U2 Manager: Pay Up, Google

    January 29, 2008
    WebProNews Staff

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.