Rules Don't Apply to Apple, Amazon, Netflix

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The various cogs of the music industrial complex, as well as others associated with it and those who claim to be constrained by it, make me want to curl up and die. They represent the uninspiring antithesis of Apple (AAPL), Amazon.com (AMZN) and Netflix (NFLX).

Over at Billboard, Steve Knopper wrote a fine article about the prospects of live concert streaming. It's just too bad he had to, by and large, interview a bunch of stiffs with "I can't" attitudes to put it together.

Throughout the piece we're hit with reasons why the music industry can't get live concert streaming off the ground ...

The production cost can be prohibitive ... There's often union fees. Bandwidth is actually a sizable hurdle. You also have promoters who aren't into it -- they think it'll affect ticket sales ...
One huge barrier is securing rights to performances, whether the artist is signed to a record label or playing a cover version of a song owned by an outside publisher. "There's clearly an open lane. No one has cracked the code to being the destination for consumers for live music in the digital space. Everyone's toying with it at this point," says Alex Luke, a former iTunes and EMI Music executive and a principal with venture capitalist The Valley Fund. "I can't, at least in the near future, foresee a situation where 99 percent of the artists are going to be comfortable putting their live recordings out there."

Prohibitive. Hurdle. Barrier. Can't. Comfortable.

That's the type of language framing the conversation. And it's the perfect illustration of the broad ineptitude that put the music industry, as we know it, on the brink of death.

But the most alarming quote comes from Jason Dimberg, who heads up Yahoo! (YHOO) Screen:

Could you offer everything on tour? I'm not sure how successful that would be.

I can't help but think the Billboard article and Dimberg's comment was, to some extent, a response to a line I've been reeling lately in several articles, including Marissa Mayer's Biggest Game Changer Yet. I argue Yahoo should take the multi-billion dollar live concert streaming opportunity and run with it because:

  • Those with the resources aren't trying or they're not trying hard or smart enough; and
  • The companies making the right moves with the right attitude lack the resources to pull it off on a grand scale.

If Dimberg isn't sure "how successful" wide-ranging live concert streaming "would be," he needs to have his head examined after Mayer fires him.

In the above-linked article, I make the (what I thought was) obvious case as to why live concert streaming wouldn't merely be successful, it would be a ****ing goldmine. And I'm talking about live streaming -- and archiving -- entire tours, namely from big-name artists.

Fans of acts ranging from Bruce Springsteen to Taylor Swift -- and many cult names (e.g. Phish) and smaller musicians with passionate followings -- would pony up per show or via monthly subscription to access a live stream, along with post-show archives, of every show on a tour. It's a no-brainer.

Enough with the excuses and defeatist attitude ... Because this is like this and that's like that we can't do this or that or the promoters worry about ticket sales. For goodness sake, establish some blackout rules in local markets and you're all set.

The music industry and its partners -- everybody from the major labels to Live Nation Entertainment (LYV) to Yahoo! -- need to adopt the same type of attitude that led Apple, Amazon.com and Netflix to otherworldly success.

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