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It’s just like Napster.

Music was the canary in the coal mine for digital disruption and now it’s the canary in the coal mine for vaccination requirements. In both examples it’s about demand, people want their music and their shows.

So Napster was facilitated by two things, high speed connections and the small size of music files. It was only the young and savvy who had high speed connections, at their colleges, broadband wasn’t even available in most homes. And MP3s were only a megabyte a minute. So…you could download them quickly. And there was a technological breakthrough, Napster itself, using a new technology, peer to peer, i.e. P2P, and the Luddites, the institutions, the elders, at first ignored it, then questioned why anyone would need it and then tried to shut it down, unsuccessfully.

You can’t stop the future. Impossible. Your best strategy is always to get in front of the public and have people come to you. Which is why Spotify was so successful. It was beyond what people understood and thought they desired. They no longer had to download files, with copy protection from the iTunes Store, or illegally from lockers, there was no issue of viruses. It was instant. And the cost was de minimis. The iTunes Store was just a way for people who weren’t stealing to pay for music. The P2P acolytes continued to employ unauthorized technological strategies to get their music. But Spotify solved all these problems, you could get everything you wanted for one low price, it was easy, and desirable.

Of course, even at this late date you’ve got anti-Spotify people, although almost all of them are baby boomers, behind the times. They’re laden with disinformation, believing you have to have signal to hear your music, which is patently untrue, you can sync thousands of songs to your device. Or they talk about the songs that are unavailable. And that is true, there are some cracks in the firmament. Then again, investigate the building you’re now occupying, if you can’t find imperfections, you’re blind. Nothing is perfect. It’s all about good enough. Which gets better. And then kills the old paradigm. That’s straight out of Clayton Christensen’s “The Innovator’s Dilemma,” not that you’d expect a Luddite to read it.

So right now people want to go to shows. They were gone during lockdown and are back up today. But there’s this issue of Covid-19 transmission. And the truth is you can’t have unvaxxed, unmasked shows, it’s a recipe for disaster. So what you’ve got is two sets of people, the advanced and the behind, and like I said above, you always want to bet on the advanced, the future.

The advanced know the score. They’re hoovering up information 24/7, and they’re not afraid of change. They’re unafraid of vaccines the same way they were unafraid of viruses back in the P2P era. They were savvy, they knew what to download and open and what not to. As for those who were afraid, they never downloaded anything anyway, too scared of a potential flaw to even deal with it. Never mind the Luddites not having broadband connections and not knowing how to use any software other than AOL. Download a new program to their computer, figure out how to use it with no instructions? Kids were used to this from video games, oldsters were still afraid of their devices, never mind not knowing how they worked or how to fix them.

So you’ve got a huge swath of the population that has gotten vaccinated because they’re up to speed on the future. And they want to go to shows. The scaredy-cats who are afraid of their own shadows, who’d rather die than be inoculated, want to go to shows too. But they’re not gonna be able to. It’s sweeping the nation, vaccine requirements to attend concerts.

The future and the past only coexist for a very brief window. P2P killed CDs and Spotify killed the iTunes Store. So the concert business opened and everybody could get in and then for a few shows you needed either a vax card or a negative test and now you need a vax card or a negative test at most shows and soon only a vax card will suffice. We’re in the middle of the transition, and it’s happening fast. And if you base your business model on the afraid, stuck in the past, you’re screwed. He not busy being born is busy dying. Do you still use your old Packard Bell? Do you even use an iPod? Do you even use a six year old iPhone? The computer companies stop issuing software updates. And eventually, everybody buys a new device, which is superior, that they love, they don’t bitch about price or planned obsolescence, they’re happy. And, once again, there will still be people who will bitch. Michael Eisner said ten percent of the public will never pay and to FORGET THEM!


So, you need to be vaxxed to go to the show.

You don’t need to go to the show, but if you want to…

You didn’t need to download Napster. You didn’t need to buy an iPod. But ultimately there was a mania, everybody wanted to be involved. Never underestimate the desire of the public to be hip, to be included.

So, once we make each and every concert/show vax only, people will start getting vaccinated.

And like I said, music is the canary in the coal mine. Other enterprises will start requiring vax cards. Not only offices, but businesses, even grocery stores. This is how you solve the problem, not by addressing the past, but the future. Not by catering to those unwilling to change, but those who are!

The music industry was bitching about Napster. And what did all those college downloaders have to say? NOTHING! They just went on using P2P, ignoring the ancient behemoth that refused to see the writing on the wall.

Just like the concert business should require vaccinations and forget completely about those who want to come who aren’t vaxxed. Don’t even address the issue, you can’t win. It’s not like the music industry was compromising. It proved Napster was copyright infringement and thought it had won. It then could have authorized the future, licensed Napster, but the industry felt there would be a return to baseline. Wrong! Then we got KaZaA, which circumvented the flaw in Napster, the central database. It became an endless game of Whac-A-Mole until Spotify. Meanwhile, the music industry suffered, and once Spotify was licensed, recorded music revenues went back up, significantly, as did the value of the labels themselves!

That’s what happens when you embrace the future.

Never underestimate the power of music. People want to go to the show. And if their friends are going and they can’t, they’ll get vaccinated. When their favorite acts won’t play the state, they’ll get vaccinated and lobby the government for change.


Music is the carrot. People employ their own sticks.

It’s not about being nice to the unvaxxed, figuring out how to talk to them, rather you ignore them completely, like the students using Napster at the turn of the century. They didn’t have time to waste on those who didn’t get it.

And confront the obvious. During the battle twenty years ago labels would have focus groups, do studies, asking irrelevant questions like what kids thought an album was worth. It was irrelevant! One, people were never honest in their responses, two, music was now free and it was incumbent on the labels to own this and authorize new ways to monetize it that squared with the age.

As for those complaining about the quality of MP3s and streaming music… Now Apple and Amazon both stream lossless. If you have the right equipment, you can listen in better than CD quality! Those silver discs you keep revering, throw them away. As for your files… Try opening Microsoft Word 1.0 on a computer today, even the files are gibberish. Do you really think an ancient technology like MP3 is forever? Don’t make me laugh.

The future’s so bright you’ve got to wear shades, assuming you’re talking about the future and ignoring the past.

You’d be stunned who wants to see music. Make it so they can’t and they’ll be pissed and complain, but you’re not listening, because there is an option, they can get vaccinated, and they will, especially as the number of places they can go to without being vaxxed continues to dwindle.

Yes, first it was music. Then everything was digitized. Movies… Hell, people bitched that Netflix was going to streaming, but then when they tried it they didn’t want to bother with discs anymore. Furthermore, people got high speed connections just to download music and stream movies! Come on, who do you know who is on dialup today?

This is a glass half-full situation. It’s just a matter of perspective.

All venues and promoters, and they’ve got all the power, because you need a place to play and an entity to pay, should instantly require a vaccination for attendance. Right away! Stop debating this in the news, you’re not gonna convince the Luddites, we saw this movie twenty years ago, people were only enlightened when they used the new technologies, before they were afraid, thought they were the end of the world, and after employing them they couldn’t stop testifying about how great they were!


As for the theoretical negative effects of the vaccine… As more people get them and there are no deleterious effects, more of the rest of the Luddites will dive in.

This is not a hard problem to solve. It starts with music. And it starts with looking forward and ignoring the past, latching on to a better way and amplifying it.

Ladies and gentlemen…START YOUR ENGINES!

 

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