[E-Lang] OpenCola's digital rights management

Bill Frantz frantz@communities.com
Fri, 26 Jan 2001 13:21:12 -0800

[Forwarded by permission.  --MarkM]

At 03:16 PM 1/25/01 -0800, Mark S. Miller wrote:
>Everyone accepted, even if reluctantly, that revenues for content must, long 
>term, descend to the levels that can be supported by Street-Performer-like 
>arrangements.  These will probably be vastly lower than current revenues for 
>content, since Street-Performer-like arrangements have an inescapable free 
>rider problem.

The thing that fascinates me is how this change will affect different artists.

Well established artists may well see their income go up.  Consider for
example, a Steven King or a Steven Spielburg.  With the cost reduction that
digital technology provides, and not needing to pay a middle man,
essentially all of the Street Performer revenue will appear as income.  A
loyal fan base will gladly play their part in the protocol.

Established niche artists will see much the same thing, with smaller
incomes.  Consider a Dead Can Dance, or a John Sayles.  The same cost
considerations apply, and their cult fan base will also gladly play it's part.

For the unknowns, things probably won't change too much.  Consider my
friends in Avalon Rising.  They make a bit of money playing local gigs, and
release an occasional CD.  They expect to sell about 2000 of their latest
CD.  I think they make enough money to pay for their equipment/web page
etc., but they can't quit their day jobs.  Their fans will probably
continue to support them, in about the style they have now.

For the manufactured artists: the Monkeys, Millie Vanelli's etc. things are
probably much more grim.  Without the profits to feed the middle men, there
won't be anyone to hype them.  However, given that teenagers have always
been fad conscious, there will still be money to be made catering to teen
fads.  The money will probably be in branded merchandise rather than in
songs or videos.

I expect that artists of all types will find the collectibles market a
useful money maker.  A copy of their work, with nicely printed explanatory
notes (liner notes for records, making of for movies, hardcover book etc.)
will continue to have value as a collectors item.  I can also imagine that
people may show pride in having serial number 105 of a limited, numbered
set, with digitally signed ownership transfer to prove they own that copy.