Paul Mcguinness is the manager for U2, arguably the biggest band in the world. In this months Rolling Stone he wrote an article about how to save the music business. And i have to say, as a Dj and a music lover, i was very disturbed and mildly pissed. Because Paul, along with U2, Don Henley and countless other musicians have a very specific idea of how the music business should work. Now the great minds behind this idea aren’t your average musicians trying to scrape by, they are, or represent, some of the richest and most powerful artists in the biz. So here’s their Plan.
1. They would like to to have government intervention force Internet service providers to share their profits with the record companies. Their reason for this? the ISP’s haven’t stopped illegal file sharing, therefore their profits are coming from illegal activities, and therefore the money should be given back to the record companies that are losing money.
2. They would then “partner” the record companies with the ISP’s to create streaming music services that would be bundled as part of your cable or internet bill. now, for those of you that don’t understand the streaming music model, here’s how it works. You get to download a billion songs for $9-$19 per month. great, right? not so fast. First, the music doesn’t belong to you. If you downloaded 3 million songs, then two months later lost your job and couldn’t afford the package anymore, you would lose every single song when you cancelled. Their argument is that artists shouldn’t get paid for every song or cd you buy, they should get paid every single time anyone, anywhere plays their music. They don’t believe you should own their music.
3. because of the agreements with the record labels, the ISP’s would be required to monitor your web usage. Not just the amount of bandwidth you use, but what you are actually doing on the web. The reason behind this? They would access your every move so they could make sure you’re not downloading illegally. This would give them full access to your surfing history, potentially giving them the ability to use the information to market to you, sell to other businesses and even give the government a nice, clean, easy to get ahold of your internet activity.
4. Next, it would be at the disretion of the labels and ISP’s as to what devices, or how many devices you would be able to use to listen to the music. This would allow one type of corporation to decide what other corporations will succeed in the music business. so if Time Warner is pissed at Phillips, well, Phillips might not be able to stream music on any of their MP3 players.
I’m sure this all seems far fetched and way too 1984 to ever really happen. But the UK and France are currently doing studies about the viability of this exact model. If this becomes common practice in European countries, how long before it comes to the US? Here’s a fact for you: Rhapsody, the only major player in the music subscription service game, only controls 3.4% of the music market. So we are talking about fundamentally changing internet and music freedoms to push a pseudo eutopion plan that 96.6% of Americans currently have no interest in.
I think that one of the things that bothers me most about the Article in Rolling Stone is the way it completely clears the record companies of any blame for the current state of the music business. They are portrayed as the poor, scrappy underdog that can’t fairly compensate or develop their artists. I’m all for capitalism, i think that you should be able to make a good profit on your hard work. But in 2009 the record industry made 16 BILLION in PROFIT. So where is this money going? if you can’t pay your artists fairly and make a good profit from 16 billion, then maybe you should fix the system YOU broke, not drag big business, internet providers and the government into a whole new scheme. because all i see is the industry proving once again that they don’t give a shit about the music or the fans, just the bottom line.