Spotify, licensing and bother like that

This was the conclusion I came to after reading this article on The Guardian website this morning:

Spotify opens doors to UK – as record industry slams them shut

Basically, it’s an article about how the music website Spotify, hotly tipped to be the next big thing in a new generation of online music services and poised to topple iTunes in terms of popularity, has opened it’s doors to the UK allowing anyone in this country to sign up for the service.

So what’s the big deal then?

Well, due to a row over licensing restrictions, thousands of songs that would otherwise be available via the web-based service will not be accessible in the UK. Spotify community manager, Andres Sehr tells The Guardian that the restrictions ‘are a legacy from when most music was sold on tapes and CDs and they have continued over into streaming music.’

What I find crazy about this is that the music industry is often heard sounding off about how the Internet / Peer-to-Peer networks / illegal downloads / file sharing / delete-as-applicable, are damaging their industry and ultimately affecting their sales.

I can recall an article that I read a while ago that said that the music industry never envisioned computer technology advancing as quickly as it has. Industry practitioners believed that the day a cd’s worth of music could be downloaded in a matter of minutes, was years away.

How wrong they were, and how caught off guard they were by what happened.

I recently also received an email from a website I subscribe to called BootB. If you’ve not heard of it, it’s a pitching website that puts companies with briefs in touch with creative-types who can solve the brief. The email I received mentioned one from record giant EMI, asking people to pitch ideas for a distribution service to put music into the hands of listeners via a means appropriate to how they currently live their lives.

It’s a kind of ridiculous ask, considering that these services exist already, often developed by people who have a genuine love of music and often started purely for that reason.

The music industry seems insistent on quashing these entrepreneurs by using outdated methods of doing business as barriers to their success, and continues to strive to develop their own, proprietary systems hoping they will become ‘the next big thing.’ If there’s one thing we know about the web, it’s always the site that’s least expected to succeed that does. Facebook has to be the best example of that…

The labels need to spend more time and energy doing what they do best – putting out records – and spend less time fearing and blocking the innovators. Perhaps if they embraced these ideas and work collaboratively with the people behind them, they could ultimately move forward out of the situation they currently find themselves in – one of falling sales – and work towards what EMI are looking to achieve: putting music into the hands of the masses in new ways, wholly appropriate to their lifestyles.

This can only serve to benefit their bottom line.


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