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.

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