Anatomy Of A Pirate

I like to buy music. I buy it from emusic (where I pay $23/month for use it or lose it credits for music downloads), Amazon, and when in a pinch, iTunes. I also have two Rhapsody music subscriptions that cost an additional $20/month. My kids also regularly spend money on iTunes for music (often for tracks we already own somewhere else in the house). I suspect between all of this, our family spends well over $1000/year on mp3s, probably closer to $2000/year.

And yet, today I find myself pirating an album on the Internet. I thought I'd outline how this happened to showcase what a fucked up system we have for content sales on the web.

Last week, I saw a tweet from my friend Anthony:

Streets tweet
I'm a huge fan of Mike Skinner/The Streets so that was an instant click. It turns out The Streets had uploaded their new record, Computers and Blues, to Soundcloud and the Hype Machine was featuring it. I gave it a listen and was smitten. I tweeted it out myself.

Then I searched the Internet for the record. It was not even listed in iTunes or emusic. It was listed on Amazon US as an import that would be available on Feb 15th, but only in CD form. I'm not buying plastic just to rip the files and throw it out. Seeing as it was an import, I searched Amazon UK. And there I found the record in mp3 form for 4 pounds. It was going to be released on Feb 4th. I made a mental note to come back and get it when it was released.

I got around to doing that today. I clicked on "buy with one click" and was greeted with this nonsense (click on the image if you want to read it).

So then I went to find a VPN or proxy service that would let me grab a UK IP address so I could buy the record. That was an exercise in frustration. All I could find was monthly or daily services that were 2-3x the cost of the record. I could not find a free service that would let me change my IP address for a few minutes so I could download the file. As much as I wanted to pay the 4 pounds and pay for the record, I wasn't going to lay out $10 or more to do that.

So reluctantly, I went to a bit torrent search. I found plenty of torrents for the record and quickly had the record in mp3 form. That took less than a minute compared to the 20+ minutes I wasted trying pretty hard to buy the record legally.

This is fucked up. I want to pay for music. I value the content. But selling it to some people in some countries and not selling it to others is messed up. And selling it in CD only format is messed up. And posting the entire record on the web for streaming without making the content available for purchase is messed up.

I don't know whose idea this is of the way to market a record but I'm hoping they read this and never do this to a fan again. Fans love music. They want to support the musicians and they want to pay for music. But if you put enough hurdles in front of them, they will become pirates. As I did this morning.

When The Streets and their record label choose to make the Computer and Blues mp3s available for purchase in the US, I will go buy the record legally. Until then, I'm a pirate. 

#My Music#Web/Tech

Comments (Archived):

  1. Dave W Baldwin

    Hopefully you can get an explanation from the group and their management. They may be clueless regarding what is going on.

  2. whitneymcn

    Yeah, I’ve found myself in that same ridiculous situation any number of times: I start with the intention of buying a record, but the hurdles put in the way of acquiring it legally are so great that I give up and pirate it. It’s sad, really, that the businesses involved don’t recognize the problems they’re creating for themselves.

  3. Phil Boyle

    I run into this problem every few days buying music from here in Ireland. iTunes, Beatport, Juno, all the online music stores I use restrict certain releases to certain territories. This is because the music is licensed to a label for each country or region and they often have different release dates.It drives me nuts, but it is 100% down to the artist being signed to a record label (or more usually different record labels in different territories). I’m sure the artist would prefer to sell to the global market on the day of release, but it’s not in their control if they’re signed to a label.I don’t pirate music, but I do use torrents for TV shows because even now I still can’t buy them legally other than on DVD / Blu-ray months after they’ve aired. Similarly, this is because the shows producers sell the rights to different TV stations and the haven’t bothered to do a deal to let them sell the shows online here in Ireland. So much for the internet being a global market!

    1. Fernando Gutierrez

      I have exactly the same problem in Spain. I spend a few days in the US every month, so while I’m there I listen to some services and while in Spain I listen to others. There I watch tv on hulu and here I use torrents. I’ve tried several vpn services, but all I tried fail to work or are just too slow.

      1. PacoBell

        Goldenfrog VyprVPN

        1. Fernando Gutierrez

          Thanks, I’ll check that!

  4. LIAD

    2 f-bombs in one post. A new record. Love it!We in the UK suffer the same problem far more acutely. The majority of media, music, movies, books etc are usually released first in the US and then slowly make their way over to the UK. The number of times I’ve wanted to buy a movie, book or app and been told licensing restrictions do not allow sale or that the UK version of the marketplace does not stock this (digital) product is infuriating.I once changed my address on file with amazon to a US one to access that marketplace. It worked at the time but caused a whole lot of headache afterwards.You know somethings structurally wrong when people are trying to give you money but can’t.

    1. fredwilson

      the 2 f bombs are a measure of how annoyed i am at a system that makes me a thief

      1. Anonymous

        Only 1 day ago someone on my cycling forum commented about changing their address to a US hotel in order to buy a book that isn’t yet available on the Kindle for the UK.…The system does it’s best to make us all pirates.Living in Europe I run VPNs in London and New Jersey to allow me to pay for stuff. You may not realise just how bad this problem is internationally given the amount of US content behind walls. Even then, sometimes the hurdles are so high that it’s easier just to be a pirate. And it’s very hard to feel guilt when they’ve made it so difficult.I have a background in the music industry, and I think all of this stuff is just insane. It shouldn’t be hard to synchronise release and promotion globally. The internet solves this through collaboration tools just as well as it solves distribution of the content.

  5. yurigitahy

    I believe this is the first time I see a famous American complaining about the same problem we face everyday in Brazil. We share your pain, Fred. And hope for the solution.

  6. ErikSchwartz

    If it’s streaming on demand you can always hijack it…Hopefully the FBI won’t come knocking on my door.

    1. Riley Dutton

      Just like back in the days of recording music off the radio…

    2. Riot Nrrrd™

      What a retarded way to do it, especially since you can download every track (regardless of “Download” enabled status) from SoundCloud via OffLiberty.COM.

  7. CliffElam

    Can’t really believe you admitted to that in public.-XC

  8. Anurag

    You are absolutely right Fred. For a lot of content types, sometimes the easiest way is to actually download it illegally through torrents than any other means. In a lot of cases, you could be sitting with content on one laptop, and if you just want to move it to another laptop, it’s actually easier to get it illegally through torrents than to jump through the different ways to transfer it. Combined with the fact that the RIAA has done such a good job of alienating people, the moral ‘cost’ in pirating content has fallen way below the value of pirating the content.

  9. Dan Lewis

    I have two concerns with this. (My apologies is this comment comes off as adversarial. That’s not the intent — I’m just thinking aloud, so to speak — so if the tone is pointed, that’s simply because it’s how I brainstorm.)First, I want to make sure you’re objecting to format, not price.a) “It was listed on Amazon US as an import that would be available on Feb 15th, but only in CD form. I’m not buying plastic just to rip the files and throw it out.”b) “As much as I wanted to pay the 4 pounds [roughly $6.85] and pay for the record, I wasn’t going to lay out $10 or more to do that.”I appreciate the format (and ecological) concerns voiced in point one, and I agree that it’s a bad business practice for a vendor to charge customers extra for inconveniences felt by customers.But I’m not really happy with how the math otherwise works out. You could have paid $15 to get it in the U.S. (as a CD) or roughly 40% of that to get it in the U.K. Setting aside the legalities behind ripping mp3s off CDs you legally own, it seems reasonable that a vendor would want price differentiation based on region. (That’s almost certainly not the case here, granted, but I don’t know that it’s the potential customer’s right to make that determination.)The reason I’m noting the math, though, is because the CD purchase seems to be the cheapest and easiest way to legally (again, assuming — incorrectly, I’m sure — that the IP proxy trick makes the download legal) obtain the music in the U.S.If the band/label opted to price *an mp3 download* for $15 in the U.S. or $6.85 in the U.K., would that be OK? I assume it would be, but I just want to be sure that you’re discriminating based on format, not price.* * *My second objection doesn’t really apply here as much as, say, books, but the analogy is pretty decent albeit imperfect:You said that “selling it in CD only format is messed up. And posting the entire record on the web for streaming without making the content available for purchase is messed up.”My concern here is that — especially in terms of books — is that format may matter to the publisher. (Perhaps it shouldn’t.) Let’s start with music, though. If the band here made the music available only as a CD and/or web stream (that is, they didn’t sell it as an mp3) *everywhere*, I think that’s uncommonly stupid of them, but not within our province to fix. Because we don’t see that happening much, if ever, in the music world, it’s hard to get our minds around, though.But books? If I publish a book, and I want to make it available on the Kindle, does it follow that I should have to also make it available as a pdf download, on the Nook, as an iPad iBook, etc.? If I do a full audio reading and sell it as a book on tape/CD, do I have to similarly make it available on Audible or as an mp3 download? I’m not convinced that my failing to do the second parts warrant illegal downloading of the content.But again, it’s not hard to distinguish book/text publishing from music. We’re not at the point where we have format agnosticity across devices in the book publishing world (creating costs for publishers for each additional format); there’s still some mythical admiration of paper-and-ink books; etc. That said, I’m not convinced that publishers shouldn’t be able to restrict the formats in which their content is delivered.

    1. fredwilson

      for music, there are three issues that matter to me; immediacy (digital download), format (mp3), and price. i care very little about the price given how much i spend on music annually. i would have paid $15 in a nanosecond for an immediate digital download of mp3s today. but that was not available.waiting another week to then have to buy the CD which is an eco unfriendly format and then rip the files and throw it out is nonsense

      1. Dan Lewis

        So if the band released the music only on CD (everywhere, even theUK), would you still torrent it?

        1. CJ

          He would probably buy it and torrent it, that’s what I would do. I routinely download a Jay-Z album before the release date, but I always buy the actual album when it’s released. The industry needs to get with the times, if it’s out there and I can get it, why shouldn’t I? Better yet, why aren’t they monetizing it?

        2. fredwilson

          i would have bought it today and torrented the music. that’s what i normally do when they only offer CDs. to me buying the CD is only a payment. i don’t want the plastic and i just toss it.

      2. Steven Kane

        dont toss it out. i’ll buy the CD from you when you’re done. perfectly legal.

        1. Rocky Agrawal

          actually, that’s not. if fred rips the CD, then he can’t sell it unless he also destroys his MP3s.

      3. Geoff

        This article made me smile re above http://bps-research-digest…. Its good to know the USA are beginning to experience what your poor cousins in the UK have always had 🙁

    2. whitneymcn

      To be fair, I think that the equivalent situation in the world of books would be me (and I do happen to work for a book publisher) offering the physical book for sale worldwide, but only selling the Kindle version to residents (or apparent residents) of the UK.Now this can happen with books as well as music, but it happens in large part because the legal structure around rights that we’re all working with was designed to handle physical products being made available in geographic areas. The legal entity that is allowed distribute a book or record in Germany often isn’t the same legal entity that is allowed to distribute it in Australia.Now that we’ve got digital options, though, this system starts to look weird: the work has been completed and a record (or Kindle book, or what-have-you) is sitting on Amazon’s servers, functionally ready to be downloaded from anywhere that the Internet goes, but the lawyers for a particular country have not blessed the process of flipping the bit to let the US, or Israel, or Germany have it.And because we are reading reviews of the record online already (rather than having to wait for a physical UK magazine with a review to show up on the newsstands a few weeks from now) and we can see the record available for download in the UK, we know that the issue is legal rather than practical and we’re annoyed.I don’t believe that this specific case, or most others like it, are about publishers deciding what formats they want to use to distribute their content: they’re about who owns what rights in what jurisdictions. 679 Recordings either could not negotiate the deal they wanted, chose not to negotiate a deal for US release of the record, or wanted to tie the “US release” of the record to something like a tour or event, so it’s only available as a physical “import” in the US at this point.This is an artifact of physical limitations that are less and less relevant with each passing day.

  10. Henri Bergius

    Alarmingly Kindle e-books are more and more often region-coded as well.

  11. Jan Schultink

    You are lucky to live in the U.S.In Israel, iTunes is not even available in 2011…

    1. Avi Deitcher

      It isn’t? I rent movies and download music from iTunes all the time. Then again, my account is US-based from when I lived there…

      1. Jan Schultink

        Yes, Israel Apple account -> only apps, no music or anything else.

        1. ShanaC

          That is so crazy, people produce apps there, and they listen to music there….

          1. Jan Schultink

            The music industry is losing through this as well, I do not go to record stores, and by the ways these stores look, not many other people in Tel Aviv do either.

          2. ShanaC

            Agreed, I think getting labels to agree to single worldwide licensing wouldreally be a revolution for everyone on the money side.

        2. Haf

          It’s the same in Singapore (when I last tried it a couple of months ago). Apps only. Unless your credit card is registered elsewhere (which luckily mine is)

  12. Mark

    I pay for most, but don’t when it’s crazy inconvenient. It amazes me that media owners don’t understand the potential they have here.Media distribution and ownership is archaic and slanted well away from the interests of the artists.Musicians should form a co-op. Upload their songs, pocket 70% of the earnings, and use 30% to maintain/advertise the site. If I could download from a musician-owned site, I would go nowhere else.

    1. fredwilson

      me too

      1. YourDonation

        It is the old paradigm : Bands and corporations sell musicWe need to go back to the minstrel model:artists create and performfans enjoy and give back for all the enjoymentThat is why I am working on YourDonation ( Money meets Music)

    2. Charles Vahanian

      Perhaps you already know Bandcamp, but if you don’t you should check it out, because it’s very close to what you are describing. Musicians have their own page which they can customize, and sell their music directly to fans. Here is an example:

  13. davideous

    After downloading the torrent, why not buy the CD from Amazon and throw just it out? You pay the artist for their work, and you don’t have the trouble of having to rip the CD. Technically the mp3 you have is not ripped off of the CD and not legal, but who is going to care about that if you bought a CD?If the ecological impact is a concern, then consider that’s on the head of the publisher for not making a digital download available.

    1. fredwilson

      i may well do thatit is not even available until Feb 15th

      1. falicon

        Better yet – buy the CD, then give it to a friend that you think would appreciate the music…and ask them to do the same once they’ve had their fill of it…for some reason, sharing in that way isn’t considered bad (though if you do the same thing with MP3 it is).To me, the key to being successful in the music world is about building a true fan base…and you do that by getting your music into the ears of as many people as possible…it’s the reason radio has worked for so many years…get the fans and the money will follow…but go for the money first and you’ll never get the fans (IMHO).

        1. Geoff Wright

          I’m pretty sure your not allowed to do this right? At least, I know you can’t give a book to someone when your finished…!(madness)

  14. kidmercury

    1. none of this gets solved till platforms disrupt the nation-state2. even if/when that does happen, musicians need to evolve beyond charging for music. you might want to pay, but lots of people don’t and won’t feel bad about it, especially as the world chooses to march onward to greater and greater levels of poverty. when people spend 40% of their paycheck for food, there’s not much left over for music — especially when you can get it for free with a few clicks.

    1. baba12

      Mr.Wilson and most Americans spend about 15% of income on food. So that may not apply to the many out there, but yes when you spend upwards of 50% of income on food and more if you want quality .But this is not about income inequality etc this about how the system is set up and not much can be done to disrupt it.

  15. kevinmurphy

    Like the F Bombs!!! Good exclamation points for how wrong the system is…

    1. Morgan Warstler

      +1 more cursing please.

  16. LukeH

    Ironic isn’t it that Skinner’s first album was titled “Original Pirate Material”?

    1. fredwilson

      Totally ironicI should I have titled the post Original Pirate MaterialGreat record

  17. Ivan Brezak Brkan

    It’s interesting to see this problem experienced by someone from the US. Here in Croatia we can’t buy hardly any songs digitally and iTunes isn’t available. In terms of buying music online, welcome to the rest of the world, mr. Wilson 🙂

  18. Sebastian Keil

    +1 for welcome to the club, this is what living in Europe feels like for YouTube, Hulu, spotify and other services.As for the IP issue, I think it would have been enough to be anonymous. Your IP doesn’t have to be from the UK, it just can’t come from somewhere else. Hotspot Shield would do that trick on a mac.

  19. Vincent van Wylick

    I go through this in Europe every single day.

  20. Frank Lynch

    I love the Radiohead In Rainbows model. Pay what you like, no geo-blocking and what you pay goes directly to the artist with no record company in-between. Everyone wins. The model is working very well for Amanda Palmer. If you have 7 minutes, Listen to Amanda speak at the Drama Center at Harvard University ‘Toward a Patronage Society’…

  21. Charles

    I have the same problem but with video.If you’re based in Europe and you want to watch US tv shows you’re pretty much out of luck with streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu. There are also no EU equivalents.

  22. Hank Williams

    This is, of course a horrible experience. The problem is that it is likely not the fault of the record company. Unfortunately we do not have any such thing as international rights for copyright. So, for example, US record companies dont have the right to make it possible to sell their record in the UK for example. All this stuff comes from the days when records were only distributed physically. But the hard part is how to fix it. If the world were China, the great leader could, by fiat, fix it. But when you have different folks with different, competing interests, this is *very* difficult. The bottom line is that while the problem is very real, there is no easy individual to blame. Someone will have to give up a lot of economic rights for what they would feel was insufficient compensation. And this needs to happen in each country across lots of labels. A very hard problem.

  23. Avi Deitcher

    The labels bitch (forgive my French, and I am Canadian) daily about losses due to piracy. They even have a special area on the Web…But the reality is most people *prefer* to pay for their entertainment, given the opportunity to do so. There will always be plenty of piracy – and there will always be people who photocopy 10 pages of a magazine rather than buy it, or download and print up photos into posters rather than buy it.As long as the owners make it more difficult to buy legally than illegally, people will pirate.In the end, the ones responsible for piracy are… the labels.

  24. Joe Yevoli

    There’s something wrong with a system that makes it hard for people to pay money for things they want.I wish I kept a running count of how many times I just gave up trying to pay for something because the process was to much of a pain in the ass. It must be close to $1000 of money left on the table because companies didn’t think through their payment process.Microsoft especially comes to mind.

    1. fredwilson

      And adobe, McAfee and Symantec

      1. Riot Nrrrd™

        … and for other software as well. At my work our developers use something called Purify, it finds memory leaks in code. Nifty stuff. The company that made it was called Rational, and we used to buy it and get sent a CD-ROM. Easy peasy.Nowadays, IBM has bought out Rational, and we are 3-4 months into a yearly support contract without having the actual current version of the software we’ve already blown the 3-4 months on. All because their current Byzantine arrangement has anointed a Section Manager (in another part of our facility) as the only person they’ll deign to talk to at our entire location (US Government Lab)!She is trying to figure out a way with them for me to be designated as someone who is an anointed person in my own area, but this has dragged on for weeks now. I just want the damn software! Here are the steps involved:”If you really want to enroll as a new Government Passport Advantage customer, please follow these steps:Please load this for the sites that you need separated so we can create:1 – Read the ‘PA_Govt_Attach-U.S.English.pdf’ attachment; 2 – Print and fill out the enrollment form (PA enrollment form.pdf) 3 – FAX the enrollment form to IBM Fax Gateway at 1-NNN-XXX-XXXX or email to [email protected] 4 – If it is a Federal Government account please send the enrollment to [email protected] “I mean … you’re kidding me, right?I would totally pirate it if it were out there to pirate. This situation has become almost comical at this point! And to think, we thought the music/MP3 purchase situation was bad …

  25. bojanbabic

    fred you need to make a deal with chamillionaire, he’s eager to disrupt record industry 🙂

  26. andyswan

    Man this post is so timely! What a coincidence.Just the other day, I was wanting a Land Rover. But it was totally messed up. The only one the dealer had available was red. I wanted black. I’m not going to buy red just to have to go get it repainted. Plus, they wanted $79,000….I didn’t want to pay that much AT ALL.I did find out that there was one going to be released in a couple weeks in Canada, so I started looking at ways to get a fake ID so that the Canadian dealership would sell it to me. This was beyond frustrating.So, reluctantly, I called my old high school friend, “Tommy two gloves”. He said he could have me a black Land-Rover, exactly the way I wanted it, within a few days….for $10k. It was easy, and I love the new car.So Land-Rover—if you’re listening—it’s totally messed up that you FORCED me to steal a car. By not offering me exactly what I wanted, exactly when I wanted it, you turned me (and tommy) into a criminal….and until things change with your distribution and pricing systems, I will remain one.Sincerely,Victim

    1. Daniel

      the thing is, that is you steal a land-rover the former owner cannot use it anymore. the digital copies are different.(btw. I am a musician, too)

      1. andyswan

        Nah it came straight off a dealer lot. They have plenty.

        1. notandyswan

          Troll == andyswanRival versus nonrival goods is the concept you’re clearly misunderstanding.His theft did not deplete the supply of the good nor affect the marginal price in an non-negligible way.Stealing a rival good means the supply is lowered–increasing the marginal cost and thus the price for all.

          1. andyswan

            Good, now I feel a lot better about my plan to hack in and make a completedigital replica of the etsy and twitter codebase and user databases for mystartup.

          2. kidmercury

            the trajectory of software is to open source. twitter in particular should be open source already. personalized information is a different ball game than mass market information because personalized information is related to identity, which is a scarce asset. i.e. if i steal your identity, you don’t have it anymore. businesses can use free information to create personalized products/services.

          3. m3mnoch

            heh. absolutely. go ahead. you can join all of those “i built twitter in a weekend” fools sitting around wondering why nobody is visiting their site.m3mnoch.

      2. Wes Smith

        I think a bunch of people are getting confused at what should evolve one day and the current law. Is it messed up? sure… was the spoiled kid fix a good solution within the law? unlikely, and certainly not in terms of a precedent from anyone that’s a “respected” leader of advice/opinion of topics primarily circling the digital domain and IP.Btw, I’m an entrepreneur in music and tech, and this sort of “situational ethics” has caused me great pain in business where people make up their own rules because they don’t like the ones we agreed to live under, or the government provides. And the monkey goes round and round and round… It’s kind of moot, either you respect laws or you don’t. It’s got nothing to do with cost of replication, supply, etc… If you don’t like the law, try and change it or find a different hobby. Maybe it will change because of this thread…lol.

        1. fredwilson

          i think the rules you are talking about suck. they are bad forentrepreneurs. and they are bad for users and they are bad for society. whenrules suck you need to revolt

        2. C5580844

          There’s a lot of laws that are pure bullshit.For example it is illegal by law to buy a mattress or meat on a Sunday.

          1. fredwilson

            or buy a drink in many places

        3. james2m

          As long as an outdated industry is able to leverage gouged profits to influence lawmakers to protect a distribution choke point that allows them to continue gouging whilst adding no value, then yes breaking these laws seems a pretty sensible protest.As with Fred’s stance, I would rather buy the music when I want it, easily. I certainly don’t need the labels controlling when I get access to the artists product and taking 5x as much as the artist for the privilege of controlling that access.

    2. LIAD

      ….now we got ourselves a ball game.

    3. kidmercury

      comparing “theft” of digital goods is not the same as theft of real goods. the former “theft” does not rob any individual of a good. i.e. if i take your mp3 you still have it, if i take your car you don’t have it.

      1. andyswan

        I suppose if there are any companies out there spending billions of dollars to try to figure out the “recipe” for a pill that cures cancer, they should stop now….since it won’t hurt them if everyone else steals that recipe the day after it is proven to work…..After all….they’ll still have it, no? No harm done.

        1. kidmercury

          yes, they should. they should study information business models andstructure a business model in which free information can be used aspart of their cost center. if they don’t, they will be outperformed bya business that understands this trajectory.

          1. andyswan

            Cool….you put out the memo, OK? “From this point forward, it is determined that digital goods, and ANY good that can be reproduced without a reduction in supply for the original owner, have zero value and cannot be protected.Authors, the moment you submit your work to a publisher, or the moment you send it to a printing press yourself , or the moment you upload it for consumption on Kindle….everyone in the world has the right to make an exact replica and do whatever they please with it.Movie makers, think before you send a digital copy of that film to an editor, critic or theater owner!Online business creators — your hosting firm and secretary are perfectly in the right to turn all of your digital data over to anyone else, at any time, provided you retain a copy….”I’ll let you write the notes to online business creators, recipe inventors, and pharma innovators….

          2. kidmercury

            they can cling to their outdated business models if they’d like. atthe end of the day, though, they will need to rely on government tocome in and give them the market because they cannot compete with themore efficient free-centric, for-profit business models that willincreasingly have far superior reach. the only reason we haven’t seenthe emergence of these business models even more so already is becausegovernment keeps intervening in the free market process and protectingincumbents (RIAA, MPAA, software patents, business model patents, andincumbents in general via monetary policy).also, it is not that this type of intellectual property doesn’t haveany value, but rather that the trend will be that the value theyproduce is not profit. i.e. banner ads have value, but they are not inthe profit center of a business model.i’ll be happy to write the memo as it’s for their own good. but willthey listen? probably not. always easier to bribe government to givethe market rather than doing the tough work of adapting to changingmarket conditions and re-engineering the business model.ultimately, though, in the case of music, the market is speaking. mp3sales are declining, CD sales are declining. if musicians want to getpaid, they need to figure out a new model. and music will lead othermedia formats.

          3. FlavioGomes

            II couldn’t respond to kids mercury post…So i posted here. Outdated business model? I turn green with nausea every time I think of a digitized economy being supported by an advertising model. It will eventually collapse on itself.I value content, ideas as equal to iron and oil

          4. Doug Kersten

            Your sarcasm has clearly pointed out the artificiality of the content market as it currently exists.

          5. FlavioGomes

            No, they’ll be out performed by thieves.

        2. Sander Bijlstra

          Actually, in line with Freds complaints: Supposae they get to the cure. You say they stand in their right to first release said cure in the US in 2011, let Europe wait until 2012 and then see when they will reach India.No argument that it is their (copy) right.. but how about the right of a consumer(PATIENT) wanting a product that is readily available (as it is a very cheap to create extra pills once the formula is found)I’d say in case of the medicine, even though it’s atoms, there is a moral obligation to offer this for fair price (Say according to BigMacIndex of Economist)And in case of music, where it’s bits. It is an insult to your fans to not release globally. This is never an artist idea, always an aconomist or marketeer idea to maximize short term economic profits. Piracy is the consequence of this failing strategy.Actually it is closer to a fix in the information assymmetry there used to be, even in music markets.Bottom line: If you publicize, it’s out there, in the public. instantly,If you want to monetize it, make it a worldwide relwease that is consumable (payable) in every country.and for fair price. You don’t have to. But if I’m hungry, I see bread without the sales guy. I’ll eat my feee lunch and pay him some other time.

          1. andyswan

            I understand what you’re saying. I’m not defending the business strategy ofa tiered release, but I’m also not going to say it’s stupid when I don’tknow the business and what sells the best.On the drug front, it’s absolutely vital that companies be allowed to makehuge profits on world-changing drugs. I want as much profit and incentivein the healthcare and pharma industries as they can muster. Attract thegreatest talent, and be aggressive in your R&D. There is a moral obligationand I believe that most companies understand that and step up quite nicely.The world is in for quite a shock when they realize that the evil, greedyUSA has been subsidizing their defense, pharma and healthcare tech for mostof the past century.And yes, I would steal the bread “for now” too….but I’m not going todemonize him for trying to get a price for it 🙂

      2. Michael Arrington

        yeah, agree with this. Digital goods have no marginal cost, and there’s infinite competition. Whether you like it or not, there’s significant market pressure to push the price to zero.… I download DRM free songs from iTunes because of the convenience. The ethical issue is far less of an issue for me. Artists can and have found other ways to make money.

        1. andyswan

          Bit of a bummer seeing this posted from someone who has made a great living (and at least one nice score) via the production and selling of non-physical goods.

          1. Michael Arrington

            and 20 spam blogs a day copy it verbatim, and another handful of respected blogs simply rewrite it all. And instead of complaining about it we found a way to become very profitable.Reality is reality.

          2. andyswan

            I respect that, and I agree. I’m no defender of the music industry here….I just think if you think something has value, you shouldn’t take it withoutpermission, regardless of how careless or stupid the owner is.

          3. Michael Arrington

            also. Jesus, you self describe one of your investments as a groupon clone.

          4. andyswan

            It is a groupon clone. We won’t be stealing any of their content, code,user data or taking any thing else that they have produced unless we havetheir permission and agreed-upon terms.

          5. Geoff Wright

            Err, Andy. Techcrunch is free. He gives the content away free.

          6. fredwilson

            actually mike competes with people stealing his content every day. and he’s made peace with it. and he still made a nice score

      3. Sean Saulsbury

        The good you are robbing the owner of, whether physical things or bits they own, is money. Their money and their time.

        1. kidmercury

          no, if i go into your bank account and take your money, then i amtaking your money. if i prevent you from taking some action, then i amtaking your time.if i take your music for free, i get the benefit of your music at noexpense to you. if i don’t take your music, i get no benefit and thereis no expense to you.

      4. Starmanager

        If I put a pig farm next to your mansion, care to guess what the resale value of your mansion will be then? You still have it, true, but it is worthless.

    4. fredwilson

      Atoms and bits are different andyI’m shocked that you don’t grok that

      1. LIAD

        Not in an ethical sense

      2. andyswan

        Trade you a bottle of pappy (atoms) for all of the bits owned by twitter and etsy… have immense value to their creator and owners.I’m shocked that YOU don’t grok that…..but I think you do…..after all, you said you’d be perfectly willing to PAY for the bits, correct?

        1. Morgan Warstler

          Andy, I agree with you 90% of the time, but this is a horrible argument.If oil and food could be copied, there would be riots in the streets if they were not near free.The entire concept of property rights and ownership – hugely important ideas – is predicated on the zero-sum nature of the atomic.When you or anyone else (RIAA / MPAA), attempt to treat the digital as if atomic, you ruin, bastardize, weaken true property rights.

          1. LIAD

            Irrelevant. Content owner gets to set the rules on selling his product. However out of whack his pricing may be doesn’t negate this point.

          2. falicon

            I think this is probably at the heart of the problem though…the traditional distribution of music involves a label or studio…and my guess is that 99% of the time, they are the ones causing all these problems for consumers.The artists want the fans to get the music…the fans want the artists to get the money (and use it to make more music)…it’s the middle man that wants to control the transaction and maximize their take…and it’s the middle that’s got all the problems right now (IMHO).

          3. LIAD

            Not denying that. Actually agree. Doesnt change the facts though.We try to rationalise our actions, but it’s hard to make a moral case for torrenting content.

          4. jeffreymcmanus

            The owner can try to set rules on selling his product, but the market bats last. And in this case, there’s a significant market inefficiency at work.

          5. AlexDaGreat

            Relevant.I NEVER pay for music. If said content owner want to force me to buy said music then I get said equivalent musci for free from 1 million plus other equivalent content owners.The is practically ZERO orginial music on planet earth and in fact never has been.If a true original musician comes along, then they have no problem earning thier keep.I pay for live music, in lives venus. That has been the job of musicians for all of human history. The short recoded music industry was the exception.Music is free. Speech is free. I will not charge you for this blog opinion.

          6. andyswan

            I don’t understand why Michael Milken’s Knowledge Universe bought your video-based learning companies then.You woulda given it to him for the asset value of the physical goods owned! Sucker!

          7. Morgan Warstler

            I’m going to say it again: IF we could copy the atomic, THEN we would have profoundly different ideas about property rights.Andy, you are not being honest with yourself.Your entire understanding of property is based upon an atomic structure. From the Magna Carta on, it has been about a state of things where copying was not possible, and people were willing to die to keep someone from taking something – since they would lose it.And the fastest period of human growth (now) has come about from a shift to a new kind of non-atomic sharable good.To be right, you can’t just assert it – you have to say:A farmer who could copy his food infinitely, would fight and die to stop people from copying it, even though he was fed himself, that he’d fight and die for them copying his land, even though no one took an inch of his bountiful farm from him. And that’d he’d see no value from getting free copies of clothes, or other things other people made.Again, this doesn’t mean the digital can’t make people super rich, it does’t mean the digital can’t sustain nations and families, it just means that until food and land and oil can be copied – we aren’t even close to pretending, to the point of death, that property rights / copy rights are god given.

          8. andyswan

            It’s an interesting stance. I think it’s built on a false premise that the farmer claims ownership over the IDEA of food and land. He just claims ownership of his land, not the process by which it was created.I believe that the farmer WOULD fight and die to stop people from copying his invention that in 10 seconds turned all his crops into packaged gourmet meals ready for distribution….don’t you?

          9. Morgan Warstler

            I think this is where the confusion arises – we see if with blends of atomic and digital.Take DVDs – the real property is the bit of plastic, not the digital copy on it. Which means you should be able to rip it, and destroy the disk, and as long as only one person sees the stream at a time – share it.This is a easy one.In your example however, we get down to patents and inventions, and again I’m just a realist. I don’t dismiss inventions where we have courts, and in as much as we have a gvt. patent office, and patent courts, then you have the ability to bring cause and win, and have the states guns behind you.What I’m not so sure about, is maybe I’d trade less government overall, even if I lost patent courts… I think I would, because I assume there’d be lots less government elsewhere as well.But what I for sure don’t want is more government to run in and protect the digital, just because we blindly pretended the digital isn’t a completely different thing than the atomic.I REALLY liked the anything goes days of the Internet, and keeping that means making lots of trades – from trying to stop Fred’s NN is very much like stopping Hollywood from making this play – and I love Hollywood.

          10. RichardF

            Disagree with you there Morgan. Pharmaceutical companies produce drugs that can be copied for pennies yet they charge $$$$ and make $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ I don’t see any sick people rioting although they probably should do.The argument comes down to right of ownership. The artist (or whoever they agree to licence ownership to) owns the rights to charge and distribute as they wish. period, that’s the law. (in most countries)I’m not saying that I don’t think the music industry shouldn’t be trying to revolutionise the way they do business but theft is theft.

          11. Morgan Warstler

            Pharm is exactly the point. Poor countries like India refuse to support patents, I saw $.02 Viagra – because your “property rights” arguments don’t carry water.Look, I love property rights, but I’m far more concerned with issues like Eminent Domain, than trying to pretend that which can be copied, is morally the same as that which must be stolen.Further, I’m unconcerned with the any discussion of theft somehow limiting the incentive to invent something that can be copied. Elsewhere in the blogosphere I’m arguing aggressively with older macro-economists that the greatest period of human growth has come since the Internet – that argument presumes quite a bit of copying.Fred’s ENTIRE portfolio – your entire playground presumes broadband connections LARGELY gotten after the 2000 crash, when the only thing to use it for was Kazaa.Sharing the digital built this thing you use more than anything else.Let me explain this in real social contract terms – there is no innate social contract – rights come from guns.In our deepest lizard brain instinct, people have to be willing to shoot people for taking something from them, or there is no right to property – fear of violence, credible threats, these are the building blocks of social fabric – all the nice stuff sits on top of some very ugly shoulders.AND I’m not willing to shoot someone for copying music. If they steal bread, shoot them. I’m not willing to invade India for stealing medicine. If they invade Florida – nuke them.Look, we need to imagine that as more of our lives become digital, were’ actually going to need a new metric to measure growth, past NGDP – the truly valuable gains come from a non-atomic world, you can’t easily bottle up.

          12. andyswan

            I think you have a very intelligent and cogent argument, but I disagree.You see, I am willing to shoot someone to prevent them from stealing all of the digital goods I’ve created. That’s my source of bread.

          13. RichardF


          14. Morgan Warstler

            That’s not enough. You might be wiling to shoot people, but you also have to get all the other townsfolk to not try you, and put you to death, for shooting their children.I love the debate, but the underlying premise here is that markets are efficient – even the ones with the likelihood of theft built into them. So markets beget third world countries copying IP, just as they beget PirateBay.So you can call sharing copying “theft” – but my focus is going to be based on its occurrence in the system.And doing everything I can to make sure “government doesn’t get bigger”And you are advocating a far bigger more intrusive government. I don’t want to invade India, and I don’t want to do deep packet inspection and I don’t want to administer a RIAA ISP tax.But, I promise if you buy a loaf of bread, and shoot someone who tries to steal it, I will vote not guilty with every ounce of my breath.

          15. Kyle Comeau

            You can’t shoot people over bits…even in Texas.

          16. andyswan

            Well you “can’t” torrent digital goods either, right?

          17. m3mnoch

            copyright infringement is NOT stealing, no matter how much you want it to be. sounds like you need a course in infinite goods vs. scarce.stealing means, when i have it, you don’t. (scarce)copying means we both have it. (infinite)no amount of law-making or pissing or bluster from you changes that. it’s been true since the beginning of time. as in, absolute fact. ideas and expression are NOT scare goods. experience is.period.full stop.”Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” – buddha, 560 bc”He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.” – thomas jeffersonyou are NOT owed anything. like it or not, you are an entertainer and purveyor of information. if people don’t like your content enough to pay you for it, well… maybe you should rethink your career. the world needs janitors too.m3mnoch.

          18. Dave Pinsen

            It’s eminent domain, not imminent domain, and even eminent domain calls for just compensation.And there’s no need to “invade” or “nuke” a country like India if it violates patents and steals I.P. from U.S. companies. We could just slap a stiff tariff on every product or service the Indians try to sell us until they correct their behavior.By the way, pharma companies usually offer discounts to poor countries anyway. The real outrage is when rich countries such as Canada want to free ride on the R&D of American pharma companies by refusing to pay a fair price for the drugs.

          19. Morgan Warstler

            Thx!But I said IF they invaded Florida, I’d say nuke them.At issue is you focusing on how much you are offended by IP theft, I’m focusing on how much more offended we are about “real” theft, and I don’t want more government, no matter how offended you get.Yes, go after Canada (but let’s be inventive and funny about it) they are the real outrage, but no I’m not going to support tariffs on India, I want them to grow richer, and someday buy patented drugs which cost less because the R&D gets laid over more buyers.I’m just trying to say, there are bigger considerations to the idea of “theft,” than we take for granted day to day.

          20. Dave Pinsen

            It is real theft, Morgan, with real consequences. I’m not sure why you don’t get that. If companies can’t profit from new drugs that took hundreds of millions of dollars to develop, then there’s no incentive for them to develop more drugs.There are also people’s livelihoods at stake, including those of friends of mine who are scientists at pharma companies. I’d support tariffs on India if India were threatening their livelihoods by stealing IP. I’m all for Indians getting wealthier but not at the expense of scientific progress, or of the livelihoods of my friends and countrymen.

          21. Morgan Warstler

            1. If this was the case, we’d not have grown the Internet so fast, which means…2. Your premises are throwing you off.3. The lines drawn on patents (and nation states) are arbitrary – again, you seem to think those lines just keep getting drawn out further and further. I’m keeping the ones we have, hoping to have fewer, and I recognize government as an complex system that should be cut back, not grown out for your good cause.4. Your friends are welcome to make assumptions about the global realities as they are – and choose accordingly. India has been stealing for some time, and that will end only when they are wealthier and have something to lose. I’d prefer we steal all their talent – woo the IIT guys over here with promises of hot women and good times, not get into a national battle because your friends are demanding we make war.I promise if they invade Florida, or take even one loaf of bread, I’ll go medieval on them.

          22. Dave Pinsen

            Morgan,1) One of your premises — that all industries are similar to the Internet — is throwing you off. It takes more than a couple of Rails hackers to discover the next promising anti-cancer drug. It’s a lot more capital-, labor-, and time-intensive.2) National borders aren’t arbitrary (and if they were, why would you be offering to ‘go medieval’ on someone for invading Florida?).3) “Global reality” isn’t something like the weather that we talk about but can’t do anything about. America has the largest consumer market in the world, and can use that leverage to demand other countries trade equitably with us. That our leaders have abdicated on this for decades doesn’t make the status quote inevitable.4) India has something to lose now — its ~$10 billion annual trade surplus with us.________________________________

          23. Digigala

            I think you do not understand pharm.Yes it costs cent’s to manufacture a tablet, but it costs millions and even billions to invent it.

          24. RichardF

            I think you probably didn’t understand my comment.

          25. Matt A. Myers

            How do sick people riot when they don’t have as much energy as healthy people do?

          26. fredwilson

            yes. that is why i called myself a pirate. i am not trying to argue it was not theft. where did i say it was right to do that?

          27. RichardF

            You didn’t and I didn’t call you out on it. My response was to Morgan and anyone else who tries to argue that the basis of law relating to digital and physical ownership is fundamentally different.I understand your post completely, I was in a similar situation when I wanted Steve Blank’s book, I ended up ordering it from Amazon US and a ten day wait.However this post is really about the edge case not the mainstream pirate. There is a generation of teenagers growing up thinking that if you want music you do not have to pay for it. That you can just download it and enjoy it for free with no compensation to the rights holder. Amazon and iTunes cater for most people’s tastes, the legalalternative is available.Music is really special, it comes from the soul and has the ability to change moods like nothing else. It’s classless and non discriminatory, it doesn’t matter if you don’t like what I like, it’s how it makes me feel that is important. Right now I’m listening to “Rolling in The Deep” by Adele from her new album 21. It’s a great album, I paid Amazon £3.99 maybe she’ll get £1 of it, not enough imo.The point is Adele should be rewarded not ripped off . There has been a seismic shift away from that, a complete disconnect, a something for nothing mentality and that really pisses me off when it comes to something as extraordinary as music.

          28. AlexDaGreat

            Right of ownership of what?There is ZERO orginial music in the world.Music = Speech. Speech must be free.When you buy music, you are buying a “performance”.99% of written music is simply a re-arrangement into a new “performance”.Yes, big pharma is a scam. Prices are protected by big law and big political bribes and people in the real world die and go bankrupt. I’d be disgusted if I worked at big phara in USA.You should not be able to patent a pharma process, nor some new combintation of chemicals to create a new drug…the concept is absurd.It is just as absurd as if a musician could get a patent for a certain combination of notes.

          29. Jeremy Meyers

            to steal a line from the west wing: the second pill costs a penny, the first pill costs 50 million.

          30. RichardF


          31. Chunah

            To Morgan Warstler, and all others who ‘buy’ that a human is a developed animal and stealing is only socially unacceptable:People are people not developed animals. We have human value not simple instinct. The scientific world doesn’t buy this yet, but I refuse to accept that my fellow human beings can be reduced to complex sets of chemicals and moral law is only because of consensus. We have souls, and soul meaning governs our actions, and our thinking. We don’t still because it is not right to still, not because of consequence. Of course, stealing for survival sometimes appears necessary, but I’m talking about stealing to just avoid paying with money you can spare.

          32. lawrence coburn

            Morgan, I suspect you already read this but Charles Stross’ Singularity Sky is a pretty good exploration of the chaos that might be caused when atomic goods can be copied and distributed for free.As a related point, I think that Union Square Ventures is an investor in a 3D Printing company. The differences between Atomic and Digital as they stand today may not last forever.

          33. Morgan Warstler

            Thanks for the book suggestion!I love 3D printing – it gets to heart of near free. The atomic sustains us, and without it, we’ll die…I really am a rabid advocate of personal property, I just feel like any efforts to confuse digital / atomic are very likely to empower the government to grow, and that’s not in our interest.Now if someone could sketch me a system where there is less government, and more use of personal threat – like “steal this music and we might nuke your MP3 player dead” and you cannot cry to the government, and MP3 player manufacturers cannot sue you dead in court – I’ll cheer it.But it has to be a private solution, or I’m sorry but the cure is worse than the disease.

          34. Morgan Warstler

            Also, I’ll give you the same plea I offer to everyone in geo here, please make a happy hour app.A properly built app that tells me at any time through-out the day where the cheap bar food and drinks can be had, will chew into Groupon’s margins.

        2. Michael Arrington

          there’s always an andyswan in posts like this. taking food from my children’s mouth and all that nonsense instead of just dealing with the economic realities of digital goods. Adapt or die.

          1. andyswan

            I’m not familiar with posts like this….has it been your experience that there’s always a Michael Arrington in posts like these. “Adapt or die” and all that nonsense as he sells digital goods to the highest bidder?”© 2011 TechCrunch”

          2. Bob

            Now you’ve got me interested.How about if I put up a site that cloned TechCrunch…then decide to put my own artwork on it (maybe mix in some porn from Google images)…my own ads, of course…but I’ll (mostly) keep the bylines – they may add SEO punch….and of course I want the comments too, as it’s damn costly to grow a community (so I’ll fake it).I’m not looking to get rich, just make a little dough on the side.It’s all bits, right?after that, maybe a site called “”…same deal.on a more serious note, hasn’t this discussion freely mixed aspirations, ethics, nouveau “wired” business sensibilities, and – last but not least – the law.the law is and should be informed by these other things, but it is not these other things.and the law is mostly blind to these “bits should be set free” proclamations. and it certainly doesn’t consider IP theft a victimless crime.bobbobWhat’s the adaptation strategy there?

          3. Michael Arrington

            like i said, more than 20 sites like that already exist.

          4. RichardF

            long may there be an andyswan in all of Fred’s posts.

          5. fredwilson

            yup, the sand creates the pearlbring it on

        3. fredwilson

          i will gladly pay for the bits. they wouldn’t take my money. that’s what i am pissed off about. there are literally thousands of people stealing the exact same bits today. but i wanted to pay for them. and they won’t take my money. fucking annoying as shit

          1. andyswan

            Definitely annoying. Lol love the fbombs and convo today. Another avcclassic.

          2. Mark Essel

            community thread 10/10 on this one.

          3. Wes Smith

            Sliding down the notches of respect as you flail on this logic. Could it be better, sure, do we get your point, sure, but your method of resolve? Not very respectful…There are nightclubs I’d like to get into and I’m willing to pay, but I don’t punch the owner in the face when his door staff turn me away. This is called spoiled brat.

          4. Sean Saulsbury

            “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.”

          5. james2m

            As the music distribution industry started to reap the benefits of dramatically reduced distribution costs they greedily clung onto their old pricing model. Maintaining the same retail price, effectively gouged the consumer and the artist am entirely convinced that creating the right price point and re-distributing more of the profit to the artist whilst making access to the product globally at the same time would result in far less piracy.Most of us are emotionally attached to the music we listen to and therefore the artist who created it. If we know the money we hand over is going to help the artist continue to produce things we get immense pleasure from then we are far more likely to hand over that money.Since most of us know that the “music industry” is desperately clinging onto their profits which are used (through the courts and lobbying etc) to maintain a choke point on the distribution of music which has been ripe for disintermediation for well over a decade.Given that gouged profits are used to maintain control over the distribution of music piracy seems to me like one of the only avenues of bypassing this parasitic ‘industry’.If I could guarantee the quality of pirated music and get it as easily as a click on iTunes whilst handing ~$3-5 to an artist I discovered through / hype machine / twitter I would. That seems like a far better option than handing $0.94 to the artist and $5.35 to a label who are no longer required in the process of distributing bits and bytes.



      4. Aaron J. Ruckman

        “Atoms and bits are different.”In the physical sense, yes. In the property sense, no. Both are property that have an owner. And the owner gets to decide how (if) those rights are transferred. The fact that you don’t like the distribution model (I don’t either) is totally irrelevant.

    5. andyswan

      FOR all the bits vs. atoms argumentsFred stated in this post that he is willing to pay for bits. Does pay a lot for bits. HAPPY to pay for bits!!!”I want to pay for music. I value the content”Therefore, it has been established that to him, the digital good has value.His entire argument rests on the idea that because the producer of the content was not willing to sell it to him in a time and format of his choosing, he was FORCED to steal the product that he would normally pay for.HE has already proven that digital goods have value to him, just as the physical land-rover has value to me. He was forced to steal the good because it wasn’t exactly how he wanted it, when he wanted it. So was I.Bottom line: We both took something that WE BELIEVE HAS VALUE without giving the producer of that good anything of value, without the producer’s agreement to do so.

      1. FlavioGomes

        However, Fred agreed to the price set by the creator/distributor.

      2. Mike

        You either really don’t understand the simple difference between theft and copying or you are just a troll.Copyright infringement is NOT theft/larceny. Just like apples are not oranges. Yes, their are both fruit. But they are not the same. It’s really that simple.There is a reason you don’t file for a grand theft/larceny when someone downloads your content without a permission. There is a reason you don’t file for a copyright infringement when your car is stolen from the parking lot. No mater how many times the MPAA will say it in their deceiving commercials, copyright infringement is NOT theft.The rest of your arguments are simply void as your pretense is wrong.

      3. fredwilson

        yeah, but it is a bit more complicated than that Andy. the bits are being sold in the UK right now. i can paypal the money to a friend in the UK, they can buy it, then send it to me. or a slightly better version is i get a proxy to trick amazon on my location and buy it. or another version, i pirate it, then when amazon US sells the mp3s, i buy’s all the same thing to me and actually its pretty much the same thing to the rights holder. except that they force me to be a thief which i don’t want to be

        1. andyswan

          Is it possible that they decided they wanted it to be that way? Shouldthat not be respected?

          1. Guest

            Do you seriously believe they wanted it to be that way?

          2. andyswan

            Why else would I be that way, unless that what they decided to do?

          3. Alex Murphy

            Yes, they chose for it to be that way.

          4. Guest

            Do you realize that 90% of the world has no iTunes, Amazon mp3 etc?Do you seriously believe that anyone who stands to win from legal music downloads (the artists, anyone else in the chain) WANTS it to be that way?

          5. andyswan

            I believe that they intentionally made it a download in the uk and notavailable in the USA yet.

          6. Alex Murphy

            Then 90% of the world does not get it yet. That is the way it is.And if the artists want that 90% of the world to get it for free, they can set up country specific sites and offer it for free if they want to those countries.And as decent people of the world … we should respect that.Treat others as you would want to be treated. And if you want it to be available … ask, don’t take.

        2. Wes Smith

          So you don’t understand why iPhones are released similarly? Software is released similarly, etc…? It could be as simple as Andy says, the rights holder is doing it on purpose…for some reason…respect it or you undermine the premise of value for any digital goods and become party to all the expenses associated with people trying to protect their rights.

          1. fredwilson

            have you read my endless rants on why the iPhone sucks because apple isfucking over their customers?this is all political with me. this has nothing to do with a $6 set of mp3s

          2. Alex Murphy

            But isn’t the question of who gets to make that decision?I think that most, if not all, of us agree with the point that you “should” be allowed to buy the music. But don’t the “owners” of the music get to make that decision? Why do you think that it is your decision?I respect the fact that you want to pay them, and that you are going to pay them later, but what if they never release the music here?The real issue here is that you do this once and you remember to pay the artist, but what about the 5th time, or the 10th, or the 50th time … are you going to remember to pay all of them? What if you miss one?It is a slippery slope. You do it once and justify it, which leads to a 2nd, 3rd and 4th time.I know that I make many mistakes along the way, and I justify them too.In my opinion, there is a disconnect between our ability to do stuff online and the filter that we collectively use to determine whether or not we should do it. We need to treat others as we expect to be treated. If you made music, and if you decided to sell it in one market to begin with (for whatever reason) wouldn’t you want others to respect your decision? Whatever that decision was.

    6. Snake


    7. CJ

      Let’s say your analogy has a point, which is does in a small way. The overarching point is more important and the one that is being ignored: it should NOT be easier to steal a new CD than to buy it, especially when it’s been released somewhere in the world already. We can argue right and wrong all day about this but in the end the main point is that by placing artificial barriers to a sale you induce that person to steal rather than buy.Secondly, if I torrent/download an album the original still exists and remains unharmed and no one even knows that it was done but the person doing it. See how this is a bigger issue than auto theft? Morally – well moral arguments are for suckers IMO, business-wise this is REALLY crappy business because you have no way to protect yourself from the thieves.Now while there are some who will steal anyway, you have to discount those and make it easier for those who WANT to buy to actually buy otherwise you end up with your potential customers ripping you off just because they don’t have any alternative.

      1. andyswan

        It’s always easier to steal than buy.In this case, it was easier to steal than to wait one week and have a CDdelivered. In someone else’s case, it’s easier to walk into Target and walkout with Top Gun DVD than it would be to work for an hour, earn the money,and then take it to the cash register.Secondly, this is a moral argument I’m making. So maybe I’m a sucker fordoing so, or maybe I thought this pot could use a stir. If you want toremove morality from the discussion, then I say “Yes, do whatever is easiestand most convenient for you to acquire that which you desire.” Agree?

        1. Geoff Wright

          Andy – the question is. Would you rather live in a world where digital content is free, i.e. the price is zero – but you (bits creator) can still get paid?…I’m sure the answer is yes. And thats what we’re all working towards.

          1. andyswan

            If, hypothetically, I were to start a company later this year, I would do so with the idea of making the digital content completely free, in order to disrupt the industry.However, if I messed up, was stupid, and I set a price on it of $500,000 perdownload, I’d expect that you would not download it without paying me, andthat I’d have to adjust my model to deal with the reality of 0 sales.

          2. fredwilson

            how about i download it now and pay you the $500,000 when you allow me to do so?

          3. andyswan

            If we both agree, then I have no problem with that. If I dont agree, thenit’s not cool.

        2. CJ

          Moral arguments are for suckers because they are unique to the individual and mutable, even among people who largely share the same belief system. The reality of the situation is that downloading music isn’t the same as stealing to lots of people and is 99% undetectable. So if you remove the moral aspect, which most people have, you’re left with a crime that can’t possibly be stopped by the law and will materially affect the way business is conducted. Ignoring that is ignoring the elephant in the room and focusing on the gnat.

          1. andyswan

            In this case, everyone involved considers it stealing.

        3. Anon

          “It’s always easier to steal than buy.”It is easier for me to buy a game on Steam, have them manage my saves and screenshots and server lists and whatnot in the cloud, have them perpetually store the game and data for me, allow me to load it onto any of my computers and use as I choose – then it is to pirate it.

    8. steveplace

      False analogy. argument:A is just like BA is bad therfore B is bad.But A is not just like B.B can be bad, but it needs to stand on it’s own rationale, not from this overused argument.Edit: this argument’s going to get much more interesting when douchebags from Metallica are no longer the main issue and we start seeing dramatic cuts in costs for rapid prototyping and homegrown biotech come into play.

      1. andyswan

        K replace “land rover” with “codebase and user database and all thingsdigital currently owned by twitter”. They can keep a copy.Cool?

        1. steveplace

          That’s a much more legitimate claim. As is often the case, I can argue both sides of this issue– which is why I don’t get invited to many dinner parties.Physical theft and virtual piracy are quite different– but many people take that claim and use it to say piracy is less bad; that argument fails:A not just like BA is badtherefore B is not badDoesn’t make sense, but half the comments in this stream are stating that as their case.

          1. andyswan

            So could i…. good for disqus an traffic… maybe not so good for mypopularity points? Lol

    9. Guest

      Totally beside the point. Fred was ready to pay the full price for a digital product, which you are not acknowledging.The options for buying music legally online are poor. Mind you that it is a 100 times worse when you live outside the US or Europe. It’s just not being made easy to buy legally. The geographical rights situation is strongly detrimental to that. Major player are just not going to invest in smaller markets that way, because it is too much hassle to negotiate the rights again for each market.It’s a mess, just admit it. And it is stupid, because so much more money could be made with a logical and customer-centric distribution model.

      1. AlexDaGreat

        “The options for buying music legally online are poor”And the real reason is?????Answer: There is an ENDLESS supply of music on planet earth. There is a BOTTOMLESS supply of talented musicians on planet earth.The ONLY REASON you paid for music in the past was because an industry trained you to buy whichever music they decided was great and that you need to buy in order to be part of some social group you related to.The recored musci industry is on it’s last legs and are now back to marketing crappy music to insecure pre-teens.Only a fool pays for something that you don’t need to pay for.The only way I’d pay for music is for someone to pre-program my ipod play lists for me to save time

    10. gueest

      This anology is a piece of crap, replace tommy to gloves with tommy-carmaker who could make a landrover from scratch and then it makes sense

      1. andyswan


        1. Guest

          That would just weaken the analogy further, the first anology changed infringement to theft and the second adds a breach of privacy, neither of which are present in the original case.

      2. andyswan

        In both Fred’s post and my analogy, the person taking the good blames theprovider, and claims to be a victim of the provider. That’s what I found soamusing. “Because you don’t give me exactly what I want, when I want it, atthe terms I want, I am “FORCED” to take it without paying”.

        1. Guest

          That is true, no one is forced to infringe on someone’s IP, but it is a bad analogy because infringement is a different crime than theft, change it to tommy copying the car and it is a accurate analogy, land rover are still been denied revenue and all the arguments against downloading music still apply, but it lacks the impact of original bad analogy

          1. andyswan

            I missed the memo that analogies must be exact. You’re picking on apurposefully imperfect *extreme analogy* for being imperfect and extreme.For example, I could have said “this sounds an awfully lot like a rapistblaming the actions of the victim for his crime”, knowing full well that thetwo crimes are not comparable in the slightest.However, the concept of changing one’s moral code (Fred considers it theft)because the actions of another were not agreeable—- that is the discussionpoint, and is made quite well.That’s why I signed it “Victim”.

  27. PKafka

    Pretty sure this story would have been the same no matter what label The Streets are/is on. But it so happens that they’re on Warner. And Warner just happened to report today – sales down 14%. http://mediamemo.allthingsd

    1. Austin Clements

      Haha great add! And great debate all around. I disagree with Fred on this one though. Any argument blaming the system for causing you to do something unethical is never going to hold up.However I see the main point of the article less about atoms vs bits and more about supplying a demand, which Warner failed to do in this case. For Warner any company, bits or atoms based, that is nothing new. You are not going to meet every customer at their perfect time, price point, and delivery medium. It’s part of doing business. Obviously they felt the cost of providing that song to Fred and anyone else in the US wasn’t worth it to them yet for one reason or another.

  28. iamronen

    So you’ve had a small taste of what the internet is like for anyone not living in the USA. I’ve commented before that Americans (which I believe are the majority at this blog) speak of the internet as if it was some global thing.It isn’t global in digital content availability, physical item delivery, payments, applications … now add to that people who do not have $1000 to spend on music … and guess what – the internet is a world of thieves.Since you’ve put the f-bomb energy out there – I’ll ride it out. When I look at internet-tech companies … I see mostly (there are a few exceptions) an indulgent, irrelevant and out-of-touch industry of people with too much time and too much money playing at games while deluding themselves into thinking they are making the world a better place … So you couldn’t download your album right away when you wanted it … sheesh! Such wasted energy that could be put to so much better use.

    1. ShanaC

      Thank you for saying this. It is true, though I think large parts of your argument will change as we move to a mobile world. Africa has really high cell phone penetration, and it will be a lot easier to serve internet content when they hit lots of 3g land

      1. iamronen

        question is … are mobile phones what they need most, or is that a western indulgence that will divert their scarce resources from constructive to wasteful spending?Are we heading into a reality where under-educated and malnourished people will walk around with touch screens?When I was living in Israel I was amazed at the accumulated communication and media expenses of poor families … poor food and shelter but cool 3g phones, daily newspapers, cable TV and of course cigarettes …I live an excellent life without 3g, I consider it an indulgence not a necessity, there are better ways for me to spend my money … and I don’t want the pollution of internet traffic and communication and probably advertising on me all day.But hey – that’s just me … I on my way to becoming a peasant 🙂

        1. ShanaC

          I have a fascinating paper somewhere about the rise of SMS being linked tofairer prices of grain on the open market in the third world. While most ofwhat we do is definitely about the bling, apparently people will spend a tonon communication if they see it as a way out.I expect that 3g would help processes like these.

        2. PhilipSugar

          I hesitated to wade through this morass, and was so glad my comments didn’t bubble up high. That was a breath of sanity.Well said buddy.

        3. Riot Nrrrd™

          Who are you to decide how people should live their lives, and what is important to them? Maybe you have some cause, to enlighten the Noble Savage?I went to San Felipé, Mexico (on the upper Baja Peninsula) for the US 4th of July holiday one year, and was astonished to see (this was the mid-late 90s) houses that were clearly dirt poor, but had the Old School giant C-band satellite dishes outside. My first reaction was “How can these people live in these ramshackle sheds, but have these dishes?”. Maybe they just valued entertainment to take them away from their lives of poverty more than they valued having enough food to eat.Who are we to tell them what to value?

  29. Colin Bowern

    It’s even more frustrating to purchase legal digital music in Canada. Choice wise we have iTunes (if you want to install the bloatware necessary to purchase the music), and a few small time players with limited selection. The problem is the stagnant business model in the music industry which sees regional entities pitted against each other in a battle of P&L supremacy. They make deals that only serve only their interests rather than harnessing the global PR engine of the label; they make it harder for willing consumers to purchase and enjoy the music on the device of choice; and they treat any new ideas coming to the industry with skepticism and leagues of lawyers ready to license the heck out of your new idea. It’s not just the labels that are responsible for this mess, but also the various licensing bodies that exist within each region. None of them are willing to cede their interests to the broader consumer and artist interests that harness the energy behind a more global push for music. With artists signing blindly in some cases to these deals in a desperate attempt to make a living from their craft it’s going to be a slow change as artists are empowered to choose service providers that help them grow their business. Few artists are able to do this out of the gate, or early enough in their career to count. OK Go is one of the few that seems to be able to buck this trend. Others are left to stand by and watch the industry take it’s toll on them and only if fans want it bad enough, will they succeed in getting their music heard – all the while not realizing the lost potential of what could have been in a more global system. While building officialCOMMUNITY we learned that partnering with artists that retained their rights (or had the rights to their music reverted after years of industry rule) gave them more freedom to get their hard work into the hands of fans. It’s still not a cake walk, but it is a business that I’m proud to have been able to put my name behind because it stood for all the right things – finding a balance between producer and consumer in a global community.

  30. Michael Jackson

    So, Fred – Imagine how it is living in the smaller countries. We’re last on the list for everything, and from the business perspective of the seller, this is correct.How about a change to the law Copyright infringement charges can only be brought where available and legal means for purchase have been circumvented ?At least, there would be a catchall that encourages a fair scheme to be born.

  31. RIAA

    I am sorry, but you now owe us $500K, for pirating this song and causing enormous loses to our business. sincerely, riaa;)

  32. Tomas

    living on the southern top of Africa, not being able to legally purchase digital content is all too common so thank you for bringing this ridiculous practice under the spotlight. Last year i wasn’t even able to watch live sports online (for which i had a subscription) b/c i just happened to travel to another country where the content wasn’t licensed. I that case, i felt like i was being robbed.

  33. baba12

    You spend close $2k a year for music for family, a decently steep price but it works for you partially.What you describe as frustrating is a function of the age old tradition of gatekeepers and middlemen who add little or no value are the ones who make a lot of the money and also decide the rules.Supposedly the internet was to play a role in eliminating that. But the middle men have managed to get back and control how and when content gets distributed without really adding any value.If you want to not download it without paying for it, you can do it the old fashioned way.; Record the stream and export it as an MP3. It is the way we used to record cassettes from the radio and then create our own mixed tapes.But think about it in most industries the middle men are the ones who get paid the most and they manage to be relevant always even in the internet(s) age.

  34. jdelvat

    Welcome to “This is broken” World !…And, by the way, you’ll be a criminal either way: can’t find again the one where they try to watch a purchased DVD and it takes so much time to get to the menu after the legal disclaimers about piracy that they end up getting it from Limewire)

  35. Luke Jones

    This reminds me of a comic by Brad Colbow:…. It highlights a massive problem we have right now… A World where corporations are restricting people from downloading or watching something even if they’re willing to pay. It’s much quicker to head to a torrent site and download it for free.Now, if companies began to understand what users really want – a fast service which is available to all and where you pay for what you get. I’m a Spotify Premium member and I would happily pay monthly for another music service and, if available, a legal way to watch television shows online.Now, we don’t have anything like that in the United Kingdom. Nothing. We have to wait nearly a year to be able to watch that new episode of The Office or Boardwalk Empire… How does that make sense? I’d rather pay a premium and stream it from a server, legally. I can’t believe that it’s not 2011 and that’s not available to us. That’s the future of media.As a disclaimer: I buy all my music. Even if it hurts to wait that little bit of time. I don’t condone what you’re doing but can empathise and understand _why_ you would want to do that.

  36. Carl Rahn Griffith

    Amen. Have been in this kind of scenario myself.Little wonder so many aspects of the music industry are in chaos/decline…Hopefully other hitherto analogue industries now in the process of going digital are learning from the debacle the music industry has made of this wonderful opportunity…Hopefully I can do this music transaction (below) OK on Friday: chance of your being in the Sheffield area at that time, Fred? 😉

  37. Jevon

    When I downloaded my first MP3s in the late 90s I actually put a $20 bill in a few envelopes and mailed them to some bands I had discovered. The net result was usually a letter back wondering what the hell an MP3 was (but thanks for the $20 anyway). It always felt good. Rarely was there no response.A dozen years later and I am starting to think that I should just start mailing out $20 bills again.

  38. Fernando Gutierrez

    This problem about rights and music is so real that one of the features Spotify sells in its premium subscription is being able to listen to your music when abroad.

  39. Dave W Baldwin

    Going back to Fred’s ‘Water’ post, it is time to produce the distribution service that is most friendly to the artist. Not going into the array of nodes combined with the set up of sending request/sample/pay scenario with the majority of the proceed going to artist we can do that sooner than later.Get that moving and then offer % levels of revenue going to a worthwhile cause ranging from whichever feed the world over to music collaboration and you have something you can market.This really goes back to what I referred to with the immediate collaboration/opinion in real time that we can make happen in the next 2 years.

  40. John Coates

    Piracy is sadly a better product – time is my biggest constraint not money, and it’s way faster to pirate than pay for music. That does even cover the better selection and quality that piracy offers (FLAC, 320mps).

  41. Michal Illich

    USA is good compared to other countries. In Europe (namely in Czech Republic) it’s quite impossible to buy a mp3 legally. The only service ( which was trying to do it (but only in a limited scope and quite badly) is filing for bankruptcy right now 🙁

  42. FBI

    Mr. Wilson, this is the FBI. We’d like to ask you a few questions…

  43. SL Clark

    Heh. All you wanted was a “personal” copy. Try to *legally* license it for use as background music for a video you’ve produced. Twenty F bombs later, I gave up on the track I wanted to use – the record label thought it was worth $$$$$A simple book trailer may get 5,000 views in it’s lifetime. We redid the visuals to go with an Open Source symphony piece by Mozart. <sigh>Fred, the record industry = dinosaur poop.

    1. ShanaC

      The scariest is trying to license “Happy Birthday”- You can’t record a birthday party and stick it on youtube without worrying that the music will be taken out

  44. PhilipSugar

    I think the problem starts and stops when technology turns your delivery system on its head and instead of viewing it as a giant opportunity you view it as a threat and want to keep the old way.Imagine if I told you I could strip away 80% of your expenses, wouldn’t you be ecstatic? Wouldn’t you look at it and usage is going to explode!I understand its hard because your revenues would drop, but you could devise ways to increase your profit.You could say I used to make 10-20 cents a song, but usage is going to explode. I’ll settle for 5 cents bought in $1 increments. At that point the effort to get around the cost wouldn’t make any sense. If you got just half the illegal download trade your profits would explode.That is what the RIAA with its budget could have done, alas they keep trying to shove the genie back in the bottle.

    1. Dave W Baldwin

      Very good point Phil. With the method of communication available today moving forward into 2013, we can do something that the artists will get behind.Of course, it would help to get a known artist or two to do the same and help the promotion side of things.

      1. PhilipSugar

        The problem is where technology runs into the physical world.In technology if people were so resistant to change we would still need a backpack to carry a cell phone and minutes would cost $5.Technology people are used to decreasing price and increasing sales.In the real world if you gave stuff away to eventually figure out how you could “monetize” you would go bankrupt in a second.

        1. Dave W Baldwin

          True, but if you place the platform out there where there is a low membership fee, the group’s sample is open and those that want the entire download either have money shaved off their monthly due or pay, you determine the percentages.You can get attention for a particular group via word of mouth and group tweet/fb and like I said, if you have whichever known artist promoting the support of the starving (up and coming) artists it will become its own marketer.You just have to have the platform, which is a doable and in a quick period of time…the overhead is lower (in my case) because of platform. And there are many directions you can build from that platform that offer the next level of ad/marketing/sales due to it delivers what the customer wants.Do that and let the sloth swim in lethargism…BTW, regarding the give away….if what you have is on a tech level that can have the simpler (but still above what is out there) for free with the bonus version at a moderate price point and then a deluxe at a bigger price point, you have something that can work on its own or with other developer/investment interests that will pull more leverage to the developer.And that is what can cause a friendly disruption timed to what is happening today regarding the social, both international and local.

    2. james2m

      Oh they did view it as a massive opportunity. An opportunity to move from $1 take per album to $5.35 without having to change a thing except perhaps their spend on lobbying to ensure the law supports their additional $4.35 take per album.

  45. Guest

    I feel rebellious just reading the post and comment thread this morning.. LOL

  46. kirklove

    I find myself agreeing with you 99.9% of the time. I also wholeheartedly agree the music industry is a colossal clusterf$ck. Yet, I’m not sure why you are this upset. It seems your penchant for immediacy and exactly what you want is getting the best of you in this scenario.I just clicked on the link in your post and am listening to the album – for free mind you (as well as supporting your friend Anthony and your portfolio company SoundCloud by telling others about it). And as you also state, you’ll have no problem getting the album, legally, in another week. You just have to wait a week or so for the exact format you want. All the while you still have access and can listen to it all you want right now. That’s why this seems more like a bit of a petulant child rant than a decry for music purchase reform.

    1. fredwilson

      i am upset because the lunacy of this. i could paypal a friend in the UK, they could but it & send it to me. i could proxy into amazon uk and buy it. or i could steal it and then pay for it when amazon us sells it (which is what i chose to do). they are all the same in the end and yet the last one, which is the easiest, forces me to be a thief.

  47. markslater

    this sounds like a broken record.3 years ago – your blog raged with debate on the future of music, new business models and so on.i cant believe we are still where we are.I don’t condone theft in any form, but the message to all participants in the music industry should be very clear. Adapt or DIE. its human nature to take the least path of resistance to your objective – in the case of the music industry – that unfortunately is theft.Music was and always will be a “service” in my opinon (see the book – the future of music). 40 years ago a bunch of sheisters hijacked it and turned it in to a product. A business model was born that was structurally flawed and got found out in a dorm room on Huntington ave here in boston.and the folly continues to this day! what other industry sues its customers!!!!its incumbent upon the artist community to free themselves from the labels, seek out alternative means of surviving and prospering with new and innovative models (there are hundreds out there) and fundamentally accept that the measure of success and the means to succeed is NOT how many songs or albums you “sell”.oh and while we are on the subject: note to murdoch – your business is facing the same threat. adapt or die.

  48. Seth Lieberman

    Adding my own sounds track to this post: Dinosaur Jr’s “Feel the Pain”. It totally sucks. FYI the new eMusic model is $/track and the $ roll month to month now I believe, not use it or lose it. Less value from them, but larger catalog.

  49. adamwexler

    The IFPI came out with a staggering statistic in 2009 that 95% of all downloads were done “illegally.” Yet, (if I’m not mistaken) that 95% amounted to something like $4,700,000,000. Just imagine if that 5% illegally consumed was doubled — we’re talking $10bil!!As we say in our promo cards at , we want to help you find the songs you were always meant to hear. Not only is so much music not paid for at the moment, but so much great music is completely lost in the shuffle. If our crowdsourced resource can help others more easily find the hidden gems, that consumption pie will expand even further…and maybe, just maybe, the labels will start to realize what direction to take the variable pricing model (i.e. not $1.29…)

  50. theschnaz

    I have this issue all the time with NFL content. Yahoo streams football games for $80/mo but not in the US.You should try foxyproxy (a Firefox extension) next time you need an foreign IP. It’s easy and straight forward.

  51. RacerRick

    It’s ridiculous that it’s not available — but that’s their choice. It’s their music.

    1. Rurik Bradbury

      I doubt it is “their choice” — it is a knock-on effect from a chain of idiotic decisions and circumstances. Nobody would design a system this way, if starting from scratch.

    2. utopia27

      It’s their music _for a finite period of time_. Please do NOT FORGET transition to public domain.

  52. Eran Filiba

    If nothing else, this is a story of perseverance. And the love story between and a man and his music:)thanks for pointing out the frustration that most people deal with. I live in Turkey, so getting to content (video/audio) is usually difficult without the vpn games.

  53. emoses

    This is exactly the thing that content providers didn’t get, and apparently still don’t, in the halcyon days of music piracy. Pirating music wasn’t just cheaper – though lets not deny that it was that too – it was also easier. To some extent itunes fixed that for them, through no effort of their own! Your experience with the streets (best album since the second one!) is a weird, if frustrating vestige of the pre-itunes system. But it does go to show that there is a certain amount of path dependency: the systems for piratic distribution are still more efficient than the bona fide ones. If content makers had been forward-thinking from the start, maybe we could have avoided this mess, or at least some of it.

  54. Keith Richman

    Fred – The same thing continues to happen to me. I wrote about this last summer when I tried to buy, again, 30 Rock to watch. Companies need to learn.

  55. Todd Hamilton

    Glad to see you highlight this. Had the same issue with James Blake’s new album yesterday. It’s available as vinyl and cd via UK import, but no download from anywhere. Did i .torrent it? Yeah, but I could only get 320kbps, so as soon as I can buy the lossless .flac, James will see whatever minute % his contracts earn him. Forget the moral issues for a second, the industry needs to complete it’s sloth-like shift to the 21st century.

    1. Riot Nrrrd™

      I found it in FLAC. Horrible album. Like a bad version of Jamie Liddell. So glad I didn’t buy it. It’s crap 🙂

      1. Todd Hamilton

        well, I wouldn’t put blake and liddell in the same category, but, I am not blown away by the album either. For all the hype, it’s basically a few of blake’s lyrical musings and it never really “takes off”. It reminds me of when matthew herbert made “good bye swing time”, it was interesting, but had no legs, so I never play it.Your comment also brings up the “try before you buy” aspect of digital media, which I think is great. I’m probably not going to by the blake album now either, which imo is reasonable. Nothing sucks more than buying an album and not liking it.

  56. LIAD

    For the record. I’m LOVING this thread.- note bene – I’ve torrented content whilst expending far less energy than Fred did on finding a legal version. that being said:1. It’s impossible to find a moral argument to defend jacking digital content. 2. If we separate the practical from ethical aspects, we may all be on the same page

    1. iamronen

      “It’s impossible to find a moral argument to defend jacking digital content” … no it isn’t … you’re simply looking at the problem from the wrong end.The way things are working (jacking digital content) IS moral order … it is more important that some songs be heard and some books be read then they be purchased … it may not be a capitalist moral order … the moral problem is probably in capitalismIf the theory doesn’t fit nature … it’s the theory that needs to change not nature:…I used to be a Microsoft thief … that didn’t change because of legal prosecution … it changed because of Ubuntu!

      1. LIAD

        Lo nachon.The content owner gets to decide his own terms of sale. No matter how f**ked up they are.

        1. iamronen

          Lo nachon :)Apparently regardless of what any content owner or distributor decides … the content can be downloaded for free.It is easy to lose sight of what is really out there when it doesn’t align with “your values”.

          1. Sander Bijlstra

            True value in content creation is influencing how we view the world; an alternate reality. This helps define societies views of reality. If you want to influence society you pay that price.Performers get paid for their performance, the repertoire is free. Good repertoire will be played more, valued more and have more impact. Copyright is great if it means that for all commercial value created with your material, you receive a part of it (say 10% author, 15% master holder)But uit shouldn’t mean you dictate all use everywhere. you loose control once you publicize

      2. Wills Hapworth

        This is the heart of the argument and lamronen you make a great case in this point: “If the theory doesn’t fit nature … it’s the theory that needs to change not nature:”furthermore the music business as we know it, printing on whatever medium you like (vinyl, tape, and cd) and selling it for a profit is much less than a century old, in comparison with thousands of years of live music and traditionals and story telling. i wish the corporates luck in finding a new model to make money, but that’s their business; paying for music content through one exclusive model is bound to lose at some point, revolutions by the people who care and have a vested interest almost always follow tyrannies, and it’s obvious that Fred is someone who cares about music.everyone knows in music knows that the real $$ right now is in live music anyway. that is the “nature” manifesting itselfback to roots, viva la revolucion!

      3. PhilipSugar

        Sorry I gave you a like but I would take it back for this comment.

        1. iamronen

          the next time you like another comment I make simply refrain from pressing “like” and we’ll be even 🙂

          1. PhilipSugar

            We’re even. I liked that comment but didn’t press the button.

  57. RichardF

    I’m amazed Business Insider just kept your original title to this post. Thought they would have been far more creative.___________________Posted via AVC

  58. Jason Hanley

    Glad to see someone else severely frustrated with current content distributors. 12-year old kids set up free, ultra-fast, highly efficient distributed networks. Meanwhile, the “legit” services have 1/100th the selection are mostly unusable.

  59. Magnus Wikegård

    It took me 14 seconds to search and add as playlist on my phone.But then I’m in Sweden and this time I was lucky.Usually it is the other way around.

  60. Andrew Morgan

    This is exactly why virtually every music listener I know in South Africa is a pirate. When I lived in the UK I used to spend hundreds of pounds a year on music. Now that I’ve moved back home, I spend about £10 a year.Add to that, even if you’re interested in getting a CD copy, they come out here way later than the rest of the world and cost roughly $21, regardless of how popular the CD is or how old it is.



  62. Jeff O'Hara

    I did the same thing recently for a certain un-named album that was recently re-leased in all of the world except the united states. I pre-ordered on iTunes, but used bit-torrent to get the album the day i purchased it.

  63. Danny Strelitz

    Wait till you get in to the formats war – mp3 in 128bit or 320 bit, flac, ogg, and you will find yourself pirating like a Somali fisherman on speed, if you spend 2000K a year on music and suddenly the format you got it all is considered low quality or not working with your primary music listening device.

  64. matthughes

    You can tell by Fred’s language that he is really passionate about his music.Edit: Just realized a comment on language was mentioned below. For the record, I totally agree with the position that content sales is a screwed up process. A provider that ultimately does not do what’s best for the consumer is selling themselves and their customers short.

  65. Dale Allyn

    I agree with Liad (LIAD) that this is a very good discussion (and civil).One point that has been brought up I feel is a bit inaccurate: “Musicians want their music to get out _and fans want to pay for it_.” I’ll submit that MANY people do not want to pay for music or other creative materials if they can get them for free. There may be lots of people who are willing, even anxious, to pay, but there are many, many people who want to find it for free. This is very evident in Thailand (where I spend a lot of time) where one can buy nearly any movie on DVD for a few bucks, software including big packages such as Adobe CS suite, etc. and it’s being done by business owners, millionaires and most students. Let us not be naive in our warm and fuzzy moments.Now all this pirating does not mean that creators of content can not derive a living (and a handsome one) from revenues gained from those willing to support them. Thankfully, there are a lot of people willing to pay for desirable content. And some will argue that allowing pirating simply adds to the breadth of one’s market by getting the content out there so that more people know about it, and therefore there will be more (as a percentage of the whole) willing to support it. That’s sad, quite frankly. I mean it’s sad that one must allow pirating to find a pool of followers large enough to generate a living or a profit by surviving on the percentage of honest people. This illustrates a significant marketing problem.Further, until it is more socially repugnant to participate in unauthorized torrents, it will continue. If people saw their peers as ass-bags for getting music for free without the artist or other rights-owner being compensated, or for buying the latest movies as DVDs for $4, there would likely be a decline in it and better solution would surface.It’s likely that if the labels, who do provide exposure and other services (like VC) to musicians, recognized that the world is changing, they would support a distribution process which was so affordable and painless that a much higher percentage of people would want to use it. The same applies to pirated DVD movies. How many “Pirates of the Caribbean” DVDs would sell if they were under $10 from the producers? Less profit per copy? sure. But how many total in comparison to $24.95?

    1. ShanaC

      Honestly, I would pay if felt I got a fair price. Knowing how much money is poured into music by the labels that don’t help a) the advertising or b) the music…why bother?

      1. Dale Allyn

        For me, the “why bother” is that it’s not up to me. The content is copyrighted by the creator or by whomever it was transferred to, not me. Therefore, regardless of how greedy the rights-holder is, torrents, P2P bootlegging, etc. are in breach.This is why the model should change, and thankfully it is (though slowly). The “labels” must open their eyes and adapt or they will simply be replaced by a better model. The “better model” will provide the content creator with the lion’s share of the proceeds, will be painless and even enjoyable to consume, and will instill a sense of pride in the consumer for not participating in pirating at all. Of course, my universe is quite “utopic” on other levels as well. ;)(edit: typos…)

        1. ShanaC

          This question always bothered me:In music, what is “the content” that we are referring to? The lyrics, themusical arrangement? The singer’s voice’s recording?The “labels” have helped hide that question by centralizing the cost. Whenyou turn music into a digital media, you end up with issues of howto separate those costs because all of those pieces can be taken apart veryeasily. So who is it that I should be paying.They have to adapt if only to resolve that single issue of what is content.

          1. Dale Allyn

            Interesting, Shana. I don’t struggle with that question. It goes something like this: An artist records a song and I like it. If I want to listen to that song other than via a service such as radio, I must pay to do so. It’s not my creation, so it’s up to the artist, the label, the lyricist to work out the details between them. It’s not my responsibility as the consumer. But that does not entitle me to FREE music.In this age of “digital everywhere” whereby an artist could simply fund a web site and allow samples and downloads, the “labels” are at risk of being rendered obsolete or at least unneeded. This should be remedied – if they want to stay in business – not by draconian laws and growing government, but the “labels” facilitating the economical and mutually beneficial distribution of the assets (music, in this case). I don’t even think it’s difficult or complicated. There are several models that would work, but their heads are shoved so far up… well, you know, that they’re whining and dragging and scratching trying to stay with the old model by lobbying congress and the like. This all sucks. BUT this does not give me the right to simply circumvent all of the crap just because I think it sucks or feel they suck or whatever.We will see some (more) artists distribute their music via their own “portals” and then more artists will need help developing and maintaining such web apps. They will also need help establishing concert schedules and all that goes with that part of the industry. There will also be an improved method for less established or timid musicians to join distribution services which manage the whole upload/sampler/payment/download process for its member artists. This is all so easy, and if the “labels” want to stay relevant they’ll be the facilitators rather than the barriers. Of course, we’ve not seen this in them yet, and that’s because they don’t honestly place the artists’ needs before their own. If they did, the rewards would be forthcoming as the byproduct. This opens some serious opportunity to someone(s) interested in pursuing it.(edit: typos, as usual)

  66. Luv4

    How old are you Fred? You listen to The Streets? Kids music, no?

    1. Riot Nrrrd™

      How immature are you Luv4? Since when does good music have an age limit? Please, don’t reproduce.

  67. Jay Janney

    Fred:Is the moral of this story that the ends justify the means?I really enjoy reading your posts, and am grateful that you publish as much as you do. I just wish you had held back on this one.

  68. zerobeta

    I had a similar experience. Big Friday Night Lights Fan. If you follow the show, they have some weird exclusive w/ DirectTV in the fall before it plays on NBC in the spring. This exclusive must not include the ability to buy it on iTunes or Amazon because I searched far and wide but came up empty. Resulted to watching it on Megavideo.I was willing to give someone $30 but they wouldn’t/couldn’t take it. It’s absolutely retarded.

  69. tamberg

    “selling it to some people in some countries and not selling it to others is messed up”+1. Same with Kindle publications if you happen to live outside US.Cheers,tamberg

  70. walldawg

    Love the blog, read it often, but I completely disagree with the implication that if you want something badly enough it’s ok to do something else you don’t believe in. Forget all the arguments about bits and atoms or whatever, the fundamental issue here is about YOU being consistent with your own values. The question I ask myself in these situations is, “Are you going to let your wants and desires interfere with your personal integrity?”

    1. The Mighty Van Halen

      WELL SAID!!!!I’d love to get free music all day long…hell I love a good bargain. but it is against my belief to steal what should be paid for.all the atom vs bits talk is hogwash really.

    2. Ping

      Fred’s personal integrity is the reason why he chose to blog about it. It would have been far easer to download the torrent and not talk about it on a public forum like this.

      1. walldawg

        You’re making assumptions on both your points Ping. We really don’t know why he blogged about it; it could be integrity or it could be something else. Heck, for all I know it could simply be linkbait. I don’t think that’s the case here but I’m just saying YOU don’t know either. About it being easier to not blog about it, again, an assumption that you know what’s easier for Fred. It would certainly be less typing, that I concede, but for all you know not talking about it could have created some inner stress for him that was worse than the public discourse going on here.

    3. fredwilson

      i can live with the integrity issue because i will pay for this content as soon as the rights holder allows me to pay them

    4. Donna Brewington White

      “Are you going to let your wants and desires interfere with your personal integrity?”Good question. Anywhere, anytime.

  71. Twirrim

    This image was bouncing around the web a day or two ago: Rosetta Stone have version 4 of their Vietnamese program out, only you can’t get it in the UK, it’s only been released in the US, and its been out a while. If you buy version 3 in the UK you won’t get an upgrade when its eventually released, either. It’s not like there would be significant changes between the products either. Both UK and US speak English (well.. the US nearly does)Stupidity with geographic regions really does encourage piracy, and its utterly ludicrous that media producers/distributors don’t recognise this and change.

  72. Aaron Klein

    You chose Bit Torrent over having your portfolio company send over the MP3s sitting on their server? 😉

  73. The Mighty Van Halen

    the Land Rover post here is right on point… HILARIOUS !!!!dude, it sucks you can’t find an album you want to purchase. but that’s the deal. and resorting to stealing doesn’t make it right. you fucking stole music from a band you like!?!!? I get it…but you have to be better than that. show some class.btw, I’ve been in similar situation where I wanted an album, but couldn’t find it for sale. You know what….I still DON’T have that album.but to give you some slack…you do pay for multiple music svcs and spend a nice chunk of change for music per year…so you’re not a total dirty criminal i guess.

  74. Kyle Comeau

    At least The Streets got free pub out of it. Unfortunately, most of this audience can’t buy it either.

  75. Dinesh

    Hmm, okay, maybe I am missing something here. Wouldn’t it be easier to get a buddy living across the pond to buy the MP3 for you and transfer the bits across?

    1. fredwilson

      yeah. i could have paypal’d them the money and had them buy it and send it to me. an alternative version of that is to proxy into amazon uk which is what i tried to do.

  76. Roger Simons

    You just described what happens to me most of the time I’m trying to locate something that’s not “new music”.Also this happens when they won’t sell me a full quality version.I’m not buying a lower quality version now for full price so they can try to re-sell me the same song at full quality at a later date.

  77. Digigala

    Hey Fred,I was going to buy twitter, but they did not want to sell it to me, so I just hacked their servers and stole the source code.The reason for the delay is due to contractual reasons i.e. different contractual things come into effect at different times in different regions. The bottom line is that by definition, you are a thief.Why should The Street’s create music, when schmucks decide to steal it?I am a huge fan of you as a VC, but as a person you went down in my estimation today.Also whether it is bits or atoms, there is an intrinsic value to both. Twitter is bits, are they worthless? No because they knuckled down and created a fantastic product through hard work.Was I part of their closed Alpha? No, because they wanted to chose who they let in. What’s wrong with that? Nothing really, it is there choice.It is up to you if you want to behave this way, but a lot of good people work in the music business -I know a lot of them personally- and a lot of them get fired every year due to lack of sales i.e. people stealing content.Keep it up and their will be no music business.

    1. Danny Strelitz

      @Digigala, I am involved with a lot of musicians as well, and the problem is not piracy of content, and I read this post in a different way. The music world have changed, and people are getting fired because their company did not change accordingly, Iv’e written a couple of articles about it on my blog. Digital music on the web being limited by location is just an example of how a record company did not adjust to the web, because the web is well… global. I read this post, and can very much relate, 1. I live in Israel, iTune store is not active here, neither are most other services like netflix. So if you are a big music consumer your in a bit of trouble here.2. The cost of music making has come down (a lot), studio time is now very cheap if not free. distribution is trough social channels like twitter and myspace. But the price did not come down. a CD in the states 10 years ago was around 10$, usually containing around 8 songs.3. This post was not about how good or easy it is to pirate music or video over the web, quite the opposite. This post as I read it is about how hard it is to buy music legally.

      1. andyswan

        “Wait a week and we’ll send you a CD” doesn’t seem that hard to me Danny. What am I missing?

        1. Danny Strelitz

          You are missing 10 years of evolution in the consumption of digital goods over the web.There is no reason to postpone a digital release in different locations. The shorter life cycle of digital products.The way music is consumed is different as well. The move from the album as a complete experience to a single song.The rules of the game changed, the players who can’t adjust will just be out of the game. Check out to see how they adjust, they are a great example.

          1. andyswan

            I’m not defending the business decision (I’m not a music exec), just their right to make it, and their right to set the terms for the distribution of what they produce.What you outline sound like excellent reasons to NOT BUY the product….I still don’t see the leap to “therefore it’s OK to take it without paying for it.”

          2. Danny Strelitz

            history is written by the conquer, and right now the winning side are the pirates (especially .right has nothing to do with it. I know you are raising the moral statement, but moral is not part of the equation. The music industry is just cannibalizing their own business.

          3. Guest

            The main argument is not a moral one (“it is alright to take it for free”).But rather, a practical one (“the music industry has failed to renew their business process, and that is driving away willing customers”).Yes the industry has every right to make every decision they want. Point is that by the way they have made decision throughout the past 10 years until this day, they are losing their business. Whether being morally right or wrong, they are clearly making decisions that are wrong for their customers (lacking access to product) as well as for themselves (lacking opportunity to make more money).

          4. andyswan

            No disagreement here.

          5. Digigala

            OK you now convinced me that you have no clue about what you are talking about!There are tons of legal reasons why a label or publisher cannot release a new track.EXAMPLE:WMG used to have Madonna on their books, then she signed for OnLive and wow guess what? OnLive had to sit on her album for a year until her deal with WMG expired.

      2. Digigala

        With all due respect, please tell me how many global number ones were produced in Israel?Average cost of a studio per hour in the UK, 10,000.00 poundsAverage cost of a studio per hour in the US, 18,000.00 Dollars.Average percentage of commercial artists -by commercial I mean people that can actually sell tracks- that want to fly to Tel Aviv to lay down tracks? 0%There is not a single studio that has produced a platinum title that is free. Sorry dude, the studio in Tel Aviv your cousin runs from his basement does not count.

    2. fredwilson

      instead of getting all righteous on me maybe its worth having a conversation about what something like 99.99% of all music customers do and why. i used myself as a talking point and admitted to something that most people would not put on a public blog. why? because it is upsetting to me that the music business forces that vast majority of its customers to steal

      1. Digigala

        Fred,Am I annoyed you stole content? Yes, I am. but please do not throw out stats like 99.99% of people steal music content, it is simply not true. If you have a problem with the law, take it up with the government.People that are hungry are forced to steal, but people that:Dig a certain music track are not forced to stealHorny guys are not forced to rapeand dictators are not forced to murder.Yes, I am using extremes as I know ya like them 99.99% of the time right? ;)You would have had to wait a couple of weeks to listen to the tracks. A couple of weeks.Instead you -and you are a very influential person with high viability- promote the act of piracy.I would contend that you are acting like a spoiled brat.Read this report if you want to actually engage in an intelligent non-emotional debate.Listen, I am a big fan of yours as a VC, I think you protect and develop your people very well and are doing a lot of things very well. No I am not looking for VC funding -we are in the lucky position of turning down funding on a daily basis, actually we are thinking of taking on a tiny amount of cash, JUST so funds with stop calling us- my point being that I am not kissing your ass and pumping you up as a VC to get in your good graces.So we basically have established that you are a AAA investor. That does not mean you are a digital entertainment expert, when you have a track record in the digital entertainment industry -more in video games rather than music, but I have worked in music and movies too.The fact remains that contracts with artists, studios, publishers and labels etc have licensing terms that are based on dates. They try their best to make sure that they are identical, but sometimes there could be a problem with a lyricist being under contract with another publisher for a certain region.Believe it or not there is not a room full of guys somewhere twisting their mustaches figuring out ways to DELAY revenues.There is not a company in the world in ANY industry that wants to delay revenues. Well I am 99.99% sure of that.

    3. james2m

      And the absence of a ‘music business’ would be a bad thing? Do you think there would be no more music? Or would there just be no more labels controlling access to music?

      1. Digigala

        Yes that is EXACTLY what I think.Why?Where is this music coming from? Studio’s you like digital mastered music right? Well studio time costs money, hundreds of thousands actually. So before you even have a marketing plan in place, you are already in the red.Exactly how many musicians do you know can afford to hire a producer, sound engineers, lawyers -yes believe it or not, because there is so much music out there, you need to make sure no one has made your song before, you did- all of these bastards actually want to get paid for their work.

        1. james2m

          A point of note. The album that prompted this discussion was recorded in the home studio of Mike Skinner. As were his other very successful albums.Quoting rates for the top tier studios in order to support your point doesn’t cut it in a broader discussion about the distribution of music.If you are going to quote average rates you are looking at more like £300 – £1000 per day unless you prefix your statement with ‘The average price of the top x studios is …’.

  78. Guillermo Ramos

    What I have learnt today in this Blog:1) The music industry needs to evolve to a more open framework that will finally benefit all stakeholders: consumers, industry, musicians. Thank you Fred for speaking out loud.2) A guy spending more than $2k/yr in music (sure he makes top 10 in the world) is critized because he gets just one mp3 from a torrent and committing to pay for it in a few days. I personally take it as an example to the industry on how a consumer could behave if they don´t fix the problem.Using this post to insult Fred is simply not fair and he definetly doesn´t deserve it and I would add it is just stupid to do.Lot of hipocresy, demagoy, envy, bad faith, interests around…

  79. Steve Poland

    I’m getting married on 9/10/11. Caryn and I went to see Angus & Julia Stone in Toronto back in September, as we love them. They played a song we had never heard (and never studio recorded) called ‘The Wedding Song’. A song that Julia wrote for some friends of theirs that got married years ago. Gorgeous song. On our drive back to Buffalo it was pretty much determined this would be our first dance wedding song.Hours of my life later… trying to purchase it, trying to pirate it… realizing the only good version is from an iTunes London Live recorded session… to learn I could only purchase that if I lived in Australia.. to reaching out to some friends of friends from Australia and trying to get them to buy the song from iTunes Australia.. to me trying to figure out how to spoof where I live…I finally posted on their Facebook wall, with my email address, and a nice girl emailed me the track. I had also emailed the band’s manager — and a week later she did the same.So anyhow, even being a pirate can be difficult :)Here’s the track for anyone that wants a listen:

    1. fredwilson

      great story steve. congrats on your engagement

  80. Peeta

    The music industry has just missed the boat in this regard. Having been in bands for about 15 years, I have a fair amount of music kicking around out there in both CD and digital form. At this point, since none of the bands are active anymore, the majority of our sales comes from streaming digital services, predominantly Rhapsody and Pandora. These generally pay out fractions of a penny per stream, in case you were wondering. If an independent artists sells a full album through through Amazon or iTunes they make an average of about $3-4/sale. You make a little more if you sell through CD Baby or one of those services and a little less if you’re on a major label.My point is that there isn’t much of an economic benefit for 99% of the stakeholders in the music business to improve this process. Digital music sales are minimally profitable for independent artists and even less profitable for record labels with huge marketing costs. You won’t see innovation in this industry until there is an economic incentive.It’s all well and good to compare music piracy to stealing a Land Rover but it fails to account for the benefit of peer-to-peer music sharing. Torrents and other file sharing services are, hands down, the best distribution channel for independent music. “Illegal” services like and What.CD are the single most influential channels for getting your music recognized by not only the most engaged stakeholders but also the media that troll those services for leaked advances of major releases. While the majority of people that “steal” music will never do anything that benefits the artists, the few outcomes that are legitimately profitable for artists, mainly licensing and live performances, are largely driven by these large free distribution network.This is very specific to the music industry. When it comes to online video, I think there is more of an opportunity to find viable a la carte options and still keep the industry afloat but selling songs for 99 cents or less isn’t any better than giving them away for free for most artists. Feeling guilty about Torrent networks is like feeling guilty about jaywalking.

  81. Stefan Constantinescu

    you’ve got to know someone in the UK. ask them to hook you up with a Spotify account. take it from someone who used to run a file server with meticulously sorted folders with over 2 TB of music, Spotify is the future. i just renewed my account actually, 120 Euros for 1 year.

    1. eliasmoubayed

      Spotify is the best value for money – not fucked up over here – typed ‘The Streets’ into my spotify search bar, I’ve got the whole album now on 3 devices including offline on my smartphone – and all for £120 a year – looks like I need a non UK IP address to get the better Euro deal. And you pay $1000s a year – hmmm

  82. lukavalas

    Very true. And a lot worse on the other side of the pond where we get treated like second class netizens all the time. In Europe a lot of content is available ONLY if you steal it (so it’s not a minor inconvenience of waiting a few days). Dear content providers: get your shit together and sell it to us or we’ll just steal it.

  83. graubart

    Imelda May just released her second album. Well, in the UK anyway. STill not available in the US. Lucky for me, a colleague was going to our UK office, so I ordered CD and had it delivered and he couriered it back.Other times, I’ve downloaded the import-only version, then bought & paid for the US CD when it was released later. Is that wrong? Perhaps, but I can sleep at night, knowing that my “crime” was to get a copy a month or two before some publisher thought I should.In a world of digital media, the idea of different release dates to different markets makes no sense. It simply encourages piracy.

  84. ShanaC

    I want to see a different business model for music. I don’t think the way we structure digital goods right now we can afford this business model for much long. and I want to see copyright laws change radically. It amazes me that there can be recording of Mozart that are under copyright. The sheet music for Mozart has been in the public domain for an extremely long time, so why aren’t the recordings?

    1. Rurik Bradbury

      It costs a lot of money to make a recording with the Berlin Philharmonic. But in the CD/MP3 price, you are not footing the bill for the rights to Mozart, just the time and costs of the musicians.

    2. SD

      because the performance is something unique. it matters whether the high school orchestra or the london philharmonic has made the recording.

      1. ShanaC

        Is it unique enough to need a separate copyright from the sheet music

  85. HoHumRecords

    Sent straight to our distributor. What a great post. Thanks for the insight.

  86. schof

    I totally agree. The same problem exists with movies and TV shows. I want to watch the freaking video content without commercials and without hassle and I’ll gladly pay to do it. I cannot stand going to the movie theatre and being subjected to 20 minutes of commercials and have people talking on their cell phones, etc. throughout the movie.In most cases I just wait until it comes out on HBO or whatever (which I pay for) or if I have the time (rarely) search for it on Bit Torrent. They should just release the shit to everyone at the same time (or maybe make you wait 2 weeks or something reasonable after a theatre release.)

  87. kgutteridge

    This is regularly even more frustrating for those of us in the UK, take the recent launch of the daily as a great exampleI still remember years ago when metal gear solid 2 was released in Japan about 6 months before the UK version, the official reason was it needed localising however the Japanese version of the game was completely in English!

  88. Harry DeMott

    AARGH me hearties. Shanghaied into Piracy.Interesting comments stream.Seems to me like there are three issues being debated here:1. Is it okay to torrent music just because you can’t buy it in the form factor you want on the schedule you want – even if you are a good guy and consume a ton of music and are perfectly willing to pay for it? Seems like the consensus is no. Wait your turn, get it however it is offered and put it on your servers yourself.2. Is there a fundamental difference between the property rights of physical and intellectual goods? Much better debate on this topic. Andy Swan versus Morgan Warstler in a 15 round Texas cage match. Lots of fun. Personally, I’m taking Andy’s side on this argument. The only difference between the physical and the digital is the cost of replication and distribution. The content is exactly the same and it is the content that has value – not the form factor. If you are willing to admit that the content is valuable to you (and you admit that by stealing it) then you pretty much prove the point.Where the first two lead is to a more fundamental business question, and one that Fred and other VC’s clearly take advantage of to make a living:3. Given the ubiquitous worldwide replication and distribution capacity of the Internet – will companies change their business models to adapt to consumer behavior? I’m not sure about this one. Fred’s example here is a perfect anecdote for why companies should look at their existing business practices and rationalize all of them, but companies are slow to change. When you see Warner Music Group recorded music sales down 15% this quarter – and continuing to slide – you wonder if they will ever get it. It is a disgrace that they (and I mean all music companies) have a customer willing to pay if you make it easy for him – and yet he has to resort to piracy because it is easier. Truth is that most people don’t even bother trying to pay. Instead of demonizing your potential customers – why don’t they think about making it easier to pay?



    2. Dave Pinsen

      There’s an OTCBB company I used to own shares of that may have a technological solution to this. They have a system for sharing music (and other media files) that includes digital watermarking, built-in restrictions on re-sending the files, etc.

      1. james2m

        As the smart phone apps model has shown, if the producer (artist) is able to distribute their product and get a large proportion of the retail price (minus the distribution cost). Then people are far more likely to buy.Obviously in this model we don’t want Apple applying a taste control to everything that goes in there or we’d all be listening to Coldplay all the time. 🙂

    3. fredwilson

      i’d argue that the right thing to do is get the content now and pay the rights holder when they decide to take my money since they refuse to take my money now

    4. Riot Nrrrd™

      “The only difference between the physical and the digital is the cost of replication and distribution. The content is exactly the same and it is the content that has value – not the form factor.”Yeah, that’s why CDs of albums cost exactly the same as cassettes (and vinyl) of the same albums with the same exact “content”. Oh, wait … /sarcasmYou really are clueless, aren’t you? The form factor defined the price of physical goods, not the “value” of the content.

  89. Letfreedomring

    The post that could have been:I really wanted an mp3. It was ridiculously hard to get legally. So I gave up and walked away. I chose restraint and erred on the side of being good, over satiating my immediate desire.——A post like that would have impacted thousands of people for good, beyond the purvey of digital media downloads. Wish we had more men and women exercising restraint and erring on the side of goodness, when the lines are blurred. Wish we had more leaders pointing people in that direction.

    1. fredwilson

      that’s like telling kids to wait until they are married to have sex or to not drink or try drugs. we are talking about humans here. better to acknowledge our humanity and talk about it openly in my book.

      1. JLM

        Good parenting is not easy and it takes a long time to learn whether you have done it right.Nobody gets it right but we all manage somehow to survive it — children and parents.I often speak about the subject w/ my 92 year old Dad and he replies — I will let you know when I see how you turn out. We are a bit late on the final report card.Giving up on the subject of sex, drinking, drugs and all other human failings is never the right solution. I gave up smoking cigars in the hammock and drinking around my children when I realized that my example was more important than anything else I could do.I will watch carefully to see how it turns out. Never, ever, ever, ever, give up in all things big and small.It is obvious to me that you are an excellent though indulgent parent.

        1. fredwilson

          i think it is way too early to make that call

      2. Alex Murphy

        What is this … Are you saying you don’t have to wait until you are married?

      3. Letfreedomring

        I have 3 children and 1 on the way. I teach them to wait until marriage (as I did), to not drink, nor do drugs. You see teaching good principles (and lovingly handling departures therefrom) is a better strategy than leaving free to float in the wind, tossed by every fanciful (and by definition also empty) gust. Restraint and integrity are also good principles too.

        1. fredwilson

          to each his ownwe do it differently

  90. JLM

    Character is what drives our behavior when nobody is looking. Character only counts when you are or it is tested just like an otherwise stylish or handsome raincoat is only tested when it rains.Situational ethics is the logic we use when we do not want the general application of what we know to be “right” to preclude our receiving instant gratification.Equivocation is the negotiation between our brains and our soul when our brains put our soul at risk.Life is messy and the temptations are endless.Fred is not a pirate. He is an honorable guy who in the messy part of his otherwise good life has allowed his insatiable desire for instant gratification to drive him to becoming a pirate. Only Fred can determine if he is going to become a pirate. And, Fred, you are not a pirate.Give back the music and move away from the iPad. Now. Fred.

    1. Guillermo Ramos

      Why stopping there? give back the music and follow what all honest people writting today in this blog do:- never blog or type comments on computers/laptops/ ipads/ handsets that are manufactured in countries where freedom is not respected or basic human rights are missing- bla, bla, blaHonest cherry picking character?Cmon guys!

      1. JLM

        OK, so a long time ago I made my entire company stop buying cheap shit made in China. I refuse to buy my wife a Lexus. Of course, she can just buy her own cars. So what is your point?

        1. Guillermo Ramos

          99% of the cases I agree with you and I´m sure in the future will be like that. But not this time.China is currently financing US. Are you still living there? You are benefitting from it.The world has changed my friend. Let´s all try together to make this world a bit better without demagogy and being open minded.I would invite you to watch the following video from HBR about “Creating Shared Value” by M. Porter. Pay special attention to this part: (…) let´s change the “what´s good for a company is good for society” for “what´s good for society is good for your company”.Let´s make the pie bigger.

          1. JLM

            Let me call bullshit on you, my friend.The world has really not changed.The world has nations whose interests propel them into fleeting alliances.Nations act only in their own interest.The Chinese have no other alternatives to do exactly what they are doing.They are generating lots of dollars. The dollar is the soundest currency in the world and the only one plentiful enough to hold that magnitude of risk.The dollar is the currency in which oil is traded and the Chinese have an insatiable thirst for oil.The Chinese fuck with the dollar or the US and they lose their markets and are trying to finance their oil trade with paper kites and rice.The Chinese are not the friend of the US, they are the US’s biggest long term rival but they have a huge distance to cover.The US is the world’s only superpower and has to rediscover that it has a pair of nuts and get its old swagger back. This President does not have a pair of nuts. Jesse Jackson made good on his threat.We may have global markets but we do not have a global society. Nothing wrong with that. We do have global goodwill and no American bears any other person on the planet ill will but America needs to stop this nonsense of avoiding its role in the world and its inherent exceptionalism.Nations can play nice even when they are virulantly nationalistic and profoundly open about their own interests.

          2. Guillermo Ramos

            calling Bravo and Sierra would have had a better fit…but believe me, the world has changed and America has an important roll to play in this new world, spreading the values of freedom, democracy, transparency and respect for human rights on an open and respectful manner.Having said that: “I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him. (AL)”

        2. Dave W Baldwin

          Will send a shorter overlook that moves into the art of war regarding that overly long thing sent your way.

          1. JLM

            I will look forward to it. Thanks, Dave.

        3. Mike77

          “cheap shit made in China”… you mean like 99% of everything that gets sold in the US?Do you use any Apple products? All made in China. Or is it different because they are “Designed in California” and “Assembled in China”?Do you use a mobile phone? a laptop? a computer? Do you ever wonder where they get their parts from? Or do you just assume it is made in the US because there is no “Made in China” label on all the various components? Or do components not count now?Ignorance may be bliss to some, but it does not make you right.

          1. JLM

            Yes, that was a bit of hyperbole. Purposely so.Nonetheless, I am committed to deploying my dollars in a manner which serves the interests of my country.I am a patriot 24/7 and make no apology.Ignorance is, in fact, bliss. I know this personally as I am supremely ignorant about most things but I do know that doing nothing is not for me.There is no “right” on this subject. There is only the pragmatic reality of what is possible. So, in my book buying a used Lexus is slightly better than buying a new one.But. hey, that’s just me and I am not trying to do missionary work just trying to share my views.

    2. fredwilson

      i think character is being honest about what you are doing when nobody is looking

  91. Dave Pinsen

    Fred,When Andy Swan and Charlie Crystle are on the same side of an issue, and you’re on the other side of it, that ought to prompt some reconsideration.

    1. fredwilson

      maybe they are wrong

  92. Doug Kersten

    Anything with music tied to it is a pretty horrible business. The hoops you have to jump to just to be able to provide the music is atrocious. Of course you can point to successes but they are locked in and have betrayed the rest of the industry by agreeing to terms that make it harder for competitors to thrive. I know this is good business but, to me, not if it disrupts the market and provides a sub-prime experience to everyone as a result. This is also how the music companies want it to work. By putting up these artificial middle men they get to keep their coin. YouTube is getting just as bad. I wanted to view a music video and I wasn’t allowed to because of the same ‘geographical restrictions’. I went to buy some music from The Pierces based on a link they posted on their Facebook page and received the same message that you did. The artists were aware of it and sent me a message saying I would have to wait in the U.S. How can an artist allow this to happen to their music and their fans? It is outrageous. It is why I don’t buy music anymore. The current system is inherently unfair to the fans and, I would even say, the artists.I won’t even get into the YouTube Christmas video I posted of my family with less then 30 seconds of a fair use music that Sony said now must contain ads that pay them. Like I have the time and money to fight the fact that they are stealing from me by doing this. They know that I won’t be able to do anything and use it against me to steal themselves. It is a big business, I am sure, and shows the lows that the music industry will go through to maintain control and keep raking in the cash.

  93. whitneymcn

    One final note for Fred to close out the afternoon — you’ll be happy to know that Rosanne Cash is right there in the boat with you:!/rosan

  94. paramendra

    Business models are so lagging behind what technology has already made possible.

  95. NICCAI

    Thanks, Fred. A number of your international readers have been complaining about this for years when you mention “Yet another service unavailable outside the United States.” It’s truly frustrating to not be able to pay for something when you are willing and want to do so. It happens more often with TV….all I want to do is download the digital version (looking at you HBO). It won’t be long before this barrier to revenue flips the table on big media.That said, Rdio (at least in Canada) has the new Streets album.

  96. rkender

    Hey Fred, who knows if you’ll see this comment (there’s already 226) but I wanted to say that I agree with your point when you said:”Fans love music. They want to support the musicians and they want to pay for music.”In had a thought similar to this almost 4 months ago…where I realized that people really do want to help musicians and not everyone wants to steal from them. I tossed around ideas of ways that I could encourage music fans to actually help musicians rather than steal from them. Four months of programming later I’ve come up with http://www.disrupt.fmIt would be great if you could check it out. Right now, it’s a way for music fans to help promote their favorite bands through Facebook updates (and they get a free download in return). Musicians can also sell single songs and I plan on adding features to sell albums soon too. It would be great if you could check it out!

    1. fredwilson

      i will check it out

    2. Dave W Baldwin

      Good job

  97. David L. Brundige

    This was a fun “alt” post. I read every day, by the way, and when you come out with a downloadable version of this blog, I’ll purchase it too. 😉

  98. Ben Reierson

    If I were an artist whose livelihood depended on people paying me for ‘bits’ I would make sure to offer alternative methods of getting me said payment. Maybe you just heard my single on Pandora and want to throw me a couple bucks the way you would a street musician. Or maybe you couldn’t buy my album through official channels but you want to reward my hard work.side note: I still buy cds even though I just rip the contents and put it away forever. The reason is I usually can’t buy the same quality digital file online. I don’t want to pay (usually MORE) for 320kbps mp3s when the cd has 44.1khz 16bit wavs on it. There really needs to be more lossless music sold online.

  99. underplank

    The BIG ISSUE is actually not about whether this is theft or not. Its about copyright laws, and especially international Copyright Laws, how they do not account for new technology and how they are restricting where content can be used. In the US you may not see this as a problem, but elsewhere (I live in australia) this is a common issue and its a great frustration, and a barrier to greater markets. Take the darlings of the new content Business in the US, Pandora and Hulu. They work great in the US. In Australia, totally blocked. There is not legal way for Us to get to them.I’m starting up a streaming radio business, and because of the exorbitant price of data in australia (bring on the NBN!) I wanted to host the music on S3 is the US and the streaming server in France. To do this I cant just get the normal licence in Australia. I need a licence to store th music in the US and a Licence to Stream it in France. Because copyright law is at a country level. Mind this has nothing to do with security or pirating. It has to do with where the conent is allowed to exist. If I was to sign the agreement in australia and took those files and stored it in the US, I would be in breach of copyright, just for storing those files somewhere else. From the people in the Industry that i’ve talked to basically the US DOES NOT ACKNOWLEDGE ANYBODY ELSES COPYRIGHT LAW. Thats right. I sign a copyright agreement with the australian body that collect royalties and the US body does not recognise it in any shape or form. Now this isnt just a problem in the US. Europe apparently is quite fragmented (surprise surprise!) so its quite difficult to get hold of the correct people there as well. As I said before this isnt about pirating or theft, its about where the content is allowed to exist, ala Pandora and Hulu only in the US.So, for the people from the US. You have just read what its like to be outside the US looking in. I think you would all agree that content is going to be a big thing on the internet. Copyright and content go hand in hand. I dont have any problem with Copyright, as long as its right.

  100. CLaRGe

    I am copying a friend whom I asked to weigh in on this stream. He did so reluctantly:There are four “noble” arguments for piracy:1. It’s good for poor people.2. It’s good promotion for the artists.3. It takes power from the Evil Media Companies.4. Knowledge must be free!This thread seems to cover all of the above.1. “It’s good for poor people. They can’t afford these prices.” True. But the person making that argument is NEVER a poor person. It’s a middle class college student who would rather pay for beer than MP3s.2. “It’s good promotion for the artists.” Actually, there’s some data that may prove this correct. And I don’t care. I DO NOT CARE. If the artist wants that free promotion, he can choose it. You can’t choose it for him.3 is just too silly for comment.4 is just too naive for comment.

    1. Riot Nrrrd™

      1999 called, it wants its arguments back. Stop posting until you realize how the world works in 2011.

    2. james2m

      3 is definitely not too silly for comment. The corporations in question no longer add any value for the artist or the consumer.

  101. Ryan

    Interesting post and couldn’t agree more about the comedy of geo restrictions in this day and age. That said, the thing that kept popping into my head while reading was how funny the desire for mp3 ownership is starting to sound.  “posting the entire record on the web for streaming without making the content available for purchase.”Starting to feel messed up as well, no?  The sooner we get the masses over to a subscription model that works, the better I say.  More support for artists, more retail power to the stores to demand the earlier access you want, less piracy, and an end to having to think like “my kids regularly spend…often for tracks we already own somewhere else in the house.”What do you think that’s going to take?Sincerely,Ryan(a major record label guy NOT responsible for The Streets release)

    1. fredwilson

      totally. i have blogged so many times about the end of file based music thatit may be the single most common post of all time on AVC

      1. Ryan

        Ah, cool. I need to read up then.

    2. Kyle Comeau

      I remember ~8 years ago, drummer Mike Portnoy wanted to do something fun for his fans and auction off his 1st gen. ipod. And it completely imploded…he had to cancel it.The debate wasn’t much different.Not sure what it’s going to take, but I always remember Paul Graham saying “don’t bet on music unless Johnnie Cochran is one of your founders.”

  102. Jerome Paradis

    Welcome to the digital Hollywood experience most people outside of the US!

  103. Bill g

    Why should record companies listen to you since you’re going to buy the album anyway?

  104. vniven

    Ok… but was the music any good?

    1. fredwilson


  105. Jordan Cooper

    Last year, a major documentary that I looked forward to immensely was released in theaters on limited screens – but because I’m not in NYC or LA, it didn’t play anywhere within a 500 mile radius of me. Yet, I’m sitting there on Friday night in front of my computer ready, able and willing to pay $12.00 to see it. Even if I can’t save it. Even if I can watch it only once. (just like the movie theatres) Yet Hollywood doesn’t want to take my money. They forgo this to have me wait 3 weeks to see it in a theater in my city (although if I were in a less urban area, I’d have absolutely no option to until the DVD came out).Putting a film in a theater involves a lot of cost in its logistics and tangible physical material – as opposed to a digital download which can cost a tiny fraction of that and be completely scalable. So why the hell not have the option for people to view the movie that way – even for the same exact price?As I did in my example, the only option I had was to spend a grand total of 40 seconds to find a torrent of a bootleg cam of the film recorded 20 hours previously. Hollywood just lost $12.00.I’m not claiming to be right/wrong or having it be justifiable that I pirated – and I believe that to be true with Fred as well. Just pointing out that by not making something available when the production is completed, the cost is minimal and the delivery is easy, it drives people to find alternatives to secure what they want – legally or illegally.

    1. fredwilson

      i think studios could charge $50 to watch a film opening night in thecomfort of your own home. maybe more. this is a huge opportunity and i’dlove to see it happen. however, i would not finance such an idea because iam not sure the studios would see the genius of it.

    2. Silvadylan

      I assume you don’t know how the movie was financed…I’m pretty sure that the distribution compagny co financed a part of the movie, and rent the movie to the local thater wich give a work to people. There are several local theaters…You get the point?A lot of poeple live with this system. It is a reason of the regional restrictions. Deals are not made only by Hollywood or labels but also by local companies.A major thing that people doe’nt understand is if you want that artist give you gound music and live performances it coast a lot of money and need a lot of professionals. This system was built over decades and need a lot of time to change!It need to change. And it is, but for a lot of reasons labels or studios doesn’t say all what they are doing.Here in France copy rights are different: The producer pay the right to use the creation ( for an example: he buy the right to make a movie of a scenario) but don’t own all the rights over the cration. It is the artist that own the rights. It change a lot of thing in entertainement indsutry for good and bad.( sorry for my english, I’m a french speaker)

  106. Jack Isquith

    Great post…and maddening. On 1 level it’s just a brutally botched windowing/import strategy. On the other hand, and this is key, this is exactly the kind of nonesense the music business just can’t afford. You inspired some more thoughts here: – Jack Isquith

  107. calabs

    Haha love the f bombs. But two points.First, I agree with you 100% that the system failed and is also (fucking) stupid. The limit on your desired behavior was obviously arbitrary. It’s the same problem as wanting something from a store, but because the cashier computer doesn’t support the transaction, you can’t buy it. It’s absurd. (And BTW if you want a free, secure proxy install Tor for Firefox).Second, would it kill you to wait? It’s just music. You don’t need it to live. I just don’t understand why people, particularly Americans, put ‘entertainment’ on such a pedestal. I mean, you intentionally, knowingly broke the law in order to listen to some music a few days sooner. That sounds fucking stupid to me.

    1. fredwilson

      i could listen to it on soundcloud. it wasn’t about listening. it was aboutsharing. fandom is the itch i was scratching.

    2. Peter

      This comment succinctly identifies my two sentiments. I would have a hard time getting passionate either way about this topic, but at its core, this seems pretty childish. My reaction to not being able to purchase an album when I want is to download it illegally? This would be a teachable moment if I caught one of my children behaving in such an immature fashion. Just listen to some other music until the album is released in the United States, it will be alright.

      1. fredwilson

        i am proud of my immaturityit has been an asset in my life to date

  108. optiquezt

    Fred, I don’t know if you were aware of this, but if you had a Chinese IP address, you could download music off of legally for free. You could stream, listen to, replay, rewind, etc all of the songs on their repertoir. Of course, it still falls under the geographic restrictions thing you were talking about. Whenever I fly over to China, I download several hundred songs (legally). I think of it as a way of offsetting the cost of my flight since it would have been $0.99 on itunes =).

    1. fredwilson


  109. George A.

    I disagree Fred. I tried listening to it. I don’t have the best phono on the market but to me it sounded like a cat fight through and infected ear over a payphone…on a jetway…Really not for me.Amazon, you and me are cool.

    1. Dave Pinsen

      Sounded like a British guy talking over some horns, a drum machine, some female background voices, and samples of assorted ambient sounds. Not my thing either.

      1. RichardF

        You would have been better off listening to Goldie Lookin Chain – way more amusing.

      2. Donna Brewington White

        I mean, it’s not Springsteen, but except for the first song, I really enjoyed it. Which is interesting because it’s normally NOT the type of thing I’d listen to. I listened twice through — well, except for the first song. And will probably listen again. But I won’t buy it. Or steal it.

  110. Sebastian Wain

    Instead of a proxy, a service to use another people browser or ip? Don’t think it has business potential but help.

  111. Donna Brewington White

    DISQUS — I’d like to see at the beginning of a comment the name of the person to whom the commenter is replying — not have to scroll to the end of the comment to find out and then scroll back up to read it. The context of a comment means a lot.From: your loyal fan

  112. Donna Brewington White

    Was shocked to come at the end of the day PST and to see that this post has 289 comments! Wow, struck a nerve, did you?Okay, so I have strong opinions about pirating, etc., and I am sure that some of my fellow AVC’ers have elucidated these points. Wish I had time to read them all — what I’ve read so far whether agree or disagree reminds me of why I love this community. Brilliant, brilliant (and clever) people, here.Anyway, I’m listening to the album right now on SoundCloud that started all this ruckus.Dayam! This is actually really good, even though I almost didn’t keep listening after the first song — but it got better after that. Much better.And, Fred, I love how you just put yourself out there. I do wonder if your intention to eventually buy this puts it in the category of “borrowing” — or is there such thing as “temporary theft”?

  113. J. Pablo Fernández

    What you describe is my daily experience trying to consume media outside the US. I don’t want to wait 6 more months to watch a movie or a TV show, people are talking about it now, I want to join the conversation and not get it spoiled.And besides, in 6 months, when it’s released, it won’t be released here in any digital form I can consume, it’ll be released in plastic and without the proper subtitles, so I have to rip, and download the subtitles from the web.They couldn’t give me a worst experience. If there was any service that gives me music and movies in a convenient manner, I’ll pay for it. I check every other month for it, I give the online apps a chance and I always get “I’m sorry, this is not available in your location.”. The media companies should wake up and realize that **internet has no frontiers**, certainly BitTorrent hasn’t.

  114. Wes Smith

    Uh, this sort of undermines your credibility. You seriously don’t understand this in parallel to the 1000’s of ways that the tech business is jacked up? I hope you were joking that you don’t get it… It’s called copyright law, markets, capitalism. I’m bettng if you acquired rights to something based on territory you’d want to protect it right? Wow. By the way, a thief is a thief, and this is why, unfortunately for some good people in countries that have lack of respect or any system, for copyright law, can’t get digital properties. Wow.I really like that Land Rover post too… Well send the RIAA over to your blog, that would be funny…

    1. fredwilson

      please do. this post was a “sit in”

  115. James Barnes

    I think you’re kidding yourself as to your motivation: your sense of entitlement made you priate the album. Nobody forced you to copy it from a P2P network.As you say in the comments, you demand immediacy. There was something that you wanted, through some crazy policy decision it was not immediately available to you, so you decided to ‘steal’ it.Saying that you will pay full price as soon as the product is legally available to you is just a nice cover-up for your own avarice.I am guilty of exactly the same behaviour, I’ve done exactly the same thing as you (different artist) but I’m not lying to myself about that greedy, grasping sense of entitlement. That’s the issue that so very many companies need to address.Whoever meets that consistent demand is going to clean up. At the moment, the best means of meeting that need in distribution is P2P.

  116. Alex Murphy

    It is a stupid business decision to not allow the music to be sold everywhere; the Internet is a world without borders.But, it is not your decision, it is their decision. You chose to torrent the file. Are you going to suffer from that decision, I certainly don’t think so. However, I think it is an unfortunate decision. We all need to do better, even when we make bad decisions.

    1. fredwilson

      not really. given enough work i could buy the product in the UK. less workis to download it now and then buy it when i can do so easily.

  117. insikten

    I suppose businesses aren’t expected to have “morals”, but they are in the very least expected to create business models that are viable and sound. I can’t help but smile when seeing arguments for excusing the business models to avoid evolving and allow for healthy competition, based in “moral judgements”.Enough research show that file sharing crowds are the ones most likely to purchase entertainment products. Musicians are actually receiving a larger share of the monetary cake than they did ten years ago, largely due to the (free) spreading of their works, and this is immoral? Unbiased research has been performed by universities and authorities in Norway, Japan, Harvard, The Netherlands, UK and Sweden, to mention a few, in the past decade, showing that file sharing is by no means hurting the culture. Quite the opposite, the entertainment business are better off than ever in the file sharing era. The market value is staggering, and this is to be disregarded, because “it ain’t right”?I applaud the moral compass, I truly do. People should not give in to moral flexibility when they feel something is wrong. But seeing it coupled with corporate missmanagement is rather, well, silly. While it’s grand to care for our souls and morals, the corporations work, not in a business sense, but in a monopolistic and political sense to create hindrance from business development and forcing customer interaction to only work in one way, which only they decide how. (Consider Acta, for instance.)How moral is that, I ask? They have no reason to, nor are acquired to act responsibly in a societal sense. Their only task is to make money, and if they are allowed to corner a market (monopolize it) by legislation, they will obviously do it. They’d be stupid not to. However, it would seem stupid to me, to defend some sort of right to do so.It’s all well and good not wanting to “steal”, but seeing how the corporations defended with the argument have no problem disregarding morals, with the aid of government resources no less, it does become a tad strange.Apart from it beeing good business sense today, both morally and from a societal development point of view, there is also the issue of how far we are to allow corporations access to our private communication. The only way to make sure, that we aren’t sharing files with eachother is basically to control all our forms of digital communication. This is no news to the corporations who actively push for legislation that creates this possibility. Is this moral, I ask?How about allowing business to evolve, so that people don’t have this moral issue? How about allowing for more business models to be created, and not in the least–allow for innovation? How about allowing human beings to continue to communicate privately? Morals are not an objective call, it would seem. Sure, people shouldn’t do things they consider be immoral. Just make sure that you don’t allow other interests, who aren’t in the least considering the morals of their actions, to push nonsense.

  118. Sean Saulsbury

    I share Fred’s frustrations for certain songs I’ve searched for, but I won’t steal music. Period. If it’s not available, it’s not available, and I do without.Yes, some record labels are stupid, and yes one could argue that they’re “asking for it,” but even with all that, I still think violating the content owner’s rights by stealing it, is wrong. Even if the content owners are lame and WON’T sell it us for whatever reason. Freedom means the freedom to be stupid, too, and we must respect their rights just as they must respect ours.

  119. Sid

    Being from India, I cannot buy most of the digital eBooks from Amazon, due to country restrictions imposed by the publisher.Amazon also has a Top 100 free ebooks page for its kindle books. And guess what, not a single one of them is free for me. They are all $2.Why?

  120. Andy

    It’s amazing with all the technical advancements creating multiple ways to purchase music have evolved in the last 10 years, how little the mindset of the music industry has changed.

  121. Alejandro Cosentino

    I ran an internet music radio company from 2005 to 2008 in Latin America and I met labels, musicians and all kind of incumbents in all the music biz value chain. You’d be shocked to know how many of them (including bands!!!) decode the time consuming search you did into a brand value for bands for building niche fan base. Although those ideas were inspired by labels (which promise them a bright future following their advise) I found bands that bought into that. Insane.

  122. Sandy

    Phew – some excellently polarized threads…Fred, a simple solution might be to just have a UK address – and a US address for Amazon – I have – and switch my location with the speed of light when necessary for Kindle et al…

  123. Mark Essel

    Have had similar experiences, but absolutely love the conversations in the comments. I had trouble following them after a few indents though.Disqus needs a “Biggie Sized” comment format for 100+ comment pages.

  124. Lucas Dailey

    Temporarily change your Amazon address to somewhere in the UK. I’ve done it to download free UK-only ebooks.But the tension between content creation rights and zero-cost duplication will have to be resolved eventually. I think the growth of dynamic pricing is the most likely solution. As we continue to upgrade every step in the trade process to digital and seamless the transactional friction decreases, which allows for wider adoption of dynamic pricing.It’s hard to argue against poorest in the world having access to approaching-free medication or even educational and entrepreneurial software. How many people were able to pull themselves out of the worst parts of the world by educating themselves with dubiously licensed software? How many more will?I believe we will see greater division between the economic models of luxury and medically/economically beneficial information goods.

  125. ILikeMyLabel

    That’s great. So now to complete the story why don’t you put $6 in an envelope and send it to Mike Skinner. Or is that too much effort too?

    1. james2m

      He would have to put 94¢ in an envelope to Mike Skinner and $5.35 in an envelope Warner Music Ltd actually,

  126. mike bradshaw

    Why didn’t Mike Skinner/The Streets just upload their songs to iTunes (or Amazon) and set worldwide availability? Seems like the simplest solution to the problem posed. Let’s discuss the people that set this in motion and can take meaningful actions.Our models of past marketing and past legal framework are certainly a deep rut, but don’t have to affect future actions. Let’s not gloss over the prime movers here.

    1. Alex Murphy

      Because they didn’t want to.Simple, it was their choice and everyone should respect it. Ask don’t take.

  127. AlexDaGreat

    I'[ve not paid for music in over ten years.Well I do pay for LIVE music in bars, clubs, and music venues which is how musicians have earned thier keep for all of human history except for the last ~50 years when a new industry sprung up around recorded music.Pop culture marketing and distribution of recorded music similar to al other consumer products dependent on which message group you want to connect with. ie. what type or types of music you want to feel connected to…just like what type of car you decide to drive.I think it is great that recorded music now only eixts as marketing support for LIVE muscians.I also do not “pay” for news, email, stock quotes, nor a zillion other bits of information, except of course for some Internet ad views.If we can keep slave labor moving for us in communist China, India, ect.. then perhaps soon we will not need to pay for other consumer products like cars..

    1. Alex Murphy

      If you are downloading music, without permission of the artist, on file sharing sites etc, you are breaking the law. You are stealing from the author. You have to live with the consequences. Maybe there won’t be any for you, but I am a believer that things come around.Perhaps someday all of those that steal will understand what it feels like to be stolen from.

  128. AlexDaGreat

    The simplicity of people on here is amazing.Music is NOT some property right that needs protection. Music is NOT an innvention. ALL Music is simply a performance. Music is Speech.If I give a speech at a college, I could copywrite it and not allow it on youtube, but why would I? It is great marketing to create demand for my next speech.Music is Speech. PERIOD. It is NOT an innvention. It is NOT property. It is a PERFORMANCE.It has value but the value is ONLY in the LIVE PERFORMANCE. Period. Hence I never paid for music.There are over 1 million teenage Chinese kids that can play classical music PERFORMANCES as good as any American professionals.

  129. AlexDaGreat

    In response to the big phara comparision.Big Pharma STEALS basci research from publicly paid for university research labs the world over.Big Phara turns basic research THEY DID NOT DO into products and then uses big law and political bribes to get monopoly prices, while people die and go bankrupt.The types of Patents given to Big Pharma are ABSURD and should NOT BE VALID.It would like getting a patent on a new type of ceral brought to market…takes lots of $$$ to market a new type of breakfest ceral…they should be rewarded and protected for it.What is worse…is my fellow Americans attitude that the USA is somehow the center of medical research.MORE BASIC MEDICAL RESEARCH IS DONE OUTSIDE OF AMERICAN THEN IN AMERICA. Why? Because those societies value life and fund medical research with public $$.USA Big Pharma then STEALS this medical research, re-arranges the bits targeted at some disease with a large market potential, …Americans needs to break up big pharam and return to a COMPTETIVE MEDICAL RESEARCH MODEL based on publiclly funded basic reaserch and private companies bringing new products to market WITHOUT MONOPOLISTIC PRICING.

  130. AlexDaGreat

    I think it is great that the days of pop musical superstars is over. Paid for recorded music. People actually still pay for music?I guess if you are an insecure pre-teen – Justin Bieber, Miley Cirus, Disneylander, …I am SO glad the music industry is DEAD. Years of recorded garbage with a only a few true talents in the mix.Music is a form of human speech. Music is live performance. Free speech. Free Music. Period.

  131. Bryan Pocius

    By buying music at all you are supporting the system that, as you can see, is not about choice and certainly not about the artists. So pirate away and then go see the acts you like, or, even better – send them a dollar personally. That’s likely more than they are making from your single CD purchase.

    1. Drew Shannon

      There are plenty of ways to support artists by buying their music without supporting “the system”, independent labels and Bandcamp being a few examples.I also don’t really think that it’s fair for me to take out my feelings about the corporate system as a whole on artists that are creating music, and are barely getting by.

  132. Drew Shannon

    Great post Fred. As a young person who basically grew up on the web, and is now trying to make a living on the business side of the music industry, I find it increasingly difficult to straddle this line between piracy and paying for music.At this point, piracy will never go away, and to ignore or defy that is lunacy. Instead, it has become artists’ and labels’ responsibilities to give fans the products that they believe is worth paying for. At the end of the day, if you make it easy for people to buy the things they want, they will have a much better chance of doing so.Not to get too troll-y, but in my experience, most people’s rationale for torrenting music (not in isolated instances like this, but when people never pay for music) is largely of the self-delusional nature.

  133. TanyaMonteiro

    This post got me so curious, it’s fascinating to see this playing out every day. Just read this blog post “You can’t make something worth something. It’s worth is precisely what the market will pay for it. Right now for most of recorded music that’s nothing. A recent survey by a bunch of geeks went out into the street and asked a selection of young people how much they would pay for all the music that was on their ipods. What was the average price all these kids would pay for these thousands of tracks they listened to and played every day? ZERO. That was all they perceived it to be worth.” ……….he goes on a bit and ends with “Album’s only exist because that was how much space there was on bits of vinyl, that’s why filler tracks are called fillers. Now we can just have what we want why not give it to people. Let’s get digital.”This space is moving so fast and yet so slow, here’s the full blog if you’re interested

  134. leigh

    I wrote a rant about this exact thing a while back. Being a Canadian our itunes store simply SUCKS compared to the US. I wanted to buy the content and couldn’t. And now our stupid ISPs are wanting to do usage based billing bc we are all downloading movies for free? Ha. w’evs. Content distributers had all the time in the world to help us form reasonably paying habits for digital audio and video and missed the boat.See the post here: http://leighhimel.blogspot….

  135. Noah Lampert

    Enter Spotify and other cloud based services. Maybe.I subscribe to the convenience theory. Whatever is easiest for the consumer that’s what they’ll do. As it becomes easier and easier for everyone to download torrents and other “pirate-centric” services a change is going to have to be made by the labels or individuals releasing music.I see a future where artists are more in control of their works and thus the savvy ones will be able to get their music to the people who want it for a reasonable price. In fact, when I launched it was more than a way to highlight what music we felt is awesome, it was launched with the goal of being a platform for artists and consumers to congregate and experience new music.Who knows what the future holds but rather then cowering in fear (note to the majors) we should embrace the challenges that we face as music lovers and creators. Exciting times!

  136. Douggoss

    Have recently faced the exact same situation. Found the music I was looking for on two sites: MP3Million and Millisong, both out of Russia or someplace. The music was cheap, about $2.00 per cd and each site had a minimum amount you had to deposit before you could download. But once I deposited (which was interesting in itself), I was able to download and and 320, which is better then Amazon, Apple, etc… Do I think this is a type of scam – yes (how much royalty to the artists get when their music is sold for $2;00?). But there was no other choice. I would have gladly paid more for it had I been able to get it over Amazon UK.The other issue I have with the industry right now is the pricing. Look at Apple’s iTunes. Most CD’s are $9.99. For that price I can buy the cd and not have a crappy, lossy, 256 version, copy the music to my hard drive, and still have a backup copy in CD format. If there is NO financial reason to buy the compressed music Amazon, iTUnes, etc… sells, there is NO incentive for me not to buy the CD (and booklet with lyrics, etc…). This pricing model makes NO sense. Now if I can get the MP3 music for less, say $6.00 or under then, in some cases I will opt for that. In others that are produced very well, nothing but the CD will suffice.

  137. CJD

    Strictly speaking, Fred did not commit theft with his action. However, he did violate the rights holder’s/holders’ exclusive right(s) to copy, for which US law provides certain penalties. The rights holder/holders would be entitled to claim the suffering of harm, “messed up” or no.Obviously, however, given enough motivation the behavior of the market (i.e. that of people like Fred) disagrees with this lil’ concept. It says: “If Johnny Rightsholder denies me what I want to buy when I want it, then I’m just gonna take it anyway!” Give me convenience or give me death!Perhaps this justification exists because of the special bond we share with music. Who knows.Years ago, publishers & writers learned the futility of trying to enforce the exclusive right of public performance on a case-by-case basis. So, a different collection technique arose, and today we have ASCAP/BMI/SESAC.Today, it’s just as easy to access recorded distribution as it has always been to perform a song in public. A pity rights holders today don’t pivot (hey! buzzword!) quickly enough to recognize this reality.

  138. pdobson

    There are two huge problems with music and video that someone will make a fortune if they solve on a massive scale.1. Balancing ease of use and DRMEvery piece of media sold digitally has some sort of DRM, and its not going away. DRM is van demand that media be played on a certain manufacturer’s device or only in the presence of an internet connection, or only with a certain operating system. This can cause massive havoc when you buy different types of files with different kinds of DRM. Keeping track of where and how you can play what music and videos is a major hassle for anyone who just wants it to work.2. PortabilityIf you want to take your music with you, its almost impossible to keep your fragmented library synced across all your portable devices. And a lot of phones can’t hold all of that music anyhow. If you have an ipod and a galaxy tab and a blackberry, you can forget about having your music on each one when you’re looking for it.The SolutionThe best solution I’ve been able to come up with personally is to buy all of my media in hard form, rip it to my computer, and upload it to a server that only I have access to. I set it using Amazon Web Services to take advantage of their streaming distribution. Now I can stream all of my media through the browser whenever I want. So any device with a browser becomes both my MP3 player and BD player.The only answer to the digital media problem is secure cloud storage AND distribution of media the user owns. Not a streaming service like Rhapsody or Netflix and not a download service like iTunes or Amazon, but a way to buy and own music and store it securely so it can be streamed to the browser where only you can access it (so no one can share).That’s the silver bullet, have someone get on it

  139. Volnado

    Fred why dont musicians post songs directly to their own sites right when they are mixed and mastered? Why do they mostly sell through digital retailers giving up a large % and their customer data such as billing and preferences and addresses. Why when they tweet out a link to their song 99% of the time that isnt a link to their own site?These are marketing no-brainers right?

  140. Mr Angry

    This is a ridiculously brilliant thread.

  141. Josephfaggion

    meh, this old chestnut. This whole argument is moot. There have been some great points made here about music being about the fans and the artist, and the artists making money from live shows etc. All these points are spot on. Since all this piracy debarcle started happening the live music scene has never been better. Here in Australia for example we have gone to having one or two music festivals a year in the 90s to at least 20 major music festivals every summer in every city. This can only be seen as a good thing. This is what music is about.This has happened because digital natives have adapted. Label dinosaurs and the money grubbing metallicas of the world didnt. Instead they sit around bitching about an argument that ended 20 years ago. you wont hear anyone under 25 having this argument (musician or fan). I have a healthy 100g of tunes that I have bought begged and stealed for. I pay large amounts of money on live music each year. And the musicians I go and see get to travel the world doing what they love. Warner just lost 100 mil. boo hoo. emi just got purchsed by citibank caus of their financial strife waaa waaa. All the majors have one foot in the grave and are clutching at straws without a real understanding of whats going on. and they are only getting what they deserve for ripping off musicians the last 40 yearsYou guys can sit on your computers arguing away while your niel diamond cd you purchsed 80 years ago plays in the background, with some kind of misplaced self satisfaction because you bought it legally from a record store. You do that. Ive got some tunes to i need to download.peace

  142. Javier Morales

    I live in Colombia and this happens to me all the tiem, and not only with music but also with book. Is a shame, I would really like to buy the products, but I won’t buy it at the value that they want to sell it to us here or in physical form.Why can they follow the steam ( example?

  143. Danny Strelitz

    I remembered an article by @scoble about his musical experience outside of the US.…Fred just experienced the same frustration in the US.

  144. Chunah

    Steal, that’s steal, not still.

  145. hiddenreflex

    Morality isn’t an issue. There’s no “inherent” reason you’re supposed to “pay” for music–it’s simply a convention (though yes our inherent sense of fairness ascribes rights to creators). Laws are also a convention. If the law is inconvenient or unjust, people break the law. People can buy drugs cheaper in Canada…and guess what, they do. Radio stations I believe don’t pay any money to play music b/c of convention in the U.S., they’re considered as promoting the music–even though they profit from the music.Taxing the rich at a higher rate to support say food stamps is a transfer of income morally…so is a poor person buying a stolen land rover (presumably stolen from someone rich)–there could be some argument as to assent or something…but mostly “morality” issues are irrelevant.It’s better to think about the sustainability of an enterprise–criminal enterprises that are supposed to sustain by taking others’ labor without compensation are simply unsustainable.Pirates are actually crucial to change and are actually innovators,heroes even (well some of them!). Imagine if the record industry made rules no one ever broke–we’d be listening to 45s or LPs on vinyl (forgot about digital music). We would never have gotten 8-tracks or cassettes even b/c the record industry felt that giving everyone the power of recording would kill them.Without a doubt, people love music and want to support musicians. They also don’t want to waste time (which is the current set-up) or be treated like a criminal (which is what DRM did).If the music industry can’t offer a legal set-up which actually adds value, then there won’t be any sustainable way to combat illegal, free sites. With cars and atoms, it’s generally difficult to scale “illegal” organizations…just not sustainable. That’s not the case for bits.I may want to support my favorite musicians and maybe i’ll buy their t-shirts, or do other stuff…but as long as legal music solutions suck or are worse than free/illegal alternatives, I’ll use illegal solutions b/c life is short and I’m not an idiot. This is idiosyncratic but I’m also not to-myself immoral b/c I’ll try in other ways to support my favorite musicians. My personal feeling is that branding pirates as criminals hasn’t been very successful for the music industry, and they should focus on providing value–>an amazing music service for a great price.The U.S. music industry via CDs would be say a $20bn industry today–if you take out atoms/retailers (e.g. no CDs, go pure digital), that at least halves the costs to say a $10bn industry. Now there are say 100 mn households in the U.S. so that’s $100/household in the U.S..Generous, awesome subscription plans can get the music industry there I think. My guess is that you could get 15mn households to pay $20/month for unlimited all-you-can-eat music which would be $3.5 billion per year, and then you could get another 30 mn households on some sort of $10/month plan for limited music which is $3.5 billion. That’s about half of the U.S. to $7 bn. I think the remaining $3 bn could come from on-demand purchases by others or charging radio fees or other stuff.Offer awesome value and service then try to shut down illegals…that’s sustainable b/c there won’t any niche for future pirates to come up and fill, there’s nothing they could offer outside of “free” and most wouldn’t go there if they had a choice (i.e. weren’t dirt poor!).

  146. Bob Gilbreath

    I had the same stupidity when trying to watch the original Tron movie with my 10-year-old daughter. We planned to see the new Tron at the theater and I wanted to show her the version I grew up with. I figured it would be on Netflix or something that I could order at Amazon. But you couldn’t even find a DVD version for sale! I guess Disney placed Tron “in the vault” like its other classic children’s movies. I couldn’t believe that the company knew for years that a new Tron was coming out, yet didn’t bother to make the old one we loved available to view. Sure enough, a friend with Bit Torrent bailed me out and we were watching it within minutes. Huge loss for the company!

  147. Robots doing all the work woul

    You had a totally legal option: Buy the CD, and rip it! You could even pre-order on Amazon so that you don’t forget.

  148. anon

    if you go to soundcloud and look at the source html, a link to the url for the mp3 is embedded, labed “StreamURL” or something similar. It takes about 5 minutes to write a script that scrapes urls.

  149. Trollbro

    …yeah, not every band/artist can publish everything, everywhere, on every format…maybe you should have thought your topic through a bit before you complain that everything is messed up…geez man…you have to think a little…

    1. fredwilson

      i will try to thing before i post in the future

  150. zinoyaron

    Hi Fred,Welcome to what every non-US web content consumer is facing all the time. Being out of US i can’t get MP3s, Movies, TV Series, Books and even APPS!!!! and i’m willing to pay. It really sucks…

  151. BenLebovitz

    snore… this has been going on since the bad old days of napster. You think that your post is going to get any attention?this is for movies.. but same ideahttp://www.dontmakemesteal….

    1. fredwilson

      The most commented post ever I think. Hardly a snore

  152. Vijay Basrur

    Hi Fred,Couldn’t agree with you more. Ironically the emusic service is not available in India :pI think the # of folks who can afford to pay in India are all ripping music off the Internet for free. Its a shame that the artists can’t collect this money

  153. Ivan Vučica

    Always remember that this is what people outside US are regularly treated like by numerous US companies.

  154. Dale Allyn

    I don’t want to beat on Fred, but I agree with you, Charlie. Fred was open and outlined his (justifiable) frustration.Fred, I think the proper solution (and the one required in my house) is to have purchased the CD if one wanted it now, and give the CD to someone whom you’d like to introduce to the music.That being said, there are few things as annoying as trying to buy something and not being able to fast-track to checkout. One shouldn’t have to work to part with money in retail. We use Macy’s as the example, where you can select some shirt or pants (usually self service), take them to the cash register station, and wait around… searching…. hoping… for someone to come and collect your money. It sucks (and why we rarely go there).Hopefully your post will reach someone who will work to change the situation in the music biz.

  155. ShanaC

    Ok Charlie, how do you think we should fix the music business model?

  156. ping

    How does Fred’s action starve the musician? If Fred didn’t download the album, would the musician have gotten paid somehow?

  157. fredwilson

    i said i am going to pay for it as soon as i can. i think you are wrong charlie

  158. james2m

    And how do you propose Fred get’s access to music he want’s to pay for (and would probably quite happily hand all of the $9 to the artist given half a chance)?Bypassing the label that caused the problem in the first place is a legitimate protest at the labels control of access to music which is perpetuated by lobbying and manipulation of the law (see digital media act in the UK) not just application of existing law.

  159. andyswan

    Not defending Monsanto (just as I’m REALLY not defending the musicpublishers lol)…..but there is a distinction here from a logicalstandpoint….because Monsanto is claiming to be the creator of thosespecies and bio-processes.

  160. ShanaC

    It is pretty bad, it actually raises food prices by preventing seed saving. They’re shooting themselves in the foot too over time – those seeds help provide genetic diversity

  161. kidmercury

    lol, don’t think so….falsely named patriot act set to be renewed today

  162. kidmercury

    miracles do happen….patriot act did NOT get renewed!

  163. fredwilson

    yes, i am 18 in my mind and always have been and hopefully always will be

  164. Ping

    Two points:1. Not if my tomatoes are not 2 fewer after some taking a couple from me.2. There is no way for Fred to pay for it even though he wants to. Actually may be fred should mail the artists a check directly.

  165. Ping

    It is not letting me reply to you last comment. So doing it here.The choice of not selling/accepting money is the artist’s. No argument from me there. Then the artiste should be prepared to face the consequences including starvation. Fred is not the cause for this.

  166. Carl Rahn Griffith

    Ditto! 🙂

  167. JLM

    Absent any serious topic to talk about, your admission of that fact is an insight into your soul and the truest words ever spoken.I laughed when I read it and it makes me like your mind. I am smiling as I type this inconsequential nonsense.The irony of its veracity is only overcome by its absolute truth.I bounce between 18 and 26. At 26 I had had life experiences which made me into an “informed” 18 year old and I had no guilt about wanting everything as I thought I had paid the dues for my entitlement.Not much has changed in the subsequent long years.Good on you!

  168. Michael Arrington

    fuck me for taking food from their mouth when I said i buy music from iTunes? Maybe they’re struggling with money because their music sucks. Or they suck at marketing. But me pointing out that there are economic pressures on the music industry’s business model is not only obvious but doesn’t deserve that kind of verbal abuse. I’m sick of losers who spend their whole lives complaining about what’s fair and then lash out at other people when they realize the world is anything but. Grow up, or stay silent.

  169. ShanaC

    Kind of facinatingly, I saw a startup present last night that I think wouldhelp in this area humongously. Truly pioneering in understandingmicropayments, which I think is the basic issue with music.

  170. james2m

    And if those t-shirts have your band’s logo on them you have to hand a large % of your take for the t-shirt under a 360 degree contract with a label who had nothing to do with the production of your t-shirt?

  171. JLM

    Of course, we all are. The laws don’t apply to guys like us.That would be like passing Obamacare and giving an exclusion to the SEIU.Charlie, you are a cynical old wolf. You are going to piss off the power elite in this country.Do you really expect a Sec Treas to pay his own damn taxes while he is so damn busy collecting yours?Cynic!

  172. fredwilson

    depends on the lawbut in some select circumstances, yesvice laws come to mind

  173. fredwilson

    of coursei am wrong often

  174. fredwilson

    i’m pleased you enjoyed something i wrotei’ve enjoyed about a dozen things i read this morning that you wrote in thepast day or twolet’s call it even

  175. james2m

    And if the people who hand out the speeding fine take profit from that fine and use it to lobby and change the law to further improve their control of the highways?