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The Cargo Cult of Business » Listen to this…

Listen to this…

Published on 11 Aug 2005 at 12:18 am | No Comments | Trackback
Filed under Winners and Losers, Technopolitical, Blogosphere, Business and Corporation Related, Open Source Software, Trademark, Copyright, and Patents.

… or maybe it should be "picture this."

I want to applaud Trent Reznor.  Ever since I first learned how to use a mixing console 20 years ago I’ve been wishing I had access to the master tracks for my favorite music. Not so I could make money from it, redistribute it, "pirate" it, or what have you, but rather so that I could have a more interactive relationship with it. I’ve wanted to customize it to my tastes. I’m not familiar enough with Garage Band to know if this goes as far as I’d like, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

 I’m sure many artists would be loathe to give up the control, or the perception of control. I hope many of them can find the courage to follow Mr. Reznor’s example, and I hope he finds the experience worthwile enough to repeat it.

 This is directly analogous to the downloading of individual songs from albums. Apple and others rightly perceived that the ability to customize the content in this way is a highly desirable feature. Sure, many users still download whole albums, and that’s great. Also, there’s no denying that in many cases the continuity of an album taken as a whole is an important part of the artistic statement. Nevertheless, the purchasers of music are more and more interested in being involved, rather than simply listening to an album they want to create their own. Furthermore, this activity isn’t necessarily an alternative to the original album. I have purchased several complete albums which I’ve then re-arranged into my own custom albums based on theme, artist, or mood. Releasing the tracks themselves merely opens this up to another level of involvement for those of us who care take it that far.

What about the future? Can this catch on? If so, will there be a demand for the remixes created by certain individuals with talent? How will Mr. Reznor feel about that? What would be the legal status of those remixes? I don’t know, but I’m certain we would all benefit from some system which makes them separable from the originals, and owned by the people who create them. What I have in mind is something like the GPL, “copy my stuff, make changes, sell your changes if you want, sell services around it doing installs or whatever, but don’t forget to give me credit and don’t sell my stuff without getting my permission."

Once this little daydream comes true, there’s just one more thing…  Now, Peter Jackson, about all those giant digital video files you have cluttering up your data storage…

-- John
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