The Movie Experience

In the age of perfect digital copies, musicians have it easy. No home entertainment system can replace live performance. But filmmakers are increasingly competing with swank home theaters featuring plush seats, lush sound, pause and rewind for bathroom breaks, and any other amenity your heart desires. Many home media rooms even offer the authentic movie experience that newer, cost-cutting chains gave up on long ago: soda fountains and popcorn poppers salvaged from old theaters.

So how do theaters offer something that can’t be had at home? At least one guy is working on the answer. Brett Gaylor stopped by last night’s CC Salon to talk about his new documentary, RiP: A Remix Manifesto. He mentioned that he recuts the film for specific audiences. Tonight’s screening at 92Y Tribeca, for example, will include shots of Times Square with New Yorkers covering up the all big brand logos on the street. Brett is hoping that offering a version of the movie that will never be seen again will give people a reason to see this screening instead of watching it at home (which they can do for free since he distributes the film as a free CC-licensed work).

I’m guessing it’s difficult (and expensive) to customize film content for audiences and locations, but if it can be done in a compelling way, I’d love to see it. I’m excited that the changing environment is pushing artists to explore new directions with their works. If they can get me to brave the sticky floors and stale popcorn at my local megaplex, they must have something pretty special up their sleeves.

DRM and Realism

Papercraft DRMI’m not a gamer, but it’s hard to miss the latest round of rumblings over games and DRM. PC gamers have been suffering myriad crackpot DRM schemes since long before that acronym was invented. (See here and here for an illustrated history.) The record labels, as usual, came late and didn’t discover DRM until just a few years ago. They are following the same path as the gamers, just a few years behind.

In an effort to hurry everybody down that path, I urge people in DRM-laden industries to read this post by Brad Wardell, ceo of Stardock, a successful, DRM-eschewing game (and other software) publisher. That piece is the most important thing written about DRM in the real world. If you want to know how one actual company avoids DRM and sells a bunch of actual software to actual customers while making big, actual piles of cash, you should read it.

Thanks to Chris Remo, who dropped the link in a guest post up at Penny Arcade

A Radio Program Ain’t a Figure of Speech

From the Washington Post:

music industry groups representing songwriters, music publishers, record labels and digital music websites … have ended a seven-year dispute over two types of music royalties. The agreement applies to on-demand music streaming from the likes of Imeem, Napster and upcoming MySpace Music in which a user can select the songs that they want to hear, but doesn’t keep any copies.

Tellingly, the deal doesn’t include streaming radio— it only covers songs chosen by the listener. Once again, it is clear that what’s at stake is not online music displacing album sales so much as who gets to decide what the public hears. Fortunately, there’s a way out of this madness.