Just some perspectives first. The MPAAs and the RIAAs of this world are leaders in crying wolf, at each and every change that ever happens. Right from the disbelief filled furore over motion pictures ("Who in his right mind will want to watch a motion picture?") to the RIAA screaming blue murder at audio cassettes and the problem of "home taping" in 1980. The tight monopolistic short-sightedness of these associations is their undoing. Do read the article, it does give a good perspective.
Lets believe we are in front of the Oracle (the geek variety with the predictive powers and not the RDBMS variety). Lets pretend to peep into the future of music and the RIAA. Lets also assume that humans are inherently reasonable intelligent.
The cost of making music is falling. This means that more and more artists would be able to make their kind of music. This will not only proliferate the number of musicians, but will also multiply and mix the various genres and styles. Music will just be music and everyone will have access to an unprecedented variety of it. How would someone control it. Lets see...
Placing controls in the music itself. Ya, but if you are intelligent, so am I. What you can make I can break. Check this article which almost seems to say the same thing. Considering an industry with a great many firms, a great many independants, who will be able to enforce such a format? It is not about the power of the control placed. Too restrictive ones will cost you customers, too loose and it is not a constraint any longer. It is like Icarus flying between the ocean and the sun, and this Icarus is bound to fail. Forget everything, what will you do to music that will prevent a dictaphone from recording the sound that emanates from the speaker?
Okay so you will place controls in the playback system. Huh? Get real. And the same problems will plague the hardware too. You either lose customers or you will lose the entire point of the exercise.
Maybe you will try to control the swapping of music. Did you know the RIAA and the MPAA got permission to hack into networks which allow P2P sharing of services. Look what happenned. ISPs refused to allow the MPAA and the RIAA to attack their customers. Simple. Why would the rest of the world change its priorities just so that the RIAA can make some money? They will not. As long as RIAA is not the God of File Swapping, swapping will go on. For the masses want it. And Capitalism is in the want of the masses.
Why does it seem so bleak and unfair to the RIAA. Because the RIAA has not moved on. The RIAA is stuck in the past and refuses to budge and inch. The government will entertain it as long as it is strong. Once the artists realize that the RIAA is an intermediary, a pain in the ass, a source of inefficiencies and a drain on resources, the RIAA will cease to exist. Atleast the RIAA that exists today.
What will happen then. Lets take another peek onto the Crystal Ball. By the time artists would have eliminated the intermediary, one additional change would have occured. Money as we know it would also have completed its transition to the online world. Distribution and Payment would be online.
Why will people pay. Because people are not thieves by birth. Because if you music is good, you will have fans who care about you. And to live you will not need too many fans (remember the RIAA mammoth is no longer there). And as an artist you will have a global audience and a small fan following. Your music will be exchanged freely. The charts will be the number of times your song is exchanged. The more a song is exchanged the more the excitement it will generate, and more people will want to possess. And a new form of ownership will start. "Original Copies" will become a symbol - of fan-following, of loyalty, of integrity. Swapping networks grade users on their loyalty points, and this will automatically become an incentive. The consumer will spend but will get a lot more, and he will spend even more. Public performances will become a craze, another show of loyalty. And if you are a good artist, you will get money. Independent of which side of the bed your music house or the RIAA woke up today. Independent of which genre is being played by MTV. Independent of whether you have great resources to make songs or not.
What else might happen? Try this. Abstract art will meet with music. CGI and music will become a craze. Videos with music will drive the popularity. Music will come with additional components, like beat information for automatic playback at discos, visualization information, which will automatically be loaded by you winamp and a lot more. This complete entertainment units will replace the mp3 of today.
Of course there will be a time when everyone will see this happening and tom, dick, harry and their friend sally will also want to make music. The swappers will kill them. There will be a great rout, of icons and the newcomers and only the best will survive. And only the best will survive.
You think this will not work? Do you like music? When was the last time you went to a concert? Why did you pay for the ticket, and not just stay outside, salivating, at the gate, listening to music?
Think about it. This is no big deal. This is just a correction being made to the error committed by 2nd wave capitalism - the commoditization of music.
Practicing miniature photography now. My friend got a digi-cam. And that is setting right a great imbalance committed by this world - of not including a camera when I was sent down from the heavens.
gotta go get shot