So my main man Mike Masnick – he of Techdirt fame has been paying a lot of attention to music recently. When I came out earlier in the week in favour of everyone taking a much closer more constructive look at collective licensing, he said (because he is the consumate professional arguer):
” However, I have to disagree with his suggestion that the answer is a collective licensing regime, because I think that introduces way too many questions where it’s not needed. A collective licensing scheme puts yet another bureaucracy in the middle, just for the music industry (well, not for long, because then suddenly everyone else wants one too: the movie industry, the software industry, the video game industry, the newspaper industry, etc. — and why should it stop there, new industries will jump on board too: don’t we need a collective license for people who view blogs too?). As it stands, I just think that we’re finally seeing free market business models that are working, and it’s way too early to jump in and distort the market with a collective licensing scheme.”
Now that’s a really intriguing comment – and lots of Mike’s thousands of followers have jumped right in to the debate- slagging off any notion of enforcement of copyright at all really …
But there’s a really simple distinction to draw here Mike and you have to capture the essence of the difference. Here it is: back catalogue – tons of it – everyone wants to experience the sense that they can get “all the music all the time everywhere” – then… there’s all the new stuff from people we’re just discovering and just finding out about.
The new stuff doesn’t need to be collectively licensed today because the only people who care about it – find out about it mostly through direct artists relationships of the kind that we’re all pushing so heavily right now.
But the old stuff, the classics, the sex pistols, the eric claptons, the elton johns, dare I say it yes… the frank zappa’s (not to mention the bluenote, motown, led zep and metallica – the bell curve of the top 40) – they are quite frequently the subject of what mass consumer music services want to be able to serve up and those acts are not busily pushing themselves into direct one on one relationship with consumers because their music got hijacked years ago by the labels – who now hug it tight to their corporate chests. So that’s why collective licensing is so important because it would liberate all that stuff…. the argument about what’s needed to make tomorrow’s Hendrix a totally accessible star – is utterly different from the argument about what it will take to make Hendrix an utterly accessible star today.