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.

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

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  1. icon
    Mike (profile), 1 Jul 2008 @ 7:37pm

    Re: 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.

    Actually, that's exactly what *we've* been saying. But that's not what Bono is saying. He's *blaming* those ISPs for filling the gap, whereas we think that's a sign of a healthy market.

    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.

    No, you mean the *recording industry*, not the music industry.

    And, yes, that was why it was founded, but given the new tools of distribution and promotion, the business model needs to change -- and there are plenty of ways it can and is changing. But to blame those who helped enable the change for the fact that others did not make that change is not constructive.

    Let's be fair: The Music Industry is a business founded on getting paid for a product that has some intrinsic value.

    Whoever said otherwise? But the question is what is the product with that intrinsic value. It's always been a physical good made valuable by the intangible content.

    What's happened these days is the content has been freed from that physical good -- and a scarce product has been turned into an infinite product, which changes the economics.

    Opponents somehow believe that it should all be free. But how?

    No, not "should all be free" but *will* be free. That's basic economics. It's not a statement of how things should be, it's merely pointing out the actual situation.

    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.

    There's still plenty of money being made in music, and plenty of room for smart record labels that actually focus on providing a good musical experience, rather than focus on selling plastic discs.

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