Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Music industry bail-out blasted

There's quite a few people suggesting that the government should come up with a way of helping the record companies in their hour of need. Mostly, those people are from the music industry.

TechRadar has been talking to Andrew Dubber, who entertainingly trots through the arguments against changing the law, and slapping taxes on broadband, and generally allowing Guy Hands to dictate what's going to happen.

Dubber is part of New Music Strategies and (deep breath) Arts and Humanities Research Council Knowledge Transfer Fellow in Online Music and Radio Innovation and a Senior Lecturer in the Music Industries at Birmingham City University. So he knows what he's talking about:

One of those things is that the record companies aren't the music industry. "The music industry is a vast, diverse ecology with lots of different people doing different stuff, but the record companies have managed to persuade the mainstream media to call them the music industry - which is a bit like the lions demanding to be called the zoo," he laughs.

One of Dubber's main concerns is the sheer amount of stuff that you just can't hear anymore:
Dubber describes how, in 2006, he asked Universal Music - one of the world's biggest record labels - how much of their music was currently available for sale. The answer? Two percent. Ninety-eight percent of Universal's music was locked in a vault somewhere.

Things have improved in the last few years thanks to iTunes, but the amount of music available is still the tip of an iceberg. "There's no incentive for them to release it, because it's not popular enough to be commercially viable - and because there's no danger of them losing the rights to it, why bother hurrying? If it was out there and in the public domain, they could say, look, here it is. Use it, listen to it, love it, sample it, rework it, do what you like. But it's a massive store of our cultural heritage [that] is just locked away because it's commercially expedient for it not to be released."

It's an entertaining read - thanks to Russell C for bringing the piece to our attention.


Gary Marshall said...

Thanks for the link. Andrew's site is well worth subscribing to...

Olive said...

GM [...]introduced the EV1 electric car in 1996 - but decided to concentrate on gas-guzzlers instead [...] Today's world doesn't want gas-guzzlers, and GM is desperately trying to catch up before it goes out of business

That's right Gary. You just can't move on the roads for all those electric cars from companies that aren't GM.

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