Mark J. CEO, CGO

What happens to a rebel without cause when he grows up? If I’m any indicator, we turn into contrarians. It’s the only way to keep “bucking the trend” and stay solvent. Sometimes it’s even lucrative. Fact is, beyond a certain point there’s no point in trying to fake your way through life with that rock ‘n roll rebel demeanor that got you through your twenties. As Noise said in one of his songs, “A forty-year old with gel in his hair is a friend to nobody”, especially to himself.

The record labels are a constant source of amusement to me. In 1994 my business partner and I found ourselves pitching the entire senior executive of Warner Music Canada about “the Internet” with our first company. There were audible comments and doubts along the lines of “What’s anybody going to need us for?”. Exactly.

The fact of the matter is this: as long as musicians, record labels, and the RIAA keep thinking in terms of discrete “units” called “recordings”, be they CD’s, cassettes or carrier pigeons transporting guitar tabs, they are going to suffer disappointment and be inexorably ground into unprofitability by what I call The End of Copyright Relevancy.

I majored in the music business in college, back in 1987 when the world still made sense to people like to my parents – barely. In school they told us: kids have the most disposable income of any demographic. Sell to them.

Whether that may still be true today is overshadowed by the new reality that kids are the most technologically sophisicated of all the demographics. They may have the most money to spend on Metallica’s new record, but release it in a read-only-non-copyable-digital-rights-protected format and they’ll just hack it and hand it out to their friends because its more fun and that’s what kids are all about.

One thing big corporations and their beaurocratic toadies are always good for is to create a ripe climate for customer acquisition. In the DNS business for example (where I am today), many of my bretheren small domain registrars used to endlessly complain about Network Solutions, the 800 lb. gorilla of the domain name world, and their sleazeball tactics. Not us, the worse they got, the more we salivated. After all, they constituted a bottomless well of 20 million disgruntled customers which is otherwise known in the business as low hanging fruit. For a few years it was like shooting fish in a barrel.

Something similar is happening in the music industry today. When rock bands sue their fans for having an insatiable appetite for their music, and when record labels send lobbyists to Washington and Ottawa, you can easily tell Who the 800 pound gorilla’s are and we’ve always had an inside quip for what happens to them.

“We eat 800 pound gorillas for breakfast”.

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