Dear Music Industry…

Dear Music Industry

I want to inform you of a great opportunity.

As you may know a number of file sharing networks seem to be closing down or are on the verge of. This of course comes hot on the heels of the slow but steady demise of what was the largest file-sharing network Kazaa.

As you probably remember, the last time that this happened (with the original Napster) there was a bit of a lull whilst file sharers tried to find out where to get music and then soon enough the vacuum got filled with the next generation of file sharing networks.

Whilst I don’t want to take away anything from your successes in tackling file sharing, there has been much more impact on symptoms rather than causes (although the IFPI is to be commended for following a much more holistic approach than the RIAA).

Much as you and I would like to believe that file sharing has been dealt a mortal blow, we know that it’s actually far from dead. Just like some monster out of a sci-fi movie, the blaster gun has smashed it into a thousand slimy lumps, but once the camera pans from the relieved face of our alien hunting hero and onto the floor we see each one of those quivering lumps merge together to make many more monsters.

There’s even a risk that file sharing might come back stronger: for a start the operators will definitely taken stronger pre-emptive counter measures, and (as my colleague Ian Fogg suggested to me) in the post-Kazaa spyware world, file sharing might be even more popular without all those Trojan and spyware worries.

So, I hear you ask, “where’s the opportunity? All you’ve done is preach doom and gloom at me.” Well here it is….

History could well repeat itself and probably will if left unchecked. However, you, the music industry can do something to change history before it happens: meet that demand for free music by launching your own free services. Of course you’ll have to optimize them to ensure they are significantly inferior to your paid services, but if launched now, or as soon as is possible, there’ll be lots of lost file sharers out there who will warm to a free service. And once you have them in the legitimate fold, you can start marketing not just the paid services at them, but also good old fashioned CDs, videos, DVDs and even ring tones if that floats your boat.

This really is one of those ‘act now or miss out’ opportunities.

Anyway, just a thought.

Kind regards

Mark Mulligan