Published On: March 28, 2011

Selling HD Content To A Generation of Thieves That Honestly Don't Know Its Wrong To Steal

Published On: March 28, 2011

Selling HD Content To A Generation of Thieves That Honestly Don't Know Its Wrong To Steal

There is a dynamic at work with audio and video content that might be funny if it wasn't so alarming. A lot of users haven't figured out the equation that if they obtain all of their entertainment for free, the entertainers don't have the money to make anything else.

Generation_of_Thieves.gifIn a world dominated by Apple and the iPhone, I actually cannot have an iPhone because where I live, high up in a canyon in Los Angeles, there is no service from any cell carrier other than Sprint. While Sprint's service is notably solid, even in less-than-populated areas often not covered at all by other providers - up until recently their selection of actual phones left a lot to be desired. Today, Sprint still lacks an iPhone; however as a non-emailing, non-texting user of a Blackberry, I finally went down to the Sprint store to check out the HTC Evo 4G phone which I found out is a lot like an iPhone and is leaps and bound better than my former Blackberry.

Additional Resources
• Find more original stories like this in our Feature News section.
• Explore more articles like this at AudiophileReview.com.
• Read more music industry news from HomeTheaterReview.com.

When I got to the store at around 11 AM on a Monday morning, I was enthusiastically greeted by a Sprint salesperson who personally owned the aforementioned Evo 4G phone. I asked him if there was a way to get the phone to run the iPhone application for Daylite, the contact management system that Luxury Publishing Group uses, and he went into an anti-iPhone tirade. I listened to him rant and rave about why the iPhone sucks (never mentioning how many dropped calls come via AT&T in the Los Angeles area, which is the real reason why an iPhone sucks). Then he got to his main point. He was angry that as a former iPhone owner that he couldn't connect phones and share copy-protected music files. In fact, he was furious about the issue.

By the time he got to this point, another customer from the movie business was standing there. We both tried to explain to him what copywritten material was and why you can't just steal it from one phone to another. He had a blank look on his face as did the clerk next to him. When we explained the business model of selling downloads or CDs he just came back at us with a Nigel Tufnell-like response: "But, I just want to get all my buddy's files from his iPhone onto my phone." I suggested to him that he could buy them right from iTunes and he got a little more agitated. I had inadvertently said a dirty word in "buy" as he had no intention of buying anything. I left the store with my new Evo phone, shaking my head, wondering how we could sell HD music and movies with tens of millions of kids feeling this way.

Days after speaking to this well-intentioned salesman, I couldn't stop thinking about his view on software, music, videos and content in general. As a member of Generation Y, the largest demographic in U.S. history, he doesn't know a world without the Internet. He doesn't know the idea of collecting music that isn't stored on a hard drive. He lives in a world where being a hacker is considered "cool" despite it being blatantly illegal. Finding ways to get software for free is viewed as more of a challenge than it is a crime. This is the culture of a big group of tech savvy, youthful consumers. They speak with a loud voice. Or at least they will once the generation becomes more widely employed.

Going forward into the new economy, there is no way for a specialty electronics company and/or a media conglomerate selling movies, music or TV shows to succeed without dollars from this generation who thinks it's OK to literally rip off artists, labels, studios and beyond. Now I am not backing the RIAA and their mindless lawsuits of their customers or anything of the like, but I am suggesting that people who create content for sale deserve to get paid for it at some level or another. Apple has proven to us that they can convince the market to buy worse-than-CD resolution downloads over HD audio formats like DVD-Audio, SACD or even the 24/96 tracks sold on HD Tracks. Quality is taking a back seat to convenience. Need more proof?

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neil-young-bluray_greatest_hits.gif

Look at Netflix pulling away from an HD source like Blu-ray to try to save on disc costs and postal fees. That means that you can get massively compressed steaming video, 20 year old 5.1 surround sound
that doesn't compare with Blu-ray's uncompressed HD Audio and a
selection of streaming movies that would have sucked in 1991 let alone
2011. And Netflix isn't the only company pushing streaming video. DirecTV
and nearly every video and Blu-ray manufacturer want their tiny
commission on what you download even if what you download looks and
sounds like crap compared to Blu-ray.

What can you personally do about this CE trend? There is nothing you
can do about the size of Generation Y but you can take the time to show
a kid what a good audio system sounds like or how an ISF calibrated front projection 1080p image really trumps an iPad 2.

What you can do is to rent and buy Blu-ray discs and avoid
downloaded music and movies. Netflix will notice and if they don't,
rent/buy your Blu-rays somewhere else. Demand quality everywhere you go
especially when it comes to music and movies. Record labels actually
think you can't hear the difference between 24/96 stereo audio and
compressed crappy MP3s. They are completely wrong.

If you feel strongly about the topic, take 30 minutes one day and
write the presidents of each of the four major labels. Tell them that
you'd pay $15 or $20 for an HD recording on Blu-ray, hopefully in 5.1
or 7.1 surround.
Like a Blu-ray, they could bundle a CD in the package to add value as a
"digital copy." A Blu-ray can be copy-protected
via HDCP on an HDMI connection, thus the fears of piracy are no longer
relevant the way they were when SACD and DVD-Audio walked the Earth.
Blu-ray also has close to 40 percent market penetration. There are
millions upon millions of people to sell to. Remind the labels that
back catalog content doesn't need to be completely remixed - just a
little remastering - to be worth the investment for millions. Remind
the labels that HD tracks are very large in size so that even if they
were hacked via HDMI they can't be easily shared from one cell phone to
another via Bluetooth. Seriously, even if I could find a 4G network in
West Los Angeles - I would have to sit there for about a year to send
"Bohemian Rhapsody" in 24/96 5.1 audio from one person's phone to mine.
And I got things to do.

It's easy to feel like there is nothing you can do to solve the
world's problems but voting with your economic ballot is a powerful and
meaningful way to make your voice heard. Reach out to friends,
family, students and beyond also helps get the message out. Lastly,
sending an old fashioned letter to someone in power shows that you care
about buying and supporting a media company's products. When you tell
them you want quality and are willing to pay for it every time over
pure convenience, they might just listen.

Additional Resources
• Find more original stories like this in our Feature News section.
• Explore more articles like this at AudiophileReview.com.
• Read more music industry news from HomeTheaterReview.com.

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