21 Oct 2018

Streaming music

I just read the column "Is your business streaming music for customers? That's breaking the law". I can't tell if this column's author is intentionally filing a propaganda piece or was just misled by sources, although now that I see from a FB preview that it's part of "Guardian Opinions" (something not at all clear from the page itself!), I lean toward the former. Several aspects of this piece are basically dishonest.

First, the idea that anything here is "costing the music industry $2.65bn a year" (a "fact" that they even pulled up for the subhed). Anytime you see a number like that, read it as "number that some industry reps made up to sound impressive". It invariably starts by assuming that everyone who is currently using something without paying would, if caught in enforcement, a) continue using it by b) paying for it at c) full retail rates. In addition to the dubious dollar amount, it also uses the word "costing" as if these were dollars that someone was paying, or dollars in a drawer that someone ran off with; in fact it represents "dollars that the industry would very much like to be flowing to them, which people aren't sending in their direction." You can argue that it's wrong, but it's not really the same thing, is it.

Then there's the spokesperson's analogy, which the author uncritically passes along: this is not like using a Netflix account to "open a cinema". This is using a Netflix account to project movies on mute onto the back wall for ambience. Again, maybe you still think that's not ok, but it's not such a "roll your eyes" obvious moment anymore, hmm?

Next the bit about 21m businesses "around the world". Hey, "the world" has some fairly variable policies when it comes to IP and fair use/fair dealing. Who exactly are we talking about here?

And finally, an interesting second number: near the bottom, the claim that the rights holders are "missing out on royalties of as much as $100m a month". That's only $1.2bn a year. Well under half the $2.65bn a year that this is supposedly "costing the music industry". Which means—and we already basically knew this—that the content creators are already getting a lot of royalty money withheld from them by parasites elsewhere in the music food chain. Or, as this article's author might say, someone is "costing" them an awful lot of money, and it's not the people listening to their music.

"Without understanding, all of K-12 math education is much less valuable than a four-function calculator from the Dollar Store." --Matt Brenner

Posted by blahedo at 9:14pm | Comments (0)