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Darknet Future Strategy

The Darknet and the Future of Content Distribution is an article by Microsoft employees posted at Stanford University. They describe the darknet as the collection of technologies used to share digital content including hardware (DVD Burners), software (Kazaa, Napster) and the objects that are traded (music, films etc.)

Their conclusion:
"We speculate that there will be short-term impediments to the effectiveness of the darknet as a distribution mechanism, but ultimately the darknet-genie will not be put back into the bottle."

More importantly they had a few words for business and marketing strategy.

".... probably make more money by selling unprotected objects than protected objects. In short, if you are competing with the darknet, you must compete on the darknetís own terms: that is convenience and low cost rather than additional security."

So in other words... in the minds of Microsoft's thinkers it is a foregone conclusion that the trading of digital product (music, cd's etc.) will be enabled by darknet technologies. Nothing really new here. So what is the recording industry to do? First follow the advise of many. Provide me with an experience!

Now using the music industry as an example and simply trying to be provactive, with thoughts of Smart Mobs, COMsumers etc in the back of my mind.

Economics limited the size of personal music collections. I could never before afford every piece of music on earth. Now I can. It's almost free! However, I have no idea what to look for. I also bet there are many more "stars" out there who are not managed because they didn't package into a record store. So expand the number of artists you market, and then market them to me, locally as well! I'm sure music is played in public venues in the Bay Area! I suspect the challenge for RIAA members is to become a lot more efficient at becoming a ubiquitous agent.

Technology has enabled me to play progams in many locales. I'm no longer confined to a plug or affected by environmental conditions. My music consumption by time is increasing. So how fast can you grow my music interest and music conversation? Make it even more attactive to live my life with music. Can you make my music profile go anywhere? Can it swarm with people in a street fair? I think you better take my darknet sharing wireless!

As an industry you segment me rather than link me. You seek to profile me rather than find my peers. I'm guessing there is real utility value in linking hotlists. I believe that and some slick metrics / indicators would subtly accelerate my learning and your learning about me. Hey you can have the information if I get some better utility for it. Afterall on Kazaa I already give it away. What might that be? Try changing the experiece of a dinner party - invisibly without effort?

Of course the music industry thinks they are limited to music. In fact this industry is the benefactors of a completely new channel. This is like waking up and realising you could be the next WalMart. A channel where consumers are comfortable sharing their music lists. Can you not ask yourself what else we consumers might be willing to share. Here you are an industry that knows how to write contracts! Negotiate good prices and secure a profit for yourselves and your artists. Hey can you link me, my interests and make some slick purchase recomendations on my part? Perhaps (given the number of us playing the music) you could do some buying for us. Might just be a margin in it.

Easier? We play more data records with more connection points per day than we will every play music. Perhaps you might like to think about books rather than my groceries or insurance at first. Amazon is nice and yet they will never understand what I read or the reviews I should be seeing. (like blogs I'd like sent to me.) Why don't you put your minds to it. Afterall I know what I play. Just not prepared to put the effort into list sharing. Can't you use the same principles with my peers to create and enhance my reading experience?

Of course dear RIAA you thought I was done. I'm not. To build your reputation you must build the reputation of our community, our data sharing community. You need to work on trust and building in the right levels of privacy. I really doubt you can do it. Afterall it requires leadership by example. With your threats I've learned to despise and distrust you. Clearly you can't control it. HOWEVER YOU CAN FACILITATE IT! Your goal is to set in play a market for digital information sharing. Call it eBaycubed for the prototype. Get the idea?

It would seem the elements for a recipe are obvious. All that is left to do is cook up a migration path. Weathly magnates, show me the customer that you really have our music interests at heart! Build a community for all of us around our digital rights!

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