Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Off-Message: Radiohead should split

Showing the sort of intuitive understanding that makes a great music manager, Brian Message advised Radiohead to split up during the making of In Rainbows.

Although he did have a point at the time:

"Radiohead are a once-in-a-generation act," Message told the Music Managers Forum in Dublin, "but you have to be honest if it's not working."

There aren't many managers who would advise a clapped-out band to call it a day, and fewer still who would admit to having said so during the making of one that year's best albums.

Message also differs from many other managers with his approach to the internet:
"We find ourselves out of step with the rest of the industry on [internet issues]," Message said. "We believe filesharing by peer-to-peer should be legalised. The sharing of music where it is not for profit is a great thing for culture and music."

Message condemned the proposed "three strikes" legislation against filesharers...

Here comes the 'but':
...and argued instead for a tax on internet use, that would help remunerate artists. "As a free market advocate I never thought I'd say this but we will have to have government intervention to force the internet service providers to adopt a licensing mode," he said. "Those who are providing [filesharing] facility as part of their value proposition should be contributing to the artists."

A tax on internet use.

It's actually handy when you phrase it like that, as it does make it clear what we're talking about here: The government raising a levy on access to information. Like a tax on printing presses, you mean? Or a tax on knowledge. But - hey - if the money is going to go to Peter Skellern and Survivor, then that can't be a bad thing, can it?

If even well-minded music industry types can feel comfortable putting aside their dearest beliefs like this, how about we create some similar taxes that flow in the opposite direction?

Like, for example, flyposting. Flyposting is a nuisance to councils - it costs money to police, and to clean up flyposters. Why don't we simply levy a tax on all promotions of cultural events? Sure, many gig promoters and bands might not actually use illegal flyposting, but someone has to pay for the clean-up. Naturally, anyone who chose to not pay the levy would be banned from advertising any events, because those who are benefiting from promotional activities should be contributing to the costs of scrubbing walls and repainting bus shelters.

Yes, it's arbitrary and unfair and capricious - but then so is the web tax. Why should only the music industry get to make bad laws?


Anonymous said...

"We believe filesharing by peer-to-peer should be legalised"Since when was it illegal? I get quite irritated at the constant repeating of this falsehood. File sharing by peer-to-peer (or by any other means, for that matter) is not and has never been illegal. That would be absurd (BBC iPlayer, for example, uses p2p and it would be silly to suggest that is illegal) What is illegal is sharing files without permission (i.e copyrighted ones). The language these people use is frustrating to say the least. Not all sharing of music is crippled by their unfair copyright rules. In fact, large amounts of music is available for free and to share from artists willing to setup download sites or through netlabels (or whatever, as I am sure everyone here knows) but the language they use means they can convince the majority of people that, rather than the industry change their model so that they too are sharing for free on the web, they should be able to change the law to set up a new set of equally unfair rules like "internet tax". It is about time that they were getting called out on this before they get away with starting to suggest that they actually believe that "The sharing of music where it is not for profit is a great thing for culture and music." - a fact with which I agree but not one that their methods allows or even one that I believe they wish for.

Tim Footman said...

Stop dissing Peter Skellern, he's a dude: maudlin MOR, Nat King Cole with a dash of Sparklehorse.

david siregar said...

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