License yourself clean

January 14, 2011

For the second time in as many years, the good folks at have thought my innane ramblings good enough to be “Most Read of the Year”. I wrote about music licensing and strategy in July, and the post is here.


ISP Tax – So Crazy It Just Might Work

March 29, 2008

Source: WikipediaReaders of this blog shouldn’t have been surprised by yesterday’s announcement by Warner Music Group that vocal industry critic and “music-like-water” proponent Jim Griffin is to begin the implementation of a voluntary collective licensing scheme.

The rhetoric against the proposal from the blogosphere has been, as usual, brutal and swift. Techcrunch has called the plan both “extortion” and a “protection racket“. It’s unfortunate that a better job hasn’t been done in tackling the fears generated by such a scheme and it should be priority #1 for the newly founded entity headed by Mr. Griffin.

That said, I think overreaction in this case is unhelpful. I find it interesting that there would be support for this idea when it is purely theoretical, but when movements are made to make it a practical solution, the internet erupts in anger.

There are, of course, plenty of reasons why the idea won’t work, why it will be damaging to independent musicians, labels and long-tail artists.

But first and foremost, I know that the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s 2004 proposal of such a scheme is forming the blueprint for the new entity headed by Jim Griffin. And in my conversations with him in the past, he is well aware of the interests and concerns of small, independant artists and I firmly believe he has the interests of artists of all stripes at heart in this.

I don’t think abstention is an option here. If musicians and labels can’t work together to implement a voluntary licensing scheme in the vein of what Griffin & Co are offering, then government will impose such an agreement on artists and labels. We only need look at the mess the Copyright Royalty Board made of Internet Radio licensing rates to see the advantages of working out a business deal well before government gets involved.

This is where we need to act: The power of the long-tail is, of course, volume. It’s up to independent music businesses like the readers of this blog to take this matter into our own hands.

Please get in touch if you like the idea of forming a collective to ensure fair representation around the negotiating table of this scheme. Jim has ensured such a place exists for long-tail artists and labels, and Penny Distribution is working with a number of other indies to make sure our voice is heard.

After all, the internet provides a voice for us like never before, and our priority should be to ensure we have voice as strong as our collective market share.