Say That Again

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
blame, bono, copyright, music, u2



Bono Agrees With Manager: ISPs Are To Blame For The Downfall Of Music

from the blame-the-enabler dept

About a month ago, we wrote about how Paul McGuinness, the manager of U2, was repeating an earlier rant blaming pretty much everyone but the recording industry for the recording industry's troubles. Basically, the rant could be summed up:
All of these other companies actually had the foresight to see where the market was heading with digital music, and they built up businesses that made money! The actual recording industry, however, did not foresee any of this, did not build up the business models -- and, in fact, stuck to the old, increasingly obsolete business model so stubbornly that it actually pissed off many fans. Therefore, it's clearly the fault of those who accurately prepared for the changing marketplace, and they should give lots of money to the companies that deliberately chose to ignore these trends.
Well, that may be a bit of a paraphrase, but I think it's pretty close.

Anyway, despite him ranting on in such a misguided fashion for quite some time, U2's Bono has been too busy saving the world to weigh in on the matter... until now. Valleywag points us to the news that Bono has written a letter to NME Magazine, where he, too, claims that it's all the fault of these damn ISPs and tech companies building real business models that make the market for music more efficient and open up all these new opportunities to profit. However, he does choose to contradict his manager on one point: arguing that McGuinness is wrong to claim that Radiohead's experiment with pay-what-you-want for music backfired and hurt the industry. Bono claims that the experiment was "courageous and imaginative." The same, however, cannot be said for all those tech companies that actually enabled that courageous and imaginative experiment to take place. They're obviously just exploiting the musicians.

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  1. identicon
    Frank Shook, 1 Jul 2008 @ 7:19pm

    In defense of The Music Industry...

    As Bone-headed as he sounds, there might be a kernel of truth to what Bono is trying to express: ISPs filled a gap that The Music Industry couldn't fill quickly enough with an antiquated business model.

    I'm a music lover who is still thankful to the music industry for wonderful work throughout the ages. But, as with any business today, the Music industry faces 'Walmartization', wherein the business as a whole is reduced to mere commodity status because, in the name of some higher Good, opponents think consumers deserve only the cheapest possible thing despite the intrinsic value of making something BETTER.

    The Music Industry was founded on the model of making money for "getting the word out". It's a distribution vector for musicians who, otherwise, might not have a chance. The Industry built the whole thing, from recording studios to stamping houses to radio stations. At times they have been portrayed as vicious for lopsided contractual arrangements with artists but. still, they are stakeholders in the belief that the talent of some artist may bring money. It's a risky business model that's contractually beneficial to both parties.

    Underneath it all the CD is to blame for the problems of The Music Industry. Its emergence marks the birth of digitization and, at the time, The Industry was at the crossroads of technology that they couldn't possibly fathom as so easily 'ripped' as today. There is no inherent copy protection in a CD because its inventors couldn't possibly foresee the rampant proliferation of the CDROM reader, the CD burner or big, cheap hard drives. Adding insult to injury, amateur recording has progressed to such a level that practically anyone with a little investment in a computer is suddenly Tom Dowd (legendary producer of 60's-70's acts like Eric Clapton)!

    Let's be fair: The Music Industry is a business founded on getting paid for a product that has some intrinsic value. Opponents somehow believe that it should all be free. But how? Studios are willing to risk money to refine, promote and distribute what they bet is the next big thing. Musicians are expected to perform according to a contract that they read and signed.

    Of course, there's always the Indie way or maybe striking out totally on your own. If you're talented, I hope to somehow stumble on your stuff. Maybe you have a chance with NPR!

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