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Canadian Music's Digital Divide

Posted by Matthew Braga / March 14, 2009

One of CMW's ConferencesSitting in a hall surrounded by artists and record executives is, quite frankly, a surreal experience. Not only is there the constant threat of a recession looming over the music industry's head, but 2009 is set to be the worst year in the industry's history - on both a Canadian and global scale as well.

This was more or less the theme of this past Thursday's Canadian Music Week opening keynote. While there are more performing bands than you can shake a drumstick at, what most fail to realize is that Canadian Music Week is more than just good company and live music. Perhaps one of the most important aspects of the week's festivities is the speakers and presentations, which I had the opportunity to attend, along with other members of the media.

I had a clear sense that doom and gloom was the appropriate feeling to be felt by all, as music executives, business owners and the artists themselves came together to confront this year's elephant in the room - the internet, and the apparent threat of P2P file sharing. Illustrating just how dire the situation had become, I watched as the keynote opened with The Pirate Bay's easily identifiable logo, drawing considerable ire from Canadian Music Week president Neil Dixon.

What followed were a number of speakers - and each was practically more maddening than the rest.

"I think P2P has all but destroyed our industry," remarked Jay Rosenthal, Senior VP and Counsel of the National Music Publishers Association, "and I don't think we're going to get back to where we were before - selling records."

And while Rosenthal's comments seemed reasonable, what was truly frustrating were the proposed solutions - most of which revolved around government intervention, and ISP responsibility. A new policy being introduced in France was actually applauded when mentioned during the presentation; it proposes a three-strike approach to the acquisition of illegal content over the internet, after which the offending user is disconnected from the internet.

As obvious as it is that something must be done, this can't possibly be the answer.

"We don't expect the Canadian government to move quickly," commented Duncan McKie, president and CEO of CIRPA (Canadian Independent Record Production Association), in response to hopes that Canada would enforce a similar policy to the French, "and I think governments always need to work in the interest of moral leadership."

This statement by McKie was one of the day's most interesting quotes. After members of a roundtable discussion flatly admitted that "people out there do not seem to respond to the idea that [file sharing] will hurt others," does McKie seriously believes he can convince the Canadian government to hop onto the supposed moral bandwagon?

It saddens me that, in light of all this talk of rules, regulations and deterrence, there is still such a strong sense of condemnation towards file sharing and the internet. Most agreed that these new technologies have irrecoverably changed the nature of the music industry, and it will probably never return to the state it once was. But what remains is a very strong desire to monetize the net with a business model all too similar to what has sold physical formats for years.

I found it interesting when John Kennedy, CEO of the UK's IFPI, noted that, "Canada did not see one new legitimate [online] music service last year." Yet, the fact remains that, despite the popularity of services like iTunes, the amount of users using peer-to-peer services still vastly outweighs legitimate ones. So why, then, are we trying to re-invent the wheel when we have a service that is already proven to attract users?

Quite frankly, if the Canadian music industry were serious about solving the issue of monetization and compensation in the internet age, they would be working together with the likes of P2P services, and not against them. After all, there's a reason users are flocking to these file sharing services, and not to legitimate alternatives - and it's a reason that the Canadian Music industry hasn't quite realized yet.

"Make it faster, easier, simpler to pay for music," explained Jim Griffin, managing director of OneHouse LLC, illustrating the idea of P2P cooperation perfectly.

"Stop trying to complete a different model than what people want. The customer is always right."

Discussion

14 Comments

jamesmallon / March 14, 2009 at 10:59 pm
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Artists don't make much money from record deals, and never did: they make it from touring, otherwise why would they go through that exhaustion? Record deals were always a 'deal with the devil' to get promotion and finances for recording (or wasted on drugs). However, now promotion and recording is far cheaper than it ever was, and the industry cannot contol the technology.

You want to support an artist, go to a show (but try to avoid Ticketmaster). You want to support talentless industry hacks, buy music 'legitimately'.
James / March 15, 2009 at 12:18 am
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The best method of buying music is handing my money directly to the artist at a show. Services like Amistreet and CDBaby are also good but I will not use proprietary services like iTunes. I have little interest in most of the pulp that the major record companies promote.

The record industry has a well documented history stretching back over half a century of ripping off artists. These folks are the parasites, not the artists. People chair panels at conferences because they have a self-interest to promote. Is it any surprise that this group has an agenda that does not include change?
rek / March 15, 2009 at 01:48 am
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P2P is the death of the music industry, and that is a good thing. Record companies aren't nearly as necessary as they once were because the internet has put them in the same position as Sunrise and HMV: middlemen that come between the musician and the audience. What use do they serve now, when distribution and promotion can be completely digital, when word of mouth + YouTube can turn you into an international sensation?
Mike / March 15, 2009 at 02:06 am
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Other irritating things not mentioned so far:

1) Music industry: Please get it into your heads that a download does not equal a lost sale. I download far more than I would ever buy. You can't just look at the statistics on downloading and determine anything useful about lost sales.

2) Criminalizing the actions of average citizens is of course a terrible idea, but it's also not going to solve the problem. P2P is not going away, whether more restrictive copyright law comes or not. Just look at the failure of the DMCA and RIAA lawsuits in the states. Look for another solution, there are several possibilities. An internet tax is one, though it is likely not the best.
karoumy / March 15, 2009 at 12:58 pm
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All good comments about ripping off artists.

But it's not just the artists they've been ripping off (and destroying!).

They have been ripping off consumers for years. Buying CDs only to find out that the one song we heard on the radio was the only good one for example.

I say good riddance to the music industry, and welcome to the new music era.
Andrew / March 15, 2009 at 02:22 pm
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At least someone's getting it http://torrentfreak.com/sxsw-2009-on-bittorrent-6-gb-of-free-music-090312/
Media Images / March 15, 2009 at 04:33 pm
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Well I have spent the past 4 days hoping between shows and conferences and I must say what an absolute disaster this whole event was. Headliners at the Sound Academy were some American bands, there are plenty of Canadian bands that should have been featured and are more than worthy to headline what was coined Canadian Music Week. Ill Scarlet which has to be one of the worse Canadian Bands out there were the only ones picked to headline a show at the Sound Academy, still wonder how they ever got a record contract in the first place.

The set up for the media was awful, I will be writing reviews for the 4 days that I attended various venues , I may head out today but so far I am just worn out and disgusted by whole set up, the way if was sold with Mostly American bands as Headliners. I caught a ton of good bands in the smaller venues but many seemed empty and when your cover of the promotional magazine has as the lead act a Second Rate American band as the headliner, says a lot about CMW. I covered NXNE last year and was impressed by the bands, the promotion of it. Next year either change the way CMW is done or just kill it.
Matthew Braga replying to a comment from Media Images / March 15, 2009 at 06:29 pm
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I was pretty disappointed by the conferences and keynotes as well. I'm not sure if you were around for Gene Simmons' lovely talk, but it was at that point that I honestly questioned the motives of CMW's organizers. Having the festivals biggest speaker, an American rock star, come to town with plans to save the Canadian music industry through excessive merchandising was simply ludicrous.

@Andrew: They've done that for the past couple years, and quite frankly, its one of the best promotional tools I've seen in recent memory. I can't tell you how many new bands I've heard through those collections, of which I've subsequently gone to shows, or bought their albums.
Justin / March 16, 2009 at 06:56 am
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A record executive has absolutely no place in front of a microphone.
qube / March 17, 2009 at 09:04 pm
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It has a good music industry.
Victor Trim / March 26, 2009 at 09:34 am
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Dear Sirs,
RE: John Kennedy, the Chairman and CEO of the IFPI.
WAS JOHN KENNEDY'S EVIDENCE FOR THE PROSECUTION OF THE FOUNDERS OF "THE PIRATE BAY" VALID, WHEN HIS SKELETON IN THE CUPBOARD IS HIS COPYRIGHT THEFT OF "DREAMS" ON BEHALF OF POLYGRAM/UNIVERSAL, CREATED BY VICTOR TRIM AND SUNG BY GABRIELLE.

http://www.dmwmedia.com/poll/should-ifpi-and-record-labels-leave-pirate-bay-alone%3F
Victor Trim / April 19, 2009 at 01:18 pm
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UPDATE !!!
THE PIRATE BAY !!! STOP PRESS !!! THE PIRATE BAY
STOP PRESS !!!

JOHN KENNEDY'S IFPI CORPORATE THEFT AND CRIMINAL HYPOCRISY!!!

AS HEAVILY PUBLICISED IN THE MEDIA AS THE TOP STORY AROUND THE WORLD, HAS JOHN KENNEDY, THE HEAD OF THE IFPI AND THE MUSIC INDUSTRY, REALLY WON THE WAR AGAINST THE FOUNDERS OF "THE PIRATE BAY" FOLLOWING THEIR WIN IN THE RECENT COURT PROSECUTION RULING, DATED FRIDAY 17 APRIL 2009, AND THE OVER THE TOP JAIL SENTENCES PASSED DOWN ON HIS DEMAND?

PLEASE READ ON. CLICK ON THE LINKS AND ATTACHMENTS ON A SOLICITORS ASSESSMENT REVEALING THE TRUTH BEHIND JOHN KENNEDY'S HYPOCRISY IN DEFENDING CORPORATE COPYRIGHT THEFT, WHILE CRIMINALLY SQUASHING INDEPENDENT COPYRIGHT HOLDERS WHEN HE PERSONALLY REPRESENTED ME AS MY LAWYER. HE WAS THEN FRAUDULENTLY REWARDED THE POSITION OF CHAIRMAN OF POLYGRAM...

HE STOLE THE DREAMS COPYRIGHT FOR UNIVERSAL/POLYGRAM LTD TO ACHEIVE THIS. HE THEN ULTIMATELY OBTAINED AND MAINTAINS HIS PRESENT UNTENABLE POSITION AT THE HELM OF THE IFPI!!!

HOW MUCH LONGER SHOULD WE PUT UP WITH THIS FRAUD?

http://www.dmwmedia.com/poll/should-ifpi-and-record-labels-leave-pirate-bay-alone%3F

Reply
Victor Trim / April 19, 2009 at 01:23 pm
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LETS KEEP THE PIRATE BAY FROM A CORPORATE GHOST SHIP OF JOHN KENNEDY.

RE: JOHN KENNEDY THE COPYRIGHT FRAUDSTER


John P Kennedy From Victor Trim.
CEO and Chairman IFPI
54/62 Regent Street
London
W1B 5RE

7 March 2005

Dear John

RE: “Dreams” - Gabrielle - The original master DAT recording.

Congratulations on your new appointment as Chairman and CEO of IFPI.

You may have received a copy of my letter addressed to the MCPS/PRS Alliance dated 23 December 2004, emailed same day to your offices, c/o lesley.spinks@ifpi.org.

Go! Discs, the principle unauthorised exploiter (i.e. pirate) of “Dreams”, were condemned by Counsel in my original affidavit as “sinister”. This view of Go! Discs character now appears firmly borne out as they have remained silent ever since they were notified that I possess the original master DAT of which the sound recording copyright subsists under section 5 of the Copyright Design and Patents Act 1988. Moreover, Go! Discs are still receiving royalties for the unauthorised use of the sound recordings of which I am rightfully entitled to as sole owner.

Any reasonable observer would take the view that it is “even more sinister”, that no response nor action has been taken against me by MCPS or the societies responsible for representing and protecting the rights of Zomba Music ltd and Perfect Songs Ltd, who authorised MCPS to grant licence for the manufacture of “Dreams”. Clearly, a demand for “delivery up” of the said original sound recording master DAT held under my control is an obvious step to take to protect their alleged members’ interest. What is especially “sinister” is the fact that all those parties, including the Societies, have already gained “and continue to gain”, financial benefit from the worldwide exploitation of “Dreams” through Go! Discs unauthorised dealings.

When you accepted me as a client of your music/entertainment law firm, JP Kennedy & Co, you were personally aware of my creative ability to find, nurture and furnish the record buying public with talented artists, and that this did not begin with Gabrielle. It is indeed this creativity that has gone without reward and has been stunted and severed by Go! Discs unauthorised dealings with “Dreams”. The IFPI’s website referred to above makes plain; “unauthorised copying and dissemination of copyrighted works is theft, pure and simple”.

It is apparent that the rights omissions in the Order dated 12th June 1996, my possession of the incontrovertible evidence of the original master DAT of “Dreams, (completed with Tim Laws handwritten confirmation of my copyright) and your personal involvement in the history of “Dreams”, has overwhelming significance on this matter. Even before the master DAT became available, you sanctioned Richard Bray’s notice to Go! Discs supporting my claim, as recorded in his Attendance Note dated 20 January 1993, which stated:

“..I do not think that Tim Laws could claim to be the copyright owner. I believe that the copyright was vested in Trim Productions trading as Victim Records represented by Victor Trim. I said that I was sending copy invoices through that would substantiate this claim.”

Indeed, your first Midemnet Keynote speech on 22 January 2005 as Chairman/CEO of IFPI reflects my entitlements, as sole owner, stating;

“...copyright and its protection create the right environment for creativity and the investment of time and money in innovation. It's always good to invent things, and there is certainly an altruistic reward in doing so, but such is human nature that innovation is fostered even more by an opportunity to own the results of such innovation - and to benefit financially from the fruits of the labour.”

In addition to your speech, you phrased “My dear friend the music industry”. Plainly, the worst enemy of your “friend”, and all creators’ must be those within the industry who set out to destroy the dynamic nature of a creator through envy, theft and suppression, robbing the industry’s lifeblood of future potential.

As the IFPI represents the record companies who have reproduced my sound recordings of “Dreams” throughout the world, I look to the IFPI to initiate steps to prevent any further infringements of my interests in “Dreams” until the matter is resolved.

I enclose photocopies of the Order, the master DAT and other various items of evidence referred to above to substantiate my claim and respectfully await your response.

Yours sincerely

Victor Trim

CC:Ronald Mooij - Secretary General- BIEM
Carl Palmer - Managing Director - JetStar Phonographics Ltd

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Kris / May 18, 2009 at 03:40 am
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Major record labels are soon going be extinct like the dinosaurs from 500 BC times. The world has changed dramatically even over the last 5 years and CD sales are long forget in most consumers eyes. A lot of them already either purchase their music online or just easily download it of share file off of others. These are the times we live in and only a total fool would believe that they can make money from essential CD sales of an artist. People need to wake up and smell the coffee because it's been brewing for a quit a long time now!

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