The Brief: The Losing Proposition of Streaming Music

The Brief: The Losing Proposition of Streaming Music

Greg Sandoval for The Verge writes that Spotify plans to ask labels for the rights to extend its free tier to mobile devices and make substantial cuts to the royalty fees it pays artists. It’s an expected, perhaps even necessary, move as it tries to build a business with a model that has yet to reach profitability, but it marks the latest in a worrying trend of music subscription services—a model that’s undoubtedly here to stay—going to great lengths to pay artists as little as possible.

This industry is terrible enough already without growing companies ruining it further. Spotify should be fighting to pay artists more, not less.

Netflix is trying to obviate HBO, but HBO doesn’t want to be Netflix

I have a hard time buying Netflix CEO Reed Hastings’ statement that his company is trying to become HBO faster than HBO can become Netflix. It made for a good soundbite, but Hastings misrepresented his company and HBO to achieve said bite, because the two focus on very different things. In reality, Netflix is trying to redirect your desire for content it can’t access which, for now, just so happens to include HBO.
Sure, Netflix has begun putting serious money behind original content. But have you seen the rest of Netflix’s continually expanding, seemingly non-discriminatory catalog? It carriers Barb Wire. On purpose.

HBO’s focus isn’t nearly as broad—it’s an original content network that does high-caliber stuff like Game of Thrones and The Wire. While Netflix is becoming a destination for all types of networks, studios, content, and viewers, HBO focuses on premium content for specific audiences.

Put another way, Netflix wants to be the Walmart or Amazon of streaming video, HBO wants to be the Apple Store. Netflix is happy to carry premium content like HBO’s, just like Walmart carriers the iPhone. But Netflix also carries garbage because it wants to have something for everyone. In contrast, HBO doesn’t seem to have any interest in, say, Jersey Shore or the kind of b-budget movies you catch on SyFy on a Saturday afternoon.

Netflix is racing towards a streaming video, on-demand future where it carries something for everyone, whether HBO comes along for the ride or not. Since Netflix has thus far not been able to get HBO, it is now trying to obviate your need for it altogether. HBO isn’t trying to become Netflix, it just needs to wise up and find a way to work with it.


“The industry has evolved so that TV Everywhere and subscription video on-demand services can coexist with the appropriate windowing strategy,” Deborah Bradley, Turner’s senior vice president of program acquisitions, said in a written statement.

“Windowing” is the film and TV industry jargon for carefully timing — and delaying — the release of content through various viewing channels. The goal is to maximize revenue from the sales of hot, in-demand programming.

Netflix scores Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and more Time Warner content – CNN Money

I finally know what to call that wretched strategy.

“I’m no longer a digital revisionist.”

I’m not going back and doing to any of my movies that are now coming out on Blu-ray what I did when “E.T.” was reissued for the third time and I made some digital changes in the picture. I’m not doing that any more. I’ve resigned myself to accepting that what the film was at the time of its creation is what it always should be for future generations. I’m no longer a digital revisionist.

— Steven Speilberg

Let’s just hope Speilberg and Lucas are still “enlightening conversation over afternoon coffee” buddies.