Music & Technology to Marry, Make Kids with Super-Industry Powers.

June 16, 2008
The Old Romantic Killer Band

Image by coxy via Flickr

In a recent paper from the UK’s performing rights society MCPS-PRS Alliance, two of the sharpest minds in music 2.0 proposed that music rights societies, such as MCPS or any record label, should ask for equity in nascent web based music startups in return for granting those startups the right to use their catalog.

The merits and demerits of this proposal aside (and both are wonderfully divulged in the paper, so go have a read), I’ve been one of a few proponents of the idea that it is this type of co-operation of the technology industries and the recorded music industry that truly presents the best solution moving forward for all involved. From the paper:

“It is in the opinion of the authors that a long-standing solution to the
dilemma of licensing nascent and controversial uses will only occur by
way of persistent, perhaps heated dialogue between the developers of
new services, the investors in those services, and the owners of the
underlying rights involved. Each party has a stake in the success of
innovative opportunities.”

Although the relevance of copyright is currently hotly debated, it is still the framework under which artists of all levels, rookie to mega-star, are compensated for their work. At the indie music level, the viability of artistic careers must start with the artist’s right to be compensated for the performance, duplication and licensing of his/her work.

Of course, the wild success of YouTube and other online enterprises paid little or no heed to copyright. I’m not passing judgment at all here – it’s the digital environment we live in and there’s no changing it.

My question is – how can technology and recorded music industries find common ground in this debate to the advantage of all? More importantly, is this kind of co-operation worthwhile for startups at all? Would you consider the rights of artists were you to run a Music 2.0 startup? I’d really like to hear what you think on this – especially if you’ve got a perspective from the technology side.

Cory Denis summed up this “New Music Economy” quite succinctly in this Wikipedia entry. And it’s this summation that’ll form the basis of a talk I’m giving this weekend at BarCamp, a series of talks that normally focus on tech subjects such as coding, web design and the like. I’m hoping to get into some “heated dialogue” with you here and discussing this subject with folks at BarCamp.

After all, like any great marriage, it’s the arguments that lead to the real growth.

If you found this article interesting, please forward it to someone else who might find it useful, too. Thanks!

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Aloha, EMI & Guy Hands

May 27, 2008

Ian Rodgers (former head of Yahoo! Music) is one of the select few Music 2.0 commentators who consistently hit the nail on the head when talking about where we’re going (not just where we’ve been) in the music industry.  My (extremely short) list also includes Mark GunheimMike Masnick and Terry McBride

Ian’s open letter to Guy Hands (new owner of EMI) today is a great read for artists and new labels alike.  Standout passage (standout because this is exactly what Penny Distribution offers):

“If I’m an artist, I’m probably better off having a small label start building my career than I am submitting to a major, going through the buckshot marketing machine and hoping against hope they’re going to break me at radio or MTV. If the small label has an existing relationship with a group of people already inclined to like my style, they have a better chance at building my career from the bottom-up than I have hitting it big in the channels of radio or MTV.

If, as this hypothetical artist on an indie label, I get traction, will I then move up into the major system? In the old days I *had* to if I wanted to reach a wider audience, but not anymore. If I’m the White Stripes of tomorrow do I do a 360 deal with the label or do one with myself? I can afford to record my own music, I can distribute in 100 different ways by myself (and keep more of the profits), so if I’m going to partner with you for my releases you’d better have better access to a larger audience than I could generate on my own. If my song fits in the limited (and shrinking) channels of radio and music television I might have a shot. But if not, what do you offer?”

Read the whole article here