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Downloading Up
Uploading our Frustration with Downloading

Giving me a free media player is the LEAST Microsoft could do after inflicting the misery of their operating system on me. I don't need it to "phone home" every time I use it. If you've downloaded either Windows Media Player or RealPlayer lately, you may have noticed that not only do they both have an Orwellian desire to start a dossier on your entertainment habits; they both make it difficult, if not impossible, to curtail this tendency. Even more annoying (presumably driving one more nail in the coffin of aggressively copy-protected pop media) is the bizarre hoops one has to jump through to "enjoy" some media that expires in thirty days anyway.

We recently downloaded Peter Gabriel's "Up" from the Windows Media web site. A hefty 62MB, but we thought previewing Gabriel's first release in ten years would be worth it. After a twenty minute (on our rather zippy DSL connection) download, we were fully prepared for all the invasive "We'll just be uniquely identifying your computer now, not prying, of course, this is in your best interest" crap, but we didn't expect this:

For a better look, click on the image

Rather than trying to contact Microsoft or On Demand Distribution (ODD?) for support, we assumed it was some routine glitch, and tried again. Well, we now have 124MB of useless files on our hard drive, which presumably contain binary information that represents a Peter Gabriel CD. We'll never know for sure. We simply went out and bought the CD. Read the review here.

How can a company expect consumers to want to buy their products if they persist in these arcane attempts to prevent one from simply enjoying the content, whatever it is? Let's face it. Popular media is simply establishing its fair market value. What is a song file worth, on an individual basis? When will the big media companies get a clue? Obviously, if they build enough obstacles to buying and sharing their products, a new method of distribution will only be empowered to grow. Most of the artists who are willing to play along with major labels are aging pop stars anyway, so perhaps change is more imminent than a lot of market researchers think.

Take the recent charting of Radiohead as an example: No video on MTV; the entire CD mysteriously shared by thousands of Napster users before the official release; voila- a number one CD. Whether Radiohead intentionally released the files early or not, the net result was massive sales. What helped this happen? Clever marketing. Certainly not greed-driven, copy-protected paranoia. The clever marketing involved the band's release of "blips", Radiohead desktop wallpapers, and clever use of Instant Messaging.

So what's the point here? If you're rich, fat and greedy, you'll probably stay that way, and eventually lose all your money to someone richer, fatter, and greedier. Or someone who's just more creative than you....


Related Links
Making Money By Giving Away Music

Rolling Stone Interview with Hilary Rosen of the RIAA: "Sheryl(Crow)'s a great person and a good friendof mine, but if she doesn't like her contract, she shouldn't have signed it."

Don't download it, just buy it:

Peter Gabriel's
new CD


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