2001 Flashback – Experts Believe MP3 Can Be Killed
Pho, an infamous music industry and technology e-mail listserv, unearthed a great WSJ article from 2001 the other day. It documents the uptake in interest in the MP3 several months before the first iPod launched.
The record industry wanted to make the MP3 obsolete, since it was an "unprotected" format, and it looked to the tech companies like Microsoft to help them do it.
Now, it's no surprise that the record industry resisted the MP3 and did anything in their power to stop it. The part where the piece gets interesting is where David Farber, a former chief technologist at the FCC, insisted that since the record industry doesn't want the MP3 to be pushed nor didi Microsoft or RealNetworks, the MP3 won't catch on. "The consumer is going to eat what he's given," he says. In Farber's defense, this is 2001 and something like that probably didn't sound that foolish to say back then. However, there's no denying the fact that the comment Farber made is very representative of how the record industry viewed consumers and still (sometimes) treats them to this very day. Ten years later, it's safe to say no – the consumer won't eat what he's given. If the industry doesn't abandon that mindset and actually give consumers something they want to eat, I'm afraid that the record industry – not the consumer – will be the one to starve.
Today, we're seeing the same mentality. The consumer is going to use the locker he's given. Why? It's what's most profitable. The market appears to be moving towards music streaming. And yet, the U.S. launch date for Spotify continues to escape them. Now, streaming does have negative implications, we've talked about them before. This time, let's not demand that the consumer should eat what they're given. Face it, a cloud locker is something consumers should've already had. It's a non-event. It's not the solution. Create a product that tastes delicious. Don't try to force feed them crap. It didn't work then. It won't work now.