The Jupiter Report, By Robert Scott Lefsetz

Online music already DWARFS CD sales. It's just that the music business is not MONETIZING IT! If you believe the Jupiter report stating that the CD is going to dominate for the next five years, CONGRATULATIONS! You're the fucking idiot this stuff is written for. For research will tell you where you've BEEN, not where you're GOING!!!

Computer music is a PASSION! A RELIGION!

Tell me about the person who bought a new CD player who's TESTIFYING about it. Raving about error correction, how fucking GOOD IT SOUNDS! To focus on the CD is to state that because far fewer than HALF of all computers shipped with modems in the early nineties (a mere FRACTION of computers were equipped with this device), that the INTERNET wouldn't take off!!!

Do you remember the summer of LOVE? Otherwise known as 1995 in the Internet world? People who'd pooh-poohed computers for DECADES suddenly RAN to the store to purchase machines, equipped with modems, JUST so they could surf the Net. It was THAT fucking exciting. Even my MOTHER, way past RETIREMENT age, needed to get a computer. NOT because her children told her she needed one, but because the mania GOT to her!! She'd been reading in all the STRAIGHT press about the Net, and she wanted to PLAY!!

It happened overnight.

Actually, online music could happen overnight if the motherfucking major labels could just get BEHIND it and BLOW IT UP, instead of STIFLING IT!

My mother won't trade files, even though she's got a BROADBAND CONNECTION!

And neither will just about ANY of my baby boomer peers. Because rich, ignorant assholes, lobbied by the RIAA, like Arnold Schwarzenegger, are passing laws PUNISHING people for trading. And the RIAA is SUING people. So, those not COMPLETELY computer savvy are REFRAINING FROM PARTAKING! Make it legal tomorrow, and my mother PLAYS! Hell, if I had her on the phone and told her she could get a pristine copy of every show tune ever recorded, she'd be THRILLED!

But she's not thrilled about buying what's available at the iTunes Music Store for ninety nine cents a track.

She'll tell me she's got the records.

And I'll tell her she tossed most of them when she moved to her condo.

Then she'll tell me she's got them on CD.

Then I'll tell her she doesn't. She's only got a few.

And then she'll utter the cardinal words...WHAT DO I NEED THEM FOR! And THERE you have it. The major labels' online philosophy in a NUTSHELL! Instead of GROWING the marketplace, they're STIFLING IT!

Hell, it's even stifled in the CD world! God, there are no stores LEFT! Today I drove down Wilshire, from the 405 west. I passed Licorice Pizza. It's now a store that sells bodybuilding equipment. Next door Odyssey is a DVD outlet, having long ago booted music. The Wherehouse down the street is gone. As is Moby Disc. God, an ALIEN coming to West L.A./Santa Monica would think music is DEAD!!! I mean where the fuck are people supposed to GO? The inconvenient big box retailers where inventory SUCKS and there's not a knowledgeable clerk IN SIGHT!? And, believe me, it's not sheer economics, the major labels have KILLED indie retail by giving EXCLUSIVES to the big box retailers. And now the TAIL is wagging the DOG! Wal-Mart dictates WHAT'S ON the fucking records. Hell, if they're edgy Wal-Mart WON'T SELL THEM!

But music is not DEAD! A HUGE multiple of the number of CDs sold every year is TRADED online. Let's see. It's as if the dairy association were only counting milk that was sold on the farm, ignoring sales at supermarkets, and dairy farmers were bitching they were going out of business! Look at the NUMBERS they'd say. Our sales are DECLINING! Yeah, because the people went where the milk is MORE CONVENIENT TO BUY!

But you say the music IS for sale online!

Obviously, not a lot of rarities, and live shows that are traded. But yes, a lot of the mainstream stuff IS for sale. So, why the fuck if it's available, if there's such a demand for online music, is it NOT SELLING!

Can you say mobile phones? They've been around for TWO DECADES! But they didn't start to TAKE OFF until the price dropped DRAMATICALLY half a decade ago. Now EVERYBODY has one, even SCHOOL KIDS! Don't tell me the school kids didn't want them in the nineties, it's just that the industry couldn't figure out that the price needed to be LOWER, so they could AFFORD THEM!

But it's WORSE! Because in online music today, it's as if Verizon and Cingular and Sprint and T-Mobile were PRIVATE NETWORKS! That couldn't COMMUNICATE! Because of DRM!

Oh, don't fuck with me. There IS a standard. It's called the MP3!!!! It's just that the labels don't like the unprotected MP3.

DON'T believe the hype. Apple is the most OPEN of companies. The FREE iTunes software encodes in MP3 format and the iPod loads these tracks. It's MICROSOFT that won't allow MP3 encoding. It's like the fucking ELECTION, the truth is IRRELEVANT!

And, the iTunes Music Store is irrelevant, but not the iTunes software. It's THIS software and MusicMatch which allow you to RIP MP3s. And, after ripping it, you can TRADE IT! Which everybody under the age of thirty does AD INFINITUM!!!

So, the Jupiter report left out the monetization of P2P, where the REAL action is. And, it also said incompatible formats are holding the online action back. That's like saying that with two leagues, the National and the American, BASEBALL is being held back. NOBODY CARES! People ARE NOT hesitating purchasing iPods because they don't work at Napster. And, that's the only device anybody's really buying. Check the statistics. Apple's got almost ALL the market share, because it's the BEST MACHINE! Hell, if another device that played MP3s as elegantly as the iPod does was released, it might be successful. But instead, competitors release machines with HORRIFIC software that play ATRAC. Even if they DO play back MP3s it's like purchasing a Korean car. Wouldn't
you really rather have a JAPANESE car??

Fuck this report. Do your own research. Why don't you just go park your ass in an Apple store for the afternoon. And watch the ZEAL with which people check out and buy iPods. You won't find such excitement anywhere shy of a BROTHEL!! The people are SMILING, they're creaming in their jeans, and they're LINING UP TO BUY!!!

The iPod world isn't stagnant, it's BURGEONING! Apple finally has a supply of Minis. Come Christmas, the iPod is going to be THE GIFT!

And what are the major labels going to say about this gift? Buy from the online store!

But the public knows this is bullshit. Just check out the iTunes Music Store sales. They're ANEMIC!

Then the industry says RIP YOUR CDS!

What a backward solution to a modern problem. CDs? You shouldn't have to rip, you should have everything at your fingertips, via P2P.

If CD sales garner the majority of sales for the next half decade it will ONLY be because the majors, despite what they're saying, are keeping online sales down.

Music should be cheap and plentiful. This will DRIVE people to purchase iPods and then DRIVE them to subscribe to monetized P2P services. OTHERWISE, why buy a device that can hold so many songs?? Really, if people only wanted to transport a few songs they'd buy the much cheaper flash memory MP3 players. But no, the EXPENSIVE iPod DWARFS sales of those too. People want AT LEAST the Mini, which holds 1,000 songs. To not make these songs available super-cheaply is to sell someone a Mercedes-Benz and then charge them $25 a gallon of gas.

And, after experiencing the iPod, having ripped all their CDs, do you REALLY think people are going to buy discs to rip in the future? Really, TALK to iPod users. They don't USE their stereos anymore. They just want THE
FILE They're NOT about to go out and buy $15 disks to throw away. They think that's a rip-off. No, after ripping their collection they become what the backward music industry wants them to be...NON-BUYERS!!!!

Yup, you've now replaced your CDs, which replaced your vinyl, with MP3s. Now you're DONE!!! You don't NEED new music. THAT'S fucked. Since the music business doesn't participate in the sales of iPods, don't you think they should be interested in selling more MUSIC???

No, they want to RENT people music!!!

Blockbuster's GOING OUT OF BUSINESS! Cheap DVDs are KILLING the rental outlet. But only the MUSIC business can't see this. They want to go back to 1982. When videotapes cost $89 and everybody was FORCED to rent. Yup, keep songs at a buck apiece and people will want to rent, right? NO, because they can trade for free. And because we've got an ownership society. AND, because people are used to only buying a few CDs a year, since they're viewed as being so expensive, it doesn't make sense to RENT music for over two hundred dollars a year when you're only going to BUY fifty dollars of music a year. FURTHERMORE, everybody I've talked to who has experienced Janus equipment says the SOFTWARE SUCKS! Which brings us back to the iPod once again. It WORKS!!!

We've been delivered. We're here. It's only the circle jerk of Jupiter, the major labels and the somnambulant press that's keeping us in the past.

EMBRACE the future. No, the CD is not going to die tomorrow. But, however much longer it lasts, and it DOES have about a half a decade left, music providers would do best to KILL IT! WEAN people from it. Because it's an antique model. To shift to online eliminates manufacturing and distribution. And, since it's easier to ACQUIRE tracks online, if prices are cheaper, MORE PEOPLE WILL BUY MORE MUSIC!!!!

Copyright 2004 Robert Scott Lefsetz

Source: Robert Scott Lefsetz

The Jupiter Report, By Robert Scott Lefsetz