"We've lost so-and-so much money"The basic, let's be outright honest about this, crap is that companies lose so-and-so much money on people who have seen, for instance, a movie by downloading it instead of going to the cinema. Just because someone has watched a movie illegally doesn't mean that they otherwise would have paid to see it. Most people watch movies in a casual manner, and instead of having some kind of fake hopes that this would have been money in the bank for the company, just see the enormous marketing benefit of this! If they like the movie, they will tell their friends and recommend it. Their friends, in turn, might watch it in the cinema or buy the DVD; they might also just download it. Either way, if they like it, they will spread the word, and so on. Never underestimate viral marketing!
Which road to takeTo me it seems like there are two fundamental paths to choose from; either, try and hunt down and punish people who fileshare, or find a new angle and offer a product that supersedes the illegal alternatives and instead makes people addicted to the "real" thing. In many cases, it comes down to availability:
That's the core mindset of the audience, so it's time to listen to them. People love using the Internet for accessing their favorite music and movies, but the services today aren't well-developed enough and/or are so ridiculously overpriced that, as an example, a movie download will cost the same as buying the DVD in a store, but without the packaging and actual DVD record. What makes you think people would pay the same money for less value? Really?
Is what I want available when I want it? If not, how can I get it?
People do want to do the right thingSome people will never pay, and that's the way it is. A witch hunt will never make a difference, since their main goal is to get something for free, not the actual experience of what they're getting. However, I sincerely believe that a majority people want to go the legal route and pay for what they watch/listen to. Anyone, who is, say, 25+ of age, have grown up in a world where you actually had to buy what you wanted, in terms of records and movies. Kids who are teenagers now, and the coming generations, learn to download things from the Internet before they learn to pay. And they are really the gist of the problem. If such a habit becomes a de facto standard for accessing any entertainment material, we will have to face a downward spiral with less and less income for companies producing music and movies. And then, at the end of the day, less quality content will be produced and distribution companies will go for the quick profit. Everyone loses.
What users wantWhenever a music record, or, more importantly, a movie is released/having its premiere, people want it. Immediately! The buzz is right then, and as with all hypes, you have to let it work for you instead of against. Instead of fighting vigorously to quench it, music and movie companies have to start providing what people want. My humble take is that, if not already, the situation is on its way overboard. Listen to opinions, and try to meet the mass market's need and desires, to able to outcompete illegal file sharing. In the area of TV shows and movies, people don't want to wait for it to come to their country, or to wait another week for the next episode of their favorite series. We live in a on-demand world and if the audience wants to watch several episodes in a row, let them have it (given that it's already produced, of course).
- When a movie (or TV show) premiers, make it instantly available as a download to all the world.
- Make it available in a format so attractive that searching through P2P and/or BitTorrent sites for a good quality copy is a waste of time.
- Reasonable pricing: maybe $0.50 for a song and $5 for a movie.
- Alternatively, offer free ad-sponsored solutions, which will be a good complement to buying.
- No DRM or any other lock-ins. Seriously.
- General availability. Everything that's accessible through any other channel has to be available through the Internet as well.