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Why Movies Are Not Exactly Like Music

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the not-going-gently dept.

Movies 378

Ars digs into the proposition that movies will go the way of the music business, and finds some reasons not to be totally gloomy about Hollywood's immediate future. For one thing, the movie biz managed to introduce a next-generation format to follow the DVD, a trick that eluded the music crowd (anyone remember DVD-Audio? SACD?). Blu-ray isn't making up the gap as DVD sales fall, but it is slowing the revenue decline. Perhaps the most important difference from the music business is that movies aren't amenable to "disaggregation" — unlike CDs, which people stopped buying once they could get the individual songs they really wanted. Ars concludes: "The movie business is facing many of the same challenges that are bedeviling music, but it's not about to go quietly into that good night — and it may not have to."

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378 comments

DVD Sales Gap (4, Insightful)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30323748)

DVDs sales are going down, but some of that gap is Amazon Unbox, Netflix, iTunes, DVRs, Hulu, etc.

The movie industry gets paid from all of these sources (including DVRs in that movie companies are paid to air movies on cable).

BluRay sales aren't huge because some retailers keep insisting on charging $35 for BluRay movies. We all know the cost of the disc is minimal. Amazon can sell BluRays for $10-$20. I'm not going to pay $35 for a movie, and I'm not alone on that issue.

Re:DVD Sales Gap (5, Interesting)

chadplusplus (1432889) | more than 4 years ago | (#30323960)

And let's not forget the instant gratification demanded by many consumers. On typical broadband, a song downloads in less than a minute. The significantly longer time required to download a movie (if purchased and stored in Blue Ray quality) is longer than the time required to drive to Blockbuster or Walmart to buy the physical copy of the same movie.

For instance, a few months ago, I ordered PPV Gran Torino in 1080p for my wife and I to view one evening. Six hours later it was ready to view, but she was already in bed.

oops (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30324004)

Six hours later it was ready to view, but she was already in bed.

I rode her really hard earlier that day while you were gone... I take it she never told you? Sorry, bro. :)

Re:DVD Sales Gap (2, Insightful)

Swizec (978239) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324048)

It takes an hour to download a 720p movie. You don't usually _need_ a 1080p movie. And more importantly, with the technological marvel that is streaming you can start watching after 15 minutes (unless you're downloading .mkv or something) and the playtime will not catch up to the download time.

But then again, some people don't have FTTH like most of us in developed countries do. :)

Re:DVD Sales Gap (2, Informative)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324204)

Pretty sure that as long as you’re downloading the head end of the file and not arbitrary bits from the middle, VLC would play the uncompleted file just fine and would continue to play until it either caught up with the download or until the movie ended.

Re:DVD Sales Gap (4, Interesting)

Evil Shabazz (937088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324208)

It takes an hour to download a 720p movie. You don't usually _need_ a 1080p movie. And more importantly, with the technological marvel that is streaming you can start watching after 15 minutes (unless you're downloading .mkv or something) and the playtime will not catch up to the download time. But then again, some people don't have FTTH like most of us in developed countries do. :)

It only takes an hour to download a 720p movie if you happen to have access to about 7mb+ broadband. And even then, you're subject also to the bandwidth of the service you're trying to download from. For instance, take trying to download a movie from Sony's PS3 store. You'll only ever make that mistake once. You could have a 10 petabyte internet connection and it would still take you 16 hours to download a TV episode from them because they won't send you the file at anywhere near a reasonable speed.

WTF does NEED have to do with this? (1)

FatSean (18753) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324310)

You don't NEED a 720p movie either. Way to apologize for a shit technology.

Re:DVD Sales Gap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30324112)

n00b!!!
n00b!!!
n00b!!!
n00b!!!

Re:DVD Sales Gap (2, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324180)

Gotta disagree. Songs have gone from 1400 kbit/s CD songs to 128 kbit/s AAC songs.

If movies underwent a similar downgrade in quality, instead of ~5 Mbit/s DVD movies you would have 0.45 Mbit/s streaming videos that people could watch in realtime on their computers, televisions, or iPods. We are now seeing that transition where people download their favorite shows or movies rather than drive to Walmart and buy the media.

It had nothing to do with Hollywood or Bluray, but because until recently people didn't have the minimu 0.5 Mbit/s connections. Now they do.

Re:DVD Sales Gap (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324336)

To be fair, CDs are only 1400 kbit/s because they were designed to be played back on hardware with almost zero processing power. Depending on the source material, it isn't uncommon to see lossless compression get this down to around half the original size. Still a far cry from the bitrates of the lossy stuff; but less dramatic than the uncompressed/lossy compression comparison.

Re:DVD Sales Gap (1, Insightful)

pebs (654334) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324196)

For instance, a few months ago, I ordered PPV Gran Torino in 1080p for my wife and I to view one evening. Six hours later it was ready to view, but she was already in bed.

The real WTF is why you rented Gran Torino.

Re:DVD Sales Gap (1)

bbbaldie (935205) | more than 4 years ago | (#30323972)

Five bucks is what I pay for a flick. No more. When it hits the five dollar bin at Wal-Mart, that's when I may or may not buy it.

Rental might be for you (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324034)

Five bucks is what I pay for a flick. No more. When it hits the five dollar bin at Wal-Mart, that's when I may or may not buy it.

And Netflix lets customers keep a flick for two weeks at that price. Unless it's a cult classic like Rocky Horror or an animated electronic babysitter for single-digit-year-old children like Cinderella, I don't see what kind of flick you'd necessarily want to keep longer than that.

Re:Rental might be for you (1)

bbbaldie (935205) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324268)

There are some gems out there that get watched repeatedly. Blazing Saddles, Sneakers, Four Weddings and a Funeral. AWP! JK about that last one!!! ;-)

Re:DVD Sales Gap (4, Interesting)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324086)

Question: aren't you therefore stealing $15 (or $30 for Blu-Ray) from the distributor by not paying the full 0-day retail price?

No, you say? But why not? After all, you're apparently stealing $20 from them if you pay $0 for it, so why aren't you stealing $15 if you pay $5?

Let's throw that question open to any distributor executives or their lawyers who happen to be wandering by.

Re:DVD Sales Gap (2, Insightful)

Croakus (663556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324360)

You steal when you refuse to pay anything for something that a person worked years of their life to produce, and instead end run around them and download a copy of their hard work from an illegal source. It doesn't matter whether it was a sculpture, a painting, a movie or a song. The fact that we musicians are treated like our art is worthless simply because it's easy to rip us off is offensive beyond words. If it were as easy to copy a sculpture, sculptors would react exactly as we have. If you don't want to pay for the song, don't listen to it. If you download it for free from a source that wasn't authorized by the artist (IE: taking their hard work without payment and without permission) than you are a thief; it's that simple. If I did the same thing to General Motors they'd lock me up for grand theft auto.

"Why Movies Are Not Like Music" (3, Insightful)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 4 years ago | (#30323756)

Uh -- because movies have pictures?

Re:"Why Movies Are Not Like Music" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30323912)

No, silly. Why are movies Are Not exactly like music? Every kid know it's because movies take longer to download, duh.

The most important sentence in the article: (5, Insightful)

jrq (119773) | more than 4 years ago | (#30323766)

On the other hand, it does have one tremendous weakness that doesn't afflict music: consumers often watch films only once.
Really, if anyone should be working on a system to enable on-demand viewing of their intellectual property it should be the movie industry.

Re:The most important sentence in the article: (2, Informative)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 4 years ago | (#30323820)

I guess they never heard of "The Usual Suspects" [imdb.com]parties. Those guys watch that movie over and over just to hear Kevin Spacey say, "I killed him." under his breath.( I never heard it.)

Re:The most important sentence in the article: (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 4 years ago | (#30323896)

WTF when did that happen?

Re:The most important sentence in the article: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30324436)

I haven't watched the movie since I heard about this little Easteregg. Here's what I've read: Towards the end of the movie, when the agent is screaming at Verbal about how he was used by a crooked cop (Keaton), at one point Verbal apparently says "I killed him" quiety but neither the agent nor the audience picks up on it.

Re:The most important sentence in the article: (4, Funny)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324278)

>>>to hear Kevin Spacey say, "I killed him." under his breath

And I watch Kevin Spacey's other movie over-and-over just so I can see him disrobe the hot cheerleader. Ahhhhh 16-year-old perfection.

(mutters)

I'm going straight to hell

Re:The most important sentence in the article: (1)

Icegryphon (715550) | more than 4 years ago | (#30323864)

Really, if anyone should be working on a system to enable on-demand viewing of their intellectual property it should be the movie industry.

Agreed, If they would have invest a bit of their returns about 15years ago they might have already had a content delivery system that everyone would use. Instead they either paid back investors, spend money to put new movies, or had nice parties. Why is it so hard for companies to understand that a R&D can be a major benefit even if you only put a little funding into it. When they Did put money into such products they ended up doing something stupid like CCS which is breakable in a heart beat instead of a Delivery System. They can't blame people for their failed business model.

.End of madman RANT

Re:The most important sentence in the article: (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324098)

movie coompany? pay back investors? hahahaha. Even the worlds biggest blockbusters with hundreds of millions of ticket sales and tens of millions of dvds sold will never make a profit sufficient to repay investors or writers. Its called hollywood accounting.

Re:The most important sentence in the article: (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324070)

if anyone should be working on a system to enable on-demand viewing of their intellectual property it should be the movie industry.

They haven't? Then how can Comcast advertise movie rentals over digital cable on the same day as the DVD release?

Re:The most important sentence in the article: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30324158)

Yup. That statement would seem to contradict the entire concept of 'personal library', or purchasing dvd's period. If everyone ONLY watched a movie once, no one would ever buy movies. They'd rent.

So, it looks like nothing has changed then. The Industry is still clueless on how to 'progress' or fix itself, and as a result, in the near future the consumer will likely lose more digital freedom in the name of Copyright and Trademark.

/goes back to watching Hulu

Obvious difference (5, Insightful)

spitzak (4019) | more than 4 years ago | (#30323770)

An obvious difference is that people are interested in seeing a movie exactly once, and as soon as possible.

Music relies on people wanting to hear it multiple times and they are probably more interested in the music well after it exists. And complete knowledge of the contents of the music increases, rather than decreases, their desire to hear it.

Re:Obvious difference (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#30323860)

First time I really miss not having some mod points.

Insightfullify that post please.

Re:Obvious difference (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30324018)

Your comment is suggests music is in a better position than movies, completely opposite of the article and business reality. Music is doomed a slow deeath because it's a shit product for the main, and people only want one or two songs from a given band at best. Movies come and go, but make their money on the big screen plus subsequent DVD/blu/rental/ondemand/TV showings.

I wanna watch Sin-duh-weh-wuh (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324102)

people are interested in seeing a movie exactly once, and as soon as possible.

That might apply to PG-13 and R rated movies, but not to the Disney animated canon. People buy Disney DVDs[1] to use them as electronic babysitters for their single-digit-year-old children.

[1] I'm not talking about Kill Bill here.

Re:I wanna watch Sin-duh-weh-wuh (1)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324320)

I suppose little kids wouldn't appreciate Tarantino's style of dialog but that shouldn't stop them from enjoying the film.

I grew up watching Terminator, Rambo, Conan, Predator and their like. No harm done there. Kill Bill would probably be better for them in the long run compared what passes for kid shows these days.

Re:I wanna watch Sin-duh-weh-wuh (1)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324370)

And people who do that are generally pretty bad parents, I might add. I'm not completely anti-media for our sprog, but media-viewing needs to be something they then communicate about, that they do intelligently, etc. I understand the need to occasionally placate a rampaging toddler with singing sparkly, but I'm convinced that it's gone much too far in the last couple decades.

Re:Obvious difference (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30324358)

Try that with Memento

Re:Obvious difference (4, Insightful)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324368)

An obvious difference is that people are interested in seeing a movie exactly once, and as soon as possible.

Music relies on people wanting to hear it multiple times and they are probably more interested in the music well after it exists. And complete knowledge of the contents of the music increases, rather than decreases, their desire to hear it.

Incorrect.

Completely wrong.

So wrong it makes me wonder where on Earth you came up with this idea.

In a lot of ways, a movie is like a novel. There are some you read through once, and then get rid of because they just aren't that amazing. There are some you have to re-read several times simply to understand them. And then there are the favorites that you keep coming back to year after year.

To claim that everyone is only interested in seeing a movie once, and that they're all basically disposable, is simply ignorant.

Sure, if you're talking about some generic action/horror movie aimed at teenfolk that's probably accurate. They're just looking for something to serve as background noise while they hang out with their friends. They'll go see it within days of the opening, they'll see it once, and they won't even pay much attention to it.

But then you've got the G/PG stuff aimed at little kids. You've obviously never witnessed a small child and their favorite movie. They'll drag you to the theater a dozen times while it is showing... They'll make you buy every single solitary piece of merchandise tied into the film... They'll need the DVD the day it becomes available... And they'll watch it over and over again, until the disc literally wears out.

Then you've got movies with some real substance to them. Things like Pulp Fiction [imdb.com]. Movies where you literally notice something new each time you watch it. Movies that take multiple viewings to actually understand what is going on.

Then there are the quality movies that just don't get old. This will, of course, vary quite a bit depending on your personal preferences... But I don't know how many times I've watched Alien [imdb.com] or Evil Dead II [imdb.com] or Cannibal: The Musical [imdb.com].

Re:Obvious difference (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30324448)

Yay, you've found an exception to the rule. We're all very happy for you.

Re:Obvious difference (1)

PerfectionLost (1004287) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324414)

And complete knowledge of the contents of the music increases, rather than decreases, their desire to hear it.

Close but not quite. Incomplete knowledge of the contents increases a person's desire to hear it. I have a musician friend who I cannot sit and listen to music with, because as soon as the song plays he skips it. He already has the song committed to memory and does not need to experience it any more.

Gaming, (3, Insightful)

Icegryphon (715550) | more than 4 years ago | (#30323774)

Do they get into the fact the people are wasting there time and entertainment budgets on gaming?
Can't go see a movie when you are busy playing CoD:MW2 or Tekken 6 or etc.
Also at 60$ a Crack you might be hurting for expendable cash.

Re:Gaming, (4, Interesting)

Mr. DOS (1276020) | more than 4 years ago | (#30323928)

Let's work something out: a $60 game will get you what, hopefully 10+ hours of playtime? (Sidenote: oh how I long for days gone by when that would've been considered short...) That's less than $6/hour. Blu-ray discs are about $20; given a movie length of about 2 hours, that's around $10/hour - almost twice as expensive. On top of that, some multiplayer games

      --- Mr. DOS

Re:Gaming, (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324362)

Smart people only spend $20 on a game. So that's about $1-2 per hour of game. Very cheap.

BTW: I too like short games. Eternal Darkness on the Gamecube was criticized for "only" being ten hours, but I thought that was the perfect length for the dark story it told. If it had been longer I would have lost interest (as happened with Zelda Wind Waker), and labeled it "stretched" or "padded"

Re:Gaming, (1)

kalirion (728907) | more than 4 years ago | (#30323930)

Apples and oranges. You might as well say that ice cream sales are faltering because more people are buying burgers. A $10 bargain bin or budget game might give me 30 hours of entertainment, while a $10 movie might give me 2 hours, but its different type of entertainment so I'm not going to be choosing between them. So I'd end up watching 1 move and buying 1 game, instead of buying 2 games or watching 2 movies.

Re:Gaming, (1)

Icegryphon (715550) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324032)

Nothing like Ice cream or Burgers,
They may be different but,
you can still file them under an entertainment category.

Re:Gaming, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30324060)

So I'd end up watching 1 move and buying 1 game, instead of buying 2 games or watching 2 movies.

In which case you are potentially buying 1 movie instead of 2, thus halving the number of movies sold....

Re:Gaming, (1)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324424)

Do they get into the fact the people are wasting there time and entertainment budgets on gaming?

Can't go see a movie when you are busy playing CoD:MW2 or Tekken 6 or etc.

Also at 60$ a Crack you might be hurting for expendable cash.

Different demographics for film than for gaming. Hmmn, this is good, really: if the otherwise-low-attention-span explosion-loving young-adult male demo drops out of the film market equation, then the rest of the population becomes the dominant market - which may explain why more indie films are getting produced each year.

Disaggregation (5, Funny)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30323784)

Perhaps the most important difference from the music business is that movies aren't amenable to "disaggregation" -- unlike CDs, which people stopped buying once they could get the individual songs they really wanted.

I stopped watching movies a few years ago, now all I watch are the trailers. They are free, you get 80% of the story, and it is always the best parts too. What's not to love?

Re:Disaggregation (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30324178)

I agree.

For a good example, see here [youtube.com].

disaggregation (1)

gfineman (742243) | more than 4 years ago | (#30323812)

"movies aren't amenable to "disaggregation" seems false. What else is YouTube?

Where there's SPARTA, they PINGAS back (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324124)

What else is YouTube?

YouTube is a tool for parodying parts of movies, not showing them in their original context.

Gloomy? (3, Interesting)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30323836)

not to be totally gloomy about Hollywood's immediate future

Why would I even care? Seriously. I like movies, but if the big centralized studios vanished and we just had independent filmmakers left I don't think I'd shed any tears. I might actually welcome that just to see what happens.

Re:Gloomy? (3, Insightful)

TheLuggage2008 (1199251) | more than 4 years ago | (#30323956)

...if the big centralized studios vanished and we just had independent filmmakers left I don't think I'd shed any tears.

You say that now, but how are you going to feel when there are no big studios left to greenlight "Cheaper by the Dozen 3"?

Re:Gloomy? (3, Funny)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324026)

...if the big centralized studios vanished and we just had independent filmmakers left I don't think I'd shed any tears.

You say that now, but how are you going to feel when there are no big studios left to greenlight "Cheaper by the Dozen 3"?

Ecstatic?

Jim Bob and Michelle Plus 18 (3, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324226)

how are you going to feel when there are no big studios left to greenlight "Cheaper by the Dozen 3"?

If Twentieth Century Fox dramatically scales back its operations, then the Gilbreths [wikipedia.org] are going to have to shop their works to smaller studios, including those that use the medium of SWF serials rather than traditional feature films. But these studios will have to compete with reality TV: see Jon and Kate Plus 8 or 18 Kids and Counting or Table for 12 or the new series starring Nadya Suleman and her kids.

Re:Gloomy? (1)

digitalhermit (113459) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324282)

I agree mostly, but I think that big studios still have a purpose. I enjoy independent films, but there are also certain types of films that cannot easily be completed by a smaller studio. I.e., films with cutting-edge CGI or larger scale. In order to sell a film to millions they make it inoffensive which often means boring. Or they get a big name actor. Or they load it up with CGI. Then they end up with a movie that's interesting in a "Mind's Eye" type of way, but forgettable otherwise.

The other reason is that, though there are some very good independent film makers, there are LOADS and LOADS of horrible ones. They may be self-financed which can mean that they want the final product to be awesome.... or they make some unwatchable drivel to satisfy an artistic urge.

IMHO the big studios should invest more in smaller budget films and independent film makers. They do this already, but it seems that many studios stake their financial well-being on one or two blockbusters a year.

Re:Gloomy? (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324288)

Indeed. By far the best movie I've seen this year is District 9 [imdb.com], and the closest a big centralised studio came to that was TriStar getting distribution rights i.e. No input on the film at all. Essentially, the guy who made this [youtube.com] and this [youtube.com] was offered $30m by Peter Jackson to do whatever he wanted after the Halo movie fell through.

I suggest you watch it.

Re:Gloomy? (1)

PerfectionLost (1004287) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324440)

I have to say, I like some of the larger budget action/CGI flicks. That said they do take up way too much real estate at the theaters.

PSN's video store (3, Informative)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 4 years ago | (#30323840)

I was horrified when I saw some of the prices on the PSN video store. £2.50 to rent Zoolander. In the UK, that film is on TV every other weekend and then DVD is probably onto £3.99. There's no way I'd rent that, much less fork out the £6.99 for the SD version.

That said, with proper 3D movies coming into play, I'm quite willing to still go to the cinema, sure I find the price quite high but if you haven't seen a 3D film yet I urge you to go and see one, it's very rare that I'm impressed with technology but this is something else.

Movies are definitely not like music, except it would be nice if you could download your favourite single episode of Family Guy, The Simpsons or The Big Bang Theory instead of having to fork for the box set (or can you already do this).

Re:PSN's video store (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30323946)

except it would be nice if you could download your favourite single episode of Family Guy, The Simpsons or The Big Bang Theory instead of having to fork for the box set (or can you already do this).

You can already do this. Most bittorrent programs like Transmission or uTorrent will let you select which files in the torrent you want to download.

Simply find the torrent of the entire season, and uncheck all of the episodes except for the one you want.

Re:PSN's video store (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30324146)

it would be nice if you could download your favourite single episode of Family Guy, The Simpsons or The Big Bang Theory instead of having to fork for the box set (or can you already do this).

you can watch TV shows in streaming man, and it's not even illegal...

Re:PSN's video store (1)

mblase (200735) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324390)

That said, with proper 3D movies coming into play, I'm quite willing to still go to the cinema, sure I find the price quite high but if you haven't seen a 3D film yet I urge you to go and see one, it's very rare that I'm impressed with technology but this is something else.

Disclaimer: chose your directors carefully. Disney/Pixar has been relatively subdued with the 3D so far, only really pushing it when it adds punch to their animated action scenes. Anything by Zemekis uses 3D to excess in every other scene, and it made my eyes hurt badly to watch "Beowulf" that way.

New physical music media? (3, Interesting)

Mr. DOS (1276020) | more than 4 years ago | (#30323848)

The summary seems to suggest that audio needs a new physical format. Why? It's not like the so-called "musicians" of today want to make longer records (for which more storage would be necessary), and it's not like consumers want higher-quality audio, either - it's been repeatedly (although I wouldn't say conclusively) shown that most consumers can hear no problems with 128Kbps MP3's, and that they're perfectly happy with said bottom-of-the-barrel quality. CD's aren't great, but it's not as anybody's starving for something better (as opposed to video, where people seem to want constantly higher and higher resolution). Also - and I hate to say this, but - it seems as if the music industry is starting to "get" digital distribution which further negates the need for a new format (as opposed to the movie industry, who still totally less-than-three's physical distribution).

      --- Mr. DOS

Re:New physical music media? (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30323904)

Actually audio did get a new format, MP3. Losing the physical media was the best thing to happen to music. CD adoption was huge not just because it sounded better than tapes (casette tapes overtook 8-tracks despite having arguably inferior sound) but because they were conveinent.

No rewinding the tape. No searching for a song. People loved how easy it was to listen to music.

Digital music further seperated individual songs from albums, and made it easier to listen to your music on different devices wherever you are. You can carry 40 GB of music in your pocket much more easily than you can carry 1,000 physical discs.

iTunes and digital music outlets keep saying digital music sales are great. I don't see why the RIAA wants to spread constant doom and gloom. How does that help the industry and the artists they supposedly represent?

Re:New physical music media? (1)

jlf278 (1022347) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324300)

Well if consumers spent as much money on sound systems as they did on tv's, I think there would be a much higher preference for high bit-rate encoding. I used to be happy with 128 Kbps with my $60 computer speakers and internal tv speakers, but now that I have decent audio setups in my car and living room, the difference is easily noticeable like going from 480p to 720p.

Music and movies likely headed for the same fate (1, Interesting)

jarocho (1617799) | more than 4 years ago | (#30323870)

In five or ten years, a fair guess is that virtually all music and movies will be purchased in various on-demand subscription models. It's what consumers want. The companies which understand this are going to thrive. The declines mentioned in the article only seem like industry-wide problems because some of the players still haven't figured it out, and would rather prosecute their customers than adapt to a permanently-changed economic landscape. These latter companies are not long for this world.

Yes, there will probably always be physical and "owned" media revenues of some kind (collector's editions, etc.). But I think the tech is very close to being able to deliver subscriber streams to the the home on a ubiquitous scale, with mobile devices not far behind. The price points are the only things somewhat remaining to be determined.

Re:Music and movies likely headed for the same fat (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30323938)

Only if they fix their pricing. Pay per view movies on Dish Network currently cost $5, which if you know about Netflix is completely absurd (I suppose the immediacy is worth something to lots of people, but I can't imagine that $5 is anywhere near the revenue/profit maximizing price per movie).

Re:Music and movies likely headed for the same fat (1)

cmiller173 (641510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324332)

There are a number of movies that I like to re-watch. As a consumer I will still want a permanent copy of those. But in general I agree, dead are the days of 500+ title movie collection.

said it before, am saying it again (4, Interesting)

zmollusc (763634) | more than 4 years ago | (#30323892)

1. Forget chasing 'pirates'. This will save a lot of expensive legal bills. Cut back drastically on advertising too, as you don't need to whip people up into a frenzy to get them to theatres in the first week.

2. Make film (Citizen Kane2, The Reckoning: starring Adam Sandler or something).

3. Make a VCD cut and make unlabelled cheapo vcd's. Using the economies of scale, sell these so cheap that the guys selling pirate vcd will buy from you rather than burn their own copies. Your margin is the difference between a bulk pressed cd and a small scale burned copy.

4. Simultaneously sell the film as a download for the same price as you get for the vcd. ...wait a few weeks

5. Make a nicer, longer dvd cut of the film and, again, sell these so cheap that the guys selling pirate dvd will buy from you rather than burn their own copies.

6. Sell the dvd cut of the film online at the same price as the DVD wholesale price. .... wait some more

7. Theatre release of film in lovely THX/35mm

8. Dvd/Bluray boxed sets with extra everything.
9. Laugh all the way to the bank (which then gambles half your money away and pays the other half to its CEO).

Re:said it before, am saying it again (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324222)

Some of what you suggest is already happening.

Over the last couple of years we have started to see day-and-date releases of movies in Russia, India, China, etc (region 5 plus some other specific countries) with barebones DVDs that are a lot cheaper than tstandard releases. Sometimes they are english-unfriendly - only carrying a dub audiotrack for the local language - but not always. These R5 discs are still more expensive than the bootleg copies, but maybe only 50% more expensive instead of %500.

I can only hope (1)

TimeElf1 (781120) | more than 4 years ago | (#30323914)

I can only hope that the movie industry reads the history books, for those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Although, I can see a new market opening up, sort of a YouTube for full length movies. I wonder if this is the end of the golden age for Hollywood, I can't see movie producers willing to pay actors millions to act in their movies if their profit margins are falling off the page. I wonder if Bollywood will step in to fill in the gap? I really don't like musicals.

Duh! (1, Insightful)

chill (34294) | more than 4 years ago | (#30323918)

I've argued this for years. CDs and their predecessors are collections of individual performances, with a few exceptions. The music industry has made an entire business model on selling an expensive set based on the saleability of a single unit. That is, they sell albums based on people wanting just one or two songs.

Movies are not like that. As much as people like to joke that much coming out of Hollywood has 5 minutes of entertainment lost in 2+ hours of bad acting, poor dialog and non-existent plot, no one is really interested in seeing just trailers.

Add to that the perceived value by the audience. I can go to the store to but a DVD of a 2+ hour performance, or a CD of a dozen 2+ minute performances for about the same price. Why does a movie that cost $100 million to produce cost the same as a music CD that maybe cost $10 million (or $1 million, or less)? The movie industry isn't going broke, so the music industry must have INCREDIBLE profit margins and is screwing over the consumer like nobody's business!

Good music can be produced for next to nothing, whereas it is much more difficult to do that with movies. A song or album can be credibly done by an INDIVIDUAL, or maybe a band and a few extra people to produce. Ten people, tops, unless they're padding it. No sets to build, to props to make, etc.

The whole music industry argument that the movie industry is just like them and "next is just FUD.

Re:Duh! (2, Insightful)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324386)

CDs and their predecessors are collections of individual performances, with a few exceptions.

You've just broken the heart of every artist that's ever agonised over the running order of their album.

Good music can be produced for next to nothing, whereas it is much more difficult to do that with movies. A song or album can be credibly done by an INDIVIDUAL, or maybe a band and a few extra people to produce. Ten people, tops, unless they're padding it.

I agree up to a point, and I happen to prefer, on the whole, cheaply recorded music.

But consider that lots of people like the expensive stuff. The mainstream superstars spend millions on studio time with extremely high end equipment, studios with expensively built acoustics, engineers and mic technicians and session musicians who charge professional rates. How much do think it costs to hire a 40 piece orchestra for a day?

Still cheaper than a typical movie, but not what you can afford to do with your disposable income.

Re:Duh! (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324420)

A song or album can be credibly done by an INDIVIDUAL

There are a couple problems with writing, recording, and self-publishing your own album:

  • How do you promote it? The major labels have a lock on MTV, FM radio, and XM radio, the traditional ways to discover popular music.
  • How do you distribute it to people who don't have high-speed Internet access? The major labels have a lock on Walmart* and Best Buy, and some genres (such as country music) would appear to be more popular among people who live in areas where dial-up is the fastest (miles from the closest DSLAM, and no cable TV available).
  • How do you plan to avoid or defend copyright lawsuits in case part of your song happens to coincidentally match the hook of a song that was played on the radio? Compare Bright Tunes Music v. Harrisongs Music.

Another huge difference (4, Insightful)

plastbox (1577037) | more than 4 years ago | (#30323920)

Also, one pretty significant difference between the two is the cost of production. Terminator 2 cost about $90 million and is 137 minutes long. That's $647.482 per minute. A typical album might contain an hour of music or so and can (despite what the MPAA wants you to believe) be produced for next-to-nothing*.

Of course, I am not taking into account all the last millennium issues with distribution and publicity. I'm talking about the costs of actually making a movie or album

*By "next-to-nothing" I mean that cost of time in a studio and a good mixer/sound technician is low enough that even unknown, new bands can pool their money and pay to have an album recorded quite easily.

stale product (2, Informative)

fermion (181285) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324040)

The primary difference between movies and music is that movies are most often released to the retail chain as a stale product, i.e. they have already made most of the money they are going to make and are only released to make additional profits. OTOH, music has to make expenses and profits sold at this level.

Another difference is that music is still produced as an 'album', with al the related expenses, but is now often sold as tracks. This means that some tracks probably are required to cover some of the expenses of other tracks. OTOH, movies as still sold as complete units, and are sometimes bundled with other units to generate additional profits, not cover basic expenses.

The other difference is that music has been sold directly to masses for a few generations, so the incumbents has gotten used to this as the normal situation. OTOH, movies has only been sold to the masses at the retail level for a generation or two. Prior to the 80's, movies were sold to first run theaters, then a series of lower priced venues, then to TV. Even in the 80's, with VCRs, there was still an debate whether a movie should be 'priced to sell' or 'priced to rent'. It was not uncommon for a movie to be priced $50-$100.

I do not see that bluray is going to be a big format. We have music players which changed the music industry, and we are not going to be told what we must have to watch a movie. I think the anti-piracy push of the industry shows they get this. They want to keep video cameras out of movie theaters, to protect the real profit centers. They want to stop free video streaming, so they can develop that profit center. An amazing number of movies and tv are available for streaming. This, of course is made possible by extremely tight DRM, another thing the music biz does not have, and something, I think, the video biz will have to give up in time.

Download Size, Replays, Technology (0)

llZENll (545605) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324054)

You can download all the music you will ever listen to in one day from torrents. New movies come out every day and watching the same ones over is boring, downloading a HD movie or even a 1GB DVD rip still takes a while and is a pain for only one viewing. We reached the limits of the human ear a long time ago with mass produced audio technology. Movies aren't even close, we still need: better color and contrast, more resolution, 3D, holographic, sensual, etc. There are 100 years of more upgrades for movies to go through, which will drag the consumer through new formats and technologies which requires upgrading on all fronts, and money to be spent and made. With music this vanished with the CD 20 years ago. Eventually download speeds will catch up with current formats, but by the time that happens there will be a new format, for example for 3d, which will be huge and simply easier to buy or rent than download.

Moves: View Once, Large Download, Technological reasons to upgrade.
Music: Listen Forever, Small Download, No reason to upgrade ever again with the invention of the CD.

It's pretty simple.

Dissaggregation (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324058)

I think that the disaggregation thing is the main key. I haven't bought a physical CD in about 18 months. In the past 4 years I've bought I think 3 of them - in those few cases the only reason was that it was a soundtrack (which I typically buy whole) and the purchase price was less than what the online album cost.

Other than that, on any given album I usually only want 1 song - definitely no more than 4. Digital distribution lets me get only those songs that I want, enabling me to buy much more music.

I think a big part of it too though, is that music of a decent quality is much smaller in size. Even using lossless compression most full albums would fit within 350MB - using still reasonable compression we're looking at 150MB per album (which we've already established that people usually don't want all of). Compare to a movie - a crappy less-than-DVD quality copy that's been compressed all to hell is going to be at least 700MB. A decent high definition movie is going to run 6+ GB.

The jist of that is that any decent sized hard drive will hold my entire music collection with room to spare, whilst even a 2TB hard drive would likely only hold half of my movie collection. There's also the transfer speed issue. While some people have faster connections, plenty of residential broadband connections are still in the 1Mbps to 6Mbps range. That's lightning for downloading music. Movies - particularly HD movies, still take a while on those connections though.

I think from a TECHNOLOGY standpoint, movies are just at the point where songs were 12 years ago. They can be digitized and stored on a home computer, and some people are certainly doing it, but space constraints and the like are going to keep people from making it their format of choice just yet. Heck I remember the first MP3 I downloaded. "The Freshmen" by The Verve Pipe. Took a good while to download on my modem and as someone who didn't even know what an MP3 was I didn't know why the hell the file was so big (I was actually searching for a MIDI copy of the song, which naturally is tiny by comparison). After I got it (and tracked down a copy of Winamp to play the thing) I was shocked when I hit play and the actual song started playing - as I said I was expecting something more akin to MIDI. Still, having only an 800MB hard drive with just one song being 5MB, I certainly didn't envision this being the way I'd prefer to get my music anytime soon.

That's the place I see movies at now. The only reason we're seeing online film sales is that politically the industry has seen the success of music sales and are willing to experiment a bit more. Once we start seeing 20+ Mbps connections in the home as the norm though, and are sporting 1 PB hard drives in our home machines, then I think we'll start seeing physical movie mediums die.

go quietly into that good night (2, Funny)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324116)

The movie business is facing many of the same challenges that are bedeviling music, but it's not about to go quietly into that good night

Music is going completely away? Wow. After several millenia of human musical composition I would have figured the art form had some staying power, but I guess it was a pretty good run after all. Though I must admit I was kind of looking forward to the idea of hearing new music in the future.

oh well

DVDA and SACD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30324122)

Both killed by greed and proprietaryness.

Overpriced hardware, presumably because of overpriced licences for the technology.

Even Sony couldn't afford the license for more recent Sony hardware, the PS3, which initially supported SACD.

FAIL FAIL FAIL.

CDs suck.

Music vs. Movies (1)

BigBlueOx (1201587) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324168)

Well, one big difference between music and movies is that I still occasionally hear new music I like.

When was the last time a new movie came out that I was even mildly interested in seeing? Donnie Darko? How long ago was that??

Hey! That's my lawn! Get off!! Pesky kids.

Re:Music vs. Movies (1)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324416)

When was the last time a new movie came out that I was even mildly interested in seeing? Donnie Darko? How long ago was that??

Donnie Darko - 2001. Which means you haven't seen Primer - 2004. You need to fix that now.

Hollywood Gotterdamerung (1)

flyneye (84093) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324200)

Like the Music and News industries and countless other dead industries and even dinosaurs ,governments and religions before, the movie industry is not making the concessions necessary for its survival and is taking no pointers from the failures of others. Rationalizing to appease whatever future you wish for, rather than viewing the lessons of history makes for a pretty pathetic read. Wishing the best for todays failing industries is kind of like crapping in one hand and wishing in the other. Which hand will fill with tangible results first?

            We should welcome the change as it will lead to better things. Where there is demand there will be product to fill it. I just may not be the same product enjoyed by our ancestors. Is it really sad that we don't ride horses everywhere anymore? Is it problematic that television displaced radio? Should we cry for the absence of player pianos? Digging farther back, it's no longer popular to light pine trees afire to let the tribe watch the pretty colors of the burn.

Truthfully most people are tired of watching the same crap recycled over and over, but still do and will until presented with other kinds of content and diversion.
Both our hands are filled with recycled crap. Time for change.

         

Fundamentally Different (2, Insightful)

sycodon (149926) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324232)

Music and movies are fundamentally different. Aside from the obvious visual aspect, they are much longer, require that you pay attention, and get worse with each viewing.

How many people would put on Top Gun each morning when they get into work? How many people would actually pay attention to it after the fifth time that week? How many people wouldn't notice how cheesy the dialog and special affects are after subsequent viewings?

I suspect that if you were put into a PET scanner, entirely different portions of the brain would light up when watching a movie vs. listen to music.

So while music can be listened to over and over again with the same level of enjoyment, movies can't be watched over and over again...unless you are stoned.

I don't think movies are going to go the way of music.

Well, shit... (2, Funny)

ThousandStars (556222) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324246)

I read the title - "Why Movies Are Not Exactly Like Music" - and thought, "If you can't tell the difference, you've got bigger problems than piracy!"

Time for a new (old) strategy for music industry? (1)

jayme0227 (1558821) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324250)

unlike CDs, which people stopped buying once they could get the individual songs they really wanted.

Is it time for the music industry to attempt to revert back to putting out "complete albums?" If studios went back to creating albums that uses each song as a piece of a whole, rather than disjointed collections of songs that have no relation to each other, would this increase sales? Would today's listeners be receptive to such an album or have we become to "ADD" to be able to handle listening to a whole album?

Re:Time for a new (old) strategy for music industr (1)

domatic (1128127) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324462)

That doesn't work for bubblegum acts like Britney and boy bands and bubblegum acts seem to be where most of the money is. That isn't the only problem the talent pool capable of consistently producing albums where every song is good even if not related to each other is small. If we're talking concept albums where the songs are thematically related then the talent pool is smaller still. And the audience for such is discriminating and won't buy just any old crap you're shoveling.

It's not just about the medium (1)

stokessd (89903) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324304)

The music industry has failed because they missed the "Why" there was disaggregation. When they pump out huge masses of auto-tuned crap albums where there is only one song that is actually barely listenable, then there is no incentive to buy the whole album when you don't have to. There are precious few artists out there that make an entire album a cohesive unit that resists breaking apart without lessening the individual pieces.

The music industries death spiral is really obvious these days. I used to go to Borders to check new music in genre's other than top 40. The music was more expensive than the other options I had available to me (the ma and pop music stores had been crushed by that point). But now, the music selection is so small that in the blues and folk sections I've got significantly more selection at home than they have. Now there are no brick and mortar stores to browse so I don't buy from brick and mortar stores.

Sheldon

Other ways movies are different (2, Insightful)

wiwa (905999) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324314)

I can download an album in less time than it takes to listen to it. I can barely tell the difference between the downloaded version and what I would buy at a record store. And it's already in the format I want, either for listening to it on the computer or putting it on my iPhone.

A movie, on the other hand, I'm probably going to have to leave to download overnight. It still won't be quite as good quality as the DVD version, and it will certainly be inferior to the BluRay version. If I want to watch it on my TV, I have to go to the hassle of burning it to a DVD. (If I want to watch it on my iPhone, I have to go to the even greater hassle of transcoding it.) It's probably easier to just walk to the video store around the corner and shell out the $4 to get 3 movies right away.

What's more, that 200 MB album I downloaded is probably going to get listened to dozens of times. The 2 GB movie might get watched twice if it's REALLY good.

technology and talent (1)

unclepedro (312196) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324382)

People are inherently musical. While people may be inherently storytellers, a movie isn't like storytelling in the same way that recorded music is about "playing music" (otherwise we'd be seeing Lake Wobegon XVII: Garrison Stands Up And Tells Another Story (This Time It's Personal)). The music industry formed because of a distribution problem that today is basically gone. Movie studios formed because of a talent and production resource issue that is still an issue today and will be as long as humans are involved.

Movies are also harder to make well, both from a talent perspective and a technological perspective. People can make records at home now that rival the best production available in studios, but that's not really true for movies. Even when the technology is there so that VFX made at home stand up to Lucasfilm, etc., there's still the problem that good movies require writing a good script, which (as a musician), I have to say is a lot harder than writing a song or an album. What's more, playing music is easier than acting, and as a result there are millions more great musicians than there are great actors.Most people are not inherently believable actors, and they don't practice acting in their spare time. And that's a multiplicative factor, since a great record can be recorded by one person, but how many times can you watch Castaway?

The business model and distribution for movies may have some tough times, but I think there will always be a market.

DRM worked (1)

dazedNconfuzed (154242) | more than 4 years ago | (#30324400)

Dare I say it on /. but ... for movies, DRM worked.

(Yes I know there are exceptions to what I'm about to say. I'm trying to make a point, not write a voluminous tome of completeness.)

A CD contains the complete content, uncompressed, with no DRM. Save for a few technical arguments that make most peoples' eyes roll, nothing in audio is better. CD drives are ubiquitous. You can take any CD and pop it into any computer and with few, if any, clicks it is copied into your computer and you never need touch that CD again. Thanks to no DRM, it's so easy to copy/rip a CD it's almost hard not to.

A DVD contains a fraction of the content, with DRM. Until we can distribute uncompressed UDTV-format video content for pennies, we'll keep getting upgrades. DVD drives are close to ubiquitous. While you can take any DVD and pop it into any computer to view, copying that DVD onto your computer requires non-trivial technically-illegal software with the user understanding technical obscurities. Thanks to DRM, most people are incapable of copying/ripping DVDs.

Yes, many on /. know how to beat DVD DRM. Some of us even have the T-shirt [cmu.edu] to prove it. ...but it's not trivial, it's not something so easy that it's almost unavoidable. The vast majority of users not only don't have a "video jukebox" set up on their PC, they wouldn't have a clue how to start.

Upshot is: DRM worked. DVD CSS did its job. And the reason "movies are not exactly like music", for purposes of this thread, is that thanks to DRM, DVDs resist ripping, while CDs practically encourage it.

Movies and Concerts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30324410)

Hollywood will be fine because movies are similar to concerts. People ENJOY going to the theater and watching a movie on the big screen (at least I and all of my friends and family do). Especially large scale action movies. The Matrix, Transformers, The Dark Night, and Apollo 13 were all AWESOME on a huge screen. That's an experience that a person can't get at home, same as with concerts. Those kinds of experiences will always be in demand.

That's the big difference between Hollywood and the big music developers. The RIAA does not sell experiences, and Hollywood does.

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