Why Bono is wrong about filesharing
P2P is fun: just let us pay for it
Guest Opinion Music entrepreneur Paul Sanders thinks Bono is wrong, and the music business should start being a music business again. We invited him to elaborate.
At a conference a few years ago IFPI Chairman John Kennedy said he had 'no problem' with China's approach to managing its citizens' use of the internet. It stuck in my mind for some reason. This Christmas, Bono pulled the somewhat cheap semantic and logical trick of suggesting that because China can suppress online dissent, and because ISPs can and do take some action to block child pornography, they therefore should also block copyright infringement. And that they should do so in order to help 'young fledgling songwriters' make a living.
I expect both would have a problem with the success rate in China; it is as leaky as a sieve, inside and out. Are the efforts of the IWF to block access to child pornography any more successful? Well, we do not know what we do not know. But that aside, surely all Bono's remarks, and Kennedy's, tell us is that people with strong incentives to do one thing generally don't do the opposite.
For Bono is probably the person least likely to say "we need to find a way to have many more artists and performers make a decent living, while allowing people on below average wages, and their children, to enjoy as much music as they like within their weekly budget". Or he might say it, in a sudden rush of blood to the head, but is surely least likely to do anything to make it happen.
The market, despite all the hot air about Long Tails, has spent the last decade relatively over-rewarding the hits. If ISPs have been leeching cash out of the record business, as Bono contends in another piece of sophistry ("rich service providers, whose swollen profits perfectly mirror the lost receipts of the music business"), then the studies are showing that it is the middle that is being slimmed, leaving a longer thinner tail and almost as fat a head as ever.
For the 'young fledgeling songwriter' - stick your hands up children, if you think that is you - success comes now as it always has, with either a breakthrough hit which nobody can ignore, or through the patronage of stars such as Bono, who can deliver a living wage to songwriters by performing their songs.
The politics of exclusion
Maybe it was a little political joke that the music industry gongs in the 2010 New Year's honours list went to the chairman of Universal Music and two members of Status Quo - because the big companies have every reason to keep things just as they are. That means trying to make sure that consumers spend as much money as possible on as few tracks as possible. So while in the best value deals the wholesale rate per track is hovering around 20p, you are not allowed to buy more at the same price - in fact with Sky Songs the price goes up if you want more than 20 tracks per month.
So perversely, if the pain of filesharing is felt disproportionately outside of the hits market, then the biggest companies have no reason to swap what they have now for a market that would give the smaller labels more chances to get paid.
Next page: Freedom, abundance, and a tenner a month
My guest opinion?
Bono is a great big floppy donkey dick. Go pay your taxes, you two-faced hypocrite.
The reason the music industry won't sign up to fee-based subscriptions is simple. They'd rather spend all their money making criminals of the average person on the street than appear to capitulate, thereby admitting their business model is obsolete, and their place in the world is as irrelevant to music distribution as the horse-drawn carriage is to mass transit.
Bono would express an opinion on my granny's piles if he could get media exposure out of it.
Hello is that Kettle?
I have pot for you on line one. He says you're black.
Your vision of "all you can eat" is not necessarily the only way it can be. It is perfectly possible to offer subscription services to those who want them and still be able to prosecute illegal filesharing.
All it takes is for the music biz to stop squealing like a stuck pig and realise that the only reason it got stuck in the first place is because of its own short-sightedness. Same goes for Hollywood (although quite why anyone would want to download the shite they're putting out these days is beyond me) and, if they're not careful, publishers.
The alternative is to continue screwing over paying customers while freetards get away with it. Ok, casual "piracy" might momentarily dip with new legislation or whatever, but nobody can seriously say there will be any lasting effect. Even if illegal filesharing ever did become a seriously hard thing to do without getting caught (which, last time I checked, isn't going to happen any time soon) then the ability to do it just becomes proportionally more valuable, and you're back to old style bootlegging and large-scale "piracy". Maybe the music biz wants the 80's back in more ways than one, but I sure as hell don't and neither does anyone else who's ever had a taste for the absolute abundance of talent out there that we never would have heard if it wasn't for the internet. I half suspect everyone else either hasn't heard of the internet or would actually be happy listening to The Lighthouse Family on endless repeat.
It's the music biz's problem, not the ISP's, not the customers, but theirs. Ok the problem wasn't of their own making but they're still smarting and bitching and picking at the scars when all they need to do is either get over it and move on or go the way of the dinosaurs. Fucksake it's not like if the music biz imploded then music would suddenly cease to exist overnight.
PS: Bono. Argh, I honestly can't even think of a single word to describe that fatuous spunkbubble.