Thursday, January 7, 2010

Bono's hurting because of music pirates?

In a New York Times editorial U2 front man Bono gives his top ten things he thinks are important for the next decade. His second item is a plea to stop this horrible thing that has almost killed the music industry - file sharing. Not for the sake of artists like him, but for the little guys trying to get started. The ones who can't make a living because their music is being distributed free by pirates. He apparently does know how ridiculous he sounds, because he ends the section with, "Note to self: Don’t get over-rewarded rock stars on this bully pulpit, or famous actors; find the next Cole Porter, if he/she hasn’t already left to write jingles."

There are a few things he is ignoring, however. There is a thriving indy music industry based on internet distribution. Many young artists have started their careers using the internet and are quite happy as regional sensations. Other types of content providers have discovered that carefully managed free distribution increases sales instead of decreasing them. Baen books started an experiment in 1999 or 2000. Instead of trying to stop internet sharing, they embraced it. They put some of the older titles of authors who were willing to give away a book or two online as free downloads. They're still doing it today. I'll give you three guesses why.

If you are a fan of fantasy and science fiction, check out the Baen Free Library. And see how intelligence and forward thinking handle new "problems". And after picking up a book or two by an author you've never read before, if you like it, buy something else by the same author. After all, he was nice enough to give you an enjoyable free read, and he's got bills the same as you and I.