I think that the transition of music companies to licencers of content
is already happening, but it is unclear how they will make a healthy
profit if copying of content by the consumer is so easy. (Is there a
hacker-proof DRM? Doubtful. And, how much time and money are they
willing to spend policing content?)
Also, since corporations are in the business of making money, keeping
old masters only makes sense if they are profitable. Therefore we cannot
expect record companies to keep old recordings if they do not think they
will sell, no matter how supposedly historic they are (a label that is
vague at best). And there are quite a few horror stories as well of
record companies being unable to find masters in their own vaults.
But a key point is this: current copyright restrictions do not allow
other sources (collectors and libraries) to make that content available
(free or not) for society at large. This I find pernicious.
The way I see it, copyright law was designed to protect a large business
model that just does not work any longer. It made sense when a large
investment was needed to create a product that could in turn generate
large revenue. Once record companies are gone, copyright restrictions
will go away.
I see the future music business as far more performance-oriented, with
the recording side as almost a promotional afterthought. It is still
easy to charge a cover to see a performance.
Tom Fine wrote:
> The problem is, to preserve and not lose the vast legacy of commercial
> music -- and I'd argue that the stuff previous to this era will have
> much more long-term cultural and financial value -- takes some
> critical mass. Not that the majors have been all that good at it, but
> the alternative is not good and I've heard horror stories about how
> smaller record companies kept their archives.
> And how many stories do we hear just on this list about vast
> quantities of stuff donated to the LOC and smaller collections that is
> literally rotting in warehouses, never to see the public again.
> I think owners of content work best on a for-profit model. What I
> think will eventually happen is that music companies will be just
> owners and licensers of content, licensed to whatever format is
> distributed in whatever way. Their manufacturing and distribution
> businesses will be more and more asset-draining albatrosses. Steve
> Jobs' statement bears reading because, although of course it's
> designed to bolster Apple's case against the EU nannies, it touches on
> a lot of areas where I think his future visions are accurate.
> Back to your point, Marcos, my fear would be that if Big Music totally
> blew up, a lot of great historic recordings would fall into the pits
> of hell, never to be heard again in any format.
> -- Tom Fine
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Marcos Sueiro" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Wednesday, February 07, 2007 8:15 AM
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] interesting!
>> I'm going to get whipped for this, but I'll say it anyway: I don't
>> see what is so terrible if large large record companies simply
>> disappear. Music has been around much longer than the recording
>> industry, so I do not think that the quality of music itself would
>> suffer. And certainly there must be other business models for
>> musicians to make a living without having to feed a huge machine that
>> often sucked their blood, especially now that the means to record
>> music are available to so many. Big Music generated lots of money for
>> over a century, but only a very small proportion of all musicians saw
>> that money. Perhaps Big Music is just not good for music anymore.
>> Tom Fine wrote:
>>> So, even though I'm no fan of Big Music, they have a point in all of
>>> this. If the owners of the copyright material -- descendants of
>>> those who put up money to record the old stuff and current funders
>>> of new material -- cannot get a return on their investment, they do
>>> not have a business model. So in that case nothing can be made
>>> available because it's a money-losing proposition and companies are
>>> not in business to lose money.