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Yahoo, Music Publishers Battle To A Draw

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ASCAP and NMPA reps announced they have broken off talks with the heads of Yahoo and other digital subscription companies.

Music publishers and the Yahoos and Napsters of the world all seemed to be tuned into the same radio station: WII-FM, What’s In It For Me? Neither side seems willing to take a smaller piece of the revenues now in the hopes the total revenue grows later.

That doesn’t seem to display much confidence in the digital music subscription model. With both sides eager to grab as much as they can at the expense of the other, perhaps there is an expectation of finality to a model where users never truly own the songs they receive through a subscription service.

At this time, Forbes reports Yahoo and other subscription services have been paying advances to ASCAP and other copyright organizations. But the two sides can’t agree on how much of a subscription should go to the publishers.

ASCAP et al want 14 percent of revenue while the services propose 6.9 percent. A third-party observer might think the sensible approach would be to compromise and go with a 10.5 percent split, halfway between the two proposals, but this is the entertainment industry being discussed here, the inventors of the 70-page recording contract.

The argument over percentages holds up the money already collected from being paid to the people who actually created the music in the first place. Maybe the delays won’t matter, and subscription based music models will grow instead of fade. Will the music fans of today even want to listen to Linkin Park or The Killers in two, three years?

If new subscribers replace the ones who dump their subscriptions in favor of buying a flash drive full of music they really like, the services won’t miss them one bit.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.

Yahoo, Music Publishers Battle To A Draw
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