Interview: Jared Moya, Chief Editor of ZeroPaid Pt. 1
Recently, I spoke with Jared Moya (read part 2), who describes himself not as a "tech geek," but rather as an "avid fan of the digital revolution and what it's meant for the instant communication of thoughts, information, and culture unencumbered by longtime geographic restraints." He is currently the Chief Editor of ZeroPaid.com.
From your perspective, how would you characterize this dichotomy between the traditional record industry and that of the next music business and their perspectives on embracing new technology?
Jared Moya: Well, I think the traditional record industry has a great deal at stake in maintaining the sort of physical distribution model that has always been its mainstay. It's long been an industry like any other, producing a product that it counts in units sold much as cereal makers or car manufacturers do, and that's precisely why it's in its current predicament.
I liken the new paradigm in music distribution to what we currently see with Blockbuster Inc. vs Redbox and Netflix. Blockbuster can't fully embrace digital content streaming or other ease of access delivery systems because it then makes its core business model – physical retail – irrelevant.
The same is true with the music business. If the traditional record industry fully embraced digital distribution then its core business model – selling physical units – would slowly become irrelevant. It has an inherent economic stake in slowing the hands of time. That's why it fought, and continues to fight, the creation of new digital delivery services by demanding huge upfront fees from those trying to innovate.
In contrast, the "next" music business, or the "new thing" that will eventually replace the current business model, sees digital distribution as an opportunity to take advantage of rather than a threat. It only sees limitless possibilities.
How great of an impact will the record industry's attitude toward technology have on the new digital ecology? Are they hindering the development of the culture that at this point, may be their only savior?
Jared Moya: It has a tremendous impact. Instead of being the one leading or guiding the industry towards a technology that it would stand most to benefit from, it's instead trying to retard its development or artificially mold it through legislation or ISP-level cooperation, something we've seen take place around the globe in places like South Korea, France, the UK, and currently in New Zealand.
In the meantime others are being allowed to define its transformation, be it via P2P, new ad-supported music services like the Sweden-based Spotify or the UK-based We7, or causal streaming outlets like Pandora or Last.fm, the latter option having grown increasingly popular among teens with tight budgets, especially in the UK.
Why? It fears losing relevancy. It can't bear the thought of encouraging a new digital ecology that could very well spell the end of an industry that still centers around a physical ecology mindset.
Kyle Bylin: The great paradox, as Shirky views it, is that, "people committed to solving a particular problem also commit themselves to maintaining that problem in order to keep their solution viable." Thus, he argues that we "can't ask people running traditional systems to evaluate a new technology for its radical benefits; people committed to keeping the current system will tend, as a group, to have trouble seeing any value in anything disruptive."
What ways does this paradox factor into the traditional record industry's attitude toward new technology and have they had trouble seeing value in anything that potentially disrupts their core-business model?
It's as I said before, its reminiscent of Blockbuster Inc. vs Redbox and Netflix. The traditional record industry knows that if it sheds the physical distribution model that its spent decades worth of time and money perfecting it will be no match for its better positioned rivals in the digital distribution business. It certainly can't rival Apple's iTunes (i.e. Netflix in the case of Blockbuster Inc.) with one exception – the catalog of music it owns.
This inability to see anything of value in digital distribution is why we've seen very little, if any, innovative new digital services produced by the the traditional record industry.
How might the traditional record industry be better off if they let any would be revolutionary try anything they like with new technology? Are there other ways in which the industry might actually be worse off?
Jared Moya: I think that allowing "any would be revolutionary" to take copyrighted music and meld it with new technology, be it with delivery systems or with creative output forms like mashups, will by in large always be a good thing. It encourages people to be excited about music, and to become more frequent and larger consumers of music in an increasingly crowded entertainment marketplace.
The only way I could think of the industry being worse off is if this experimentation leads to a new form of music consumption that it refuses to embrace. The movie industry fought DVDs early on, but later came to count on them for providing as much as 68% of its global film profits.