6 thoughts on “First Piracy, Then Profits”

  1. Long before social networks, Napster was the most social of online experiences. It wasn’t just about the free music or the acquisition of songs– it was that I could look for a relatively obscure band, find it, and then take a direct look at the music collections of other people who had that group.

    Last.fm is like this, except without the music so it’s a lot less fun. A version of Napster that kept the social, but introduced a revolutionary way to both keep it cheap (so one could experiment with new music but not be locked into junk) and get the artists’ and labels paid, would be HUGE.

    So far, no one has been able to do it, be it “not getting it”, problems with the RIAA, etc.

  2. Not sure I see the power of this paper. Conclusion is: piracy shows market demand (well, obviously – people pirate the stuff they want); people will innovate in order to get the content they want as quickly as possible (ditto – they’re human); businesses can profit by catering legitimately to that market demand (ditto).

    This is just offline behaviour mirrored in the online world. The online world just makes it so much simpler and faster to pirate content and obtain it illegitimately. The basic facts still apply.

  3. What’s a pasha? (It sounds idiomatic.) My guess from the context and from Merrian-Webster Online is that it means “big man” or “top dog” or something like that. Just curious.

  4. pat, the point is that big companies are not giving people what they want. If they spent the money the spend on discouraging new behaviour instead on supporting new behaviour, they would increase profitability. Sure, that sounds like a no brainer, but the people that don’t understad it are the ones running the multibillion dollar companies.

  5. This is an interesting study, but it works too hard to find causality where there is none. For example, the fact that people want to consume singles and not albums wasn’t revealed by Napster. The record industry and many others have known that for years. Unfortunately, the entire record industry profit model was built on albums.

    Also, to say that Napster inspired the for-profit digital download model is simplistic as well. It certainly had an impact, but one could argue that there was no for-profit digital download model until iTunes launched. Certainly Pressplay and the others can’t say that Napster set the table for them to succeed.

    At the same time, the paper makes some good points. Consumers will do everything they can to fill a vacuum–If they want digital singles, they’ll create a way to get them. If they want easily downloaded and burned digital movies, they’ll do that, too.

    The real lesson from Napster and YouTube is exactly what Jesse points to above: The path to profitibability is listening to the consumer, and nothing screams louder than creating a massive network of content to download and trade because there aren’t any other options.

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