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Peter Jenner, secretary general of the International Music Managers Forum (then manager of Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett, T-Rex, The Clash and now Billy Bragg…)

It is now a given for everyone but the seriously deluded that the granular music distribution models, allied with current online music subscription models are never going to fill that famous ‘value gap’. Furthermore, it is clear that the digital distributors are not really interested in the demands, chaos and fractiousness of the recorded music industry. We, in the industry, have to realise that we are the party that needs help, and that we can, if we use our brains, find business models that are
beneficial to distributors, as well as ourselves.

Let us stop thinking of down-loaders as pirates, and of the ISPs as being party to this mass piracy which is ‘destroying our business.’ Maybe we should be humble and, instead of litigating against ISPs and our customers, develop a better value proposition that lets technology and music be used to rebuild our business.

Maybe we will never be as big an industry as we once were – back in the day. Certainly we should never think that we have a right to be a $40bn a year business, or that the terrifying decline in the market is solely down to a vicious conspiracy of the broadband companies and the thieving public to rob us of our divine right to own private jets and snort coke in luxurious hotel suites and limos.

Maybe this humility needs to stretch to the way we do business with each other? Maybe our business is not a zero sum game? Maybe the abrasive way various sectors of the business inter-relate actually makes us a less pleasant bunch of people, and that the public smells the corruption and greed that is so rampant, and is a little put off by associating with us?

Maybe the big clamp down might bring us  all back to reality?

No – that’s mad, but it might increase realism and an honest self-examination both of the essential nature of our business and how the business can work in the future. The future is not about ‘control.’The future is not about treating the artists and writers, as well as the public, as mugs to be conned out of their money by marketing and promotion. Maybe the problem is our industry. Not the fan or the ISP, but us!

If we are brave and have vision, maybe new technology will open up new opportunities for creativity, open markets, true cultural diversity, and systems that pull us in instead of push ‘content’ at us.

Enough of this pious stuff – the end of the year is a good time to really look at ourselves as others must see us. How must the public, the digital distributors, or other sectors in the industry really see us? Maybe we should stop suing each other and try to be fair, and see the other parties’ points of view?

Or maybe I am just a stupid old fart who is sinking into senescence. Over to you…


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About Author

James Martin

James Martin is Head of Social Media for Midem organisers Reed MIDEM. This includes defining and rolling out Midem's social media strategy, editing midemblog, influencer outreach, developing Midem's fanbase of 75,000+ music professionals and more.

1 Comment

  1. Complicated. That’s probably the word that springs to mind most quickly when looking at the music industry from the outside. It makes any sort of injection of external cash into the business extremely difficult. And it’s true that the parts have not been very good at working together over the past five years or so, even though the keyword in other entertainment industries has been “convergence”.

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