Have a Cigar

Now, it doesn't really matter who or where, but I heard the most inane and just plain insipid opinion on travel technology distribution the other day. Not surprisingly, I have a few observations to make.

A parallel was drawn by this party between travel distribution and music distribution. Specifically, as to how the music distribution business recently has undergone changes that have decimated many of the companies which formerly occupied strong positions in the business. This change seemed bad at first—that is, until someone stamped it with a brand new spin and gee-whizzed some not terribly creative ways to make a buck at it. This company, as you might have guessed, is that darling of conspicuous technological affluence, Apple.

I'm not going into it. Other bloggers more technologically adept than I already have. The long and the short of it is that a full album costs the same as it used to; listening to singles is not an "innovation," nor is selling them. Predictably enough, when piracy became accepted and iTunes became the new Virgin Megastore (content limitations, ditzy staff, et all), fewer records got sold, fewer people made a living, and less music got made. What does get made is lowest-common-denominator stuff found packaged with movies, celebrity-approved designer fragrances, and expensive sweatsuits.

Do you listen to better music than you did in 1997? I didn't think so. Do kids save up their allowances and count down the days until the release of the album they've been waiting for from their favorite band? I don't think so. Yes, there is a reason for this.

Back to travel. Where does all of this put us? Luckily or not, try as you might, you cannot 'pirate' an airline seat or a hotel night. The type of malfeasance involved in not paying for travel is pretty widely frowned upon in our society (e.g., credit card fraud, email phishing scams, identity theft) and therefore the logic doesn't quite stand in the comparison. If one were to argue that Geffen, DreamWorks, and major music retail chains had it coming to them for some other reason than the widespread acceptance of music piracy, then one would be flatly wrong.

So, since the discussion is ridiculous on its face; let's continue for fun. Do we as a traveling public want the outcome of the music industry to befall travel? As in an outcome in which we have less choice, less competition, and more price control? Getting fewer choices for the same price? Granted, iTunes gets better and better, but there's all kinds of stuff missing, especially classical tunes. And for what it's worth, CDs have a higher sampling rate and sound better than digital files. Vinyl sounds better—and is way more fun.

If you'd like to post a comment and disagree, please do so. But don't bother writing that I work for a global distribution system.

Yes, I work for a GDS.

Pink Floyd famously parodied the now-extinct backslapping record executive in their song "Have a Cigar." As much as we all enjoy a laugh, let's not dance on the grave of the record industry fat cat. Now that Mr. Fatcat is gone, defunct, extinct, there's another group of twentysomething forward-thinking musicians like Pink Floyd out there right now. The difference is, you will never, ever, hear of them.

Road Warrior • Miami • Madrid • www.amadeus.com

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