Thursday, December 06, 2007

How do we reward the songwriters?

Music continues to loose its way and it looks more and more likely it will go DRM free and be free to consume on an ad paid model. 7digital the London based download store has dropped the price of its 3 million catalogue of MP3 tracks to 50p which way below iTunes 79p. Can you remember the original iTunes price point and do you care? Prices are tumbling, DRM is loosing ground and the record companies are all scrambling to do any deal that generates any money.

It raises the question of royalties and how the creators and performers get paid. The Songwriters Association of Canada (SAC) is proposing to charge Canadian internet and wireless users $5 per month to compensate musicians for revenue losses due to illegal file-sharing. They also propose the radical step of making the sharing of music on peer-to-peer networks legal. So its like a web licence fee you pay irrespective of whether you consume, or don’t, or even if you already pay a service such as iTunes. What next? Lets have a tax on connecting to the web or an extra levy on MP3 devices including PCs. Taxation models don’t work as they create administration which adds a cost and in turn dilutes net revenues and that is without proportioning out the spoils.

Let wake up and smell the coffee, music is changing both its business model and how it is being delivered. Let’s ensure the artists and writers are correctly rewarded through the revenues raised and not sold short by clueless record companies who lurch from one mind-boggling deal to another.

What does this mean to books? Not a lot today but it shows what can happen when the kids take control of the chocolate factory.