Wednesday, April 22, 2009

When Toad met Sony

Fascinating post on Song, By Toad, detailing a meeting between Sony BMG and a group of bloggers (Mr Toad, Winston from Winston's Zen, Jamila from Fucking Dance and Tim from The Blue Walrus.

This came about following Winston getting hit by a takedown notice for a track posted on the Zen; the outcome of the meeting is probably best filed under "a good start at opening the lines of communications" - or, as Toad puts it:

. It was interesting, certainly, and if it’s the start of blogs no longer being treated as the enemy, that would be nice. Both sides have to be very wary of lazy thinking though, and not assume that it will be straightforward simply because we are all such nice folks and had a nice night out. I’m looking forward to seeing how it develops though.

Nothing soothes a battle like being able to put faces to the 'other side':
The people we spoke to were really nice, and I think it’s really important that the online community engage with them, prove them right, and show the powers that be at Sony that bloggers are legit, and that most of us want to be a positive influence, not a negative one.

Toad is sharp on the risks of close engagement with the labels, though - that music blogs will, essentially, become part of the mainstream:
If blogs are treated as ‘proper music press’ then that pretty much involves being pulled into the same machine as everything else. We would become part of industry, part of the same juggernaut which a lot of us are fighting, and suckling from the same bloated expense accounts which make these massive labels as unwieldy as they are. We become, in essense, part of the problem. I don’t want to be sulky or snobby about all this, and I genuinely do want to engage with them, but it still makes me a little twitchy.

Which does open a massive philosophical debate: if you really believe that the four-label system is bad for music, do you wind up shoring it up by becoming part of their release-and-promotion procedures? Or is it better to engage and try and effect change to the existing system?

There's also a scoop, too:
In future they are pulling back from simply setting the IFPI hounds of hell loose, brandishing swords crafted from DMCA steel, and they are going to get a list of infringements and examine it themselves. This has changed since the Glasvegas business, and is a very very good thing as far as I am concerned.

That's good news as it suggests a less blunt approach, and it's also interesting news as suggests that the labels are already weaning themselves off the IFPI and preparing to live with one less RIAA variant draining their coffers to no good effect.

[Big thanks to @Imrania for the tip]