Monday, May 27, 2013

The Age of Music Piracy Is Officially Over

(By Paul Boutin, Wired magazine, Nov 29, 2010)

Mark down the date: The age of stealing music via the Internet is officially over. It’s time for everybody to go legit. The reason: We won. And all you audiophiles and copyfighters, you know who fixed our problems? The record labels and online stores we loved to hate.  Granted, when Apple launched the iTunes Music Store in 2003 there was a lot to complain about. Tracks you bought on computer A often refused to play on gadget B, thanks to that old netizen bogeyman, digital rights management. (It’s crippleware!) My local Apple store was actually picketed by nerds in hazmat suits attempting to educate passersby on the evils of DRM.  Well played, protesters: In January 2009, Apple announced that it would remove the copyright protection wrapper from every song in its store. Today, Amazon and Walmart both sell music encoded as MP3s, which don’t even have hooks for copyright-protection locks. The battle is over, comrades.

A few years ago, audiophiles dismissed iTunes’ 128-Kbps resolution as anemic, even though it supposedly passed rigid blind testing against full-bandwidth CD tracks of the same song. The sound is compressed, connoisseurs said. The high end is mangled. Good work, audiophiles: Online stores have cranked up the audio quality to a fat 256 Kbps. To most ears, it’s indistinguishable from a CD. (Actually, most ears are listening through crummy earbuds anyway, but whatever.) It’s certainly better than most of the stuff out on BitTorrent. If you still hate the sound of digital music, you probably need to go back to vinyl. You can get a pretty good turntable for around $500. Which, I’ll just point out, is not free. And when you steal vinyl records, it’s called shoplifting.

Music is so cheap, there’s no reason not to buy. Besides, many downloads send 20 cents straight to the band. Haters might get a bit more traction with the gripe that official stores still don’t carry every track ever recorded. You won’t find, say, AC/DC or the Beatles in iTunes. For other artists, contract restrictions mean some songs can’t be downloaded in every country, which indeed seems dumb for a store on the border-free Internet. Americans, for example, can’t buy Daniel Zueras’ 2007 Spanish hit “No Quiero Enamorarme” from the iTunes store for Spain. Still, the available inventory keeps growing, including artists’ back catalogs. I recently discovered that Salt City Orchestra’s limited-edition, vinyl-only 1997 nightclub fave “The Book” has been kicking around iTunes since 2008. Way back in the day, I had to trade favors with a pro DJ to get that record. It’s getting harder and harder to find the few holdouts to hang a reasonable complaint on.

That leaves one last war cry: Music should be free! It’s art! Friends, a song costs a dollar. Walmart has pushed some of its MP3s down to 64 cents. At Grooveshark, you can sample any song you want before you buy. Rdio charges $5 a month for all the music you can eat, served up via the cloud.  So there’s really no reason not to buy—and surely you understand by now that there are reasons why you should. When you buy instead of bootlegging, you’re paying the band. Most download retailers send about 70 percent of each sale to the record companies that own the music. Artists with 15 percent royalty deals get 15 percent of that 70 percent, or about 10.5 cents per dollar of sales. Those who write their own music and own their own music publishing companies—an increasingly common arrangement—get another 9.1 cents in “mechanical royalties.” Every download sends almost 20 cents straight to the band.

A recent court ruling against Universal Records—and in favor of the rapper Eminem—might even lead to downloads of older music being treated not as sales but as licensed music. (Newly written contracts tend to address digital music sales directly.) That would bump the artist’s split with the label from around 15 percent to an average of 50 percent. If that happens and you can still rationalize not throwing four dimes Eminem’s way, then maybe there’s another reason you’re still pirating music: You’re cheap.

How To Save The Music Industry
(By Paul McGuinness, [British] GQ Magazine, Aug 2010)

Even after three decades managing the world's biggest rock band, I have a lifetime hero as far from the world of U2 as you could ever get. He was a feisty 19th-century composer of light orchestral music. His name was Ernest Bourget.  It was Bourget who in 1847, while enjoying a meal in a Paris restaurant, suddenly heard the orchestra playing one of his own compositions. He was startled - of course he had not been paid or asked permission for this. So he resolved the problem himself: he walked out of the restaurant without paying his bill.  Bourget's action was a milestone in the history of copyright law. The legal wrangling that followed led to the establishment of the first revenue-collection system for composers and musicians. The modern music industry has a lot to thank him for.

I was thinking of Ernest Bourget on a January day two years ago when, in front of some of the world's best-known music managers gathered in a conference hall in the seafront Palais de Festivals in Cannes, I plunged into the raging debate about internet piracy and the future of music.  I had been invited to speak by the organisers of the Midem Music Convention - the "Davos" of the music industry - where, along the corridors, in the cafes and under the palm trees, the music industry's great and good debated the Big Question that dominates our business today: how are we going to fund its future?  My message was quite simple - and remains so today. We are living in an era when "free" is decimating the music industry and is starting to do the same to film, TV and books. Yet for the world's internet service providers, bloated by years of broadband growth, "free music" has become a multi-billion dollar bonanza. What has gone so wrong? And what can be done now to put it to right?

To my amazement, my speech was splashed across the world media. Partly this was due to the timing - President Sarkozy of France had just become the champion of the global music industry, tabling a new law requiring the telecom companies to finally crack down on internet piracy for the first time. But there were other reasons too.  Well-known artists very seldom speak out on piracy. There are several reasons for this. It isn't seen as cool or attractive to their fans - Lars Ulrich from Metallica was savaged when he criticised Napster. Other famous artists sometimes understandably feel too rich and too successful to be able to speak out on the issue without being embarrassed.  Then there is the backlash from the bloggers - those anonymous gremlins who wait to send off their next salvo of bilious four-letter abuse whenever a well-known artist sticks their head above the parapet. When Lily Allen recently posted some thoughtful comments about how illegal file-sharing is hurting new developing acts, she was ravaged by the online mob and withdrew from the debate.

Nevertheless, Bono has stepped into the argument. Quite unprompted by me, he wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times in January and he pulled no punches. "A decade's worth of music file sharing and swiping has made clear the people it hurts are the creators... and the people this reverse Robin-Hooding benefits are rich service providers, whose swollen profits perfectly mirror the lost receipts of the music business." Bono is a guy who, when he decides to support a cause, does so with enormous passion. But even he was amazed by the backlash when he was mauled by the online crowd.  You have to ask how these inchoate, abusive voices are helping shape the debate about the future of music. I rarely do news interviews but when I spoke to the influential technology news site CNET last autumn I was set on by a horde of bloggers. One of them was called "Anonymous Coward." I'm not worried about criticism from Anonymous Coward. But I am worried about how many politicians may be influenced by his rantings. The level of abuse and sheer nastiness of it was extraordinary. Without Anonymous Coward and his blogosphere friends, I think many artists and musicians would be more upfront about the industry's current predicament. They might tell the world what they really feel about people who steal their music. But it's understandable why they don't - and that is partly why I don't mind filling the vacuum.

It is two years on from my Cannes speech. Some things are better in the music world, but unfortunately the main problem is still just as bad as it ever was. Artists cannot get record deals. Revenues are plummeting. Efforts to provide legal and viable ways of making money from music are being stymied by piracy. The latest figures from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) shown that 95 per cent of all music downloaded is illegally obtained and unpaid for. Indigenous music industries from Spain to Brazil are collapsing. An independent study endorsed by trade unions says Europe's creative industries could lose more than a million jobs in the next five years. Maybe the message is finally getting through that this isn't just about fewer limos for rich rock stars.

Of course this isn't crippling bands like U2 and it would be dishonest to claim it was. I've always believed artists and musicians need to take their business as seriously as their music. U2 understood this. They have carefully pursued careers as performers and songwriters, signed good deals and kept control over their life's work. Today, control over their work is exactly what young and developing performers are losing. It is not their fault. It is because of piracy and the way the internet has totally devalued their work.

So how did we get here? How is it in 2010, in a world of iTunes and Spotify, of a healthy live music scene and hundreds of different legal sites, that making money fairly from recorded music remains so elusive?  It is facile to blame record companies. Whoever those old Canutes were, the executives who wanted to defend an old business model rather than embrace a new one, they left the business long ago. Last year, more than a quarter of all the music purchased globally was sold via the internet and mobile phones. The record companies know they have to monetise the internet or they will not survive.  If you had to encapsulate the crisis of the music industry in the past decade, it would be in one momentous word: "free." The digital revolution essentially made music free. It is now doing the same with films and books. For years we (and by "we" I mean the music business, musicians, creative industries, governments and regulators) have grappled with this new concept of "free." One minute we have fought it like a monster, the next we have embraced it like a friend. As consumers, we have come to love "free" - but as creators, seeking reward for our work, it has become our worst nightmare. In recent years the music business has tried to "fight free with free," seeking revenues from advertising, merchandising, sponsorship - anything, in fact, other than the consumer's wallet. These efforts have achieved little success. Today, "free" is still the creative industries' biggest problem.  In America there are no more Tower Records or Virgin records stores and many independent stores are just about hanging on. Consumers now buy CDs in a bookstore such as Barnes & Noble or Borders.

The good news, I think, is that we have woken up to the issue. In the early years of the decade, it felt almost like heresy even to question the mantra of "free content" on the internet. But attitudes have changed. Today we take a far more sober view as we see what damage "free" has done to the creative industries, above all to music. Governments around the world today, led by Britain and France are now passing laws that, if effectively implemented, would dramatically limit the traffic of free music, films and TV programmes. This is progress even if it comes years late. We are, I hope, beginning to understand what "free" really means for the world of music and creative work.  Numerous commercial strategies have tried to deal with "free." Today, many believe music subscription is the Holy Grail that will bring money flowing back into the business. I agree with them. A per-household monthly payment to Spotify for all the music you want seems to me a great deal. I like the idea of the subscription packages from Sky Songs too. These surely point the way to the future where music is bundled or streamed and paid for by usage rather than by units sold. Why should the price paid not correspond to the number of times the music is "consumed"?

Spotify is the service capturing the headlines. But it's just as potent an example of the difficulties of fighting free as any other initiative of the last decade. Spotify came into being as a free-to-user service funded by advertisements. It can never survive that form in the long term and now has the tricky task of converting free users into paid subscribers. I wish it success. Clearly the revenues currently flowing through to artists are not sufficient.  There are clever minds working out how the business model of "music access" is going to work. Perhaps this year Steve Jobs, the genius behind Apple, will finally join us. Jobs is a man of decisiveness and surprises. Bono and I did a deal with him, sitting in his kitchen in Palo Alto, to launch the U2 iPod in 2004 - I still have the notes I scribbled down in the back of my diary. Jimmy Iovine was there, too, and I remember he said of iTunes, "This may be the penicillin!" Sadly it turned out not to be. Steve is the guy who has always magically known what the consumer wants before the consumer even knows it. I wish he would put that great mind and that great corporation of his to work devising a model that finally allows artists and creators to get properly rewarded for their work. Maybe he's working on it right now. I hope so.

Newspapers and magazines are trying to reinvent their businesses to deal with "free." It started with a honeymoon while mainstream titles opened up websites and attracted vast numbers of online readers, dwarfing their physical subscriptions. But the honeymoon has come to a miserable end. Newspaper circulation and advertising revenues have fallen sharply. Rupert Murdoch has re-introduced the "paywall" for some of his flagship newspaper titles such as the Times and the Sunday Times. Murdoch has great influence - his empire straddles all the businesses with stakes in the debate -- from the social network MySpace to the Wall Street Journal to Fox Movie Studios and the broadcaster Sky. I'm disappointed that he didn't take a closer look at the music industry's experience and see the dark side of "free" earlier.  Tougher strategies have been tried against free, too. Suing and prosecuting iconic businesses like the Pirate Bay, whose operators were fleecing creators, does not look pretty in the media, but it has proved necessary, and it works as a deterrent. Newspaper proprietors and book publishers today are doing battle with Google to protect their revenue from the free flow of news and literary works.

But litigation has its ugly side, too. Suing consumers is not a good strategy. Some years ago record companies in America and elsewhere launched tens of thousands of legal action against individual file-sharers. I never supported them. Even as a measure of last resort, the lawsuits were cumbersome, deeply unpopular and ultimately ineffective. Headlines about a grandmother being fined hundreds of thousands of dollars did not properly present the big picture, and they were terrible PR for the industry.

It was with this mixture of semi-successful and failed strategies to fight free in mind that I took to the stage in January 2008. I felt the music industry had to unite around a stronger position on the whole issue. Managers of well-known bands generally do not like to do this -- like their artists, they worry about alienating fans. Many managers I know have the cosiest private relationships conceivable with record companies, yet publicly will refuse to acknowledge that music piracy is a problem. Great artists need great record companies. They can be big or small.

So what's the answer to "free"? It starts by challenging a myth - the one that says free content is an inexorable fact of life brought on by the unstoppable advance of technology. It is not. It is in fact part of the commercial agenda of powerful technology and telecoms industries. Look at the figures as free music helped drive an explosion of broadband revenues in the past decade. Revenues from the "internet access" (fixed line and mobile) business quadrupled from 2004 to 2009 to $226bn. Passing them on the way down, music industry revenues fell in the same time period from $25bn to $16bn. Free content has helped fuel the vast profits of the technology and telecoms industries.  Do people want more bandwidth to speed up their e-mails or to download music and films as rapidly as possible?

I'm sure the people running ISPs are big music fans. But their free-music bonanza has got to stop. That will happen in two ways: by commercial partnership, with deals such as Sky Songs' unlimited-streaming subscription service; and by ISPs taking proportionate responsible steps to stop customers illegally file sharing on their networks.  I've done a lot of debating on this issue in the past two years. I have walked the corridors of Brussels, learned about the vast resources of the telecoms industry's lobbying machinery and encountered truly frightening naivety about the basics of copyright and intellectual property rights from politicians who should know better. More than once I have heard elected representatives describe paying for music as a "tax."

I am convinced that ISPs are not going to help the music and film industry voluntarily. Some things have got to come with the force of legislation. President Sarkozy understood that point when he became the first head of state to champion laws to require ISPs to reduce piracy in France. In Britain, the major political parties have understood it, too. Following the passing of new anti-piracy laws in April's Digital Economy Act, Britain and France now have some of the world's best legal environments for rebuilding our battered music business.  At the heart of the approach France and Britain are taking is the so-called "Graduated Response" by which ISPs would be required to issue warnings to serious offenders to stop illegal file sharing. This is the most sensible legislation to emerge in the past decade to deal with "free." It is immeasurably better than the ugly alternative of suing hundreds of thousands of individuals. 

Two years into my odyssey investigating this whole debate, I find a curious mixture of optimism and pessimism about the future of recorded music. I was back at the music industry's annual Cannes shindig in January - this time in the audience, listening to luminaries like Daniel Ek, the quietly spoken 27-year-old Swedish dynamo who runs Spotify. Spotify could be the future model, but it will have to demonstrate that not only can it collect revenue from its users and advertisers, but that it will fairly pass on those sums to the artists, labels and publishers. The fact that some record labels are shareholders in Spotify makes it an urgent priority that these transactions be transparent.  On the whole, though, I want to be optimistic. I'm convinced there are sunlit uplands for the music industry ahead. What will those sunlight uplands be like? The truth is, I don't know -- but I like to imagine them. It will be a world in which the norm will be for artists to get paid for their work when it is downloaded or streamed off the internet. A world of millions of micro-payments, paid daily and triggered by technology that will track every use of a song, identify the rights owner and arrange instant electronic payment.

Music subscription will be the basic access route to enjoying tracks and albums, but by no means the only one. Households will pay for a subscription service like Spotify, or they will pay for a service bundled into their broadband bill, to an ISP such as Sky and Virgin Media. But many customers will also take out more expensive added-value packages, with better deals including faster access to new releases. There will also be a healthy market in downloads to own and premium albums. iTunes will be fighting its corner in the market, probably with its own subscription service. And a significant minority will still buy CDs, coveting the packaging, the cover designs and the sense of ownership.  Sound quality will once again be a huge issue. People are cottoning on to a dark little secret of the digital age - MP3 files sound terrible. The online "lossless" audiophile movement is gathering strength with one label. Interscope, creating a new master source file, that will ensure that the efforts of musicians and producers in the recording process are not wasted when the sound gets to the listener. Jimmy Iovine and his team at Interscope/Beats Audio Sound Solutions hope this super-file will become ubiquitous. They are also working on a variety of headphones and better sound chips in HP computers to improve the listener experience. Most listening nowadays is through tiny ear-bud headphones.

In the future I envisage every piece of music will be licensed to be available at any time on any device. All music will be transferrable between computer and portable device. ISPs will be reporting significant revenues from their "content ventures." These are the added-value businesses that over time they must move into as their flat-rate broadband business reaches saturation point. This is not fantasy: an independent survey by Ovum recently predicted that ISPs in the U.K. could earn more than £100m in digital music revenues by 2013. In the beautiful future of my dream, every record label and every ISP will be joined in commercial partnership, sharing revenues and strategies to get their music to as many millions of people as possible.  There are politicians, ISP chief executives and government ministers in my dream, too. They speak with renewed respect about intellectual property rights and the copyright of creators. Copyright infringement by internet users will be dramatically reduced. The ISPs will be working seamlessly with rights-holder groups to warn the most serious infringers to stop. No minister will ever - as in 2009 did David Lammy, Britain's minister of state for higher education and intellectual property - compare illegal file-sharing to taking a bar of soap from a hotel room.

We have some way to go until my dream world comes true. But we're making progress. Governments, not just in France and Britain, but also in South Korea, Taiwan and New Zealand, are tackling piracy and adopting new laws. The mindset regarding free music is changing. Managers and artists I meet take the issue far more seriously than they did before. Newspaper editors no longer think the problems of music are from another world - they actually ask our advice on how to address them. More artists are talking about piracy hurting their lives. Film-makers and actors can see that they are next.

I think we are coming to understand that, across all businesses that invest in and trade in creativity, "free" comes with a price - and in my business that means less investment in talent and fewer artists making a living from music. If this point really is sinking in then we are making headway. It may be that the crisis for music has now got so bad that the issue of "free" is really being properly understood for the first time.  Of course, we're never going to convert Anonymous Coward to our cause -- but at least we're finally standing up to him.  If the engineers who built the iPhone, the geniuses who made Google reach every home in the world in less than a decade and the amazing talents behind Facebook were to apply themselves to our problems and help, what a wonderful world it would be. Great work being made, distributed efficiently and everyone in the value chain being fairly paid.

Reader’s Comments On: “How To Save The Music Industry” By Paul McGuinness

One more thing to add to the list of reasons why U2 is one of the greatest bands in history, they chose a FANTASTIC manager right out of the gate. I can speak for The Restoring Music Foundation when I say that we all support your notion of change and we appreciate you and Bono championing the issues boldly. Real conviction can move a mountain. The music industry is in crisis, and we believe that for every problem there is already a solution. "There is one thing stronger than all the armies of the world, and that is an idea whose time has come." One idea can change everything, and I believe that paradigm is just around the corner.

Chris Purifoy

17 Aug 2010

We need more articles like this to rally the music community around this issue. Musicians in general have always been non confrontational, preferring to create. We need to stand up to the current abuses regarding "free" music. If we can't make a living in the music business, then we can't be "professionals" in the most literal sense. Chuck Anderson

Chuck Anderson

17 Aug 2010

What a totally one sided arguement put forward here.There has never been so many musicians who actively take part within the industry.This year there has been record numbers of people going to music festivals in the UK (many at £100+ a ticket).Recorded output has shot up multifold in the last 20 years.Live music has seen a massive boost with a slight downturn recently due to over pricing & the not to be ignored recession we are going through. All that this article is about the accountants & music managers who are finding it difficult to justify the high returns they take off major artists.There have been some lost revenues due to the changes within the music industry, yes.Trouble is the 'popular' artists are loosing out the most while these money men behind the scenes revenues have not gone down in the same preportion.If they want to keep their incomes up they should become more innovative not rely on old models to line their pockets. There is still plenty of money out there to be made for people in the industry.The demand for music has never been higher - & it has never been easier to obtain music - the music has always tried to restrict the music people listen to create a false shortage of supply.The internet has made it much harder for the industry to stop this shortage of supply old trick they used at their peak.There's competition out they for you now Major labels.Your tactic of buying out top selling independant labels is no good no more, as independant artists are forming their own labels.Face up to the competition your eventual fate is inevitable.


17 Aug 2010

Maybe you should stop whining and adjust your business model. Explain this to me. I got to a store and they have CDs and DVDS for sale. They are both similarly priced. However, one cost the creator let's say 100,000 and the other 100 million. What is the better value for my entertainment? Obviously that's just an open ended question (especially since I'd listen to the CD more than watch a movie) but my point here is value. Twenty years ago, the perceived value of music was a lot higher then it is today. We didn't have the web and for the most part entertainment other than film & television that grabbed our attention. It wasn't easy to create and discover music - you pretty much were forced to like what hit the radio and after you heard it so many times, you became addicted and needed to have it. It's hard to be that addicted now with all the media we have. It's hard to create value enough with so much competition. A digital file isn't worth a thing - it's not tangible and nothing it ever going to change that, we will download files for free forever and that's why we've come so far with technology - because of the sharing the Internet has brought us. Yes the music industry, as well as others, are feeling dramatic effects this new technology has brought us. And guess what? Tough shit. The days of the giant record labels making millions off of the Britney Spears and Nickelbacks of the world will someday be over, because no one is buying. No one cares. Anyone can create music. Only those that get their heads out of their asses and learn how to really create a unique business out of their art will make a living off of it.


17 Aug 2010

If we want to continue to have great music we need to be willing to make sure those who's work we love have a way to make a living and pay for our music.


17 Aug 2010

I've always admired Paul and know exactly what he's talking about when it comes to artists standing up against the Pirates and Parasites... the vitriol is not just aimed at rich rokc stars I've seen independent artists, filmakers,writers attacked by the bloggers. Everywhere we here the same rallying calls about how more music is being made than ever, how the industry needs to find new business models etc but one question they never answer ... have you asked the artists if they want to be "shared" or would they rather be paid...because in the end it shoudl be their choice.

Steve Kane

17 Aug 2010

I love that the manager of U2, which has just made $300+ million touring the world, is complaining that people in the music business can't make money and blaming it on piracy. Boo hoo.

Bryan Colley

17 Aug 2010

Dear Paul McGuinness You seem to want someone to come along and magically rescue you. It is not going to happen, the cost of content is going to zero. Its basic economics. You state that "this isn't crippling bands like U2 and it would be dishonest to claim it was." You would think you would be happy about this since it means less competition and your next line is ... "I've always believed artists and musicians need to take their business as seriously as their music. U2 understood this." You do not seem to understand business all that well. If you did you would see this is a perfect opportunity to capitalize on the death of the record labels. Here are some suggestions ... U2 has a big name and brand recognition, use it. Set up a mentorship program for younger artists, and new bands. Cut the record labels out of the supply chain. Find the bands using contests of all sorts. Use an American Idol style format, where one person a week goes home. Or run the contest like a tennis tournament with winners being voted up through the levels. Next in places that have collection societies for radio, use a modified CC that allows for radio broadcasting with no fee. Under price the collection agencies by allowing "free use" on the radio for promotional purposes. Double the length of your stage show. Take all the bands and artists you discover and have them warm up for you. The ones garnished the greatest fan base closest to the time you go on. I hope that helps .... David


17 Aug 2010

"When Lily Allen recently posted some thoughtful comments about how illegal file-sharing is hurting new developing acts, she was ravaged by the online mob and withdrew from the debate." Maybe if artists had any backbone, people would respect their point of views.


17 Aug 2010

A few comments: 1. the subhead should be: ...and do we really want to? 2. Music has become a "single song" industry. You ignore this at your peril. A future model might be thousands of small-footprint but well-equipped studios run by adventurous and talented engineer/songwriters, who could contract/be funded by previously huge record labels. 3. We need to lose the "grandiosity" of the "album". Let's face it: albums were created to sell 10 songs at once, instead of singly. The business model is now completely reversed. 4. As you say, what's the point of recording at 24/96 or higher when the end product is the aural offal of MP3s.So who needs the multi-million dollar studios? Break those studios down into pods of much smaller but more cost-efficient studios. There's more but it would require a few bottles of good red wine...

Peter LeRoy

18 Aug 2010

Everything said by Mr.Paul McGuinness is a meter of dispute..except the fact that "Europe's creative industries could lose more than a million jobs in the next five years"..that`s a fact that we`ll face it very very soon!


18 Aug 2010

I agree with both "evolvor" and especially with "Hephaestus" on this one. U2 could, just as many other former major-label artists have done, use their brand to work on their own. While I realize that "big artists/bands" are losing what was formerly a huge influx of revenue, surely there are more artists making a living today than there used to be. How? They make it going around the whole piracy problem and find business models that comply with todays standards. Granted it might not be as much as it used to be but better live your dream with enough to make it around than take a job you don't really like for the same wage? The problem is that the big corporations have ruled the entertainment industry and the money earned by the "frontline" have always been ridicilous. Movies, music, litterature and what not - in the future we won't have to pay for it to enjoy it at home.


18 Aug 2010

You reap what you sow, gentlemen. Whilst I dont doubt the sincerity of Paul McGuinness and Robin Millar, I'm afraid I have no sympathy whatsoever for the major labels. You nearly convinced me Paul, until you said that we need great record labels. No. Not any more. Yes, piracy is theft and theft is bad. Yes, the business model has to change. Yes, we need to find a solution. But, as another contributor pointed out, the breathtaking arrogance and incredibly insular, nepotistic view taken by the labels over the last thirty years, the stupendous sums of money made from artists through trade restrictive contracts, control over artistic direction, all this has led you all to this point. There is no need for the existing corpse of the old industry to be revived. Pop (pretty much) finally did eat itself. There are established artists out there who use the internet as their means of selling their material directly and they do well out of it. They dont need the labels any more. And as for developing new acts... give me a break. The last time a major label broke and developed, truly developed, a new act was when Kate Bush was signed by EMI back in 1976. Developing new acts, my foot.


18 Aug 2010

Attacking the service companies, the Internet Service Providers or ISP's, is absolutely wrongheaded. Not everyone who uses an ISP downloads music, legal or otherwise. The record labels buried their heads in the sand a decade ago hoping that the Internet would go away. Well, its here to stay. What McGuiness and his lacky Bono, both of whom are incredibly rich men, are trying to achieve, is a handout from the ISP's who in turn will pass along any expenses to us regular folks. So riddle me this Mr McGuiness - how do you separate the music freeloaders, legal or not, from those of us who use the Internet for business or other creative work and entertainment? Dave Allen

Dave Allen

18 Aug 2010

If we do go down the road of paying music artists from a levy on broadband connections and ISP profits, would that mean all music in the UK is then available for free to everyone? Presumably it must otherwise McGuinness would be advocating paying for something twice, and that would be ridiculous. Should that be the case, you'd wipe out the music retail industry overnight. You'd deliver a hammer blow to radio too, and knock brands that rely on radio advertising for some or all of their business. You'd cut off a revenue stream from movies and television programmes that sell soundtracks. You'd close the door on new artists who'd have to compete with the existing fanbases of established, well-funded artists. And lastly you'd increase the costs of broadband so ISPs would have to make job cuts somewhere. This is how U2 thinks we should save the music industry? By devastating a raft of other industries that rely on (and pay handsomely for) music to promote themselves? I don't think that's a particularly good plan.

Chris Neale

18 Aug 2010

Hey scratchy, you are missing the point. Nobody is saying people aren't making and enjoying music. In fact the last paragraph states there is a "healthy live music scene". The problem is in the return these artists are getting for their musical efforts. People will always make music, but the ability to make a living doing so is what is in jeopardy here. And although artists like U2 aren't the ones greatly affected, they are the ones that have enough influence to speak on behalf of the rest of us.


18 Aug 2010

And let's go after the gosh-darned blank cassette makers, too! I'm sure Paul shudders to think about all of the illegal copies of "War" and "The Unforgettable Fire" that were made in the 80s on blank cassettes for friends. I blame Memorex and Maxell for the massive erosion in music industry revenues. It couldn't have been a reaction to the labels steadily increasing prices ($18.99 for a CD? Really?) after telling us in the early 80s that the development of the CD format would eventually bring music and packaging prices DOWN. The labels used to control pricing like DeBeers controls diamond prices: they controlled the entire distribution chain. Now the labels don't, and they lost pricing control. I have a lot of respect for U2 and Paul M. -- and also believe very strongly in strong copyright law and enforcement -- but this is a piece written with very limited scope.


18 Aug 2010

Just to continue this lesson in copyright history: The copyright protection for 'motion pictures' was introduced in the US in 1912. That same year a very large, seemingly invincible vehicle full of wealthy businessmen was brought to a watery grave, after proving a distinct lack of agility when presented with a large, and seemingly obvious obstacle. Apparently, the musicians played on.

Andy Carne

18 Aug 2010

Well my solution to piracy is and continues to be, not releasing any new music digitally for sale at all. Well at least original material. This is not a feasible long term strategy however. The only long term strategy, since this is a digital issue, is a digital DNA copyright database which would need to coincide with file filtering legislation enforced onto ISP. ISP would need to ID copyrighted material and block it. Until then I have other trade secrets for the major labels for them to stop piracy, but since I don't work for them, it is proprietary information and will sit in my brain worth the millions that it would save. One last thing, is that I promise to anyone stealing my music, to personally rip off their arms. It is only an effective deterrent because I can.


18 Aug 2010

Paul- it is foolish to think that any type of barrier to technology will work, especially if the reason behind is to save the old music/movie system. not that i support illegal piracy, IT IS wrong and is theft. no different than if i went into HMV and put a dvd in my pocket and ran out. but, to slow tech growth for an industry is dangerous to all of humanity. look at history to examine the impact of technological growth and answer whether we should have banned automobiles, radio, tv in order to save their predessors. maybe the old music/movie model was wrong --- a limited few (execs, studio chiefs, top managers) benefitted significantly from artist's work without truly sharing the $$$. your opportunity to be truly great is to expand the entertainment marketplace and help develope new talent and new audiences without imposing artifical barriers. are you prepared?


18 Aug 2010

Dear Paul, "Indigenous music industries from Spain to Brazil are collapsing." This isn't helped by the media's push for anglo-american artists(guaranteed money-spinners). See the MTV Europe awards, a massive advert for huge artists that almost always excludes performances from non-anglophone artists. Who headlined last year in Berlin? Oh yes, U2 and Jay-Z, neither are German. You've made plenty of deals that have monopolised the media for U2's ends (the illegal BBC campaign, the strange iPod thing) not exactly sharing the wealth are you? Radio stations have playlists that work to benefit major label artists like U2, meaning that Spotify HAS to exist to satisfy curiosity. I use it to HEAR songs, not to own an album. I would never be satisfied to merely stream Joni Mitchell's Blue online, I have to own it. Sadly not all albums are that great, I made lots of mistaken music purchases in my youth and HAVE to be more careful now. I don't suppose you have any concept of how the price of food, utilities, bus fares, home repairs etc. have increased over the last decade, coupled with insecurity over jobs and house prices that was obvious well before the depression started. I would not be able to pay for the use of Spotify, that would just take a bit of happiness away for people like me.

Jenny Eardley

18 Aug 2010

I am a musician, my music is free for anyone who wants it and I will never consider it a robbery. People that think like you are the reason why Justin Bieber is a success today. After years of exploring and monopolizing promotion and media attention, major labels are finally losing money and shutting down. I will feel bad for you the day i turn on the radio and I dont have to listen to horrible music. Until then, I will enjoy seeing you bleed and suffer through this, losing the battle every day.


19 Aug 2010

What I don't understand is trying to pin the blame on the ISPs and saying that their "swollen profits perfectly mirror the lost receipts of the music business". Profits for ISPs increased as more people required and gained access to the internet (now seen as a human right in certain European countries) but those companies have no obligation to an industry that enjoyed supernormal profits for many, many years. This is an industry that is very wasteful with its resources and is in serious need of a change of business plan. Technology has changed, why should the music industry not be expected to change along with it? Offering music for sale via iTunes etc was a step in the right direction however. Paul, you're a dinosaur. You and your ilk need to evolve or else you'll die out. Stop trying to blame others for your lack of innovation. You've had it too good for too long.

Doc R.

19 Aug 2010

You're misunderstanding the quote. "swollen profits perfectly mirror the lost receipts of the music business" is describing how entertainment dollars went from allowing a kid to buy say 3 or 4 CDs a month to subscribing to the internet so that kid can have access to entertainment. The implication is disposable income that went to music went to the net. And with the 'net comes illegal downloading. So logically, if you're spending $40 on internet service instead of CDs...and you're then downloading music illegally...yes there's a little problem there. I don't think the argument is even that EVERYONE is downloading illegally. But it is common. The music industry simply needs to figure out how to compete. I don't think that any reasonable company could imagine to do otherwise. BUT the thing that many anti-label folks mis-understand is that the internet alone is NOT an architecture for success. If it were every idiot alive with a website and an intention should be rich and famous. Many staunch anti-label types also seem to mis-understand the very obvious fact (as many imply artists don't need labels...just the tools of the internet) that artists don't really have a command on how to be successful via the internet. The internet as business still a business conduit. These are still artists not businessmen. Saying they should be both is like telling a doctor h/she should also get a law degree. Handling marketing and promotion is not some innate skill that comes packaged with musical ability. Anti-label types should also divorce themselves of the arrogant belief that the internet gives equal opportunity to independent artists. Its simply not the case. The sites with the highest traffic ratings providing music coverage are STILL focusing on larger acts so somebody is STILL much more likely to find Lady Gaga on the internet than Bob's Backyard Band. Period. Take a look at even Pitchfork's front page. Artists like Arcade Fire or Flying Lotus (indie crusaders maybe) certainly may not be mainstream, but they are also NOT without a PR budget (meaning there is a lot more at work than the artist being "net-savvy"). I also notice that with the fading power of labels, many indie artists are relying on corporate sponsorship (i.e. Mountain Dew's Green Label). So some are now saying "screw the labels", instead I'll make records for soda pop company? Lets also not forget that MANY successful artists both before and during the internet era have run their own companies...many of those labels have folded from The Rolling Stones' label...right on down to the recent shuttering of Def Jux...and the merger of Downtown records and Mad Decent (a move by two "successful" labels chock-filled with 'net stars that seemingly couldn't make it on their own). Its also ironic that its NOT net savvy grass rootsy artist-run labels that are making a killing in this era. Its Apple...and Amazon...and those corporate rebels like Walmart. So the venom towards labels even in this regard is a bit childish. Its like Bob's Big Boy just closed down and they put up a McDonalds and everyone's pointing at Bob laughing at the guy for his failure. Stupid. Lets not forget MOST of these net upstarts are either STILL unprofitable, or just barely getting there. When/if investors pull the plug what's the plan then? Clearly the newish economy hasn't figured it out any better than the labels have. Don't kid yourself. The bottom line is without an infrastructure for professional musicians that can provide services like marketing, pr and tour support. The quality in music is going to take a nose dive...the net has also played its hand in this...I mean more people know the song Chocolate Rain than know who the aforementioned Flying Lotus is. That's a damn shame.


19 Aug 2010

Don't you find it, should I say 'hypocritical', when socialist billionaires complain about loss of income?


19 Aug 2010

Attacking the service companies, the Internet Service Providers or ISP's, is absolutely wrongheaded. Not everyone who uses an ISP downloads music, legal or otherwise. The record labels buried their heads in the sand a decade ago hoping that the Internet would go away. Well, its here to stay. What McGuiness and his lacky Bono, both of whom are incredibly rich men, are trying to achieve, is a handout from the ISP's who in turn will pass along any expenses to us regular folks. So riddle me this Mr McGuiness - how do you separate the music freeloaders, legal or not, from those of us who use the Internet for business or other creative work and entertainment? Dave Allen

Dave Allen

20 Aug 2010

My 12 year old daughter is "all about the music" and has purchased LOTS of music from Itunes and CDs from retail stores. However, there were a couple of songs by her favorite band that were not available on Itunes - at that particular point in time. So she downloaded them without paying for them. She felt so AWFUL about this that she asked me how she could relieve her conscience. I thought she was going to be sick, really. I suggested a couple of things she could do. First, delete the songs and do without them. (Nope, didn't want to do that one.) Second, send their record company $$ explaining what it was for. Third, when she would go to see the band in concert, see if she would be able to pay for the songs at the merch table or someplace else. (She thought both of those were viable options.) In the meantime, she would always check to see if the songs had become available on Itunes. As luck would have it, one of her Itunes searches showed that those 2 songs had become available. She deleted the old files and paid for the legitimate ones on Itunes. She sure felt alot better about the entire situation. I felt very proud of her for being so honest. The record company & band and whoever else would really have NO IDEA that one 12 year old girl had 2 songs she didn't pay for but the thing for her was that she knew she had stolen them. I suppose by honestly purchasing them afterwards, she really had only borrowed them. :-)

Music Mom

20 Aug 2010

To all those people who have said anything negative about the above article>>>> How would you feel if you found something you had created available for free? That's the issue here, not how much money the artists/managers are making. It's about rightful ownership! To those who have left comments like "boo hoo" etc... grow up! You are the reason that the industry is struggling. If you don't like the fact that someone else is making more than you, do something about your own situation instead of ripping artists off & critising those who are trying to protect their own livelihood. To Paul McGuinness, well done on an intelligent article. U2s music has touch many hearts, including mine. Keep on rocking.....!!!

Mike Cook

20 Aug 2010

McGuinness should have asked the question: is the music industry (and I mean the powerful and very wealthy publishers and collecting societies, not the poor labels) willing to change?

Hessel van Oorschot

20 Aug 2010

I do agree there should be more articles like this, I also agree that the music industry is having a major revenue loss because of piracy. I disagree that this piracy is because of consumers. Of course, they are the ones who actively provide from sites like: "Supertorrent!.net", "Pirateheaven!.hell" and "Megadownload!" But this is because people always want what's best for themselves and especially, what's easiest. If only most governments would listen to modern technology more, I think there would be more people who would enjoy music (and don't forget films and games and other software too) in a legal way. This will not have to be forced through the throat by ze government. We all know there are enough solutions to be legal and profitable nowadays. It's the governments job to stimulate the implementation of this. Oh, and please don't whine at mister McGuiness people. I think he's already showed what his importance is in the industry. And that's not something to whine about. Cheers.


20 Aug 2010

I realised very early on that my musical ability was not matched at all by my creativity. Accordingly, I went out and found a job. It keeps the rain out. The market decided that there was no place for my "talent". So now the market has decreed that there is no place for your old business model, well boo-hoo. Your new business model decrees that we should willingly shell out £0.99 for each MP3 when the full CD can be had for £8 >£12 (ish) Unbelievable. Nearly as warped as a market that withstands 10 second pastiches of popular (sic) songs as ringtones for £2 >£3 each. WTF? I despised T-I-N-A but she sure had the market forces figured out. I have never downloaded an MP3 illegally and guys and gals, I wont do so legally either. Even my workshop shattered ear drums can still tell the difference. It follows that it's not me that's tearing your play house down but I have no problem with those that do. If it's all about intellectual property then how about buying the vinyl, the cassette, the CD and now the downloaded digital version? How many times do you want me to pay for the intellectual property? If it's about the method of distribution, how did the CD become to be perceived as worth more than vinyl and so on? How did it become acceptable to charge more for a stamped DVD than to run off copies of video cassettes? In our culture, the marketing men decide what the market will withstand and that's that. Now the marketing men are bleating because the control is slipping away. Nice try- no cigar...If you can't make ends meet in entertainment, go get a job. Sorry but there it is, I've done propping you lot up. Shift some microwave ovens. Live with common people. One last thought, the best output comes from the young and the hungry. "there's no more swimming in a guitar shaped pool, no more cocaine now it's only ground chalk, but didn't we have a nice time? oh wasn't it such a fine time" Deja-vu?


21 Aug 2010

I pay for all my music so that the artists feel supported and continue to make more music. Try and make a case like that against the company that just painted your house , or sold you a bike, its still stealing. Many hours and months go into making records... If you sit and click your mouse and rip it off who's going to be there in the long run?


21 Aug 2010

People's mistake starts from the "ILUSION" of FREE DOWNLOAD, that simply doesn't exists. They're paying montly internet services even more money than they use to pay for cds, cassettes, etc in the old days. the diference here is they're paying to the wrong people, Giant monopoly companys that they don't care for music. People don't know but when music industry will colapse, the internet providers will take over, they're gonna make sure they'll be no ilegal download anymore, cause are the only ones with power to do so and also make sure independent artists will have no chances to have their music out there and finnally make people listent and buy whatever make more profits. So the cultural damage will be huge. SO PEOPLE, OPEN YOUR EYES!!! this is not only about money, it is about control. If you want to keep choosing the music you want for your life stop supporting this huge monopoly companys plans otherwise in the near future they'll be no good music at all out there, only stuff like American Idol. Of course all this is happening with the complicity of the goverments all over the world cause Internet providers are clearly breaking copyright laws, in some countries they even advertise their services inviting people to download music faster before they have legal online music stores.


22 Aug 2010

technology invented recorded music and the big profits attached, now technology has taken it away again. What we are left with is what we had before, live musicians doing work and getting paid, not sleeping and getting paid. When the technology is up to it, we will pay-per-play (say 1p), but the 1st play has to be free, and after say 200 plays you stop being charged because you've paid the full fee. 7 billion with access to YOUR tune, with a % to the writer, % to the studio etc etc, all handled in the cloud, i'm pretty sure good music will get income.


22 Aug 2010

technology invented recorded music and the big profits attached, now technology has taken it away again. What we are left with is what we had before, live musicians doing work and getting paid, not sleeping and getting paid. When the technology is up to it, we will pay-per-play (say 1p), but the 1st play has to be free, and after say 200 plays you stop being charged because you've paid the full fee. 7 billion with access to YOUR tune, with a % to the writer, % to the studio etc etc, all handled in the cloud, i'm pretty sure good music will get income.


22 Aug 2010

It's an interesting argument. I wrote a few recommendations for Paul here: Gremlins Multiply: An Open Letter to Paul McGuinness, Manager of U2 (My Favorite Band) Dear Paul, It's really disappointing to read yet again another very long opinion in the August 2010 issue of GQ on how you feel that internet piracy is destroying the music industry. Isn't this argument pretty tired by now? Our world is entering into a new age of collaboration and participation in the way that has never been known before. Old centralized and bureaucratic models are being challenged. It's really not about people stealing music (although that is a bad thing) rather its about a consumer who has changed their behavior and you just don't like it, or rather, you don't understand how to harness it. Perhaps instead of continuing to wallow (BTW - it's really not all that sexy especially since U2 ticket prices have risen from 17.50 in 1987 to 100 bucks today) you might look a things a bit differently? Why not learn about the cool things about the interwebs and take advantage of your pre-established community? Learn about what's coming down the pike from tech companies and how U2 could lead innovation in the music industry? After all you are one of the richest bands in the world. Just a few ideas for you: 1) Hang Out With Tech Peeps: Paul, if you need some help connecting with the technology sector, I'll be happy to help you out. I know people who would be happy to help you too. But you don't need me (well maybe you do) to create a Music + Technology Summit in Silicon Valley with the industry. If I can create roundtables about cybersecurity, you can certainly show up with Bono in tow at the Googleplex or Infinite Loop to hear from the people who are dreaming up the future. They already have the next five years in the pipeline, you might want to pay attention to them. Seriously, you have a pulpit of cool not complain. There is not one door of a technology company who would not want to talk to you. Really. Who are you working with that give you pause to say to the Financial Times, "...what dismays me a little about the online universe is that these corporations, like Google and MySpace and Apple, don't have anything that's the equivalent of artist relations." Five bucks says within an hour if you asked, you can have meetings booked with the CEOs of those companies and ask for someone who will liaison to you. If they don't, I would do it for you in a heartbeat. We all want you to succeed. I might be a little biased. I am a super fan. But just a quick question, you know Bono is a partner in Elevation Partners a private equity investment firm that includes a form VP from Apple? And just last fall he was chums with Eric Schmidt during the Vevo launch. So why do you feel disconnected? Just sayin' 2) Midem Isn't CES or TED (it ain't Davos either): When you talk to your own people in the music industry, well you get the same tired ideas (and too many partners to commiserate with). Perhaps Midem needs to blend with folks in the Valley? Maybe you need to have MidemTech? Really, it doesn't take much to bring people together. Get the top ten music managers that you know, have them come to Silicon Valley to see the new shiny tools and hear about cool things happening in tech. It can be that simple. Glass Houses: I hate to point this out, but before you complain about losing money on record sales perhaps you should check out all of the missed business opportunities using technology to engage and yes, sell things to fans. Not to bust it out, but your deal with Live Nation is not a good deal at all they are fracturing your community instead of bringing it together. Simple things - U2 doesn't even have an @U2 twitter address. The Twitter address you do use for the tour has been stale for almost a year! The You Tube Live Show at the Rose Bowl was a multi-million dollar advertising opportunity that was totally missed and U2's social good engagement is very sad and completely not representative of the band's values or desires to encourage their fans to get involved. Basically someone just threw up boilerplate content. Not too compelling. Let's run the numbers: U2 360 Tour - 3.2 Millions People in 44 dates U2 Live at the Rose Bowl - 10 Million People in 1 Night You reached three times more people in one night via online stream than you did the entire tour. 10 Million people. Largest viewing audience of all time and you missed so many opportunities. You had dead air. No sponsorships. No public service information. No fan engagement and sadly if you saw U2 on that tour, the exact same set list. Perhaps instead of fighting Google, you might want to join them. 10 million people, that's a lot of ads. If you owned the site you streamed from like then you can sell you own ads if you wanted. 10 million people - lots of companies would want their products to be part of that experience, notwithstanding your own tour sponsor, Blackberry/RIM. It goes without saying that U2's web presence should be one of your top priorities. Did you know if you sold tickets direct (not through Ticketmaster) you would make more money? Did you know if you sold digital copies of your shows (at the show) you could make 40% more money for each show? Did you know if you did a short code to have your fans interact with the band to crowdsource the encores you can make 10% more on your show at least? What if you had Video on Demand for you entire tour? What if you had the shows streamed? I would bet for whatever money you are loosing on record sales you could make up two fold using technology to further connect the U2 fan with the band. Seriously, with a band who has so many resources not only could you do this for U2, but you could do it for other bands that U2 wants to help. 4) The Power of Good: This is the part that just kills me. You have millions of people around the world who would do awesome works if you asked them or pointed them in the right direction. U2 has a community of millions. The future of music is YOUR ability to harness your community. If you won't use technology to harness your community for business, then why not for good? Today people are using technology to connect aid directly where its needed and to help people in crisis. If U2 took an interest in using technology to connect their fans with opportunities they can do to change the world, why wouldn't you do this? 5) Gremlins Multiply With Water: One thing you might not want to do is to diss the blogosphere. It's just not a cool thing. There are millions of people around the world that write about U2 and say how great they are. They are U2's fans, they are at the end of the day your customer. The bloggers aren't "anonymous gremlins", we are people who want to say good things about your music. Weare your street team, but on the internet. You want us to be informed, you us them to be part of the process. If you gathered the top 50 U2 bloggers (and a handful internet blogger celebs) you would garner more engagement and traffic to buying U2 music and merch than any press release. Didn't you hear at SXSW that the press release is dead? Seriously, bloggers are your friends. Yeah, there are some trolls out there, but for the most part people want to help. If I got to be on a conference call with you and Bono once a year I would freak out. All that takes is an hour of your time. There are so many advantages of creating a blogger community to support U2 than dissing them. They aren't stealing your music, they are promoting it! I will leave you with a quote from Ghandi, "Be the Change You Want To See In The World." Yes, maybe you can't save the music industry but what you can do is be the light for the future. You, meaning U2, has the resources to create innovation in the music industry. You can be poking around the streets of El Camino Real and Sand Hill Road to get indicators for the future. I bet Google would love to have a U2 Droid or Microsoft have premium live shows only available on XBOX. So if you aren't making money on records then make money using the technology that is there, sell advertising, VOD, ring tones, short codes, after digital live shows and enhanced fan engagement. If you don't even want to do that, use technology for good. But if you do anything, please think about U2's fans. We want you to engage us. We want to see live shows from home because sometimes our lives won't let us go to a concert (kids, aging parents, money, ect.). We want to have a special moment with Bono to share with the world. Want to be have a religious experience at a U2 show. We want to know that each engagement is unique and that we are special. We also want to help tell all of our friends about you and how awesome you are. We want hear the show that we just saw (in the car ride home from the show) and trade songs with our friends to relive movement of our lives that U2 shared with us. Don't loose sight that it's the fans who make U2 go round, not the music industry. The world had changed, the music industry may not chose to move quickly, but you can lead by example. Paul, I challenge you to lead the music industry into a new age of engagement with fans and embrace the new age of innovation. If you do that, you just might be able to steer the U2 ship where the wind is at your back.

Heather Blanchard

22 Aug 2010

I've been an executive producer and principal to roughly 2 decades of recording, film, and television projects. This type of commentary from people like this is not only hurtful, but self-mutilating to the industry. Some talking points - 1. 95% of every musical work is stolen? riiiiiight? just like film, right? An NGO investigating similar claims with film interests finally got them to admit that they never ran any studies, probably couldn't even if they wanted to because of the nature a statistical study asking participants if they're thieves. The truth is the film industry doesn't have a f'n clue whats getting stolen, and neither does the recording industry. Taking on wild accusations like that carries a side effect of calling 95% of your fan base thieves knowing you haven't a clue. So lets deal with some facts: we all know the film industry just pulled out of what could be considered one of the most profitable years in decades - and just like recording they got all that cash from the 5% of their customers that still pay. 2. The copyright system has filled up and spilled over. Why is it that we protect the interests of greedy studios and labels to keep britney spear's grandchildern in a lear-jet 70 years from now. Why does it cost 750 us dollars to sing happy birthday in public when the 5 notes came about in the mid-1800's? While penecillin, possibly the most beneficial drug of our time ran out of copyright protection decades and decades ago, reducing the cost of a tablet of this life-saving drug to $50c or less but licensing happy birthday to sing to your kids in a restaurant costs about 1500 times this amount? The reality is your greed in protecting the interests in a few studios has made your music/films/tv writings only real viable copyrighted works at this point. Thats why we have to watch 900 channels of reality shit on TV. Everything is already been copyrighted. Try to write something and its over a 50/50 shot someone else not only owns prior art but will sue you to get their cut of something they came up with 50 years ago. Of course, they'll be dead so its the label and attorneys making the cash and stunning innovation, not spurring it. Think about it, how many permutations of an 88 key structure reduced by chords and then multiplied by 2-3 instruments over a 3-5 minute song and now add english words is it possible to come up with in 100 years of filing 20 thousand new works a month? Its all a scam to keep rights to a few studios that already own all the works. Look at even the large outfits when they try to write for a film or TV show... Even with reality TV they're stuck in lawsuits with every show they produce. Our copyright system was invented not for us - IT WAS INVENTED FOR A HANDFUL OF STUDIOS PROTECTING THEIR INTERESTS - not millions of 12 year old kids sending off patents on the internet every day and supplying 900 sat channels with 24/7 content 365 days a year - and even if it stayed at they're pace in the 1900s, they intended it to drop off 50 years ago. your passionate buddy, bono got the shit extended through another lifetime. If it protects innovation for future artists, why does medical patents keep running out and still medicine gets invented? Ever wonder why a drug like penicillin can save your life for 1/3 the cost of a plastic CD from U2 even after markup from the pharmacy and drug company after profits are paid and materials covered? COPYRIGHT WAS SUPPOSED TO MAKE A MONOPOLY OF CASH FOR AN IDEA BECAUSE THAT CASH FLOW PROVIDES INCENTIVES TO (CREATE) NEW IDEAS. COPYRIGHT INSTEAD HAS FILLED UP AND IS SPILLING OVER WITH NO HOPE OF EVER RUNNING OUT AND INSTEAD STIFLING ANY NEW IDEAS OF CREATION IN FILM, MUSIC, OR TV. I was featured in a techcrunch article on this issue after one of the co-creators of American Idol took one of my concepts for a TV show and never paid royalties or asked permission. He managed to blow that one on his own and possibly stands as one of the biggest single entertainment failures of our lifetime. He made press statements including (his) innovation that would draw 130 million fans to his show in months. It has less than 5 thousand fans and most of those are his own producers and their families. He's good at managing a monopoly franchise and brainwashing little kids and keeping them from learning to read and write - but apparently not even his friends have an interest when it comes to an expression of his true creative talent. 3. I didn't notice you mentioning the (real) reason music recoring industries fell. Truth is at this point no radio stations are playing anything worth a damn despite solid content anywhere. Its devalued the worth and percieved value of every radio station in north america, which not coincidentally allowed for monopolies to come in and permit congress to remove anti trust protections of our waves and buy up any amount of stations they wanted to without any repercussion or consideration of the power that invokes to one person when you control airwaves of 5 different media organizations in 5 different formats and 145 metropolitan cities. The big labels aren't bribing stations anymore to play your crap because they wouldn't play well known music if it killed them. They're devaluing the worth of these stations and buying them up for pennies on the dollar. Without the radio acting as your medium to teach people to buy your artists music, you couldn't sell music to your own kids. 4. Outside of playing your music 15 times an hour and forcing exposure to a wide array of customers nationwide, which is psychologically known to make women think billy ray cyrus really does have a cute butt and they couldn't live without 'achy breaky heart'. Perhaps if you hadn't spent so much time at the big labels forcing us to listen to crap like that and making it the only options for purchase, thus precluding us from finding quality music, we wouldn't be so upset at this point. That being said, I'm not suggesting people are stealing content at this point. No one knows for sure. No one has the numbers to know. You just keep playing the same recording for congress that you've had since the 70's. If we don't make the big labels rich, they'll quit investing in new talent and no one will get paid. The reality is if a business is operating as it should, it doesn't use cash on hand to finance future profit making ventures any more than it would borrow money from the bank to make those same investments in new talent. we don't have to give an attorney somewhere $750 to sing happy birthday in a restaurant to keep my kid inside his recording contract he'll get when he turns 18. Because he has no contract waiting either way, nor does anyone else. But we still keep delivering royalties from 100+ years. 5. Record labels historically never put 2 new hits on 1 cd. See, spend 5 months recording 1 song and market one song for nationwide play, and people are willing to pay 1 dollar for it. But instead of forcing us to buy 10 of these hits to fill up the 60 minute format, for 100 years we presume we pay for 1 hour of music based off what we heard on the radio, when most times we find out only after we've made the 16 dollar purchase for a 3 minute song that you recorded the other 15 songs in one afternoon after spending 6-12 months + producing the 1 song that made us want to buy the album, then presume 16 dollars divide by 16 songs or so makes them 1 dollar a piece or so and bereally we're paying 16 dollars for 1 song, not 1 dollar for 1 song. So here's what happened to your profit margin. 100 years in the history of recording from phonograph to 8 track to cassette to cd to minidisc and beyond you sell us only 1 song per purchase and deliver 3 minutes of content with 50 minutes of shit. The cost of 1 song - 16 dollars. Profit margin for an audio album with 1/100 the cost of making a motion picture = comparable to profits from a film with 200 employees working 1-5 years on a similar project Then we can purchase the 1 song on the internet for 99c. Price drops from 16 dollars to 1 dollar because we no longer buy 15 songs of shit for 1 song we want. Later, we just give up on the abuse and some begin to not pay at all, then profits go from 1 dollar to 0 OK, class. Where did you loose more money? when your 1 song went from 1 dollar to 0 dollars from piracy? Or when it went from 100 years of your greed charging 16 dollars for that 1 song and then watching it get sold for 1 dollar on the Internet at this point? SO THE AGE OLD ADDAGE THAT WE'RE STEALING YOUR VALUABLE SHIT IS STILL A LIE. WE'RE NOT STEALING IT AND EVEN IF WE WERE YOU WOULDN'T HAVE A CLUE SINCE YOU'VE NEVER TAKEN A MOMENT TO TRY TO FIGURE OUT WHY YOUR GOING BROKE. NEXT, EVEN IF ITS TRUE, AND EVERYONE IS STILL PAYING 1 DOLLAR FOR YOUR MUSIC, THE DROP IN PRICE FROM 16 DOLLARS FOR A CD OF SHIT TO 1 DOLLAR FOR THE SONG YOU WERE PROMOTING TO BEGIN WITH IS AN EXPENSE 16 TIMES GREATER THAN IF WE HAD 100% THEFT OF YOUR 'HARD' WORK. I'm an executive producer with a ton of cash invested in all these industries, but I don't spend a second crying to people about why I'm not making 200 million dollars a second from a plastic disc featuring marginal talent that I"m forcing on consumers with a gun to your head from the FBI enforcing my authority to rape you. Now ask yourself why the FBI chases around more people that listen to music for free than blew up the trade center in NYC. Where's bin laden? We dunno? perhaps its because the FBI is still working daily with people like this to figure out who to storm down next and hold a gun and prison sentence in front of you and force you to comply and pay their ungodly rates for human intellect and ideas common to each and every one of us. if your tired of getting raped in public formats, maybe you should spend more time in hiding from the people you intend to coerce cash out of and, like your other rich buddies that don't have much of a problem stealing from us because they don't come back and complain about its current profitability in GQ. the american public - where's bin laden? a rich producer at a major studio - fuck bin laden. i need hundreds of millions of dollars from people that can't afford to spend it to put with the billions I've made over my lifetime and tacked on to the millions thats accrued in interest. here's how I've made my money in this industry and it represents our future - I deliver entertainment worth paying for and ask people to pay for it. and they pay for it. and if they stop paying for it I use a combination of business skills and research combined with a product they'd like to purchase and sell it to them again. and if it gets worse - I don't put 7 companies together and develop a technology so pathetic to secure my interests that a 12 year old kid decrypts it on the first night its released. I hire the 12 year old kid to encrypt my shit and laugh while the 7 major companies haven't a clue how to steal it. let alone my customers.

kent fuselier

23 Aug 2010

As someone who is paid on intellectual property (software development) I would never pirate anyone's content. That being said, I will never pay for a crappy product. If music is bad, I don't buy it. If I go to the theatre and the movie sucks, I walk out and demand a refund. Today, I find myself not wanting to buy media content in increasing and alarming frequency. I'd be very, very curious as to see broad, and multi-faceted research on how impacted and diluted media consumption as a whole (movies, music, books) is by the wealth of other things we all can do now. This is NOT 1970, 1980, 1990 or even 2000. There are now tons of (newer) things competing for our spare time, the amount of which continues to drop as our jobs demand increasing amounts of productivity and spare time. Has the author looked at the fact that people are not consuming as much media per capita as they once did? And what about the quality of the product the corporate run, mass media produces. You know, the high quality stuff like one hit (music) wonders and parades of motion picture sequels. Where is the artist development? And for that matter, where is the CONSUMER development?


24 Aug 2010

Great article. The points are valid. This is what death smells like, at the beginning. Fighting for the cheapest thing instead of the best, bubble economies supporting substandard product and diluting the established market until it is destroyed along with children's lunch money, and tooth and nail claw to the very bottom of the bucket on price and quality, and a cry for freedom from the very perpetrators of the crime. Rot all around.

Brian Knight

27 Aug 2010

Stick a fork in the music industry - it's done. People like the author are entirely to blame, not the big bad ISP's. Music industry executives have been trying desperately to protect their old model for years.


05 Sep 2010

@evolvor 4th comment 17 Aug 2010 You hit the nail on the head + 1


21 Sep 2010

1. When Bono was channel surfing during the Zoo TV tour, how did U2 ensure that all the appropriate copyright clearances had been obtained and how diligent were they in paying the royalties to the holders of the intellectual property they were using? Or is he entitled to violate copyrights because he's more important than the rest of us? 2. Is there some reason why we should consider traditional recording studios being displaced by the internet as any more deserving of concern than the cinemas who faced declining audiences when television took part of their market? Or the silent film actors who were displaced by sound films? Or vaudevillians who lost their employment to the development of film? When new technology appears (whether it is the recording technology which made the music industry so profitable for a few, or the internet which has reduced their profits), some will adapt to the new medium and develop appropriate ways of making money, while some will remain committed to their traditional methods and lose money.


24 Sep 2010

If artists want people to go out and buy their music, they need to make it less expensive. I appreciate the fact that CDs and such cost a fair sum to manufacture, but that doesn't stop the record labels from jacking up the cost. A lot of people who download music illegally also buy the most albums, so it would seem to me; I know plenty of people who download day-in-day-out, but also regularly buy CDs, MP3s, merchendise and attend concerts. Bands like Radiohead, who released In_Rainbows for a "name your own" price, release their music inexpensively for the sake of musical freedom. After all, forcing people to pay extortionate prices for the music of, say, a new band on the scene, would scare off quite a few people with the "is it worth the price?" mentality. If new artists were encouraged to release there works for a small cost (through a platform like iTunes) or even for free over Peer-to-Peer or for download from their website, it could stand to greatly boost their career from the offset. Maybe it would be better for everyone if the music industry would kindly move over just a little, because as far as I can see, "illegal" music downloads are actually helping the industry to facilitate the musical arts again, instead of staying the corporate money-spinning machine that it has become.


24 Sep 2010

The record industry fails to realize that it was technology what made it happen in the first time. Ever since recording devices have been made the industry has been reluctant to embrace change. Radio was supposed to kill record sales - it did not, Tapes were supposed to stop sales - they did not, etc. CDs represented a golden era for the industry as it got to re-sell old inventory while making consumers buy entire albums if they only like a song. It is amazing how little consumer understanding there is on how consumers value and buy music. There are several examples of bands and companies embracing the new technologies to distribute their music. What the industry needs is to find ways to generate value that is link to today's technology and consumers behavior. In an era when consumers are overwhelm by media choices the "industry" needs to adapt and embrace the challenge and not cry about the good old days of LPs, CDs, etc.

Luis C Diaz

24 Sep 2010

I'm amazed that BMI, ASCAP, Record Companies, Publishers, Songwriter Guilds and all music artists don't get together and create a competition to Google/YouTube and P2P nets. But then again I'm not surprised, they were slow on the P2P's that are still a pain in there rears. Losing billions of dollars in potential artist compensation while the Google/YouTubes and P2P nets make a killing does not make very good business sense. U2 and many others artist expose the hunger of the world, buy what about the next generation music artist. Where is the call for this hunger, this musical rights genocide. They need to create a Internet Royalty Fund (IRF) paid for by ISP's, Earthlink, Cox, AT&T, Verizon, Google, Yahoo, Bing.....based on paid subscribers, offsetting the illegal content that flows freely between those providers. Its very simple..just use your imagination like most of us creators do. Take your head out of your a** and just do it and quit complaining. If we can't shut them down...force them to pay. Do it for your kids and there kids and so on and so on. Peace to you all and may god help us.

Dalton Priddy - USA

25 Sep 2010


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