Recently urges for a surcharge on broadband subscriptions have been popping up here and there. It’s collecting societies of small northern states and it’s consultants to the major record labels. At the same time state authorities in legislating positions are more and more handing over the music business problems to the ISPs. They all have their own reasons. The first two are the most obvious to hang out with the new kid; they (1) say that it doesn’t matter how the musicians are getting paid as long as it’s from somewhere and (2) are getting desperate to get at least some money out of the new technology they so badly understand. That these players are presenting such an idea is bad. What’s worring is that they have loud supporters on the side line that at the same time are dictating the rules (legislators). I find it very strange that national states are trying to rescue old business models that obviously aren’t working. The proposals of surcharges will probably fuel the legislators road map even more. Surcharges (taxes) are something they’ve heard about before, understand how they work and know how good it can be for an old huge organization with loads of over head costs to cover. All of a sudden the hippest idea on how to make money from music in the future is the good old tax way. Hm.
So, is this what it’s all come done to. “Let’s get what we can get” and “as long as the artists get paid”. Very creative!
The only future for a healthy music business is to create and drive it themselves. To offer services that are far better than the ones that people are using today in lack of something else. To me the way of how to make money from music distribution in the future is actually becoming quite clear. At least there is one clear tendency. Loads of streaming music services has emerged only in the last couple of months. They are taking advantage of two powerful distribution constituents — cheap data storage and fast internet connection.
The key to future incomes for music labels is to embrace those streaming services (Spotify, Deezer etc). And do it now when they still are being developed. There is no time to spill. If the labels don’t cooperate now chances are big that developers go illegal because they are being opposed by the content owners.
Think about it! All music in the world on someone else’s hard drive delivered to you at the same speed as mp3s on your own drive. And paid for by someone else in (i.e. corporations that always will want to be seen in the context of music). File sharing as we know it today is not the end of the distribution technology development. The services around are actually quite bad. Still, people are using them because they are the best at the moment. Come on music business. You can do better! Start by take a look and get a first hand picture. Play for some minutes that you are a music fan and go looking for you favorite 5 songs right now on the file sharing services. Do it now. …. …. … … Done? OK. Not that good huh? Aren’t you sure you can be part of a better service than that?
What I’m trying to say is that there is lots of opportunities left. Opportunities that will make the music business a driver of its on destiny again.
What the labels, especially the major ones, should do to get this started is to open the big treasure of music they are sitting on. Making all the music they ever recorded available on the new streaming services. This is a cheap way of monetizing the back catalogue and a good way to convince music fans who haven’t already found their way to the internet how great the future is for music, musicians and fans.