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U2 Manager: Pay Up, Google

Won't someone think of the music labels?

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Paul McGuinness wants pretty much every company to toss some coin back to musicians, and sees pursuing individual file sharers as less important than the ISPs and other services that need to be pursued.

McGuinness played to the crowd at France’s Midem music industry trade show. An audience of music insiders from the RIAA, IFPI, and similarly affiliated groups warmed to his exhortations that companies should save the music industry.

A report at FT.com said McGuinness wants to see pressure on ISPs, telcos, and device makers, all of which he sees benefiting from “these countless tiny crimes” of file sharing.

Microsoft, Google, AOL, Yahoo, Comcast, Vodafone, Facebook and Apple, should be helping “not on the basis of reluctantly sharing advertising revenue, but collecting revenue for the use and sale of our content,” he said in the report.

Apparently there is some kind of ideal world where in McGuinness’ imagination ISPs bundle in a fee for music along with the usual charges for service, and that revenue gets shared “between the distributor and the content owner.”

I have a question, one that I ask as a long-time fan of U2, as someone who has helped carry amps up staircases and kept drunks from interfering with friends during their sets. Actually, two questions.

First, where exactly does the working musician, be it U2 or a newly signed group, make money from this? I’m old enough to remember the late Kurt Cobain wondering, at the height of Nirvana’s popularity, weren’t they supposed to be some rich rock band?

Evidently the labels, with their rich history of making their stables of artists if not hugely wealthy then at least profitable (that’s sarcasm, by the way), will accomplish this when the money starts flowing in from these offending companies. To quote more than one of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld characters, pull the other one, it’s got bells on.

Second question, this one for Paul. Any chance you can arrange for the lads to make a listenable U2 album, something they haven’t accomplished since Achtung Baby in 1991? Just between you and me, I think there’s money to be made from a CD that’s really good from start to finish.

I very much want to see deserving musicians get paid. Maybe the key isn’t for those artists to let a label make the kind of deal McGuinness suggested.

Artists have always gravitated toward collectives. Wouldn’t it make more sense for like-minded musicians to cut out the labels entirely, negotiate collectively with Apple for iTunes or Amazon or Microsoft, and keep more of the money for those who make the music?

Someone get Trent Reznor and Thom Yorke on the phone. I’ve got an idea.

U2 Manager: Pay Up, Google
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  • http://www.alpiar.com Chris Alpiar

    What Paul McGuinness really is saying is a voice for all of the artists out there, not a greedy money grubber.

    As a professional composer and performer who isnt in the top 1% of success and MTV rock monsters I am THRILLED that someone with clout is making these issues be vocalized. Its not the U2s and the Mettalicas that suffer, its the indie artists, score composers, and working musicians that are being destroyed by the wide open not even attempted at regulating illegal downloading of all kinds of media, including music, song & albums, films, art, scores, etc

    Thank you Mr. McGuinness for bothering to talk about the issues that are a nuisance to you but are life threatening to thousands of us!

    I also was a dot com boom programmer and I was an original pre-IPO member of InfoSpace and I understand the tech side very much. I will say that what happened is a natural evolution of technology and human nature. Clicking on files and getting that intellectual property of another person was SO EASY and since it was just digital it felt to have to real value. But we all listened to those MP3s and watched those quicktime movies. And we LOVED the fact that we could stuff a 200 gig firewire drive to the brim with all the music we ever wanted to listen to and not pay a dime. If you didnt do it on some level you are probably either a priest or someone without internet

    And so Mr McGuinness is saying lets not blame individuals and human nature, but something MUST be done about this and soon before we lose many facets of modern art and culture to the destabilizing and deflation of its economy.

    Its no joke and its not like yea yea whatever, its like EMERGENCY *DINGDINGDING* EMERGENCY. Right now the AFM (musicians union) performance fund (which is the fun for retirement and emergency funding for professional musicians) is about to die, because it is based on CD sales. There are *countless* programs similar to this that are dead or dying quickly because of illegal downloads.

    Certainly non-"mainstream pop" art forms like non-synthesizer orchestral film music, among many others are going to become extinct and then fade away completely the farther this goes without being checked.

    There absolutely needs to be legislation that forces ISPs and tech companies to create technology to stop non-paid-for illegal downloading of music, film and art. This would be relatively very easy to create. All it needs is ubiquitous agreement and cooperation from all sources that host and transmit data.

    Without it our world is going to become a shallow grey world without culture and professional art. That is a place I don’t want to live in.

  • http://uk.car2be.com/ Thomas

    Bono and team seems to be focused on other efforts and not creating new music. Not that that’s a bad thing, I actually miss U2 but it’s been a while since we’ve seen anything new.

    I don’t understand where this “hippie values” statement comes from. I suppose that absent of hippie values, U2 would have sold more albums..?

    Still, the issue is in creation of new art. Maybe the recording industry needs to return to the core competency of ‘creating an environment which allows artists to create’ from what seems to be the core comptency of ‘suing people’.

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