Studios Must Work To Avoid Digital Pitfalls

Top execs call for more online content.

The movie industry will face the same piracy woes of the music business by holding back online content, top digital executives stated during Billboard's Digital Entertainment Conference & Awards (DECA) today (Nov. 4).

Sony, AOL, RealNetworks, Yahoo and Napster executives told the audience at the View From the Top panel -- moderated by Billboard executive editor Tamara Conniff -- that movie rights holders need to aggressively work to make their content available online despite concerns of DVD cannibalization.

"Legitimate legal alternatives need to be as good as the illegitimate services," said RealNetworks chief strategy officer Richard Wolpert.

Napster chairman/CEO Chris Gorog said, "Concerns about cannibalization of the physical goods world is staring right into the rear view mirror."

Bill Wilson, senior VP/GM of AOL Entertainment, argued that movie studios and producers of television content are becoming increasingly pro-active in making their content available for promotion online.

On the music side, the panel stated that concerns in digital entertainment are shifting away from basic downloading and streaming rights to new opportunities that allow consumers to shift subscription-based content off personal computers.

Sony Corporation of America chief technology officer Phil Wiser said that it could be as much as a decade before the networked living room becomes a reality.

Another key challenge facing the digital music sector is creating convenient payment solutions for young consumers.

"Making billing easy for music is one of the huge hurdles to get over," said David Goldberg, VP/GM of music at Yahoo.

In other DECA news:

An afternoon keynote with artist/producer Todd Rundgren revealed that the Internet is changing the roles of traditional power players in the music business.

Rundgren endorsed a shift to a subscription-based model for music consumption. "There is going to be a point when the distinction between where you discover music and where you purchase music disappears," he said.

Rundgren added that such a model would empower music and artist discovery. "In terms of discovering music, the commoditized model is a hindrance. The one CD -- good or bad -- for $20 model has to go."


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