I am BARRY HESS > Blog

I'm Tired of the RIAA's Bitching

How many years now have we dealt with the RIAA bitching about piracy? Eight? Nine? To be sure, the Internet brought about technology that could make it easier to convert consumers into illegal content receivers. I’ll readily admit that the RIAA could not ignore the issue. But come on - every time one hole in the dike was plugged, a new one opened. Piracy will always find a way. It may take a few years to realize this, but nearly a decade?

The RIAA needs to be concerned about piracy. But rather than combat it with improved business practices and an honest ad campaign, the RIAA basically chose to accuse all of its consumers of having evil hearts. Instead of realizing that a vast majority of people wish to make legal transactions, the RIAA assumed that most of its users would gravitate toward content providers who offered no remuneration to the artists (and more importantly the RIAA). The RIAA alienated its consumer base, calling them deceitful and dastardly right to their faces without any evidence of guilt.

And now, after disaffecting consumers for close to a decade, they are still bitching about piracy. Apple, of all companies, had to drag the RIAA to the next millenium. Once the RIAA was finally on board, they almost immediately became greedy, asking for more money for content that is in less demand than ever. This seems to be glossed over all the time, but remember the iTunes product should cost less than a CD since it is of inferior quality. (I personally am willing to pay about 25% more for CD quality over iTunes quality.) Oh yeah, and an “iTune” is much cheaper to distribute. Plus downloadable music technology alone returned the single to sales viability.

Continually we hear moaning and groaning from the RIAA about lagging sales and revenue. The consuming public has been inundated with countless sob stories about an industry that has bent 99% of its artists over a barrel. For some reason this industry feels it lives outside the market system. Supply and demand should not affect them. If supply outpaces demand, they should not have to lower prices to increase sales, nor should they see any loss in revenue. It’s just not fair, in the RIAA’s eyes, that consumer demand for their product is also affected by entertainment avenues like DVD, portable gaming devices, and the Internet, as well as alternative ways for artists to get their music to listeners.

Rather than embrace new technology to successfully compete for consumers’ entertainment dollars, the RIAA has chosen to fight change tooth and nail. This could be a good thing for artists and consumers alike. With any luck, someone will develop the “killer app” to connect artists with their audience and the RIAA will lose it’s toe-hold, no matter how many lobbyists it employs.