Oink and fixing the music industry
Oink, the (super-popular) bittorrent music tracker was brought down by authorities a couple of days ago. Unsurprisingly, a lot of people came out in favor of its demise because it was screwing up the music industry, and quite a few others were shocked and saddened by seeing it go. Fact is, a whole lot of people lost their main means of contact with new artists and music.
Although Oink itself didn’t host any illegal or copyrighted material, it did facilitate the trading of music for free between users – which is an illegal activity. Now, why is it that people did prefer Oink to getting out to stores and actually buying CDs? Here’s what I believe are a few reasons:
- Price: there’s really no way $20 CDs can compete with free
- Commodity: not leaving the house is a major selling point
- Choice: a much bigger catalogue than the one you can find on any store, online or otherwise
All three of these points – price, commodity and choice – are huge, but lets focus on the last one of them. Choice is really the key point to the success of legal vs illegal. Would you buy 100 $20 cds in the dark, without knowing the bands putting them out? Right. But you might download 100 releases and see if any of those caught your ear. You might even add a few favorite bands to your collection. You know, those bands which you end up buying the whole catalog from. Oink was the ultimate music library.
People aren’t screwed up, the music industry is. Labels need to understand that without fighting “illegal downloads” and “pirates” in price, commodity and choice, they’ll end up nowhere. Give me an easy and flexible service where I can discover thousands of new artists (like Oink did), and let me pay the right price for what I enjoy and I’ll be all over it – paying for music and all. Wouldn’t that be great?
Note: If you haven’t seen it yet, you should read DJ Rupture’s post about Oink too. Because it wasn’t just “regular people” browsing and using Oink. Artists (whose music was up there for grabs) did too – and they weren’t that few, really.