We'd been looking at reports about the ongoing discussions about pan-European music licenses
without too much interest, given that licensing bodies only ever seem to do things in their own interests. But one aspect of the talks is a little bit interesting. It's often claimed by these bodies and their supporters that they're these little non-profits working tirelessly on the behalf of musicians and songwriters, ensuring they get paid for their work. It's a convenient appearance behind which these groups hide, using it as an excuse to justify plenty of ridiculous behavior
. After all, if you object to anything these groups do (supposedly) on behalf of musicians, you're trying to take away
the musicians' "right to get paid", so your opinion can be marginalized and ignored.
But the reality is that many of these licensing groups are nowhere near as innocent as they'd have you believe. Their licensing schemes often do little
to actually help musicians make money, and in fact, they can even make it harder
for musicians to succeed. Then there are examples like that of SoundExchange, which is sitting on more than $100 million
in royalties it's collected, but claims it can't pay out because it can't find the musicians to which it's owed. In addition, where do unclaimed funds end up? The RIAA
Just for a second, let's ignore the above paragraph and assume the licensing bodies really are working in the artists' best interests. If that's the case, and the artists' best interest constitutes them getting paid, why is it so difficult to set up a pan-European license? Why does it matter who collects the money, as long as it ends up in the artists' pockets? Apple has talked before about how having to set up licensing deals in each EU country before allowing iTunes Music Store sales there means that it's simply not worth the effort in some places, and that having a pan-European license would let it open up iTMS in new places
. That would be good for artists, right? More outlets for online sales means more money for them. So why hasn't the pan-European license been done? Infighting over which licensing body gets to collect the fee -- and take a cut? If these licensing bodies are all about the musicians, surely that can't be the reason, since they just want to funnel as much money as possible to the artists.
So maybe, just maybe, the licensing bodies aren't solely interested in artists' welfare and have other motives?