11 September 2007

Sympathy For The Record Industry

Yes, they're still trying to figure out how to stop the bleeding. They've been hemorrhaging money since Napster arrived, some 8 years ago now. They're always trying to come up with new ways and inventions to put the money back in their pockets and the ball back in their court.

So their latest pièce de résistance designed to staunch the recording industry's collective blood loss will be something called a "ringle" ...and I think the portmanteau alone should tell you all you need to know about its chances of success.

Sony BMG, the company that brought you the CD rootkit (you know, the thing that won't let you play some CD's in a computer drive), has been pitching the idea of a new product called the ringle that combines a CD single with a digital ringtone download. Desperate, the other labels are on board, and the product should show up in stores soon. Oh boy!

The ringle is a slip-sleeved CD single of a hit song that will feature a couple of bonus tracks from the same artist (remember Maxi-Singles?) and a code to allow buyers to go online and download a "free" ringtone of the main song. For $6 or $7, this sounds strangely reminiscent of the French decision to sign off on the Louisiana Purchase: it's a bad deal.

Given that buyers need to use the internet anyway to pick up their ringtones, why wouldn't they simply purchase the track they want online as well? Unless you're buying a $5 ringtone or have some pathological need to hear the "DJ Lolcat Def-Club Smack Remix (feat. Short Tony)" of a Beyoncé tune, the ringle would be more expensive and less convenient than simply downloading the song and the ringtone online. Also, it would keep you from having to make an extra trip to Wal-Mart, which is surely worth something on its own.

Oh, well. But hey, give the record execs some credit, they're trying to make a living :)

I think we need to bring back the motherfucking CASSINGLE! Now we're talking!

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