Challenge of the New Reality

… in more ways than one. A busy day off work in which I coached, cajoled and chauffeured Plague to an interview for a new job, which he got. A big new start for him and all happening very fast.

In the evening I went to conference on the future of the music business with the aforementioned title, organised by The Skinny newspaper. I was in good company with Tommy MacKay and Peter Michael Rowan. The key speaker was Peter Jenner, former LSE lecturer and manager of Pink Floyd, T Rex, Ian Dury and others. Jetlagged but engaging, he explained how the record industry was still mentally locked into the days when it had a monopoly on the physical copying and distribution of ‘records’ (however you understand that term). Copyright was ‘the right to copy’. With the right, acknowledged by society as the means by which performers were paid, came the control of the means of production as part of the deal. Now that digital media mean creation, copying and distribution are easy and the monopoly is broken, they are still mentally tied to the idea that they have to control it. They attempt to enforce it with things like DRM (Digital Rights Management, that stops you copying an mp3 from one PC to another) or suing young people for filesharing. But the old bargain is broken and the public no longer believe in the record industry’s ‘right’ to copy. The industry tries to justify itself but the public smell a rat. But now only four companies control the entire record industry market, and one of them dominates. But – get this – that one company’s second biggest revenue stream is not selling goods or services, but lawsuits against file-sharers!  As Jenner says, a company whose income depends on suing its customers cannot exist for long! 

Jenner outlined proposals for a new paradigm enabling revenue for performers without attempting to charge for individual songs, a charge which will never be recognised as legitimate. But whether all the vested interests will ever allow it before they collapse on their own greed is another matter. 

It was an interesting night,  and well presented. I think you’ll soon be able to see some of it at

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