Saturday, February 24, 2007

Rock Stars: Turning to Sobriey

Today many artists are seeking rehabilitation when their lives become unmanageable and out of control due to the abuse of drugs and alcohol. We are seeing more and more famous musicians turn to AA and drug rehabilitation as an alternative to the chaotic life that the abuse of drugs and alcohol can bring. Artists are turning to the solution to their disease of addiction as opposed to partying until they end up dead, insane, or in jail. There is help to be found for famous musicians with addictions, and it is becoming popular for them to seek help and become a better person, instead of ruining one’s career due to “alcoholic” or “druggy” behavior. Fans and the public appreciate positive role models for their children, instead of chaotic addicts who can influence their kids to use drugs. Artists like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, and Jim Morrison (image at right), are a few examples of famous musicians who have died of drug overdose or drug related deaths. Now we have artists like Aerosmith, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ozzy Osbourne, Lindsay Lohan, Courtney Love, and Keith Urban, who are turning to AA in order to have a better life and career, and they are not ashamed to admit that they are addicts seeking recovery. I have posted comments at two different blogs pertaining to famous people, AA, and rehabilitation facilities. Please refer to the articles below to view these comments or click to their links directly.

In response to your blog I would like to state that although Lindsay Lohan might still be partying as wildly as ever and wearing sobriety baubles, as you stated, she is at least trying to stay sober and attending AA meetings. Sometimes alcoholics and addicts take time to accept that they truly have a problem and it may take them a while to fully embrace the AA program. Not all people in recovery really understand the program of AA and turn their life completely around right away. Lindsay may continue to attend AA meetings and party at the same time, until one day she can truly stay sober. Each alcoholic and addict is different in their recovery and some take longer than others to really “get” the program. Addict musicians know that there is help for them and they are turning to healthy alternatives instead of continuing to live with the problem of addiction. I do agree with you that the rehab phenomenon is not a new trend in Hollywood, but I do think that famous people are not ashamed to admit they have a problem and seek help today-seeking help is more cool and accepted than dying as an addict.

In response to your blog and quote by Professor Boyarsky, I would like to state that it is not “bull” when someone checks into rehab or seeks help for their problems. Although a person’s motives for checking into a facility may not always be considered to be the right motives, they can still sometimes get the help that they need. If a famous person’s behavior is that bad, then there must be a reason for that inappropriate behavior and rehab may be the only answer at the time. While in rehab, even if it is only for a short time (as Bill Boyarsky stated in your blog), the person may experience a life changing event that they may not have experienced if they had not entered rehab. As you stated, Lindsey Lohan’s commitment to a rehab facility might be questioned because she is in and out of the facility. I like to state that at least she has entered a facility. She is seeking help and she may not be a perfect example of a recovering addict or alcoholic, but she is doing the right thing by checking into a facility. It may take her some time to achieve full sobriety and recovery.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

DRM: Should It Be Abolished?

The Digital Rights Management system is used to protect music against theft and requires customers to purchase music from the Apple’s iTunes store. Apple’s DRM system is called FairPlay and helps Apple to protect the music that’s downloaded and sold on iTunes, because Apple does not control or own the rights to any of the music itself. There are four major music companies that own the rights to the music sold on iTunes, and those companies are: Warner, EMI, Sony BMG, and Universal. These four companies control the distribution of over 70% of the world’s music. Apple approached these four companies in order to license and distribute their music over the Internet legally. The four major music companies required that Apple protect their music from being illegally copied, so the DRM system was created. The DRM system only allows songs purchased on iTunes to be played on authorized devices.

DRM systems have secret codes and locks that prevent illegal downloading of the music sold on iTunes. But, there are people who discover the locks and secrets and make the music available for downloading illegally. Every time someone discovers the locks and codes for the DRM system, Apple must come up with new locks and codes to protect the music from being illegally downloaded.

Recently, Steve Jobs (image to the right), the chief executive of Apple, proposed that the DRM system should be dropped altogether. Jobs said, "...the DRM system hasn’t worked and may never work, to halt music piracy.” Only two percent of music on the average iPod has been purchased from the iTunes store. Also, music that is sold in the form of CD’s is unprotected and can be purchased and then uploaded onto the internet, and then illegally downloaded and played on any computer or player. So technically, what good is the DRM system?

Job’s proposal to abolish the DRM system has received mixed opinions from music companies. A report made by analyst Mark Mulligan showed that 54% of music executives that were questioned thought that current DRM systems were too restrictive. Among all record labels, 48% of executives thought ending DRM would boost download sales. Executive of Warner Music, Edgar Bronfman, had a different opinion from Jobs. According to Bronfman, "DRM and interoperability are not the same thing. Warner Music believes very strongly in interoperability. Consumers want it and consumers should have it." He said, "As a content company, we, of course, want consumers to seamlessly access our music and to use the music they have purchased on any platform and with any service, physical or digital." Bronfman also stated that, "The issue is obscured by asserting that DRM and interoperability is the same thing. They are not. To suggest that they cannot coexist is incorrect." Bronfman supports the continued use of DRM to protect their music and the artist’s music even though their music is illegally available unprotected. The same copyright and protection laws apply to software, television, film, and video games, so why should music be an exception?

Some have speculated that Apple’s motives are to look good in the eyes of the consumer. Apple is using the DRM-free music as a PR effort with consumers. Apple wants to look like the “nice-guy” compared to the big music companies who look greedy and unconcerned about the consumers. Also, Jobs has stated that DRM-free music would be better for customers who want to use alternative music stores and music players. As Jobs stated in his "Thoughts on Music" letter, "The third alternative is to abolish DRMs entirely. Imagine a world where...any player can play music purchased from any store, and any store can sell music which is playable on all players. This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat." But, logically it is easier and more cost efficient for Apple to not have to maintain and update FairPlay constantly.

Steve Job’s main concern is Apple. Steve Jobs and Apple are not concerned about the record companies or the consumer’s best interest. The continued use of a DRM system requires that Apple hire competent computer experts that require to be paid substantially, to constantly update, code, and apply secret locks to the FairPlay system. The DRM system adds unwanted costs for Apple, so it would be in Apple’s best interest to abolish the DRM system. DRM-free music would allow Apple to continue to sell their music on iTunes and make profits without incurring added costs from paying computer experts to encode the FairPlay system. This is the true motive behind Steve Jobs and Apple computers DRM-free system.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Rising Concert Ticket Prices: A Form of Price Gouging

Concert ticket prices every year are increasing at a high rate making it incredibly unaffordable for the average consumer. According to Pollstar, a company that provides music-industry related data, concert ticket prices have grown by 61 percent, while the Consumer Price Index (the measure of the price of all consumer goods) increased by just 13 percent. Artists today are charging an average of about $75 to $300 per concert ticket. Acts that have a large fan base, through many years in the music industry, are charging the highest amount for concert tickets. The high increase in ticket prices has a lot to do with artist’s income decline from low sales of recorded music-due to music downloading off the internet. Concert tours in the past were a way for artists to promote themselves to increase record sales. But, today high ticket costs are needed to make more money off the tours in order to balance the decrease in CD sales.

Recent comments made on two blogs pertaining to high concert ticket prices and retaliation by Ozzy Osbourne and his wife Sharon can be found at:

These comments may also be found in the below paragraphs:

Ozzfest for free is a great idea and ticket distribution could be problematic. A free concert will create a very high demand for tickets from the fans. The main distribution of the concert tickets will be through the internet at Websites of various sponsors for the tour. Ozzy will be the headlining artist and several other bands are expected to perform including Alice in Chains. The other artists besides Ozzy will not be expected to perform through out the entire tour. The Ozzfest brain trust and tour producer Live Nation will ask corporate sponsors to help cover some of the costs of the free tour. Also, additional revenue will come from food and souvenir concessions that will probably have increased prices during the tour. The statement that Ozzfest and the artists performing are making to the music industry is an important and groundbreaking one. The fans and artists are taking back the power by not putting up with the price gouging that is happening through Ticketmaster and the concert promoter conglomerate known as Clear Channel Entertainment. Rock on Ozzy and Sharon!


The free Ozzfest tour is going to be a very ground breaking and incredible event. Ozzy Osbourne has been in the music business for many years and he has a huge fan base. This event will go down in history and will be an event remembered by everyone, especially the fortunate fans that will attend. A concert of this magnitude that will tour the country for free has never been attempted. This is a great way to say to the monopolistic promoters that the artists and the fans are not going to put up with the outrageous ticket prices that keep increasing every year. The fans are tired of the price gouging and so are the artists. The artists know if they continue to charge outrageously high ticket prices, their fans will not be able to afford to attend the concerts. The hard rock artists will especially get hit the hardest because their fans are usually younger and don’t have as much disposable income. Rock on Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne and thanks for watching out for your fans!


Monday, February 5, 2007

Downloading Music: Harming or Benefiting the Music Industry?

The Music Industry has been going through some major changes since music became available for downloading off the internet. Downloading music became popular when people were able to share music files for free. Some issues with copyright laws became a factor because people were not paying for the music. The band Metallica (image on right) created a stir about these copyright laws being broken through a company called Napster, and record companies were loosing money. Metallica went to court and won. This created music downloading sites that charged for downloading music.

Today there are many websites that one can pay as a member to download music. These websites are proving to be profitable in the long run. But in the short run CD sales have been declining and will keep declining. What will balance out the CD sales decline is the fee-based digital download websites. According to Jane Weaver of MSNBC, Forrester Research projected that downloading music from the internet will reach $2 billion in sales: or 17 percent of the music business in 2007. Global CD sales declined 5.1 percent in 2002 and in 2003 had a decline of 6 percent.

So, the transition from CD sales to profitable music downloading for the music industry is a slow and painful transition, but in the long run it can prove to be profitable.
What is harming the industry today is the file-sharing sites like KaZaA. Sites like KaZaA came about after Napster was sued and forced to comply with a US District Court Injunction. These free websites are proving to be very controversial and most law experts agree that it is illegal to download music that is copy written or owned by a person or company. People who use KaZaA share their music files with other KaZaA users. If free downloading continues this could cause record companies and musicians to continue to loose money. The recording industry is cracking down on illegal file sharing and has started suing people who engage in this activity (as image below and to the right shows a kid downloading music). A mother of a 12-year old downloader had to pay $2000 to settle a lawsuit by the recording industry for illegal downloading. According to Cary Sherman, President of Recording Industry Association of America, “We want people to stop engaging in the theft of music so that people can go on making it. This is a terrible thing where people are biting the hands that make the music and destroying the very music that they want to continue to be created.” The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) plans to file many more civil lawsuits against offenders who are illegally downloading and distributing copy written music on peer-to-peer networks.

Other countries besides the U.S. have had a decline in CD sales since internet downloading. Canada claims to have experienced significant financial losses due to music downloading. The loss is due to decreased music sales and is attributed to peer-to-peer file sharing. Canadian artists have also suffered material loss. Graham Henderson, president of the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) argued that music downloading has devastated the industry. The decline in CD sales for Canada, over a 6 year period, has been approximately C$ 431.7 million.

Tower Records appears to be a victim of music downloading. On August 20, 2006, Tower Records filed chapter 11 bankruptcy in order to facilitate a purchase of the company prior to the holiday shopping season. On October 6, 2006, Great American Group won an auction of the company’s assets. Tower Records had going-out-of-business sales at all U.S. Tower Records locations and closed by December 22, 2006. The Tower Records website was sold separately. Many people believe that Tower Records filing bankruptcy had much to do with music downloading and decreased CD sales. Tower Records had been in business since 1960. This is a huge company that has been in business for many years. It is not coincidental that Tower Records would go out of business during this major transition in the music industry. Some companies are bound to pay the price when it comes to music downloading. Music companies today need to be smart and cash in on the legal music downloading sites that are making a profit. Once this transition is complete, music companies will definitely make millions of dollars in profits. The transition may not be a smooth one, and certain companies may get hurt along the way. But, in the long run music downloading can prove to be a very profitable business.