Lego man with guitarWhile it has nothing to do with music, this story of Lego’s success with Mindstorms hints at some powerful lessons:

Lego […] realized that their proprietary code was loose on the Internet and debated how best to handle the hackers… Some Lego executives worried that the hackers might cannibalize the market for future Mindstorms accessories or confuse potential customers looking for authorized Lego products.

After a few months of wait-and-see, Lego concluded that limiting creativity was contrary to its mission of encouraging exploration and ingenuity. Besides, the hackers were providing a valuable service… Rather than send out cease and desist letters, Lego decided to let the modders flourish; it even wrote a “right to hack” into the Mindstorms software license.

The end result of Lego’s “right to hack?” Mindstorms became their all-time best-selling product.

Fast-forward to 2007, where a Digital Media Survey tells us that, of 1700 people questioned: “86% have used a social networking site this year, up from 74% in 2006. Four out of every ten social network users have music embedded in their personal profiles, rising to 65% among teenagers.

In short, social networking sites are fueling music consumption in all demographics. And given Facebook’s popularity, it surprised no one when the Facebook Audio application appeared, allowing users on that site to stream eachother’s playlists.

Now, let’s give the RIAA one thing: They’re consistent. While many are learning the lesson that Lego’s executives took to heart, Big Music sticks to the same old party line: Facebook Audio met the same fate as dozens of other music-streaming applications.

Red-hot social networking service Facebook has pulled the plug on a popular music application in a bid to avoid legal problems with the recording industry… While no lawsuits had been filed by the recording industry against the service, playlist swapping on Facebook didn’t go unnoticed by the major labels. A source at one label alleged the company was engaging in “massive infringement.”

Facebook was probably wise to pull the application, given the RIAA’s litigious nature. But does anyone really believe that the major labels are further ahead because of the move?

Tangentially related, but too good to miss:

Archie has become a tool for the RIAA

The very first story in Archie #577 (September 2007) is a cautionary tale for kiddies called “Record Breaker” wherein all those leechers (and wannabe leecher kids) out there are taught that they’re the ones responsible for driving their favorite artists into penury and worse perhaps.

There’s a scan of the comic at the link above.

It called to mind my favorite Archie comic. Archie has goofed, and is banging his head against a wall in frustration when Jughead happens along. Jughead asks why Archie would hurt himself like that, and Archie responds “because it feels so good when I stop.”

I’ll bet there’s another lesson in there for the RIAA …

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