Let me start by saying I do not condone piracy or any form of theft of intellectual property. However: there is an undeniable paradigm shift in the entertainment industry which is being prompted by on line file sharing and in part piracy.
The future of the entertainment industry requires it works with piracy through a reorganization of their business model so as to make piracy less relevant by undermining its benefits. An online subscription/distribution paradigm seems like an obvious way to go, although finding that solution is not my purpose here.
The music industry’s major labels can also do itself a HUGE favor by simply promoting better music. Of course this is exactly what the Indie labels do, they produce better quality music and so much variety that it’s proving collectively more popular than the so called “pop” music today if you account for all independent music sales and downloads internationally. The majors are becoming less relevant and it’s not just because of piracy. The majors (record labels and major film production companies) are hurting not just from piracy upon which they heap all the blame. Operating off an ancient top heavy business model, they emphasizes control by a few decision makers which stifles creativity, promotes monotony and formulas in entertainment designed to do nothing but feed the bottom line.
We can actually thank piracy for helping to revampt this outdated business structure. Between piracy and our current era of (pop) cultural multiplicity not only can there be no next Beatles but Britney Spears can’t even sell as many CDs as she used to. Of course (the revolution) is already embraced by independent labels that are small enough to take advantage. The majors need to either move, adapt or die. I don’t feel the pain of Sony records in its current incarnation as necessarily a bad thing, in this respect, change is good.
The same exists but to a lesser degree for the film industry. Forward thinking independent production companies like 2099 Productions are actually conducting unorthodox distribution methods for their new movies that include releasing their films in theaters, TV and DVD all at the same time. 2099 has just signed some high powered directorial talent to their ranks. This is the freedom of choice I believe consumers demand and (perhaps even over 50% of) piracy is only a symptom of this demand. There is evidence to support this theory, for instance the success of foreign (outside North America) websites that sell music on the cheap for download, 100% legally. $15 for System of a Down’s new CD is just way too much money when you can buy the same CD in Bosnia for a fraction of that cost, and producers know this. By the way, on the web Bosnia is only a click away. So how can I buy a CD in Sarajevo when I am here in North America? Good question, by using the other entertainment format that the entertainment industry is loath to take advantage of or even admit represents a relevant business outlet; downloadable data. We’ll soon see what decision makers of the G7 do with real globalization in coming years?
It is my contention home entertainment format wars like the current “HD-DVD vs Blu-Ray” war, is just smoke and mirrors to consumers. The REAL format war is between downloadable data and plastic discs. And guess what; the silvery plastic discs are losing and consumer freedom of choice is winning. On line piracy should not be dismissed as a crime perpetrated by bored teenagers stealing music. It’s the next wave of consumer entertainment and kudos’ to the early birds in the entertainment industry that can cash in.