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The Album Cover for a Digital Music Container

Bob Dylan’s Highway 61

Trent Reznor tried something similar to RadioHead, and didn’t like the results. In an interview with CNET he suggested an ISP tax that would allow all music to be downloaded for free. I suppose this would be like the tax that citizens of the UK pay to support the BBC. The tricky part about the kind of tax that Reznor suggests is distributing the monies collected. Who gets paid and how much? Distributed based on number of downloads? By what measure?

The music industry has done something like this before with CD-R discs. If you want to, you can buy CD-R Music discs on which to burn your music. They cost a little more, and the extra bit goes to the music industry to make up for lost revenue. But the fact is, a business needs to succeed in the marketplace. The music business needs to find a model that works with the new set of music containers and accompanying artifacts. Seth Godin points the way in his post entitled: Music Lessons.

They’re stuck on the idea of selling particular kinds physical of containers for music. It’s not just the music that people like to buy, it’s the stories and ephemera around the music. The one thing I miss about vinyl is the beautifully designed large record covers and the album notes. The digital container loses all meaningful context, there’s an opportunity there.

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