Thursday, February 07, 2013

BPI hails digital

The BPI has, at least, resisted the temptation to describe the 19% of UK music buyers who only ever download as "digital natives". Let's be thankful for that.

They seem thrilled by this news, as it gives it something positive to say after a grim couple of months.

"There has rightly been a lot of focus in the past few weeks on high street music retail. That will continue – we must do all we can to serve music fans who love CDs and vinyl," said the BPI chief executive, Geoff Taylor.
I'm not sure what he means here - does he mean that high street retail will continue? Or the "focus" on it will continue? And whose focus? Ours? The BPI's?

If it's the industry's focus, last month Taylor was kind of vague when talking to Billboard about what the BPI was doing:
We're working very hard together with AIM [Association of Independent Music] in talks with the administrator of HMV. Secondly, we are talking to [U.K. collection society] PRS for Music about the way that publishers approach mechanical royalties on stock for which labels are not being paid, or only being paid a fraction of its value. It's important that the publishing community help labels ensure that HMV has a viable future and that as much of HMV can emerge as a viable ongoing concern as possible.
Obviously, you wouldn't expect Taylor to detail exactly what moves were being made, but given that's an interview with a trade magazine, you'd expect something more than "we're having chats with the people managing the decline" as a roadmap.

Still, back to today, and Taylor's embrace of the new figures:
But as well as great music stores...
You're going to have to speak up, Geoff, we can't hear you above the sound of boards being nailed over HMV windows.
...Britain is blessed with a world-beating array of digital music services, which fans rate very highly for ease of use and value for money. And this is just the beginning."
Only a puritan hides his fear of Springtime by pretending to celebrate it. There's a hollowness to this embrace of digital from an organisation whose members struggled against the tide for so long.

And the suggestion that Britain is somehow at the heart of things is surprising - perhaps he's thinking of America's iTunes or Amazon, or Sweden's Spotify. (True, Spotify is headquartered in London now, but its heart is still Scandinavian.)

And the value for money claim is surprising.

In the US, Spotify premium costs $9.99. At the moment, that's £6.38. The same package costs £9.99 here ($15.65 in USD.)

In the US, the top tier of iTunes pricing is $1.29, equivalent to 82p. In the UK, the top rate is 99p - $1.55 at current exchange rates.

When Geoff Taylor hails the value for money, it'd be nice if he could explain what the extra value UK customers are getting for this hefty mark-up.


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