Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: Music Matters

After fifteen or so years trying to tell you that playing an unlicensed music file was akin to stealing a handbag, or a CD, or a kitten, the music industry has decided to change tack. They're having a crack at treating file sharing like drink driving:

Comparisons were made at the launch in London to anti-drink driving campaigns which have gradually changed attitudes.

Ms Byrne said of such parallels: "Absolutely, I spoke to quite a few people when we were doing this campaign and it's not going to happen overnight but I think the whole point is basically creating awareness and to chip, chip away."

They're exactly the same thing. Apart from drink driving being something that kills people, while a person listening to an unlicensed music file is very, very unlikely to mount the pavement, hit a pedestrian and put people in hospital.

The project is called Music Matters, and starts from the wrong-footed hypothesis that people don't understand the issues. "If only we could explain how badly EMI needs the 0.0001p it would have got from a legal streaming of that Robbie Williams song you listened to without permission; how you're effectively stealing cash from the servicing of that big pile of debt. And the best way to do that is to pretend that you're as bad as a drunk driver."

But it's not just patronising and insulting comparisons with drunk driving. Oh, no:
Chris Morrison of CMO Management agreed that the problem is generational.

But he continued: "You can educate that out of people... Racial prejudice was rife when I was a child... the public attitude towards it has changed radically."

They're not just fighting crime; the music industry is quite close like Martin Luther King. Unfortunately, that's close as in 'standing close by his grave pissing on his memory', but close nevertheless.

Morrison concludes:
"Music must have a perceived value if it's to have a future."

That's true. Don't expect your Mum to whistle as she cuts the grass if there's no money in it. Don't think that people will make music because they love the sound, or enjoy performing, or want to engage with an audience. If you can't hang a price tag on music, it will vanish.

Can we turn to Gennaro Castaldo, HMV's expert in expertise, for some sensible viewpoint?

HMV's Gennaro Castaldo said the campaign was "engaging with the fans for the first time.

"Up to now they've probably been communicated to or dictated to, they've read about it but they've never actually been engaged with dialogue in this way before."

It's not entiely a dialogue if it's designed to change people's thinking to match that of the organisers, is it? Going "tell us what you think, and then we'll tell you what to think" is still dictating, Gennaro.