As Seth Godin considers Eddie Harris and Les McCann’s performance at Montreaux Jazz Festival in 1969 and the various ways that performance has been handed down over time from LP to digitally remasted CD to MP3, he laments the loss of authenticity in digital reproductions.
I wonder what happens when our digital culture has nothing to do but spread pale imitations of the original experiences? I wonder what happens when the media companies that depend on our attention start losing it when all we’ve got is a ringtone.
I think my books change a lot more minds than my blog does. But books don’t spread the way digital ideas do.
All this leads me to an argument I’ve made several times in conversation, but not in writing. The entertainment industry’s panic attack over digital content is beyond absurd. Forget for a minute that they ought to be focussed on how to profit from this change in consumer preference, and simply examine the obvious fact that a disc of “ripped” and “burned” MP3s is not a true representation of the original work. Sound quality is distorted via the file compression process, plus the “end product” lacks the packaging and liner notes and such. Therefore, a free copy of a copywrited work is a sample, not a perfect match, nor a replacement for the original.
By encouraging, or at least allowing, peer-to-peer distribution of such samples, the music industry can create more fans for the music they market. These fans of the music will continue to pay for the real thing for reasons of convenience, sound quality and the details or story contained in the packaging.