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  • Joanne Tong

Let Them Eat Cake

Updated: Aug 2, 2020

Let Them Eat Cake

Let Them Eat Cake. Pen and ink. Originally published in the Daily Pennsylvanian on January 25, 2007.

To combat the problem of illegal downloads* on campus, Penn proudly announced that it was offering Ruckus, a non-iTunes compatible (!) music streaming service.

While I’m definitely a music lover and appreciated the effort on their part, the service seemed to be a total frivolity when there were so many other issues that needed fixing on-campus. Forget free music — I’d have preferred something as basic as free laundry.

This is a scan of the original drawing prior to publication. More about my stint at the DP here.


* More context:

Even after Napster lost its court battle to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the use of Napster clones (Morpheus, Kazaa) or alternatives like BitTorrent was pretty commonplace to anyone under 25. To curb its losses, the music industry went after university students. College kids across the nation who exceeded expected bandwidths were placed under investigation, and those found guilty of illegal downloads were slapped with cease-and-desist letters from the RIAA and taken to court.

Pretty counter-intuitive strategy. Five years later, the RIAA “appears to be dying” — and no wonder. Most musicians have embraced new methods of digital distribution, with some even disintermediating the record labels completely (i.e., offering music directly to consumers) and focusing on making money through concerts and merchandise instead.

In the words of one of my Marketing professors, Pete Fader (who actually testified as an expert witness at the Napster trial): “Rule one… is don’t sue your customers.”

More insights from Fader about Napster and the music industry here.

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