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The Never-Ending Piracy Debate

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The previous week has seen an already down and out recorded music industry, decaying from the inside, with two bitterly divided sections ripping at each other’s throat. It does not paint a very nice picture to Joe public. On one side labels, and artist like Lily Allen have all come out in support of Lord Vader’s (Err Mandelson) “three strikes and you’re disconnected” debate. While on the opposing side the featured artist coalition FAC (Radiohead, Dire Straits etc) have stated Lord Vader’s approach of criminalizing the music industry’s customers is just plain wrong.

TMV intend to dig down and provide and in-depth analysis of each sides pros and cons, and along the way come up with a suggested compromise position so the industry can once again re-unite and work towards a viable future instead of this pointless and, quite frankly, childish behavior it has been displaying for all and sundry to witnesses.

Everything seemed to be all-fine until the Featured Artist Coalition came out and lambasted Lord Vader’s proposal “[FAC] seriously question the wisdom of seeking to deal with this problem by terminating the Internet connections of individual music fans. We are not referring to Web sites that reap commercial benefit from file-sharing: seeking to make money from giving our songs away. We want the industry and government to come down on those thieving rascals with all the weight of the law.” All in all one would have to say a very valid point.

So why was Lily Allen ranting? Well, quite rightly she made the point it is easy for these established megastars to have their viewpoint as they already have large collections of Ferrari’s amongst other things. Yet it is also extremely hard for new artists to make money (a viable income) with the perversity of illegal file sharing. Once again also another very valid point made.

However, its not as if Lily Allen has not had a very easy journey compared to her fellow up-and coming artists. Just look at it this way, Lily in my personal view is a talentless sad excuse of an artist who only got where she is due primarily to nepotism. Lily has a famous broadcaster father who pulled a few strings to get her a record deal. Her album is not selling so she is not making any money. Lily have you ever thought about the fact that perhaps your album is not selling because your music is crap? Why blame the consumer for that? Market forces clearly do seem to be working in this instance.

Cinema world look out, for more blatant nepotism and a talentless singer morphing next into a talentless actress.

Yet being serious, clearly as an industry we should not condone what is quite blatantly stealing artists’ music, as it does negatively affect the money labels have to invest in and develop new talent. However, I’m surprised the industry has not learned the lesson from the failed RIAA court action against small time consumers who have traded a few songs? The bad publicity this brought and immeasurable feelings of disgust from the general public against the music industry, necessarily dictates that strategy has failed.

In TMV’s view FAC has a valid point when it states it does not condone file sharing but the stick being used to counter it is unreasonable. In reality, labels should be chasing the businesses who trade and share files for commercial purposes. As outlined in Keith Joppling’s Jaugernaught Brew blog post last week. What’s happened to the facts? “Where’s the established evidence – empirical & researched – that clearly benchmarks the position that file-sharing has damaged the music industry in terms of sales, artist development, investment in new artists & creativity, and jobs? In the various articles I haven’t seen a single figure, specific or contextual. The work just hasn’t been done”.

So TMV asks if the work has not been done how can the industry prove that P2P has in fact seriously damaged sales and investment in new artists? But closer to the truth is the fact that recorded music sales have been down and more closely related to two things; a) the amount of crap being put out? and/or; b) that the record music industry has not fully realized that its product is overvalued in the eyes of the consumer…

Following on, TMV having recently experienced a malicious hack on own site and the fact we have an IP address leading back to a certain UK ISP named Be There Unlimited (we also contacted that ISPs MD Felix Gyer who by the way was o2’s UK Director of Strategy until recently), and were blown away that we need to secure a court order for the ISP to release the actual details of the criminal who hacked our site. The fact ISPs continue to hide behind “privacy” arguments is null and void in TMVs view. When a criminal act is undertaken then in societies view you lose all rights to privacy.

Going further, ISPs do provide a service and if their consumers use that service in any malicious way, it is TMVs view that if they refuse to co-operate in providing the details of the criminal to both the plaintiff and also the relevant authorities, then ISP themselves are nothing more than aiding and abetting crimes – in effect they are accessories to that crime. Ignorance or arguments of privacy lose all viability once a crime is committed.

As far as cutting off consistent P2P file shares from their Internet connection is concerned though, will it really work? Has making drugs illegal worked? If anything, they are accepted and used by ever increasing sections of society (including Lily Allen). Did the tape kill the music business? Of course not. If anything, it led to a serious sales explosion, and statistics DO prove this fact.

The industry needs to understand that instead of criminalizing the manner in which consumers choose to experience music we should instead be working out how to monetize that form of consumption. That position, in no way whatsoever condones illegal file sharing either. It is just; a recognition that we as an industry need to accept that the value of music in the 21st century is morphing to one based around the experience from the consumer’s points of view. Until this fact is embraced by the industry, sadly it is TMVs prediction that we will continue to witness a further decline in overall music industry revenues on a global basis.

Capture the experience, you will then capture the fan and the revenue will follow.

 

 

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