As reported recently on the excellent ArsTechnica, the BBC asked members of the public for questions to put to a small panel from various sections of the music industry. I don’t often flag up stuff on other sites, but this brought up some issues concerning Internet distribution that, being both a musician and web-type-person, I feel are really important.
The panel consists of high-ups from the IFPI, BPI, HMV stores, and Napster (the latter of which seems to be intent on explaining why Napster is way better than iTunes Music Store). Some excellent questions were raised, but the answers were less than convincing. Quite frankly, the responses of the panel were full of spin, twisted truths, and outright lies.
They seem convinced that DRM is essential to having music distributed by ‘digital’ means – what they mean is that if services distributed music without DRM, they wouldn’t be licensing their content.
One of the most ridiculous claims is that the high price of downloadable music is due to the costs involved, but the cost of producing a track for download must be negligable in addition to the cost of producing the CD.
It’s a common misconception that the costs involved in making a record equates to the cost of the packaging. The majority of costs incurred by our record companies are for making and marketing the music itself – and these remain the same regardless of how it’s delivered. Artists, composers and all those involved in recording and marketing a track all still need to get paid. Same as when you pay £8 for a cinema ticket, you’re not paying the price of the paper the cinema ticket is printed on.
They seem to think that the album/track must be re-recorded, marketed etc. for each format that it it released on. Digitally distributed music is a rip-off. I personally refuse to pay £8/9 for an album that I can purchase a physical copy of in a music outlet for £5. Labels receive almost two-thirds of takings from a download (can’t remember the source, sorry), and all they have effectively done is give iTunes Music Store, Napster et al the nod to rip their CD as audio files.
The music industry’s attitude to both its customers and its artists (another issue altogether) is disgusting. Hopefully it will bring about the death of major labels as we know them, leaving the way clear for indie labels who actually care about music, and are not afraid to look to the future.
Further to this, a Canadian record label has decided to defend an accused file-swapper against the RIAA! Even the labels are getting pissed off with the situation… (source: ArsTechnica)