Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Q: Is the recording industry entering a new stage of grief?

A: Yes, yes they are. And good for them -- it only took them a decade to make it through the "anger" phase. At this rate they should have this whole mess sorted out circa Hank Williams VIII.

A quick primer on the five stages of grief, as experienced by the Recording Industry Association of America -- past, present and future -- following the sudden, brutal death of its business model:

  1. Denial. (c. 1998: "What the hell's a Napster? Shut up and bring me my cocaine.")

  2. Anger. (c. 1999 - 2008: "Restructure the industry? OVER MY DEAD BODY. No, let's just sue them! Sue literally everyone! Have Lars Ulrich beat the crap out of every American citizen, living or dead, one by one until technology is over! Issue a vituperative press release equating music piracy with terrorism! No, genocide! Bring me my cocaine!")

  3. Bargaining. (c. right now: "Dear America, Sorry about that whole suing-35,000-of-you thing. Our bad! So anyway, if you promise to start buying albums again, we'll totally stop sending you letters. Thanks!!! Love, the recording industry. P.S.: We're releasing a new 40-disc Beatles Anthology, please for God's sake buy it, it's got previously unreleased recordings of John Lennon choking on a sandwich. P.P.S.: I'm a little low on cash. Could anyone spot me some cocaine?")

  4. Depression. (c. 2009-2019: "Girlfriend in a coma I know I know it's serious. My my my my my my baby goodbyyyye. There were times when I could have STRAN-gled HERRRR -- oh Jesus, Moz, WHY US? Someone bring me my Joy Division box set and a shotgun.")

  5. Acceptance. (c. 2020, give or take 20 years: "We the recording industry, being of relatively sound mind and body, do hereby bequeath the entirety of music to the people of the world. Well, OK, technically we had no choice there -- apparently the laws of economics suggest that, when supply becomes infinite, you can't really charge the same price anymore. We should've figured that out sooner, we suppose, but we were distracted with all the suing and the collapsing. Oh well!

    "Anyway, what were we saying? Oh right, so here's the deal: You all pay some monthly access fee, let's say $9.99, for access to all music always forever. The money will go towards supporting the digital infrastructure, the artists who produce the music, and of course our direct descendants' cocaine addiction.

    "The bad news is that top musicians won't be able to make millions of dollars so easily anymore. But who ever said artists were supposed to own yachts? Look at Billie Holiday -- she didn't make much money off her music, she just used it to promote her far more lucrative career whoring. We're sure you'll figure it out. On the bright side, profits will be spread among a wider base of artists, and the limitless access should enable the more talented among you to build larger fan bases and sell lots more concert tickets and T-shirts. Hurray for cultural democracy! Hurray for the future! Hurray for us still being able to charge up the ass for ringtones! Here, this one is John Lennon clearing his throat in an elevator in 1972. It's $30. You can leave the money in our coffins. Peace out, suckas!")

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