The Story Within The ...


With the fervor surrounding the Beijing Olympics close to its apex, any story tied to China gains some extra juice.

That’s why you see announcements like the one by IODA (the Independent Online Distribution Alliance) launching the largest digital music store in China timed to lead into the Olympics opening ceremonies on August 8.

Timing aside, IODA paints the classic contrarian story with an angle that never goes out of style, the quest for money.

At a high level, here’s how the IODA story flows:

  • China just took the worldwide Internet user mantle, surpassing the U.S. with 253 million Web users at last count. To paraphrase Jed Clampett from The Beverly Hillbillies, “There’s gold in them there hills.
  • But piracy has crippled the music industry in China. In fact, the largest search engine in China, Baidu, owes its king-of-the-hill status largely to pointing the Chinese netizen to links for downloading unlicensed music.
  • Now, for roughly three cents per song, the Chinese consumer can download music.
  • IODA and its partners generate oodles of yuan in the largest Internet market in the world, and at three cents a crack, I do mean “oodles and oodles.

The Associated Press ran with the story, which in turn drove coverage in the print media and the blogosphere. AP did a decent-enough job telling the story, equating the cost of the monthly subscription service to the price of a burger, fries and soda at McDonald’s

But it missed an opportunity to accentuate the relevance of the story to Americans and others around the world.

Namely, why can’t anyone download songs at three shekels?

As I understand it, the Wawawawa (just felt like throwing in an extra “wa”) music is not DRM-protected to make downloading as easy as possible. What’s to prevent me from grabbing the latest track from indie band Woodhands?

Or if this isn’t possible, then why isn’t it possible? And how long before some enterprising acne-challenged kid codes a solution for the world at

That’s the story I expected to read.

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