Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Open Letter to Everyone Who is Whining About Free Downloads Killing The Entertainment Industry

Having been on every side of this scenario at one time or another (musician, consumer, producer, marketer...) I am very, very tired of hearing how downloading/streaming movies/music for free is "illegal" and "destroying the industry".

You know, before there were DVDs, torrents, MP3s, etc., there were entertainers who got paid to entertain.

Somewhere along the line, an industry of creating and selling entertainment 'containers' (CDs, cassettes, VHS tapes, etc.) popped up... so entertainment companies were no longer selling entertainment, they were now selling entertainment containers.

This turned out to be a MUCH bigger market, and so entertainers now make salaries that are highly disproportionate to the service they are providing. (Example: Tom Cruise Acts in 1 movie, and gets payed for selling 1 MILLION DVDs.) This system is clearly broken.

Now, the system can be fixed: since technology has made the 'containers' obsolete, entertainers could be forced to go back to selling entertainment.

It's like when the refrigerator was invented, and we no longer payed people to cross the ocean to chip icebergs to get us ice. Did the former ice fetchers complain that people with a fridge were "stealing their intellectual property" and "cutting into their potential sales"? No, they just realized that their product was obsolete and no longer profitable, so they stopped selling it and went back to their core service, which was ocean transport.

Technology moves forward - fighting it is pointless because you cannot stop it - your choices are only a) embrace it or b) let it destroy you. Complaining that it's "not fair" because it suddenly prevents you from raping consumer wallets just shows your ignorance.

Accept it: entertainment containers are becoming obsolete. Anyone with a PC can make their own. But there will always be a growing market for entertainment.

Despite what you may have heard from David Byrne, this lack of 'containers' will NOT hurt up-and-coming artists trying to get RICH and FAMOUS. It will likely hurt artists who just want to get RICH - so those in it for the money will stop or slow down, and we'll be left with those who do it because they have something original to say. But it's easier than ever to get FAMOUS: just throw a video on YouTube - if you're as good as you think you are, people will find you... and then they will pay to see you at a concert or theatre.

So what will the entertainment industry be left with? Much less CRAPPY entertainment, MUCH MORE high-quality entertainment, and FREE ACCESS to disseminated copies of it. Win-win-win.

And sure, it will hurt SOME parts of the industry: specifically those which do not add value. If your business model was to take a DVD that costs 5 cents to produce, put someone else's content on it, then sell it for $50 - yeah, you're going out of business. And good riddance to you. But if you're ADDING value, creating something from nothing, you now have a global audience advertising your service.

So, to the whiners:

If you are a singer, remember: you are not in the business of selling CDs; you are in the business of singing. If you are an actor, remember: you are not in the business of selling DVDs; you are in the business of acting.

"Illegal downloaders" are not "stealing your intellectual property" or "cutting into your potential income" - they are providing you with UNLIMITED FREE ADVERTISING for your ACTUAL product or service.

And if after unlimited free advertising, your product is still not making you money, then I've got bad news for you: your product stinks.

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