Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Spirited remarks on music industry

The New Year’s receptions have started. One of these receptions is the Noorderslag in Groningen, in the North of The Netherlands. It is more than a reception; in fact it is a seminar, where the music industry comes together, looks at the trends in the music world and hands out awards. In the last years there has always been news from Noorderslag.

This year the main news came from the content manager of KPN, Mr Mark Manshanden. He is an old hand at content with KPN as he started as content manager for the i-mode information service and is now responsible for amongst others KPN Music Stream. He defended the thesis, that within three years all internet users would be able to be able to listen to popular music for free. Large companies like the telco KPN, the energy company Essent, the cable operator UPC and mobile telco Orange would give access to music portals, which would offer streaming music, paid for by sponsoring and advertisement. And the service will not force people to listen to commercial first before being offered the song, but it will be a mix, a kind of web radio on demand. Mr Manshanden made it clear that KPN will not become a music publisher itself as KPN is a communication and distribution company. He blamed the music companies for not taking risks. “It is unforgivable that they keep fooling around with digital rights management”. Besides the companies do not spot new talent in time, not can they renew old agreements for digital distribution. All in all, unexpected spirited remarks and a new view on where the music industry is going.

There were of course also representative of the old music industry. The collecting society BUMA/STEMRA, about which I wrote on Sunday. They launched their Dutch online music library. On this virtual platform composers, text writers and music publishers can offers their products easily, safely and accessible. The library will encompass the entire Dutch musical copyrights, from famous compositions to new songs, from classic to urban. The composer and the text writer can decide which works they want to publish. The library is part of the FlexCo (Flexible Collective Management), a project for customising creative music products. For more than 16.000 composers, text writers and publishers, the online music library will offer new opportunities and flexibility. The library will offer various products such as listening to the music, reading the texts of songs, short biographies, discographies, play lists, a diary with performances and contact coordinates. So on the one hand the author can determine him/herself whether they want to publish a song, piece of music or a text. On the other hand the composers and text writers will profit from exposure from the site by exposure. It all sounds great, especially the library, which must be a major project; but so far BUMA/STEMRA has been limited to its harness of collective rights and has not made any steps in the direction of creative commons yet.

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