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Monday, January 22, 2007 

MIDEM for free

Just read this on yahoo:

> "You can't ask people to pay (for music) when they've been getting
> it for free," celebrated French economist, author and former
> adviser to president Francois Mitterand, Jacques Attali, told a
> packed MidemNet conference here Saturday.

It's 2007 and there's no conversation about music FEELING free? Who's at MIDEM? Is the debate really just
free or pay? Is anyone talking about delivery methods that feel free
and compensate creators?

Here's something from BMI:

>“50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” – 1976 Pop Award/Million-Air [2million]

Paul Simon has a bunch of these awards signifying 2 million radio
plays (in this case, since 1976).

Big whoop. She Wants Revenge has 4.7 million plays on Myspace IN 2006! But
there's no system in place to pay for those performances.

Now, there is a distinction between a single radio play which is heard by many people at once and an Internet stream which is singular. And there are other distinctions between broadcast spins and myspace listens as well. Broadcast spins you could say are passive listens. Perhaps there are 10,000 people listening at one time but not all of them like Paul Simon or respond to the song by making an LP purchase. Myspace listens are [mostly] active. In the old/current model, radio is looked at as promotion and advertisement for a product. The labels gave it away, thus no performance royalty for a sound recording. The industry is continuing to look at myspace plays as advertisements for CDs. The problem is, the CD is on the way out. For many kids, myspace IS the product (a crappy 96kbps product at that). The primary experience of a band may be their myspace page, youtube video, and, when they're in town, a live show.

Eventually where it will go (or ought to go) is some sort of entertainment fee bundled into your TV/Internet/sat radio/mobile device service that is distributed to copyright holders based on actual plays. And for the consumer, it feels free. The CD is over. A model based on advertising for a $14 piece of plastic is over no matter how hard they sue. And totally free music is unacceptable. One may disagree, but I'm sure the film/TV industries are not going to go down as quietly. In fact, this may all get settled by them 5 years from now. In the meantime, I worry that writers and performers will be undermined by an industry jamming an old model on a new reality.

No, you can't ask people to pay directly for music. The experience
of music has changed no matter how much the powers that be wish it
hadn't. The debate shouldn't be free or pay. It should be how do we
make it work.

I think a few musicians make way too much, and most way too little. I like paying money for a live concert, but not the $200 some bands command. I would love to see you in Seattle tomorrow, but fuel expenses are more than the ticket price.

Since I became ill and am living on disability payments, I now can afford only a few cds or concerts a year. How much should I pay for a cd? $5 sounds good, if $4 went to the artists, and $1 for the electronic distribution.

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