote net labels, independent music artists, and anyone, including myself, who makes FREE mp3s and videos available to the public, with no restrictions on personal, non-commercial use.

    Free music is better, more innovative than paid music.

    RIAA product, with a few glaring exceptions, is mostly conservative, imitative, old fashioned crud.

    It’s so easy for a band to make music, especially electronic & computer music, quickly, due to all the FREE online tools, like Audacity, which I use to make all my music, with some Casio slingings tossed in sometimes.

    Ning provides free mp3 hosting and wonderfully reliable embed players to put on your blog, so people can listen and download them.

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