Business - Written by Deepak Ramachandran on Wednesday, June 4, 2008 11:33 - 2 Comments
Media Oligopolies (or, why I love BitTorrent)
This Saturday, I’m going with my wife Alex to see Leonard Cohen in concert. We’re really looking forward to it!
But I’ve got to say, there’s a reason why we do so few of these live events these days. It’s not just the $200 tickets — @#&#! the Rolling Stones for setting a new standard in crazy live-event prices! (>smile< — Really, they deserve it.) It’s the pain in the ass of dealing with all these media oligopolies just to have a little fun. Anytime you want to show up to something in-person, it’s a nightmare of logistics. Wanna watch at home, at your leisure, when and where you like? That’s easy, thanks to BitTorrent.
Why would anyone go to a live event again?
I know it’s old news, but it still rankles. Almost every media business has been built on a natural oligopoly model, which is why we have 1 TicketMaster, 4 TV networks, 1 local cable option, and 1 or 2 major theatre chains (in disguise, by the way, under multiple seemingly competitive brands). The internet, of course, has cleared the way for digital delivery of most media content — which is why we can get it easier, faster, simpler there (let alone free).
The media companies are like the pharmaceuticals. They claim they need high prices to pay the talent (in pharma, the R&D). But in fact, they pay more in sales and marketing costs than to talent! Give us an optional “pay what you believe is right” button, and many of us will take that over the current obsolete models every time.
What part of the TicketMaster experience is fun? Getting kicked off the website every 10 seconds? Logging in at the precise time the tickets go on sale, just to find all the tickets are sold out? Paying the insane “transaction charges” on top of the already-crazy ticket price?
(The only good news here is that the performers are finally getting their fair share of the proceeds. Years ago, I saw Miles Davis, Oscar Peterson, Sarah Vaughan and Dizzy Gillespie — all just before they died. Then, I saw Ella Fitzgerald, seemingly just *after* she died! She was struggling on stage, telling the same two jokes in alternation literally between every song. Why did she need to tour in her 80s? Because she never got the money she deserved in the first place. The same can’t be said of Leonard Cohen, whose current tour is at least in part an attempt to make back the money he lost by trusting an unqualified “financial advisor”.)
Of course, the live show is the point — and it’s often great. But at some point, the pain of getting there outstrips the fun of being there.
This nutty situation doesn’t just apply to live music. We tried to see a movie the other day, and had the same experience. We had bought tickets using Air Miles (what else are they good for? Search me), but of course it turned out they weren’t valid for a Saturday night show (read the fine print). Then, of course, there’s the crazy prices for popcorn and drinks. And then 10 minutes of trailers and commercials. Why do I have to sit through commercials after *paying* for my show?
Even TV is a pain. Our latest craze at home is *Battlestar Galactica*, which we watch by downloading the old episodes. 41 minutes per episode, and they expect us to sit through another 20 minutes of distractions and commercials?!
The only thing missing on BitTorrent is the ability to pay the people who made the content. I’d love a “pay what you think this is worth” button. For those who are wondering, I’m not a fan of just buying the stuff on iTunes, only to find it works only once, or I can’t build it into my home videos for my friends….
Maybe one day, we’ll be able to send people money over a DNS protocol, much as we can currently find any website. In the meantime, I know this rant is old news, but the idiocy of our media business models irritates me still.
Business - Oct 5, 2010 12:00 - 0 Comments
More In Business
- Facebook, Facebook, Facebook
- Survey: How are you using Facebook, Twitter, smart phones, and other technology platforms?
- Will Facebook be your CRM provider?
- Wiki Banking
- The importance of being competent
Entertainment - Aug 3, 2010 13:14 - 2 Comments
More In Entertainment
- Lessons in collaboration from B.B. King’s
- CL!CK – LEGO’s fun social product development platform
- Peer Pressure 2.0: Farmville
- Online gaming more than just fun
- The NFL – The most protective league, attempting to control the uncontrollable
Society - Aug 6, 2010 8:19 - 4 Comments
More In Society
- Balance: customer receptivity vs. customer revulsion
- The Net Gen: Too plugged-in for parenting?
- Are you addicted to social media?
- The privacy discussion we need to have
- “The Data-Driven Life”: Who’s not interested in discovery?