Availability is king – Music streaming service as described in Little Brother (published 2007)

Finally had time to start using my Kindle this Christmas and I decided to break it in by checking out something by Cory Doctorow. Based on a recommendation I received long time ago I have had his first novel “Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom” on top of my Amazon wish list for a very long time.

But unfortunately the book was not available for purchase as the publication date here all of a sudden was January 31, 2013. Is not it typical? When it comes to online content I, as pretty much any consumer, want what I want when I want it – not on January 31 – or any other release date for that matter. “Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom” has been out in Canada since 2003. It should be available for me on my Kindle in 2012.

But luckily, as Cory Doctorow release everything under the Creative Commons license, I was able to download a version for free on the author´s own website. While I was there I also decided to check out his first young adult novel “Little Brother“, which actually was the book I ended up reading this Christmas.

LIttle Brother by Cory Doctorow

Long story short: I really enjoyed reading Little Brother. It made me sort of wish this book would have been available for me when I was a teenager, but it was also a very good read even though I´m no longer a young adult. As a very passionate business analyst for a music streaming service (yup, that´s what I do for a living), I especially found this part of the book to be very amusing (in a good and impressive way considering the fact that this book was written as well as published in 2007):

indienet — all lower case, always — was the thing that made Pigspleen Net into one of the most successful independent ISPs in the world. Back when the major record labels started suing their fans for downloading their music, a lot of the independent labels and their artists were aghast. How can you make money by suing your customers?

Pigspleen’s founder had the answer: she opened up a deal for any act that wanted to work with their fans instead of fighting them. Give Pigspleen a license to distribute your music to its customers and it would give you a share of the subscription fees based on how popular your music was. For an indie artist, the big problem isn’t piracy, it’s obscurity: no one even cares enough about your tunes to steal ‘em.

It worked. Hundreds of independent acts and labels signed up with Pigspleen, and the more music there was, the more fans switched to getting their Internet service from Pigspleen, and the more money there was for the artists. Inside of a year, the ISP had a hundred thousand new customers and now it had a million — more than half the broadband connections in the city.

That was (legally speaking) futuristic back in 2007, but pretty much a reality already in 2008 – although it sort of wasn´t mainstream in Scandinavia before 2010, and music streaming/all you can eat music services is still on an early stage in North America as well as Scandinavia.

The music industry, however, has come a bit further compared to the book industry when it comes to making sure everything is legally available for the end consumer through the same service (“the more music there was, the more fans switched to getting their Internet service from Pigspleen” – a scenario illustrating the importance of musicians being available on music streaming services as well as authors/publishers selling their books on the Kindle store and similar services). Luckily the book industry have writers such as Cory Doctorow – just as the music industry is lucky to have musicians as well as label reps understanding the new music economy.

The end of this “Little Brother-streaming-service” story is that I have already pre-ordered the follow up book “Homeland”, making sure it will be auto-delivered to my Kindle on February 5, 2013. And even though everything is available for free on his website I am definitely planning on purchasing many more books by Cory Doctorow (I´m hereby a fan). This is how the economy of “free” works.

And what can we learn from this? Well, availability definitely is king! And the way I see it, one may say that my first Kindle experience illustrates that in a very good way :-)


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