Though there is no THE ANSWER yet, I am much encouraged by the range of projects trying to become AN ANSWER to the standoff between file sharing and the economic rights of copyright holders. Though this new U.K. ISP project is an elegant solution, the major labels have to sign up for it to be viable to the masses:
- a new service which has just begun testing ahead of a proposed launch in the new year aims to provide a stepping stone between file sharers and the music industry. Instead of being a pay-per-download service or music portal, Playlouder MSP is being touted as a “music service provider” – a one-stop shop that not only provides users with their broadband connection, but also allows them to download as much music as they want legally. And all for a price to compete with big rivals such as BT, Freeserve and AOL.
The concept is simple: subscribers receive a high-speed internet connection and everything else associated with a normal ISP. And like normal internet users, they will be allowed to use file-sharing programmes such as Kazaa or Gnutella. But instead of sharing with users anywhere on the internet, subscribers will remain within a gated community, only able to share with approved users – and therefore only sharing licensed tracks from the labels signed up to the scheme. And in return for licensing their entire catalogues for downloading among the Playlouder peer group, record labels will receive a slice of the subscription fee.
“A lot of people were wondering why no one had found a way to collaborate between record companies and internet service providers,” says Playlouder MSP director Paul Hitchman. “The answer’s simple: ISPs don’t want to share their revenue. We’re putting our necks on the line by effectively cutting those revenues.
“We share our margin with the music companies directly. We’re trying to cut through the antagonistic relationship between music companies and internet firms.”
With recognisable, but credible, names such as Dizzee Rascal, White Stripes and Stereophonics already signed up, and with respected underground labels such as Ninja Tune on board, Playlouder MSP is hoping to appeal to dedicated music fans as well as cautious individuals looking to avoid legal action down the line.
….Labels backing the new initiative are hoping this method of top-slicing revenues could be the way forward.
“We are committed to working with the most innovative new media companies,” says Martin Mills, the chairman of Beggars Group. “PlayLouder MSP finally offers record companies a way to monetise file-sharing and represents a potential solution for the record industry.”
If it is to succeed, though, Playlouder will have to fight hard. It will need to bring major labels on board to give subscribers a wide enough range of tracks to trade, and compete with a burgeoning range of music services. It could be joining the market at exactly the kind of watershed moment which could prove make or break. [Guardian]
Excellent for Beggars Group – they are a most excellent operation.
Will RIAA members cede this much control? They will if they have to