This is the first time anything related to Pink Floyd has actually blown my mind:
Cambridge-educated economist-turned-music-manager (Pink Floyd, The Clash, Ian Dury And The Blockheads, Billy Bragg) Peter Jenner … [has] put a figure on how much each music fan who buys music would have to pay in order for access to every song ever recorded [sic] while maintaining or increasing music sales
He said that $50 per year from every person who listens to music would “meet or exceed the current over the counter sales of the music industry at a far lower cost,” but that because of deeply-entrenched flaws in the outmoded business models used by the labels that have evolved over the years, we’re unlikely ever to see such a system put in place — despite the fact that it would increase profits while allowing people far greater access to music.
Sounds nice, but who decides who gets what chunk of the $50?
I can’t see it would be that difficult, no more than deciding it now.
Just to check the figures – this FT article puts total world music sales at (scaling up) $17bn at the wholesale level (presumably not including retail markups). Divided by $50, that’s 425m people. Which I suppose is about right.
Whoops… here’s the link
“I can’t see it would be that difficult, no more than deciding it now.”
Go on then – how.
Collection agencies, like MCPS/PRS, already divide proceeds of licences now, for jukeboxes, for public venues playing music, for radio broadcasters, and for iTunes and other online distributors, and probably for firms selling ringtones. I can’t see it being any harder to do this via a centralized distribution system than it is already for all of these different outlets. In fact it ought to be a great deal easier.
“Collection agencies, like MCPS/PRS, already divide proceeds of licences now, for jukeboxes, for public venues playing music, for radio broadcasters, and for iTunes and other online distributors, and probably for firms selling ringtones.”
There’s a price per play, per tune, per download. It rewards those who supply those records based on our choice. If we want to reward more people, we have to pay more.
The problem with Jenner’s plan for a music tax is that it doesn’t distinguish on quality (which is set by people paying a particular price). It’s possible to reward more people without it costing us anything more, which has the effect of spreading the available cash more thinly.
Take Spiritualized and a local garage band. Right now, I’ll pay for Spiritualized, and listen to a recommended local garage band if they’re free. I doubt I’d pay for the garage band, because they’re mostly terrible and not worth my money.
Make it all free, and I’ll have both. However, my download means that there is no distinction. Both the local garage band and Spiritualized get the same money from me, despite me being far more interested in Spiritualized.
So, where it used to be Spiritualized 100% garage band 0%, it’s now Spiritualized 50% garage band 50%. So, a bunch of people with little talent get as much from the system as a musical genius. Which means less to spend on the next album, or taking a risk on doing it full time.
Every garage band isn’t going to put their MP3s on myspace. They’ll point their mates at this system and earn a fraction of a penny for each download, thus reducing the available cash in the pot to others.
That’s a fair point. I’m too embarassed to reply as I seem to have divided 17bn by 40, not 50. It’s 340m people, I think.
Wow! If only…
I admit, Tim, that your “preference signalling” problem is a serious one, but it already exists with television programmes. TV ratings systems fail in that—as one advertisement for marketing through newspapers famously illustrated—TV companies have no idea if the people “watching” a show have made an appointment with their entire families in front of the screen and put their phones on silent or are having sex with their girl/boyfriends on the sofa with the sound on low.
But I suspect that, as with DVDs boxed sets of TV series, people will still want to own content in other formats and sales of, for example, special-edition CDs and concert tickets will enable distributors to measure the true underlying interest in acts. Plus, whole new social media ratings systems will emerge to help people to find stuff they like and those allocating the spoils could also use ratings from these to do so more fairly.
Tim Almond: “Go on then – how.”
Read ‘Promises To Keep’ by William Fisher. He explains in great detail how such a system could work.
PooterGeek: “I admit, Tim, that your “preference signalling” problem is a serious one”
” ” “
From what I’ve read in chapter 6 (reward system), it seems that Fisher is taking the same approach as Fisher.
Using performance information from TV and Cinema isn’t right. On that basis, Frankie Goes To Hollywood would have received nothing on the initial release of Relax. There are also numerous tracks (like Victoria Beckham) that had a massive PR push to get them played, yet didn’t sell particularly well.
I was suggesting that the problems with signalling preferences for TV programmes are similar to those that you have outlined w.r.t. fixed-price downloadable music. In the UK people pay one flat fee for access to “free” television from the BBC, but that doesn’t give them a clear means of expressing their approval or disapproval of particular parts of the corporation’s output.
The system Fisher uses is one of monitoring distribution, not airplay. So you’d keep track of what people are sharing on Napster and allocate the money based on that.
This is different from a Nielsen system or an airplay tracking system because you are tracking most of the actual punters, not just a hopefully representative sample or the effects of payola. To express approval you download and share the track. Fisher does discuss more fine-grained systems but this is already at least as much information as the market currently captures.
Using Fisher’s system, Frankie would have got all the money they deserved from “Relax” and all the royalties from copies of Zoolander being circulated on P2P networks as well.
So Fisher is not talking about the same approach as Jenner, assuming Jenner is talking about using airplay as his guide. Fisher’s system is worked out in great detail throughout the book, not just in Chapter 6, and even if you don’t agree with his final system on the basis of practicalities, it’s a very informative book about how rights and revenue flow within the recording industry.
Interesting discussion guys. Lots of stuff to think about.
[…] pay the journalists and the record companies just to piss off and let us enjoy the music? Oh, yeah, I remember. We’d pay the ransom if they’d let us, but I think we’ll just let them go extinct […]