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The F Word: Monetising Filesharing

5th July 2007 @ 7:30 pm - 10:00 pm

Venue: Private Room, Bertorelli Bar & Restaurant

TOPIC

This think tank will focus on what is perhaps the single most pressing issue facing the recorded music industry today – how to finally run with something most of us or our kids do, license it and help it grow.  Yes it’s the F word: Filesharing.

After all, for most music lovers, the passion, discovery and sharing of music is what it’s all about.  And as any technologist will tell you, sharing information, and electronic files is what the internet was built for.  But filesharing isn’t purely about downloading from various P2P and Bittorrent sites – people are bluetoothing tracks, using messenger, email and file transfer services, sideloading to mobile, sharing whole hard drives… and the list is set to grow.

We’re talking about fixing a growing disconnect between the traditional recordings industry and how increasing numbers of fans first come to sample and discover new music.  This isn’t about CD doom-mongering – we expect CDs to be with us for some time yet, together with new forms of premium priced music.  Rather a rebalancing of the relationship between the business and the fan, whereby fans are encouraged to do whatever they want with their music (or anyone else’s in fact) and artists and rightsholders are recompensed according to useage.

We’re talking about accepting the notion that the business can no longer control distribution and then attempting building a model around that.  This will require a cooperative, inclusive approach across the digital music value chain – involving not just rightsholders and their representatives but ISPs, mobile phone companies, and MP3 and blank media manufacturers.

It’s also going to take some time.  The opportunity needs to be properly valued and considered, issues will need to be resolved, and the music and technology industries will need to cooperate in a way that’s currently unprecedented.  It’s a mini quantum leap from today’s business, but events this year suggest we may be approaching the sort out mindset necessary for this transition.

Let’s face it, 2007 is already looking like a strong contender for Year Zero as far as attitudes towards digital music go. The majors are finally beginning to give up on preventative DRM, giving music fans the convenience and interoperability they have come to expect from MP3s.  And it’s become accepted wisdom that the decline in the recorded music market, both in the UK and across the world will only be partially offset by the digital download market, at least over the next few years.  Even six months back the prevailing wisdom on these issues was considerably different, and a year ago it was almost diametrically opposed.

With cutbacks, falling revenue and mergers the order of the day at the majors, and indies feeling the squeeze as well, the time has come to act.

This event brings together the leading proponents of the remuneration-for-access model with rightsholdersand ISPs to debate the issues and opportunities of licensing filesharing.  It will seek to generate an outline of discussion points and next steps for the industries involved, which we hope will illuminate an exciting new dawn for recorded music.

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