Leadership

How open source could save the media industry

There are so many industries that are slowly strangling themselves. Jack Wallen has a feeling that each and every one of these industries can be saved by adopting an open source policy. How you ask? Read on and find out.

Youtube was a brilliant idea. Allow users to sign up for accounts and upload video after video after video. Without doling out so much as a penny Youtube managed to gather millions of user-created videos that other users could watch and enjoy (or not). It was content created by the masses at no charge to the owner.

But if you read the licensing close enough you realize that basically once you upload a video you can not modify said video (or any aspect of the youtube experience). You can not redistribute user videos on Youtube even though the user may have no copyright on the video.

I would like to see the Youtube experience taken a step farther. I would like videos, as long as the creators of said videos would agree, to be modified. Say, for instance, someone makes a short movie but wants to know how to improve the movie. The creator could upload the movie and ask other users to help to finish the creation. Open source!

Where I am going with this is simple: the media industry (especially the recording industry) is severely broken. And because of the greed at the top of that particular food chain is so strong, it's going to take a miracle to fix it. I think open source might very well be the solution.

Take a look at what Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails did with their Ghosts I-IV recordings. Not only did he release these albums in a "pay for it if you like it scheme" (which, by the way, netted him over $750,000 in three days after releasing), he also released the music and artwork under a creative commons license which allowed the fans to remix the music and alter the artwork. His fans ate it up. This culminated in his allowing fans to video tape the last leg of his Lights In The Sky tour. He eventually released the videos for the fans to enjoy and edit.

I have always looked at the "remixing" art as open source (of which Paul Oakenfold is a master). And "remixing" is exactly what the RIAA needs. The music industry is reaching serious lows. In sales, talent, and ethics. Open source is just the solution for their doom and gloom. The very definition of open source says that:

Open source is an approach to design, development, and distribution offering practical accessibility to a product's source (goods and knowledge).

This theory could, with some modification, apply to the recording industry. How? Simple. Instead of thinking the "source" be something like the "master reels" of a recording, we would view the distributable media as the source. With access to this source, the fans of the recording get to make their own mixes of the music (or video) and submit them to the industry. The industry execs (along with the creators of the music or video) would decide which fan-based mixes would be distributed. Both the industry and the original artists would once again profit from music and the fan would gain some notoriety. Of course enough notoriety and a popular "re-mixer" might wind up with some semblance of a recording contract of their own. It's a win-win situation. Not only would this do away with the ever-growing hatred the public has of the RIAA, it would also do away completely with DRM-crippled music and video.

The world is currently in an economic crisis that is going to call for unique means to solve our problems. I believe that the theories behind open source could very well save many industries from ruin.

What do you think? In what other ways can open source be applied to save industries? Who knows, maybe the "powers that be" will troll this forum and find the solution to the world's economic nightmares from one of your suggestions.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

11 comments
cbader
cbader

Open Source will not fix the recording industry, period. NIN was able to release their album in that format because they already had a built in audience, my unsigned band tried the same thing for years to no avail, I think our largest profit was in the $20 range. What the recording industry needs to do is stop making cookie cutter clone bands that all sound the same, bleed them for every last cent they can, and then droping the band after they have outlasted their usefulness. While we are at it, take that grand karaoke contest American Idol off of the air, that show has done more to damage the music industry than I care to go into. I had a friend whose band got signed, their contract required them to write three "radio friendly singles" per album. It all came out sounding like the flavor of the month and they went nowhere, surprised huh? The music industry used to thrive on real talent, they will never create another Led Zepplin, Metallica, Black Sabbath, Rolling Stones, or any other band with any real staying power and its because they all sound the same. Those bands wrote their own songs, toured, and gained an audience without radio and mass media exposure. Bands nowadays are packaged products with someone with model looks lip synching on stage while the ugly guy with real talent stays behind in the studio writing their next album for them. Open source, yea right.

cbader
cbader

Here, we will test your little theory: Heres a link to my former bands myspace page, I am playing bass on the tracks you will hear here (not pictured on the page though). If you like the music enough Ill give you my paypal info and you can pay me what you think the album is worth, Ill send you a copy and you can feel free to edit it in any way you see fit: http://www.myspace.com/sixfootdeathtrap

chris
chris

Would you say that it takes a famous person (created by the industry) to be able to succeed in an open source reality? If I produced, recorded, released a song of some friends of mine, who are very good, it would be quite a risk. The "industry" has lot of infrastructure and money. So, do you think the talent will be willing to be patient for success or keep going to the established outlets?

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

A bit of peer review of their books might have helped. :p As soon as you talk open source and media, you go away from the design methodology and get straight into copyright. The real problem with the RIAA, is that is was a distribution network. It cost serious money to record and then stamp the discs. Then to make that successful, you had music moguls picking what would sell, marketing telling you you must buy it etc. The media distribution industry is dying, not because of the development model, but because they are no longer necessary. A decent PC and some software you can record your own stuff. Chuck up a website and paypal, you can sell it. The RIAA and it's ilk are dead D E A D dead, and good f'ing riddance. The only reason they are still in existance at all, is they keep using their remaining muscle, to tar anyone choosing a diffrent model as some nasty terrorist type distributing leaflets, with copies of Pass the Dutchy and YMCA... RIAA, you are f'ed, Goodbye, see ya. And take that f'ing awful crap you call pop music with you.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

What the heck was 'Pass the Dutchy' about? I couldn't make heads or tails of that song. I had the impression I didn't have the background to understand most of the references.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

For cooking rice and stews. However the song was a cover for Pass the Kouchie (equally crap song). So of course, british youth picking up from their musical 'heroes' almost immediately started calling joints wapped in cigar papers, dutchies. Bout the only good thing about it, was it gave you an excuse the get out of your head and leave that terrible music behind, which now of course is tootling away in my head. Going to drive it out with a quick blast of Motorhead I think, as pot just puts me to sleep now. Well it always did, but now it's quicker.

jlwallen
jlwallen

i believe that's what that song was about.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Auto, real estate, financial? I guess I can see auto design; post the design and let people modify it. I can't see how the principle would apply to real estate, and I don't think many companies want multiple uncertified strangers cooking the books.

blacknred0
blacknred0

i was thinking the same thing. having couple of auto being design the way the customer really wants it and tweaking how we want it would not hurt us all. i think that this could be a really big improvement in the auto industry.

Nori Sarel
Nori Sarel

The whole media industry is broken, maybe beyond repair. A good example is sports. It used to be that players played for fun and to entertain. It was common to see a baseball player on the same team for 10, 15 or even 20 years. Nowadays you'll be lucky to be rooting for the say guy for 5 (there are a couple notable exceptions). So teams aren't defined by their players anymore which is wrong because the players make up the team. It sure would be nice to see some player loyalty and not people just grabbing the next best offer. "Open Source" in businesses would be interesting. More transparency could probably help businesses a lot, but at the same time it could kill competitive advantages as well and one company might just steal ideas from another. Maybe something inbetween?