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July 18, 2004
U.S. Clings to "Britney" Business Model, Japan Asks Why We're Not Interested
Henry Jenkins has a nice post over at the must-read MIT Technology Review weblog in which he points to a study (PDF) by MIT's Ian Condry comparing/contrasting the way that the record industries in the U.S. and Japan are handling the digital "piracy" problem:
[While] the American industry has responded by seeking legal actions against its own consumers, no such lawsuits have been filed in Japan, where industry leaders are seeking to understand why music fans think it is ok to share music. ... Industry leaders have suggested that the aggressive commodification of music had led a generation to ignore its status as someone's expressive output. They are seeking ways to rebuild consumer loyalty rather than demand customer obedience. This is consistent with general trends in Japanese industry to study fan groups, subcultures, and other consumption communities as, in effect, "petrie dishes" where experimentation and innovation occur.
It seems to me that there's a bit more to the difference in strategy than simply choosing carrot over stick. It's about putting in the effort necessary to understand why people buy rather than "freeload" music. According to Jenkins, Condry argues that the solution to the music industry crisis is "cultural," not legal or economic, and involves "changing the relations between music producers and consumers to emphasize shared interests rather than economic exploitation." I'll be interested to see how Japan's conversation
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