Monday, September 06, 2010

Sharkey tries charm offensive

Given that his attempt to beat ISPs and technology companies into giving money to musicians has been an abject failure, Feargal Sharkey has decided to try and win the cash by adopting a Big Society/"we're all in this together" approach. Thinq was there:

Sharkey, a campaigner against people copying music on the internet and the technology they use, said it had become apparent that technology and creativity were inseparable.

"It's now time for ISPs and tech companies to sit down together and possibly for the first time have a broad adult conversation. Our future is now totally dependent, totally entwined, totally symbiotic," he told an audience of industry, government and media at the Westminster Forum this morning.

Sharkey was on rousing form. The former pop star called dramatically for the mobilization of British music and technology producers: "By 2020. We. Want. To rival. The United States. As the largest. Source of repertoire. And artistry. In. The. World."
I suspect he might have been banging the table where those full stops are.

Is that true, though? Does a vaguely defined "we" really want to set its cape on scale rather than quality?

Is it even possible, given the sheer weight of numbers that the US offers? Wouldn't this "we" be better off creating high-end acts rather than churning out thousands of mass market vehicles?

And why would the technology companies share the aims of UK Music anyway? It doesn't matter much to Google if you're looking for an act born in Bangalore, Boston or Brighton.

Although Sharkey is abandoning his previous bellicose stance, he's trying to not make this look like a climbdown:
The music industry scored a controversial success in April when the last government passed the Digital Economy Act, which would sanction the removal of people's internet connections if they were suspected of sharing copyrighted music online.

This had helped restore the equilibrium between creativity and technology that had, said Sharkey, been out of kilter. It was but a single "stepping stone" toward the music industry's goal of having people "remunerated for their talent time, effort and ability".
Although the DEA has had no discernible impact on behaviour. Nobody seems to have been bothered by any of the terms of the Act.

Sharkey then goes on to patronise the technology industry:
Internet applications providers should think not about how many users they could get, but how sustainable were their business models.
You think, Feargal? (Interesting that size is the most important when selling music but not when selling applications, though.)

Perhaps Sharkey should have tried the 'working together' approach before beating technologists with a stick. Given nobody believed him when he claimed ISPs owed their profits to musicians' sweat, he's going to have to make a better case if he wants these former rogues to believe they need his self-appointed approval.