Music Ownership versus Music Rental

The Labor Day holiday this year almost turned into Litigation Day as rumors of Die Hard star Bruce Willis’s unhappiness with the licensing terms of his extensive iTunes library hit the intertubes. A British tabloid apparently started the story, which ultimately turned out to be unfounded. But the substantial dust that the story kicked-up has been exceedingly interesting to watch.

Fundamentally, music services like iTunes and Amazon Cloud Player and Spotify are about renting access to certain music. You pay a fee and you get access. When you stop paying or, in this particular case, when you cease breathing, that access goes poof. This is a reasonable way to consume music so long as you understand that it’s just a rental – not ownership – and that rental extends only to you.

Murfie is different.

We operate on the equivalent of the music gold standard. Each album at Murfie – whether you’re listening to it, buying or selling it, trading it, or giving it to a friend – is backed by an actual, physical CD that is stored in our warehouse. Our customers own their CDs and Murfie takes care of their collections. I guess maybe it’s more of a “silver standard” ;-) .

Instead of having their 100, 1000, or more CDs gathering dust on a shelf, Murfie adds value to our members’ CD collections by digitizing the discs for anytime/anywhere access; by offering a marketplace where they can buy, sell, and trade their discs; and by getting all that plastic the heck out of their homes. If you want your CDs back, or you want to give them to your kids (regardless of your breathing status), we ship them to you, or transfer ownership at Murfie, as you prefer. They are yours after all!

A New CCC

This post belongs to Murfie Musings–a series where folks at Murfie and our guests take the time to share what Murfie is up to as well as explore issues that matter to media ecology.

My friend Pete’s post on Facebook sparked a conversation that I’ve been involved in before as well as sparked my imagination.

It’s common to identify oneself as one thing or another without realizing that we’re composed of all sorts of other things. Perhaps we’re more talented in one thing or simply prefer one over the other. But we are generally discouraged from acknowledging that we are composed of a variety of skills and passions due to the fear that cultivating these “non primary” skills will somehow “dilute” the primary skill. However, my experience demonstrates that the opposite is true.

I believe in variety and balance and I know that personally my best ideas have been inspired by exposure to diverse and unrelated topics (the TV show Connections demonstrates this well), so I propose a new CCC: Create, Curate and Consume.

The new CCC suggests consciously dividing your time into thirds and focusing each third on one of the three C’s (I’m not sure that thirds are correct, but it feels right).

Most likely one of the C’s comes so naturally to you that you’re unaware of even doing it, but working the other two into your schedule may require some conscious effort. Restraining yourself from the C you spend most of your time on now will require discipline as well.

You might be saying now “why would I stop doing what I’m best at?” I would counter by saying that even though you’re excellent at Cx, do you not find yourself at times lacking the will, or the ability (or even desire) to continue pursuing Cx? Embracing another C can sometimes help clear these hurdles, and in my personal experience it has both fortified and inspired me in the C that comes most naturally.

So what does this have to do with Murfie?

In a way, Murfie embodies all three activities in a microcosm. Through existing recordings, musicians contribute to the first C, Create; in addition to existing recordings, Murfie is actively working directly with musicians to explore ways to bring new recordings directly to our members.

Curation is handled by our members themselves, whose collections represent and reflect their personal taste in music. Through sharing these collections via Facebook, Twitter, Craigslist and other means, our members also select and present music to existing and prospective members. Here again we are working on new ways to make curation easier for members and provide news ways of sharing curative activity with other members and the rest of the world.

Surrounding all of this is the third C, Consume. This is the direction from which we see the most new members join our ranks, as consuming music is the easiest way to get started with Murfie.

Chances are you already engage in these three C’s without thinking too much about it, but I believe that making a conscious effort to balance the time you spend on them will improve both your experience as well as those around you. I’m going to conduct an experiment on myself to this end, and I invite you to join me and share your experiences in the comments below.

Postscript:
Why “new” CCC?  The original CCC stands for the Civilian Conservation Corps; which you can read about on Wikipedia.

The bookshelf is dead! Long live the bookshelf!

This post belongs to Murfie Musings–a series where folks at Murfie and our guests take the time to share what Murfie is up to as well as explore issues that matter to media ecology.

I have a fascination with the ways in which people create and experience media, and the financial transactions that support these value creating activities. Lately, I spend a lot of time staring at bookshelves full of books, CDs, magazines, DVDs. I call this stuff “flatmedia” – not only because it’s basically two-dimensional, but also because my experience of it is flat relative to what I’ve come to expect from digital versions on networked devices from web browser to iPod to Android to Kindle.

This is not a niche concern – most of the owned media in the world, by an enormous margin, is flatmedia that someone purchased at some point and currently owns. Virtually all of the accrued equity in media in the world exists in flatmedia form. It’s a collective repository of our culture on shelves in homes, libraries, archives, and used book and record shops. These copies we own, plus the unique rights we have to use them as we see fit, are the very reasons why we have any say over how we experience major parts of our often copyrighted culture.

But right now, we’re on a course to give all of that up. Our flatmedia infrastructure is slowly dying, many if not most new and used book shops and record stores will close as they can’t offer the new digital services folks want. As the ecology of flatmedia is displaced, but not replaced, the world of digital media is growing. In that world, the music and book buyer has no strong legal ownership rights to the digital copy of the product they buy, if they even have a copy, and their experiences and flexibility are vendor-controlled. Often, this control is used to subject them to marketing or other manipulation. This is fine for many folks, but many are not happy with the trend, and it drives otherwise lawful people into quasi-legal and illegal niches to get legitimate needs met.

I feel that liberty of experience and the use of one’s personal property and tools is an intrinsic good. Copyright and other legal and cultural norms surrounding flatmedia give us a lot of liberty with personal copies, and this mostly happened because it creates value for the rights holder and copy owner alike. Today we have this liberty in a million little ways. One such easily accomplished liberty is that I can loan a book to Julie, who can then allow her mom to read part of it, and then give it back to me. I don’t need an account or permission or a feature to do that. I can also put some of her CDs in my car legally. Books and movies that I don’t want anymore are material property with real value, and that property can be sold or traded at used shops or online. I can get some money for new CDs while making used ones available to people who could not or would not buy full-price music.

That’s part of why, starting with CDs, Murfie seeks to upgrade our members’ flatmedia from their bookshelf to the digital world and protect both their existing rights and their material property. We’re the friendly platform for media owners with an approach that respects artists’ rights and needs and offers them services and direct access to our marketplace. We want artists to sell lots of new music on Murfie. We also respect the rights and needs of those who support and facilitate artists, like labels, publishers, distributors, and in fact new and used retail stores. These groups are not obsolete – they have all sorts of value-creating power and we’re happy to partner with them. Murfie will list and sell every new title we can find in CD format, and we’ll continue reaching out to labels to find other ways to work together.

While we do this, we’ll always respect and protect the rights, needs and desires of our members. Ultimately, it’s the music listeners, the movie watchers and the book readers who provide the revenue that makes the creative ecology tick, and Murfie’s here to help.

Suggested Reading
https://blog.murfie.com/2011/11/29/music-ownership-vs-streaming/
https://blog.murfie.com/2011/10/08/music-tastes-change/
https://blog.murfie.com/2011/09/23/its-the-hard-knock-life-for-artists-online/
https://blog.murfie.com/2011/09/11/music-not-on-itunes/
https://blog.murfie.com/2011/06/23/the-cloud-music/

Murfie Musings–a new series of thoughtful posts about Murfie

Murfie seeks to be the friendly media ownership platform. In these posts we talk about what it means to us to respect the stakeholders in the media ecology, and how Murfie is doing it. We discuss our thinking, implementation, and plans for rights holders and collection owners alike to sell new and used media backed by material objects you can hold in your hand. We talk about how and where we seek to improve digital access by owners and partners via the services and APIs we provide. We’ll provide information about our design and how it performs to discourage infringing and illegal use cases, and we’ll want to hear everyone’s concerns. We want to bring attention to the evolution of copyright and its impact on people within creative industries: musicians, producers and writers, to name a few. We’ll talk about where we would like to see the law and market go to increase healthy cooperation and competition among vendors, increase prosperity and exposure for professional creators, and foster both great consumer experiences and broadened opportunity to create and contribute for everyone.