Frontline: the way the music died
Frontline had another great episode about how the music industry is eating itself alive. The thesis is that, by making itself a business that is run on a quarterly basis, it is starving itself of the sort of long term investments that it needs to be successful. There are alot of analogies between this and the software business - a lot of the issues are the same without cluttering it up about how "artists" need to work. In general, any publically traded company (yes, any one Google...) has a huge amount of pressure to perform quaterly and people just don't see the long term problems. Eventually some upstart will come along and do it better, before they get to big / important and the same factors kick in -- it's the cycle of life really. More generally the problem is one of optimization - the world is becoming more "efficient" as a means to becoming more productive but you never know if your going to get stuck in a local minimum (i.e. quaterly result optimization) versus finding a better global minima. In general, capitalism is messy and does not go about these things efficiently - it's more of a gradient descent / greedy search. Another interesting tidbit was an interview with Touré (a rolling stone reporter) about whether downloading is killing the industry:
Not at all, not at all. Any basic economist will tell you, if you go into the supermarket and there's a girl standing there with a platter of free cheese, everybody's going to take a piece of cheese. That does not mean that everybody who took a free piece of cheese would've bought one. It's not a one-to-one comparison. So the record business would love for you to believe that every download equals a sale lost. It simply doesn't bear out in common sense level.In a sense, the downloading of songs acts to counteract the industries own self destructive behaviour.
And for the record, PBS is NOT paid for by your taxes (at least any more). If you want quality programming like this, please support your local PBS / NPR station when they start in with the annoying pledges.