Witch vs. Pirate IX: The Battle for Your Kids; Majors to Concentrate on Selling Ad Space

You thought you had them beat, didn't you? All those years of pirating songs, albums, entire discographies. They were dumb record execs that had no idea what was going on. You were so guerilla, weren't you? You had them beat from the get-go. Whatever monkeywrench they'd throw your way would be dealt with. They'd never figure out what a file called eezerw.mp3 was; you were so smart. The thing is, you -- and of course I mean we -- have created your own demise.

Although at times it may seem like it, record execs aren't idiots. The older generation never had a chance when they were battling music pirates on the field of technology. So now, those Warwick MBAs who couldn't figure out how to work BitTorrent are bringing the fight back home.

It's old-fashioned advertising like grandma used to make, but there's a catch... using new technologies. This is by no means a completely novel idea, but it may actually represent a business structure that has the potential to boost the profit margins of record companies, although to a relatively small percentage. Steve Yanovsky, part-time used car salesman/part-time Atlantic Records executive, predicts that, "down the road a bit I think we'll begin to see brands subsidizing music in a much fuller sense." Way to be decisive Steve.

(And rumor has it, they're working with a witch! I was able to procure an interview with Yanovsky's neighbor Gladys Kravitz, who warned of strange happenings going on over there at the Stevens... er.... Yanovsky household. Apparently, led by Universal Music Group's Executive VP David Ellner and a shadowy character known as Endora, a coven of music industry execs are revamping their business models. Music is -- poof -- disappearing as the industries main point of return, and -- poof -- hawking cheap merchandise on the backs of their stars is appearing in its place. How'd they do that?)

"We're inventing a new business model with advertisers," says Warner Music's Senior VP of Global Something-Something Dan Patterson. "We are optimistic about the opportunity advertising presents; that's why we are we are investing in our ability to serve marketers with our asset."

Essentially, the music industry is recognizing that it cannot harvest music downloads in a profitable way sufficient to its shareholders demands, so it's partnering with all of your favorite products to offset projected losses -- it's creating community. Using file-sharing networks, streaming video sites, artist sites, and anywhere else it can find ad space, the industry expects to pummel you with ads telling you what to download before you even download anything, as well as what you should be wearing/drinking/smelling like while doing it. The business model shift reflects the music industry's goal of getting to know your kids a little better and playing a more active role in their lives.

Here's the question: would you rather consciously pay record labels for exuberantly priced recordings, or stream the new Lil Mamma track album off the Jive Records website and be inundated with five banner ads for lip gloss in the process? Either way, it's your fault.

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