Plugged:
I love videogames. A good videogame is more fun and engaging to me than any CD, movie or TV show.

That's because games are immersive. They're interactive. The good ones have great plot, good voice acting (yes, there is acting in videogames) and graphics that help suspend disbelief. But I get to control the action, mostly. I'm not watching a character, I am the character.

That's why I'm all thumbs up for the introduction of the new Guitar Hero III and the pending launch of Rock Band. While sales may be down, people still love music. And these days, people want to interact with their media. Whether that manifests itself in a mashup of two different songs, a home-filmed user-generated music video, or playing one of these games -- it doesn't matter.

The music industry has been slow to fully grasp this concept outside of the occasional trial here and there. That's changing, reflected in the industry's support for both games.

I wholeheartedly subscribe to the belief that these games may one day be as common a platform for music enjoyment as the music video. I see absolutely no reason why every new album that comes out shouldn't have a playable level on either game, or others to come.

We've gone from listening to music, to watching music, to now playing music (pun intended). Just as musical genres and distribution methods change, so do the needs and demands of those consuming it. The generations to come will not be passive consumers content to simply flip through liner notes. They want to be involved.

Anyone in the industry who doesn't understand that needs to sit down for a good three hours and cramp up their hand playing Guitar Hero. If playing that game doesn't make you feel closer to the music, then you have no soul and should get out of the business immediately. But if it does, then you get it, and you should see the opportunity. Guitar Hero and Rock Band are only the doorway. They're a beginning, not an end.

UnPlugged:
So OiNK got shut down, only to re-emerge as BOiNK. Anybody sensing a trend here?

We can list off all the big, bad P2P networks that have been shut down due to legal challenges since the landmark Supreme Court ruling against Grokster, and we can count the paltry settlement checks collected by the RIAA from those it has subpoenaed, but are we really any closer to ending the piracy problem?

It may make industry executives feel better to point at the heads of the original Napster, Grokster, eDonkey and other P2P service that they've impaled on spikes and wave around like victory flags. But P2P network are like a hydra -- chop off one head and two more take its place.

It's almost the end of 2007 and I can't believe I'm still writing these words, but going after the pirate networks who gain the most traffic only serves to drive their users even further underground, to even darker sites that will be even harder to track and more difficult to monetize.

Legal P2P services? Please. Legal P2Ps have DRM and require users to pay for each song. That's why they don't work, haven't worked and won't work. The industry is supporting the failing models while fighting the successful ones.

Free music is like a drug. Once young, reckless kids get a taste they’re going to want more. Shutting down one P2P service has about as much affect as shutting down a Columbian drug cartel. Suing Jammie Thomas and all those college students is about as helpful as throwing drug addicts in jail.

Like the war on drugs, the war on piracy seems doomed to become an endless game of whack-a-mole that just wastes a lot of time and money. I say take the advice of a rather famous song and just "legalize it."

By that I mean, stop treating the piracy fight as some sort of necessary moral crusade blind to the lack of ROI. Accept it as an unfortunate reality, and try to profit from it where you can.