Thursday, June 5, 2008

Can The Music Industry Possibly Do Anything Else To Piss Off The Biggest Music Fans?

Oh yes they can. The latest battleground in the music industry's war against consumers is the re-sale of "Promo Only" CDs and vinyl. For decades record companies have maintained that they retain ownership of these promotional items in perpetuity and can demand their return at a moments notice. I've laughed at this for years.

While I can understand the industry's unwillingness to allow the public to profit from selling freebies, it's largely unenforceable. Over the course of my career I've received a gazillion promos both for my personal use (DJing at clubs and on the radio plus "listening copies") and for giveaways. Many, many giveaways. I've signed beaucoup letters requesting product. There's no way in hell that I can be held responsible for what happens after I pass 'em on. It is nearly impossible for record companies to trace where these promos end up.

Now certain extry-special limited edition promos are not normally given away to the general public. Distributed to writers, promoters, DJs, radio programmers and other music industry insiders, these promos are unique compilations featuring special remixes, live tracks and/or otherwise unavailable material. I've designed a few myself. It this type of promo that makes up the largest portion of the most cherished and most valuable part of my vast music collection.

There's a seriously brisk trade in these limited edition items. For years people have been selling these promos at everything from "record shows" to Sotheby's auctions. I've bought and sold a few in my day.

With the advent of eBay this market has exploded. That's where and why the record companies have stepped in. In typical ass-backward fashion, it took them years to do so. Record companies are now suing eBay sellers. eBay's doing their best to obey the record companies' demands.

The BBC has the facts on this whole sordid mess here.

Stupid, stupid, stupid