[LINK] More on the Music Industry
Mon, 24 Feb 2003 15:37:52 +1100
It is true that there are two ostensible purposes for copyright. The first, as Chris (quoting Stallman, although others
have said it) noted is to ensure the distribution of content. The second is to secure the creation of content. New
technology is attacked precisely because it accomplishes the first better and faster than publishers and distributors
can. If there was an honest debate on this topic new technology would be embraced for doing this rather than vilified.
The question then, as Hans correctly observes, is how to promote the creation of content and is copyright the way to
Copyright is a system which has as its premise that the production of music must be driven by a product, not a services
model. It is a product model which is subsidised by the granting of monopoly rights to (in practice) publishers and
distributors. The content industry is unique in this respect. No one blathers on about how other services industries
need a product model to work (no one worries about starving lawyers - or starving plumbers for that matter). The product
model for music is a fantasy encouraged by music publishers and distributers which, incidentally also conveniently tends
to greatly favour them. Structurally, in the world of performers it produces a handful of extravagant winners and a vast
sea of losers with publishers and distributors inserting themselves as middle men in every transaction. The less people
spend on canned music qua product the more they will have available to spend on music qua service - such as live
performance or comissioned works. And consequently the more winners there will be among performers, although the wins of
those winners may not be as great as those of the current privileged handful.
Second, if it does have the effect of subsidizing these other productions this subsidy is an indirect one, and one in
which publishers and distributors still extract monopoly profits in the course of providing. Why shouldn't citizens have
more say about where their money is being spent and give subsidies directly to performers without having to also pay a
profit component to a middle man? Again, the people who benefit from this way of providing subsidies are distributors
Third, there is nothing stopping the people who want classical or other non mainstream brands of music from forming
their own consortia or subscription services to create recordings that they want and probably doing so for a cheaper price.
Much debate within and of the music industry is obscured by refusal to see the reality of the mud footed product model
Hans W. Groenewegen wrote:
> One of the many things that annoy me about this too frequently repeated
> LINK discussion on the music industry is the fact that most contributors
> seem to equate "music" with rock and other forms of contemporary (and
> generally ephemeral) popular music. There is very little consideration
> given to the fact that the music industry has for years been cross
> subsidising their serious music output from the income generated by
> popular music sales. With the decline in that income, partly due to web
> piracy, the amount of money being spent by the recording industry in
> commissioning new recordings of serious classical music, for example,
> has reduced significantly. Many of the classical CD's that are coming
> on the market are in fact re-issues of recordings made many decades ago.
> Although the sound quality is still good and the recording artists are
> often legendary, it does mean that the opportunities for new artists to
> make their name and for new - and perhaps slightly more esoteric - works
> to be recorded are declining.
> The purpose of copyright is not, as Chris Maltby (quoting Richard
> Stallman) said, merely to cover the significant costs
> associated with traditional methods of physical duplication and
> delivery. The purpose is to promote creative endeavour which is
> obviously much wider than that and not really affected by the changes in
> technology. No doubt it is quite possible for some uncouth local rock
> band to distribute its latest creation on the Web. But it takes a lot
> more resources to make a top quality recording of Berlioz' Requiem or
> the complete Beethoven string quartets.
> Robin Whittle wrote:
>>"The Music Industry" - really the "Western Recorded Music Industry" may
>>look from the outside like one thing, but I think it is internally
>>fractured in quite a few dimensions.
>>Musicians, song-writers, managers, producers, recording studios, record
>>companies, music publishers, various copyright collection agencies, TV
>>and especially radio are all fractured individually between themselves
>>and often in tension or conflict with other sectors. For instance
>>musicians need managers and both need record companies to finance and
>>distribute their work. But record companies, who really know nothing
>>about music (otherwise they would be musicians themselves) only go on
>>last year's trends and what they think they can get airplay for. Radio
>>wants to play generally familiar music, with a bit of fresh stuff, to
>>attract the demographic which spends most money on things which
>>advertisers want to sell. But that is not necessarily the same
>>demographic of the younger people who buy most CDs - or who are most
>>interested in the fresh musical endeavours which the most artistically
>>significant musicians are pursuing. Radio needs music which supports
>>advertising - so long or instrumental pieces are impossible. Therefore,
>>because of the central role radio plays in the discovery of music,
>>"popular" music is continually guided into being compatible with the
>>increasingly crass and manipulative adverts.
>>This is not to mention personal tensions between people who are strongly
>>driven artistically or by business building desires.
>>Then there is the intense stylistic differences and the fact that one
>>person's heavenly song sounds like torture to someone else. (Billy
>>Joel's "Piano Man" anyone?)
>>The Western recorded music industry goes back a century or so and I
>>think that the people at the centre of it, in the big record companies,
>>are extraordinarily resistant to accepting what has changed, with both
>>CD-Rs and with the Net. They do not seem to understand how the Net
>>gives artists so many new opportunities for facilitating music discovery
>>and two-way communication with listeners. Quite a bit of this makes
>>big record companies partially redundant, unless you really need to sell
>>tens of thousands of CDs. But nonetheless, a smart record company would
>>develop its own software for websites which are optimised for promoting
>>artist - listener discovery and communication.
>>My page on this is:
>>Two other problems which are harder to solve for Net-based sales of
>>music are that many of the customers are too young to have credit card
>>accounts, and that the costs and security problems of credit card
>>transactions are not suitable for low-value transactions like AUD$1 etc.
>>There is a startup hoping to solve this:
>>This is Professors Silvio Micali and Ronald L. Rivest. But others, such
>>as DigiCash, have failed in this micropayments business.
>> - Robin
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