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Denial isn't just a river in Egypt

Friday, September 8, 2000 by Dave Winer.

A private list Permalink to A private list

I'm on a private mail list with no archives that's super-high-flow and populated by the music industry with a sprinkling of tech people like myself. The following is a message I posted this morning.

I was responding to a post that said "Downloading isn't going away completely." We're talking about music downloading, getting an MP3 file from the Internet and storing it on a local hard drive. One way to do this is through Napster, of course. The music industry favors streaming, not downloading. This presumably allows them to retain control of the music, in some way that's not too clear to me.

So here's my response.

It's not just a river Permalink to It's not just a river

The mainframe guys in the early 80s said "Personal computers aren't going to go away completely."

Of course, literally, they were right. Personal computers didn't go away. I guess it's also true that they didn't go away completely.

I heard a speech by Bill Clinton early this year where he quoted his daughter saying "Dad, denial isn't just a river in Egypt."

Here's the message that the music industry appears to be in denial on. Your users want control. They've found out how wonderful it is when they can do what they want. Now find a place to fit in. The more lawsuits you file, the more headlines you grab, the more your relationship with your users is poisoned. The technology industry learned this lesson over copy protection, now you're part of the technology industry too. The lesson is that we exist to serve the users. When they ask for a feature, compete to give it to them. This means ripping up the rail every ten years and doing it all over again. Get used to it. This is not the end of the road, for sure.

I heard Sumner Redstone speak at the same conference I heard Clinton at. He said "99 percent of the creative people in the world live within a hundred miles of my office." The thought that formed in my head was "Off to the glue factory!"

Users are creative too. Users can be revolutionary. You guys are like Ceausescu after the revolution in Rumania. Sitting in jail with his wife, he might have said "The revolutionaries aren't going to go away completely."

The best advice I can offer the music industry based on my experience in tech is to give the users what they want. Don't try to negotiate. Just give it to them.


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