Future of Digital Media

By: Russ Friend

The music and movie industries must embrace new technology as they’ve done throughout history. This will allow them to shift business models to a performance based system that will work with the new technologies, protect artists and industry revenue streams, while giving consumers latitude that’s been long overdue. A few generations of digital devices and such a system could become ubiquitous. Each time an audio file is listened to, or a video is watched the owner is charged a small fee, a performance fee. The registered owner of the player could initially pay for unlimited plays when downloading the media, or pay a smaller fee each time they listen to, or watch, the media. This way they can, for instance, listen to a new artist without needing to plunk down $15 to $20 for a poor quality cd or dvd. It could cost as little as a penny a track per performance. This way the consumer doesn’t have to pay a lot of money to find out that they’re stuck with something they don’t like. (cough cough Kei$ha cough cough).

The performance fee could be based upon the type of media. Media that could be enjoyed with the most frequency, like songs, would have a lower fee than something that could be enjoyed only a few times, like an audio book, or movie. After performance fees reach a certain amount the media automatically converts to unlimited play status.

The consumer could use any of their registered devices to play the media without scrutiny. It would reduce theft, give consumers far greater latitude in the ways they can enjoy the media, while minimizing future debates over intellectual property rights. Tying the players into improved formats would be beneficial; allowing the industries, and artists, to make a clean break from the currently clouded milieu of media property rights issues.