Home > Uncategorized > Country Bumpkins, P2P, and the RIAA + Students

Country Bumpkins, P2P, and the RIAA + Students

On October 30, 2007 Ohio University’s Office of Information Technology hosted a P2P forums for students with a panel comprised of industry professionals, faculty, and student senate. The forum lasted 2.5 hours including speeches followed by questions from the audience and online submission. The forum was comprised of:

Eddie Ashworth – Ohio University Telecommunications Professor, Engineer of albums by Sublime, Pennywise and Great White
Jonathan Lamy – Director of Communications, RIAA, six years of experience on Capitol Hill, former Press Secretary for Bread for the World, and OU Alumnus
Jorma Kaukonen – Founding Member of Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna, 1996 Inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Owner and operator of the Fur Peace Ranch Guitar Camp. Vanessa Kaukonen – Owner and chief executive officer of the Fur Peace Ranch guitar camp.
Bob Regan – Legislative Chair, NSAI, was instrumental in NSAI’s introduction and passage of the Songwriters Capital Gains Tax Equity Act
Timothy Vonville – OHIO University Student Senate President Vijay Raghavan, Director – Digital Freedom University and Digital Freedom Campaign Stewart Harris – Composer, songwriter, producer, publisher, and president of Edisto Sound

Eddie Ashworth was the first to talk, flat out saying music piracy may only account for 5% of a drop in record sales. The record industry has gone through ups and downs before and in today’s day and age, money is being spent on movies, video games and other forms of media as well. Something has to give a little, right? Well no one apparently took what Mr. Ashworth said to heart.

Up next was the RIAA hack, Jonathan Lamy. Completely disregarding the previously stated statistical facts by saying piracy has generated a 33% loss in industry revenue. He also went on a political rant about how the RIAA first tried education and other methods before suing children and coercing universities for student information, but they had failed or not brought about the results demanded.

I’ll skip ahead for a minute to Vijay Raghavan who took on the role of pointing out the ridiculous nature of the music industry and the RIAA. Vijay spoke what we have been saying for years. The music industry would not adopt digital distribution when it came on the scene and began alienating its user base when they were ready to move ahead. Mr. Lamy explained that you can’t just flip a switch, but he failed to acknowledge how the industry refused to do anything and further claimed Apple was partially to blame for not licensing its DRM to other companies. DRM is a company secret, not a product. When something is licensed the secret is out. Vijay was also quick to point out DRM is ridiculous in the first place for digital downloads because CD’s do NOT have DRM. It’s ineffective.

The rest of the panel was a group of country music songwriters and CEO of the Fur Peace Ranch guitar camp. Along with them was the founder of Jefferson airplane, Jorma Kaukonen. Vanessa Kaukonen was the most unintelligible of the bunch almost seeming afraid to make statement in that she me piss off the RIAA and find herself in a world of hurt. As far as her husband goes, Jorma Kaukonen, I’m sorry but no one cares about Jefferson Airplane anymore and anyone that still does or is interested in his solo career are probably not pirating music. There’s a bit of a generational gap there. Bob Regan was by far the most entertaining of the bunch aside from Stewart Harris’ brick analogy. What was that? Sorry Stewart, but when a CD sucks, it’s a coaster, not a brick. Did you know Mr. Regan only makes $22,000 if he writes a song on a platinum selling album, only $22 grand?!

Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and say he writes two hit songs on a platinum selling album out of 10 songs. That’s a high percentage, but that also means the other 8 songs he wrote or his co-writers wrote are crap. This doesn’t count the dozens of other songs he writes that never even make it on an album. I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I’d still have a job if 80% of my work was deemed crap. I’m sure writers are losing their jobs left and right, but that’s just more of an incentive to do a better job. Piracy isn’t to blame. It’s disgusting to think we should pay $20 for a CD that has two good songs. That’s why things like the iTunes store is so successful; we pay a price to get exactly what we want and all the other garbage out there gets brushed aside. Welcome to economics.

This panel was seriously lacking in artists who support the consumer, not in a pro-piracy manner but in their role as part of the industry. Spearheaded by Mr. Regan was the attitude of “me me me.” Calling BS on the users’ claim that artists are alienating their fans. Assuming Mr. Regan had any fans in the audience, I bet they will think twice before buying any music he writes. Where were the people from bands like Radiohead? Where were the Trent Reznors? Where were They Might Be Giants? Where were the Myspace bands that launched due to users distributing their music? Record labels can spend as much money as they want on promotions and Pepsi deals, but their ultimate source of advertising, and its FREE advertising, is the consumer. “Hey, check out this band.”

There is little doubt that downloading and distributing music that you didn’t pay for is illegal. I can’t argue that and everyone on the panel would agree, but it’s hard to stand behind the current industry model when 20 years later, CD’s are still $20+. We don’t own our music anymore; we get to install it on 5 computers. We’re in the age of renting the things we pay for. $15 a month for unlimited downloads on Napster to only have them taken away once you cancel your account or only work on certain devices? The model and the laws need to change. Old theory doesn’t apply in the digital age. The music industry has done nothing to better serve its customers. I’m NOT an advocate of piracy because I feel like if you really like something, go out and buy their music, and definitely go see their shows.

It’s time for people like Bob Regan and Stewart Harris to realize their golden era is up in the industry. While there will always be respect for their contributions to music and people will seek them our for material, the genre and the consumers have left them behind. Instead of wagging the finger, accept that at least for now, you’re not the hot commodity you once were.

The RIAA can continue to persecute people for downloading music. In some instances it will work, but it’s the artists and the labels that need to make their product more appealing to an audience. The audience is ready; they want to consume your music and carry it wherever they go. You just need to keep up with them.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. November 1, 2007 at 1:39 am

    Haha, I think that’s funny, because I’m going to be posting a blog soon about this very same thing. Piracy of music. It will be interesting to see if there’s any response to it.

  2. neil
    February 15, 2008 at 12:32 am

    Haha! Has Vanessa ever said anything intelligible that hasn’t been double-speak? Par for the course. Jorma is as cool as a cucumber but watch out for her. The truth is subjective.

  1. November 2, 2007 at 2:45 pm

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