Thursday, March 27, 2003

Record Labels: 1, Artists: 0

Yesterday, I finally got a laptop upgrade. Now, it's not quite as big an upgrade as I was hoping. It's still a Pentium III (not a Pentium 4, like I had hoped), but I now have a machine with over triple the amount of RAM I used to have and a much larger LCD screen. Plus, it works! Nothing's broken! It's a whole new world, ladies and gentlemen...

Anyway, now that I have a new laptop that's properly configured, I can do many of the things that I've been unable to do since the last crash...including using my external CD burner again. So off to Kazaa I go!

Well, since I've been gone, it looks like things have changed a bit (or it had changed before and I was oblivious to it). This may be old news to some of you, but there's this new technique out there called "spoofing", where a record company hires agents to take an artist's material, make a flawed digital copy of the song, and then flood the online community with copy upon copy of these altered digital files, or "spoofs". Spoofs can come in many different forms, all of which are annoying. Sometimes it's a pulse, spaced every twenty seconds apart, which disrupts the song just long enough for you to want to tear your hair out. Sometimes it's a loop of the chorus, repeated over and over again for three minutes. Sometimes it's the first twenty seconds of the song and another four minutes of silence. Sometimes it's some voice coming on saying, "If you like this song, maybe you should buy the record, jackass!"

After a frustrating day of downloading close to 50 of these spoofs in one sitting (all to get one lousy clean version of a song...yes, I'm probably more patient than I should be), I'm feeling pretty manipulated. I only want the one song. I know it's out there, but the only versions I can find have been messed with. I'm angry and faced with a question: am I angry enough to go and buy the CD?

Which makes me ask another question: How can they expect to sell a product through making someone so angry and frustrated that they either surrender and buy it or they give up on it entirely? Sure, annoying the customer has been done before (grating jingles, obnoxious sales people) with varying success, but is using methods like that in the interests of making art? Of course not. But in this day and age, music is a business as well as an art form.

My answer's no.

I won't surrender. I can live without that song. There are plenty of other cool songs out there. In time, I'll probably forget hearing about the band from a friend or on the radio. And as a result, that artist may have lost the chance to expose me to the rest of their music. A potential fan, who may have bought CDs, concert tickets, and T-shirts, and merchandise. And that's a real shame, for both the artist and me.

So has the record company won? No, they're not getting my money. Now, no one associated with that particular song is getting my money. Will there be enough people out there who'll be pressured into buying the disk to earn the labels the same kind of profits they were seeing three years ago? I doubt it. Besides, many of the more advanced peer-to-peer (P2P) applications already have anti-spoof strategies in place, and soon, spoofing will be obsolete, anyway.

The labels have won a battle, but they're losing the war. My only question is, what will they try next?


Post a Comment

<< Home