Now let’s say you’re a music company president (or heck, a movie studio head). How do you cope with file sharing?
You control it yourself. Leak rips of releases early, but make them bad rips. Put some pops in there, make the bitrate low, maybe only include the left-side channel… whatever you want to do.
This does a couple things:
– You prevent high-quality ripping. Those rips will spread all over the place, and because no one can get the actual CD to make a better set of MP3s from, they’ll have to use and spread bad ones or go without. This makes it much more difficult later for good rips to get to people.
– You sell more music through legitimate channels.
That second one seems counter-intuitive at first. But if someone’s already out there listening to pirated music, they’re going to be:
– cheapies who aren’t going to buy music, since there are many subscription services and alternatives like iTunes
– normal people who might buy a CD, but like to sample new music for more than the 30s iTunes has, and don’t want to subscribe to a service
– audiophile collectors
Cheapies might be satisfied with the crappy rips you’re polluting with. They weren’t going to buy anyway, though, so you can at least be satisfied that their ears are slowly rotting away from listening to 96kbs rips.
Normal people would get enough to make a purchasing decision, but the low quality is likely to drive them to make a buy/delete decision. No one’s going to listen to a track over and over if it’s got one of those weird “blip” moments at :34 and 1:55 that interrupts the chorus.
Audiophile collectors will be driven nuts and forced to either buy and rip themselves or form some tightly-knit circle of quality MP3 traders. And that might be bad but it also isolates them from the mainstream, and actually helps you pollute networks with low-quality rips in the future.
Control of both the legitimate and illegitimate distrubition channels is a powerful strategy.