Apple’s statement that they would not be paying artists and the consequent backlash from performers like Taylor Swift has been generating a great deal of commentary regarding revenue from music streaming services in general. This article examines some of the issues relating to streaming, piracy, and the difficulties associated with profiting from recorded music in the digital age.
Entries in piracy (6)
So as we know, if a song reaches a certain level of popularity these days, there’s pretty much a guarantee that someone, somewhere is going to pirate it. This is now a fact. Should it happen? Some say yes, and some say no, and there will probably never be a consensus. Regardless of the answer to that question, the unrelenting truth of the matter is that it DOES happen. The smartest response in this case then is to stop arguing about the should’s or the why’s, and simply accept the fact that this is happening. The ground is shifting below our feet, and we need to act or we will all get sucked under.
To me it seems pointless to even bring up the prospect of a subscription service, or even a pay-as-you-go model as a viable solution for a future sustainable industry model. This is because the internet, now the basis of content consumption, is like a huge river of information. A paywall is like a little pebble being thrown into it. The water in the river has no trouble getting around the pebble. Paywalls will never solve the piracy problem, and damming up the whole river, as we’ve seen with SOPA, will not be easy, and most likely will never happen.
The Music Industry has been struggling to battle the revolution of Digital Piracy for years, with countless musician’s speaking out against it. This struggle has gone as far as the creation of a few ill-advised bills being proposed by Congress, known as SOPA and PIPA, to protect Hollywood’s movie and music industries from dropping drastic levels of revenue. However, these laws were far from desirable, and the Music Industry still faces a challenge in battling piracy, despite the activists against it!
BMI began sending communication regarding the restaurant’s lack of proper licensing back in September of 2009, but it wasn’t until May of 2010 that BMI even bothered to visit Fosters to verify that the business was actually playing unlicensed music. (From page 32 of the PDF.)So without verifying anything, BMI starts demanding payment from a restaurant for “Piracy”.
This is how the mafia demands “protection”.
By now everyone has read a string of thoughtful predictions by many great music industry minds regarding the future of the music business, and most of them certainly have merit. Let me propose the 4 steps that I think would help thrust the music business truly into Music 3.0. Some of these you’ve no doubt heard before, but some you may have not.
1) New Blood For The Industry - The music industry was creatively at its best when the pioneers of the business (Berry Gordy, Ahmet Ertegen, Mo Ostin, Jac Holzman, etc.) were actively running their companies. They were fans first, businessmen second, and they intimately knew their audience well because they were part of it.
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(Updated July 8, 2015)