Monday, October 18, 2010

French Government To Organise A Giant Music Sale

At what level is government subsidy in the arts acceptable and where is the line? The protesters current demonstrating in France against the French government austerity measures and raising the of the pension age must be somewhat perplexed to hear that the government plans to state-subsidise the buying of music!

The plan is an attempt to convince young people that it is better buy music rather than ‘steal’ by file-sharing and involves selling pre-paid cards with a face value of 50 euros at a cost 25 euros. The French government will stump up the difference and estimates that over two years the plan will cost about 25 million euros and result in the purchase of some one million cards.

Restrictions will apply in that consumers will be limited to one card each per year and music download sites will be asked to cut the price of downloads, extend subscription periods and contribute towards the marketing campaign for the cards. Individual sites will only be allowed to receive a maximum of 5m euros from the scheme. The European Commission has approved the plan and said that it would not be anti-competitive.

Is it any different to the UK subsidy of arts such as the opera? Government already spend hard cash to support reading, libraries, schools and PLR (Public Lending Rights payments to authors) so is this any different?

Whether we agreed with file sharing music or not offering users financial subsidy isn’t going to change anything but merely further highlight the practice and opportunity. It also starts to devalue the product as the consumer sees 25 euros not 50 and is still more than zero. Finally what happens when the 50 euro card has been used? Are consumers expected to not buy anything more for the rest of the year or simply say ‘I have learnt my lesson and will now pay full price…until the next year.’

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