I recently read two interesting articles, one by Thomas Baekdal on how the digital renting model is fundamentally flawed and the other by Wired on Thomas Edisons failed attempt to hijack the movie industry in the early 20th century. What immediately struck me was the similarity between how the established media giants now work much in the same way that Edison did 100 years ago (in large part due to DRM, user crippling licenes etc) and how that leaves room for a startup that actually caters to the needs of the consumers. Since I already have too many projects going right now I’m going to give this one away for free. Here’s my vision of uniTunes.
My idea is to basically create a DRM-free and open alternative to the iTunes store. Content creators, managers and publishers upload content to a curated (we don’t want anyone selling Avatar except for James Cameron do we?) marketplace, and the revenues are split between the service (to pay for curation, quality control, storage, traffic and profit) in the usual 30/70 model.
The curation stops at veryfying the uploaders rights to distribute the content and for basic quality control, we don’t want to be a culture police who moderates what kind of content the users can consume (Apple and XXX…). Not only should the files be DRM-free, they should also be distributed under a free rather than restricted licensing model (such as available for the entire household rather than a single device). Once a song is bought it should be perpetually available to the user, the user aren’t allowed to redistribute it but there shouldn’t be any mechanism in place to stop him from doing it.
There’s a ton of exciting pricing models that could increase consumption and promote the exploration of new artists and movies rather than to limit the users willingness to discovery (sush as versions of the Amie Street pricing model). New ways for distributing the content could also be explored, for example I would like to see the content both available in online streams as well as downloadable files.
The established giants will probably ignore this kind of marketplace but eventually enough independents (and the adult industry) will change the momentum and not before long some high-profile movies that’s been stuck in the old system will be published and change the game. The consumer always gets what he wants, it was just as true in 1910 as it is in 2010.