Gushes beat leaks

Musicians and fans are so far ahead of the labels on “piracy” and DRM that increasingly one wonders whether ultimately either will have much use for labels at all. The Register has a short story up about Blur drummer Dave Rowntree, who argues that the labels should have known they’d lost the battle in 1997:

“If you turn back the clock when all this stuff was still on the horizon, the key realisation to have made was that we had lost the war already,” Rowntree told OUT-LAW Radio, the weekly technology law podcast. “That’s what I was going round telling everybody 10 years ago, saying ‘the horse has bolted, there’s no way of undoing what has been done already, the only thing you can do is to try and turn your business around so that you turn this into a plus rather than a minus’.”

Rowntree advises digital rights advocacy group the Open Rights Group and has been a vocal opponent of the mainstream record industry’s policies of chasing individual file sharers. When told that the last Blur album was leaked on to the internet he reportedly said “I’d rather it gushed”.

Rowntree said that the major labels’ policies of putting digital rights management (DRM) technology on music CDs to attempt to stop them being copied and shared backfired spectacularly.

“I’d rather it gushed.” I love it! He’s got some other points characterizing the people who “pirate” that are worth reading. The RIAA and its cohorts can sue until hiring lawyers eats every bit of gross income they’ve got and people are still going to rip and exchange music. Some things can’t go backwards.

I am not sure I like this whole idea gaining increasing currency that the new business model for music has to be advertising. I’m not clear on where these ads are supposed to be, but I’m pretty sure I’d rather pay money than have my music packaged with ads.

I’d like to see a model where somehow the fans channeled money right to the musicians, who could pay labels for any services they needed. Reverse the hierarchy so the labels work for the bands instead of the bands being horses in the label’s stables.

Comments (2) to “Gushes beat leaks”

  1. Any idea why he chose 1997 as his cut-off date? What’s so special about that year? I remember that mp3s were available but it was still very much a niche interest with low availability and not-very-easy-to-use tools. 1999 – the Year of the Napster – would seem to be a more logical selection.

  2. Great question, Kevin, and I have no idea. My best guess is that “ten years ago” sounds more compelling than “eight years ago?” It’s true looking back, in 1997 we weren’t even into the broadband era yet, at least not most of us, and though we were certainly using the net to trade bootlegs, we weren’t doing the actual exchanges online. At least, most of us weren’t.