Accumulating pearls of wisdom at the feet of my personal digital music guru Jim Griffin:
- get your collective act together or risk having government authorities slap compulsory licences on the business. In a hugely entertaining and passionate speech, Griffin expressed his clear preference for voluntary negotiations, advocating charges to be imposed on the ‘gatekeepers’ to digital music – the ISPs, telcos and high-speed mobile companies – rather than putting levies on hardware.
Urging the industry to give up on its attempts to control the flow of digital music, Griffin thought the function of copyright could be better described with the word copyrisk: “Copyright is copyrisk. And the way we deal with risk in this world is rarely through control.” Griffin urged delegates to learn the lessons of history; content spun “out of control” back during the 1920s with the advent of public address and radio. Then as now, the sensible business response was to use blanket agreements to create “pools of money” and “fair ways to split them up,” whilst making music “feel free without actually being free.”
….Griffin maintained that the new environment could spell enormous growth for music: “We have the opportunity to double, triple, quadruple our business. And if you doubt that, please note that the full value of all the music shipped in the UK at full retail price is well less than $3 a month per person.” [MusicAlly]
- So where does this leave us, digital delivery ahead, carbon and friction behind, brackish combinations surrounding our Tarzan-like transition from one vine to the next? It leaves us in a better place, one where access to art and knowledge are not conditioned on the size of your wallet, or worse still, the size of your parents’ wallet. A world where the collective flat fees outweigh per capita average spending, where ideas can flourish with reward and without friction, a world Eleanor Roosevelt and Cicero would adore.
To act otherwise, to create digital tethers to creativity and information, would condemn much of the world’s population to darkness, to outdated textbooks and third-hand inspiration. What’s worse, it’s the haves who will suffer alongside the have-nots, the former deprived of the creativity of the latter. Flat fees and feels free go hand-in-hand, creating a world of compensation and collaboration. We hold much more in our open hands than we ever could in the closed-fist of so-called intellectual property. Finding the balance is the key and pricing should be our focus.