Newsletter #60 March 2009
SEE NO EVIL, HEAR NO EVIL, DON’T BE EVIL?
As your granny will by now have probably told you, licensing negotiations between YouTube, its parent company Google and PRS stalled dramatically this week. As of Monday night YouTube began blocking UK users’ access to all their premium music video content and overnight thousands of music videos were removed with more set to follow in the following days.
Whilst PRS claim that Google are trying to negotiate a ‘significantly’ reduced fee, YouTube have countered that PRS are demanding a settlement ‘many factors’ greater than before. As both parties fight over the mantle of victimhood, it’s unlikely anyone outside of the negotiations will know where the truth lies, but suffice to say the current recession is no doubt shrinking YouTube’s ad revenues (which fund the service), considerably.
One thing is clear though – if sustained, the move (for now affecting only premium videos) will surely drive some users into the hands of the competition, licensed or otherwise. The simple fact of the matter is that just as people expect to be able to turn on the radio and hear music, they have now come to expect to be able to actually choose what music it is they hear through their browsers.
Whether using YouTube, Spotify, MySpace or any number of other sites that offer free streaming, that initial wonder at being able to instantly listen to nearly any track you might want has already begun to fade, as streaming music becomes just an accepted part of our cultural lives.
Whilst some commentators speculate whether this could be the first in a series of dramatic withdrawals from an increasingly overbearing licensing system, they appear to be ignoring the success of Spotify, which is fully licensed and only opened to the public this year. Though that’s not to say there aren’t problems with the status quo, and the British public have already seen their access to services like Pandora restricted due to similar disputes.
But what this spat all too clearly illustrates is just how important the on-demand streaming landscape has become, and how uncharted the terrain still is with little consensus to be found. YouTube is a perfect example. Warner’s have already pulled their music in a dispute over royalties and the key independents as represented by Merlin are as yet unlicensed, though negotiations continue. Universal, meanwhile, not content with purring in the media over the wheelbarrows of cash they’ve made from the site, are even eyeing a joint venture, tentatively titled Vevo.
Whilst we are never likely to completely overcome the differences when two industries that have grown up with independent interests and philosophies come together, distrust must eventually be replaced by understanding each other’s positions. In our just-published report (download it for free – http://www.musictank.co.uk/reports/filesharing/for-free), we make a call for greater openness and dialogue between the two industries and argue that only through a willingness to experiment will services be developed that genuinely offer a rival to the pirates.
We call for the Government to apply more pressure to creating commercial solutions. While, in the case of YouTube / PRS, we are hopefully just in the posturing phase of a straightforward licensing dispute, the arrival of digital has caused all manner of disruptive problems to the licensing infrastructure, not least in attempts to move towards a pan-European model, and dealing with the extremely fast and fluid growth of entirely new forms of music use.
All this has caused very tangible problems relating to valuing whole new consumption models in a fast changing environment, and that’s without even considering the effect of the credit crunch. This is all the more reason for the Government to balance its focus from agreeing sanctions for serial file sharers to fostering and then managing a climate where market testing and innovation can take place as quickly as is practically possible.
The Government’s proposed Rights Agency has a potentially huge and very complicated remit but the rewards in delivering the benefits of technology to UK consumers, and indeed both industries, in a legal and fair way are clearly apparent. When all involved can begin to look at each other as partners rather than competitors then they will have taken a major step towards reaping those rewards, perhaps it’s time for all concerned to take time out and reflect upon Google’s famous motto, ‘Don’t Be Evil’.
Editorial by John Power and Sam Shemtob
OUT & ABOUT: MusicTank events We can’t afford to go green but we can’t afford not to - the reality of climate change and how to deal with it...
Please remember all MusicTank events MUST be booked and paid for in advance! Become a member of MusicTank and enjoy privileged discounts on all MusicTank events…
MAR 13: MEET THE MILLENNIALS @ CANADIAN MUSIC WEEK
MusicTank Chairman Keith Harris will introduce the executive keynote speech by Terry McBride at this year’s Canadian Music Week, for which Terry will expand on the ethos behind MusicTank’s 2008 report. (If you missed it first time round, you can access the report here: http://www.musictank.co.uk/reports/meet-the-millennials)
Date & Time: Fri 13 Mar | 17.15-18.15
Venue: Fairmont Hotel, Toronto
Cost: Walk-up delegate passes are available
MAR 30: CAN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY AFFORD TO GO GREEN?
This session takes as its jump-off the established fact of climate change, with the only remaining environmental question being one of scale. Are we facing a 2 degree temperature rise or, as latest science would have it, 7 degrees? One thin appears certain – in a 7 degree scenario, all bets are off. Accepting this broad premise, the session will consider the industry’s ability and preparedness to adopt the S-Factor: Sustainability.
The question however, in a period of chronic contraction for the record business and one in which the live industry is bracing itself for an inevitable decline, (not to mention the universal lack of financing), is: “Can the music industry afford to go green?”
SPEAKERS: Tony Wadsworth, BPI Chairman, who has spearheaded a campaign on CD packaging with record labels. He will be joined by John Webster, CEO of the Music Manager’s Forum, Alison Tickell, Director of Julie’s Bicycle, Catherine Bottrill, scientist, to discuss the opportunities, dilemmas and costs of tackling climate change with the music industry and Andrew Haworth, Environmental Manager at Live Nation. Keith Harris will moderate.
This event will be of particular interest to SME’s who would like to make a commitment to environmental sustainability but might not know how. Knowledge Connect provides business support for SME’s wishing to adopt sustainabile practice and a member of the Knowledge Connect team will be present to discuss how they might help.
Date & Time: Mon 30 Mar | 18.30-21.00hrs
Venue: Basement Bar, Copyright House, Berner’s Street, London W1T 3AB
Cost: £15 MusicTank Members | £20 Full price. Tickets incl. drinks. Ticket prices are subsidised by Knowledge Connect
MUSICTANK LOUNGE: Free File Sharing Report
MUSICTANK FILE SHARING REPORT NOW PUBLISHED!
Tuesday March 10th saw MusicTank publish their much-anticipated report, “Lets Sell Recorded Music!” and it’s available FREE from the MusicTank website!
Following last year’s think tank series of the same title, the report analyses the relationships between the recordings business, ISPs, consumers and Government, in an attempt to help foster progress towards compelling legal alternatives to unlicensed file sharing.
Beginning with a summary of the four events hosted by MusicTank in late 2008, which featured representatives of Government, ISPs, UK Music, BPI and PRS, the report goes on to look at recent UK and global developments, and offers recommendations for maintaining momentum, overcoming differences and developing viable new services.
“Music rights holders – the canaries in the mine of the creative industries – are now focused on working with ISPs to offer fans legitimate alternatives to file sharing. MusicTank believes that only by building on the dialogue fostered by the MoU process, encouraging increased collaboration and road-testing different models, will the foundations be laid for compelling alternatives to be built”.
MUSICTANK POSTS & TWITTERS
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JOE POX: U2
Looks like it’s time to board up the windows of the music industry. Tesco is selling U2’s ‘No Line On The Horizon’ album as a DRM-free download for £3.97. That is not a typo. Let’s have a look at this and ‘take stock’.
What we have is the biggest band in the world on the biggest record label in the world selling their ‘priority album’ of 2009 on its week of release through the biggest supermarket chain in the county for less money than you’d spend on your lunch. Unbelievable. We have been through this before with the supermarkets when they forced down the price of CDs to unsustainable levels. Did we learn nothing from that? Clearly not. We might as well hand over the keys to the supermarkets, pack up and go digging for oil with a teaspoon as we’d have more chance of making a living that way.
And it’s not just the supermarkets. At the time of writing, Amazon in the UK is selling a load of top 40 singles for 29p and top 40 albums for £3. Has music really been devalued that much? The industry has always said the fight against file sharing can never be won as “you can’t compete with free”. Well here we have an example of the next best (i.e. the next worst) thing. This time next year it’s probably going to be the case that labels leave a wheelbarrow filled with £100 notes unguarded outside their offices and just let the public take what they want. Piracy is not killing music; it’s idiotic ‘promotions’ like these that are killing music.
Amazon and Tesco might be taking a hit on these titles to attract digital consumers but it’s the thin edge of a very stupid wedge. If customers see you selling music so cheaply, will they really come back to you when the price goes up? There’s as much chance of them doing that as there is of me flying to the moon on an eco-friendly motorised ‘bag for life’.
INDUSTRY DIARY: Other music industry events
APR 02: AIM – AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 WAYS: THE ART OF SELLING MUSIC OVERSEAS
The UK represents more than 8% of the global music market, and there is a British component to a large amount of music made and sold around the world. With the current weak Pound, exporting and selling overseas is more important than ever to UK independent labels.
Supported by UK Trade & Investment, this AIM Masterclass event will explore the many routes to market; how independents large and small can create and fulfil demand for their music overseas.
Confirmed speakers incl. Philippa McEvoy (UK Trade and Investment), Rob Challice (Coda Agency), Billy Grant(2Point9 Records), Phil Patterson (UK Trade and Investment), Tom Baker, (Eat Your Own Ears), Doug D’Arcy(Songlines), Dick Miller (Rightsman), Graham Lambdon (EUK), Peter Quicke (Ninja Tune), Alex di Savoia(Aardvark Records), Gary Levermore (Nettwerk), Paul Hatcher (The Licensing Partnership), Phil Patterson(UKTI), Trevor Mcnamee (Jalapeno Records), Safta Jaffery (Taste Music), Danny Ryan (Kudos Records), Alison Wenham (AIM).
Date & Time: Thu 2nd Apr | 18.00 – 22.00
Venue: PRS for Music Boardroom, 29-33 Berners Street, London, W1T 3AB (nearest tubes: Goodge Street / Oxford Circus)
Cost: £10 members/Friends of AIM | £30 non-members. Prices incl. VAT and drinks. 20% off full non-members ticket price for members of affiliates.
JUN 02-04: MUSIC MATTERS, HONG KONG – PLUG INTO ASIA
Launched in 2006, Music Matters (http://www.musicmatters.asia) is conducted in the heart of the world’s most dynamic region and is Asia’s annual conference dedicated to the business of music. Music Matters is a 3-day conference with fantastic networking events including Asian music showcases, parties, lunches and sector-themed breakfasts. Music Matters is a great opportunity to meet with executives from the Asian leading entertainment, media and technology companies. Last years event was attended by over 750 decision-makers from the entertainment industry representing 300 companies from over 25 countries.
The programme is bursting with internationally renowned speakers, featuring a keynote address from Mr. Kei Ishizaka (CEO & Chairman, Universal Music Japan, Chairman of the RIAJ) and a Japan-focused session led by Sony Publishing Japan President Mr. Ken Ohtake (produced exclusively in association with the Music Publishers Association of Japan). Music Matters 2009 is leading the way in showcasing the latest insights from Asia Pacific’s largest music market. Other topics will include China’s social networking phenomenon, mobile entertainment and Bollywood’s global ambitions and advertising.
Register before the 1st April to catch the early bird savings.
Music Matters exclusive discounts on Virgin Atlantic flights from London to Hong Kong and special delegate room rates at the Grand Hyatt are available.
MERRY-GO-ROUND: Industry announcements
UK MUSIC: 2009 SURVEY – RESPONDANTS REQUIRED
UK Music (the trade body for the commercial music industry headed by Feargal Sharkey), has commissioned a survey to investigate the music consumption habits of 14-24 year olds in 2009 – a follow-up to the British Music Rights survey of 2008. This year, they’re targeting more respondents for more comprehensive data – the eventual outcome is intended to benefit both consumers in ascertaining what they want from music consumption as well as the music industry in delivering this. There are some really good prizes up for grabs for respondents, incl. festival tickets of choice and an iPod Touch.
CITY SHOWCASE – CALL FOR ARTISTS
London’s annual City Showcase event takes place May 7-9th and as before, provides public exposure, advice and mentoring to aspiring musicians, culminating in a series of live events in venues in London’s West End.
City Showcase covers all types of music from classical to pop, from rock to urban, from bands to singer-songwriters and solo artists to DJ’s.
Deadline for applications is 21 March 2009
Any artists that want to showcase their work should send a CD demo with a MySpace link or weblink, a brief biography and a photo to:
City Showcase, PO Box 2212, RH20 2XJ. Clearly mark your envelope as a City Showcase Application.
Musicians may also apply through Sonic Bids – http://www.sonicbids.com/cityshowcase
MUSIC PRODUCERS GUILD AWARDS
Producer Bernard Butler carried off the Music Producers Guild’s top award for Producer of the Year at the Guild’s first ever Awards ceremony, which took place at the Café de Paris in London.
Aimed at recognising the skill and talents of music recording professionals, the Awards attracted a host of stars and music industry VIPs, including Brian Eno who won The Joe Meek Award for Innovation in Production. The highlight of the evening was a surprise appearance by singer Duffy who presented Bernard Butler, with whom she worked on her debut album ‘Rockferry’, with his Music Producers Guild Award and a BRIT award for Best Producer.
Mike Howlett, chairman of the Music Producers Guild, commented: “We hope that this event will become an integral part of the music industry calendar for many years to come. In launching these awards our aim has always been to bring about greater awareness, both within the music industry and among the wider public, of the skills and talent involved in making great records. Audio professionals are positioned at the very heart of the music industry – we make the content that is the industry’s product – and it is important that we are acknowledged as vital and key contributors.”
THE GREEN MUSIC GUIDE
Julie’s Bicycle – a coalition working to reduce the music industry’s climate change impacts – launched its ‘Green Music Guide’, a commission from the Mayor of London, last night, Thursday 12th March.
The Guide is a ‘how-to’ for music companies and individuals interested in greening their activities – from touring to offices, recording studios to festivals – but it also shows how the industry can meet London’s ambitious emission reductions targets of cutting its footprint by 60% by 2025.
The London music industry’s footprint is estimated at 465,000 tonnes of CO2e per annum – equivalent to that generated by all the homes in Islington.
Packed with practical advice, the guide also case-studies some of the many eco initiatives already taking place including Hard Rock Calling and O2 Wireless, solar powered studio The Premises, and Radiohead’s 2008 concerts at Victoria Park. The Guide is part of a series designed for London’s creative community: the Green Theatre Guide was released last September, and the Green Screen Guide is out this summer.
That's all for this issue - 'til next time...
If you have any queries regarding any of our events or activities, please call us on +44 (0) 20 8357 7317, or email: email@example.com
The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily condoned or shared by MusicTank. MusicTank is a non-profit organisation owned and operated by University of Westminster. University of Westminster is a charity and a company limited by guarantee. Reg Number: 977818, England. Registered Office: 309 Regent Street, London, W1. MusicTank is based at University of Westminster, Watford Road, Harrow, Middlesex HA1 3TP
Sections Below:OUT & ABOUT: MusicTank events We can’t afford to go green but we can’t afford not to - the reality of climate change and how to deal with it...
MUSICTANK LOUNGE: Free File Sharing Report
JOE POX: U2
INDUSTRY DIARY: Other music industry events
MERRY-GO-ROUND: Industry announcements
That's all for this issue - 'til next time...
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