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The Net Effect

July 11, 1999

Your cover story was right: The music industry is truly about to undergo a revolution in production and distribution ("Downloading a Revolution," by Geoff Boucher, July 4).

And the music moguls, who grew up in the old system, are about to lose what they know and love: the way they made their money in the old-fashioned, centrally controlled production and distribution system.

All they need do is to look up from their computer-based spreadsheets and check out an industry that has already gone this route: computer software. The software industry's entire product is distributed in digital form. Early on, the publishers were worried about how easy it was to duplicate their product and tried copy protection schemes. These were all easily overcome. For the most part, copy protection is not used much anymore. In fact, there is even a small sector called "shareware," where programs are distributed in some form of "try before your buy."

The parallels here are just too obvious. In a few years, expect to see music stores paralleling software stores. There will still be shrink-wrapped product, as well as new distribution channels, like Web sites where people can download (for a fee) the latest singles and albums as well as obscure, previously "hard to find" music.

ERROL VAN STRALEN

La Mirada

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First of all, I am for anything that helps to break the stronghold of a major record company, and the way it has forced art to be dictated by commerce.

But I do think many are underestimating the idea that consumers love to collect something tangible, something they can hold in their hands. Why else would someone buy a video of a movie when they can rent it as often as they like, watch or tape it from cable or pay per view?

Consider the collectibles market: toys, Beanie Babies, comic books, baseball cards. It is a booming industry, bigger than ever. People love to own and collect something that is tangible.

Music should be priced to sell and greater emphasis put on design and packaging. When CDs first came onto the market the high cost was blamed on the limited manufacturing plants. That has been a resolved issue for many years. The prices never went down; they in fact keep going up. It is no wonder the tide is turning.

VICTOR M. DAWAHARE

Temple City

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