Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Canadian music mogul takes on China, pirates welcome

Terry McBride, the Canadian best known as the manager of pop megastar Avril Lavigne said the music industry's obsession with stemming the flow of illegally downloaded material is futile and short-sighted.

"I do not believe that the record label owns the song, the publisher does not own the song, even the artist does not own the song," McBride told AFP in an interview.

"It is the emotion that a fan attaches to that song, to that lyric that makes it popular. What the record business needs to do is to monetise the behaviour of that fan."

McBride said record companies need an alternative to what he sees as an outmoded business model that relies on a few mega-selling artists and copyright protection.

In almost every global market record sales are plummetting as people turn to the Internet for music, increasingly downloading it for free.

A recent survey by MTV of consumers in 12 Asian countries found that 77 percent of people aged between 15 and 24 had illegally downloaded music in the past month, while 59 percent had also made legitimate purchases.

The rampant piracy -- particularly serious in China where the rate of illegal downloading was put at more than 80 percent, which some see as conservative -- has led to aggressive legal action.

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Apple Struggles to Win Fans in China

Yang Weiguo, a 20-year-old university student in Beijing, is a committed Apple (AAPL) fan. Given the American company's limited presence in China, that's no small achievement. In April, for instance, Yang bought a new Macbook through MacX.cn, a fan site for Mac users in China that operates an online store unaffiliated with the company. The online store had someone buy a computer for Yang in Hong Kong and courier it up to Beijing, saving him $293, or roughly 17%, on his Macbook purchase. 

So when Yang, who is spending his summer as a volunteer for the Olympics next month, found out through the Mac community that Apple would open its first store in China on July 19, he knew he had to be there from the beginning. He arrived at the shop, located in a swank shopping mall in the Sanlitun area of Beijing, 22 hours before it was scheduled to open. He was among more than 100 others who camped overnight -- even though he already had his Macbook and wasn't interested in a new iPod. "I don't have anything I need to buy," he says. Still, because he wanted to be there, Yang spent $26 for an adapter cable he could have easily purchased elsewhere. 

Smuggling Challenge Apple executives want to make it easier to convert more people like Yang from the cult of Mao to the cult of Mac. Apple plans to open a second store in Beijing in 2009 and another in Shanghai later. "We expect to be successful here in China because the entire economy is growing," says Ron Johnson, Apple's senior vice-president for retail.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Videogame creator calls for ‘free games’ to beat piracy

According to renowned game designer Dave Perry, the best way to beat piracy within the videogame industry is to not cram masses of software protection on each and every disc… but to give the games to consumers for free. 

Speaking in Belfast after receiving an honorary doctorate from Queen’s University for his pioneering contribution to computer and videogame development, the creator of ‘Earthworm Jim’, ‘MDK’ and ‘Enter the Matrix pointed to the Asian market as proof that such an approach can work.

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